The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

First board sets tone, direction for district

By Hope Sandusky/nw news editor

TCC’s 50th anniversary celebration is not for a campus opening but for the election that brought TCC into existence.

The 1965 election was met with no small amount of hardship in the process.

Original board members (top) Delbert Adams, Edward R. Hudson Sr., J. Ardis Bell, the Rev. L.L. Haynes, (bottom) May Owen, Jenkins Garrett and John Finn.
Original board members (top) Delbert Adams, Edward R. Hudson Sr., J. Ardis Bell, the Rev. L.L. Haynes, (bottom) May Owen, Jenkins Garrett and John Finn.

An effort began in 1963 to get a junior college in the North Texas area. Junior colleges were not unfamiliar to parts of Texas, with several throughout the state.

With an increase in the college-age population, a desire for more schools focused on technical/vocational skills and a shift from rural to urban areas, junior colleges were becoming a necessity to handle the influx of students.

In 1963, Gov. John Connally assigned the Texas Commission on Higher Education to determine the cities ready to establish a junior college. One of those cities determined by the board was Fort Worth.

With this commission recommendation, a movement began toward the idea of junior colleges in Tarrant County.

A task force was put together by J. Lee Johnson III, president of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, to study the proposal of putting together a junior college. This task force was chaired by lawyer Jenkins Garrett, who had been interested in the idea of a junior college for a while. Others joined the movement including J. Ardis Bell, Larry Meeker and Don Kennard. Throughout late 1964 and early 1965, the group began to work to convince others of the need.

A hurdle the group had to overcome was that the proposal had to stand in line with other proposals to create a city hall and a convention center. With the taxpayers favoring the convention center, the group knew that voters would more than likely only approve one more big project.

During a town hall meeting, banker Charles Brinkley moved to designate the junior college as top priority. With a second given by Johnson, the motion carried.

The group next had to get 10 percent of Tarrant County voters to sign a petition calling for an election to create the college district. The group quickly went to work, beginning with a committee that grew to over 45 people. The petition drive began in late April 1965. The signatures were slow in coming, but by the time the petition was to be delivered, it had reached over 24,000 signatures, double the amount needed.

The petition moved through the Texas Board of Education and went to the County Commissioners Court who scheduled the election for July 31.

The committee then went to work to persuade voters. Members spoke at breakfasts and luncheons, youth committees were formed and mailings sent out. Endorsements were gained by the surrounding college presidents of Texas Christian University, Texas Wesleyan College and Arlington State College.

On July 31, Election Day rolled around. By a 2-to-1 margin, the Tarrant County Junior College District had been approved. The election established the first two campuses, South and NE, which opened in 1967 and 1968, respectively. They were followed by NW in 1976, SE in 1996 and, most recently, TR in 2009.

Today, TCC has more than 50,000 students enrolled, making it the seventh-largest college in Texas.

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