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

Campus reflects on past 50 years

Former+Tarrant+County+Junior+College+student+Mark+Smith+reflects+on+South+Campus+life+during+the+1970s.+He+recalls+a+bomb+threat+that+drew+a+crowd+of+students+to+the+library.
Former Tarrant County Junior College student Mark Smith reflects on South Campus life during the 1970s. He recalls a bomb threat that drew a crowd of students to the library. Photo by Peter Matthews/The Collegian

By Kathryn Kelman and Jason Middlebrooks

Former students, faculty remember college’s history

From $4 per-credit-hour tuition to $59, a lot has changed in the 50 years since TCC’s South Campus opened its doors in the fall of 1967.

Former South student Dee Jennings studied marketing at South from 1967 to 1969 and was there on the campus’ first day of classes.

“It was like going to high school, but there were kids from other places,” he said. “It was like we all met at one place.”

With the campus opening after the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation of schools, Jennings remembers teachers and administrators having to go the extra mile sometimes to help students break the ice, he said.

“It was somewhat of a very uncomfortable feeling in general,” Jennings said. “Black and white students had to learn how to live with one another.”

Some students attempted to reach out in small ways, and Jennings said he appreciated how sincere his professors were at the time.

“They were really engaged with the students,” he said.

South also opened during the Vietnam War, and anti-war protests were common on the campus. But so were tricycle races, former South student Mark Smith said.

“We had a little bit of everything,” he said. “It was not just go out there and get your classes and go on. You had a lot of things going on otherwise, extracurricular-type stuff there.”

Smith took classes at South off and on from the fall of 1970 to 1983.

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“You had a good mix of people,” he said. “The student union building was really the heart of the campus at that time.”

The building was Smith’s favorite place to go on campus, and he spent a lot of time there playing cards and having a good time with his peers, he said.

“As time went on, that decreased a lot,” he said. “There was less club activity. It changed. People were more just out there to get classes, get an education, go on to a four-year school or into a trade.”

That was around 1975, Smith said.

In addition to the drop in club activity, the campus demographics changed over time as well, according to former South government associate professor David Clinkscale.

“Today, the people that are going to school are much older than when I went to school,” he said.

Like Jennings, Clinkscale was a South student when the college opened. Clinkscale went on to teach for almost 40 years on the same campus he started his college career.

“I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” he said.

As a student, some of Clinkscale’s most memorable times attending TCC had to do with the excitement of being part of a new class at a new college. But his time at TCC offered him more than academics.

“My experience at TCC was an enriching kind of experience,” he said. “On top of my classes, I participated in clubs, and I was very involved in the campus newspaper.”

Clinkscale is proud to have been part of the campus’ initial class, he said.

While demographics and the campus atmosphere changed overtime, so did the campus’ layout.

“It was small, and it has just grown, but it is still a homey place,” said biology adjunct instructor Clementine DeAngelis, who started in August 1972.

DeAngelis and adjunct geology instructor Herbert “Herb” Hudgens started their careers at the campus in its first five years. The campus first opened its doors without many of the buildings that are present today.

“Part of this [science] building was not built, and the gym was a lot smaller,” said Hudgens, who started in 1968. “There were no sidewalks, and when it rained we had to wade through water.”

The campus’ early days did have some challenges when it came to arranging classes and instructors. In 1968, South was shared with students of NE Campus, which was still under construction.

“We would teach a South Campus class, and then we had to give NE time to teach class,” Hudgens said. “We alternated it. They would have one, I would have one. We only had one geology [class] and one geology instructor. Our classrooms were large, except for a few.”

President Peter Jordan wasn’t at South or even a college student 50 years ago, but since becoming president of the campus in January 2012, Jordan has seen a lot change as well, he said.

For instance, South has been undergoing renovations since Jordan became president.

“The campus has been transformed in terms of updating facilities,” he said. “We’ve come a long way.”

Jordan said he feels humbled serving as the campus’ president in its 50th year.

“I feel rather fortunate to be here at this particular point in time,” Jordan said. “But I am also humbled because I can only imagine the people who have come through this campus, whether it’s been faculty, students or staff, who over the last 50 years invested their time, energy, dedication to get the campus to the point that it was five years ago when I arrived here.”

Jordan feels privileged and honored to have the opportunity to build on the legacy of the people who came before him, he said.

Lately, Jordan has had a number of people come by and tell him they’d gone to what was then Tarrant County Junior College.

“The kind of energy and pride members of the community have in TCC is remarkable,” he said.

As for the future, Jordan has a simple hope, he said.

“My hope for TCC and South Campus is we’ll continue to be mission-centered, but that we’ll also be market-smart,” he said.

By that, Jordan means he hopes they continue to keep focusing on the changing tide, demographics, workforce needs and demands as well as the social, civic and cultural needs of the Tarrant County community.

“If we can do that, I think that the college will have a glorious 100th or centennial birthday,” Jordan said.

 

South’s birthday party

South Campus will host Family Extravaganza to celebrate its anniversary.

10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 30

It will feature live entertainment, games, activities and food trucks. Admission is free.

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