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Significant Historical Events in the Development of the Public Community College


Passage of the Morrill Act. With its emphasis on agriculture and the mechanical arts, the Morrill Act of 1862, often referred to as the Land Grant Act, expanded access to public higher education, teaching previously excluded courses to students who were also previously excluded from higher education.


Passage of the second Morrill Act withheld funds from any state that refused admission to the land grant colleges based on race unless the states provided separate institutions for minorities and expanded public higher education to include many African Americans who previously were unable to attend college.


Joliet Junior College was founded under the influence of William Rainey Harper, president of the University of Chicago; Joliet Junior College is the oldest public junior college in the nation.


The "Wisconsin Idea." The University of Wisconsin emphasized that the university was to assist the general public through extension services and assistance to the state government. The university declared the boundaries of the state to be its campus. Today, most community college leaders view the college's service region as its campus.


California passed legislation authorizing high schools to offer postgraduate courses, provide state and county support for junior college students, and provide for independent junior college districts that had their own boards, budgets, and procedures.


Meetings held in St. Louis (June 30-July 1, 1920) and Chicago (February 1921) resulted in the founding of the American Association of Junior Colleges. The association, currently named the American Association of Community Colleges, continues to provide a national focus and national leadership for the nation's community, junior, and technical colleges. In 1930, the association began publishing its own journal, known today as the Community College Journal.


The Junior College Movement. Leonard Koos' work described the development of the public junior college, with emphasis on the types of junior colleges, their geographic distribution, enrollments, and programs of study.


The Junior College. Walter Crosby Eells documented the role, growth, curriculum, and the public junior college's role in increasing access to higher education. Eells' book is a very important text on the early development of the public junior college.


Passage of the GI Bill of Rights. In 1944, the United States Congress passed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act. Popularly known as the GI Bill, this act provided financial assistance for veterans of World War II who wished to pursue higher education. The GI Bill was a milestone in the federal funding for education of individuals and did much to break down the economic and social barriers to allow millions of Americans to attend college. Indeed, over 2.2 million veterans, including over 60,000 women and approximately 70,000 African Americans, attended college under the GI Bill.


Jesse R Bogue. In 1946, Bogue became the executive secretary of the American Association of Junior Colleges, a position he held until 1958. As post-war spokesman, Bogue did much to elevate the term "community" college in his 1950 book titled The Community College.


Publication of Higher Education for American Democracy by the President's Commission on Higher Education, the commission report, popularly know as The Truman Commission Report, called for, among other things, the establishment of a network of public community colleges which would charge little or no tuition, serve as cultural centers, be comprehensive in their program offerings with emphasis on civic responsibilities, and would serve the area in which they were located. The commission popularized the phrase "community college," causing hundreds of existing and new public two-year colleges to include "community" in their names.


Edmund J.Gleazer Jr. In l958, Gleazer succeeded Bogue as the executive director (the title replaced that of executive secretary; in 1972 the title was changed to president) of the American Association of Junior Colleges. He remained in the position until 1981, working tirelessly to promote the nation's community and junior colleges.


The W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In 1960, the Kellogg Foundation announced a series of grants to be used to establish university centers for training two-year college leaders. In all, 12 universities established junior college leadership programs. Hundreds of future deans and presidents were graduates of the Kellogg Junior College Leadership Programs.


The Junior College: Progress and Prospect. Written by Leland L. Medsker, this volume discusses the public community college in detail, outlining both its strengths and weaknesses. The author provides data on the academic performance of students and the success of transfer students in selected states.


Student aid legislation. Beginning with the Higher Education Act of 1965, the 1972 amendments to the act, and subsequent amendments and reauthorizations (including the 1992 higher education amendments), the federal government made it possible for practically every American to attend college. Included in current legislation is the federal Pell Grant program.


Dale Parnell. In 1981, Dale Parnell succeeded Gleazer as president of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges. He served as president of the Association until June 30, 1991. Parnell was the first president of the association to have served as the president of a public community college. During his tenure, the association established its own press and issued its own newspaper, the Community College Times.


Report of the Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. In 1988, the Commission issued its report titled Building Communities: A Vision for a New Century. The report defined "community" not only as a region to be served, but as a climate to be created.


David Pierce. On July 1, 1991, David Pierce succeeded Dale Parnell as president of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges. Pierce, the first president of the Association to have graduated from a public community college, places major emphasis on working with the federal government, especially the departments of education and labor, and on interpreting the mission of the community college to both national and international audiences.


AACC. By majority vote of the membership, AACJC dropped the "junior" and changed its name to the American Association of Community Colleges.


Centennial. Celebrations were held for the 100-year anniversary of community colleges. Joliet Junior College in Illinois was the first "community college," established in 1901.

This information is from The Community College Story: A Tale of American Innovation, by George B. Vaughan. It's published by the American Association of Community Colleges


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