The final decade of the 20th century saw the end to the Cold War and dissolution of the former Soviet Union. The First Gulf War was fought in 1990-91. Bush left office and Bill Clinton began his two terms in office. In the middle of the decade, the murder trial of O.J. Simpson captured the nation’s attention. Britain’s Princess Diana died in 1997, and the end of the decade, 1999, saw the mass shootings at Columbine Schools. On the radio, people listened to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Can’t Touch This” by M.C. Hammer. Moviegoers thrilled to “Jurassic Park” and “Titanic.”
Jackson College greeted the last decade of the 1900s with growth in programs and locations and learning philosophy.
In 1991, President Clyde LeTarte was one of the original presidents involved in a new Community College Continuous Quality Improvement Network, or CQIN. The purpose would be an open and honest sharing of information – the pluses and minuses – among presidents who had committed to the implementation of Total Quality Management principles. LeTarte was selected as interim chair of the first network; Jackson College remains active with CQIN today. On campus, trustees, administration and faculty joined in discussions of the Learning College concept, core courses and basic skills necessary for students. A Learning College is one that places learning first and provides educational experiences for learners any way, anywhere, anytime.
The Hillsdale Center opened in 1991, and previously, all classes were offered through the adult education program at Hillsdale High School. The center was later named in honor of President Clyde LeTarte. After several years of discussion, the College opened the Downtown Center in 1991 on Cortland Street in Jackson. The building was dedicated in 1993 in honor of Trustee Robert Johnson, who had advocated for its creation.
The 1990s saw the continued growth and change in technology, along with rapid growth of the Internet. Starting in 1985 and through ‘95, JCC participated in the Apple Community College Alliance. It hosted Computers and Writing Conferences on campus, and appeared in the national Apple Alliance telecast. Student consultants help boost the new information technology program. Visitors came to the campus to see how the College was using computers in the classroom. Improvements in the mid-1990s were made to the campus network, computer laboratories and classrooms, making it possible to use Internet resources in a wide variety of classes. JCC’s home page first appeared.
The College’s Personnel and Development Institute (PDI) shifted focus in 1994 to being workforce education specialists. Rapidly advancing technology, global competition, and a skills gap in the labor force were issues needing attention, and JCC stepped in to serve. In 1998, the Enterprise Institute was formed as a resource to the community to make contributions to its economic development by providing one-stop educational training services to the Enterprise clients in the tri-county area, Jackson, Hillsdale and Lenawee.
One of the community college’s hallmarks has been the diverse nature of its student body. In 1997, under Lee Howser’s guidance, opened a Child Care Center in the former site of the Knight Energy Institute. Child care services were available to students, employees and the community through a cooperative agreement with the ABC Academy.
By 1999, rapid growth of the Internet brought a web of opportunities to distance learning. Jackson Community College joined in the Michigan Community College Virtual Learning Collaborative (MCCVLC), a group of 28 community colleges that permitted students to access distance learning courses from any member college.