Timeline of Jackson College
From the 1920s to the present day, Jackson College has offered educational opportunities to the people of Jackson County and southern Michigan. The College has continued to grow and adapt to the changing times, providing education necessary for today’s workforce and cultural and community opportunities to enrich lives.
Local educators noticed the need for a two-year college in Jackson. There was a need for additional vocational training beyond high school, and students sought to go on to college to pursue four-year programs. Plans were completed early in 1928 for a new educational institution.
Jackson Junior College founded on Feb. 16, 1928, as part of Jackson Union School District, under the leadership of Edward O. Marsh, superintendent of the Jackson Union School District. The first home was an old mansion that had belonged to the Cowham family, west of the then-new Jackson High School. The young college also shared some facilities with the high school.
Jackson Junior College opens with a faculty of 10. The first year saw 113 students enrolled. Of these, however, only 34 were to graduate. The Depression, which began in fall of 1929, cut deeply into college enrollments across the country.
E.O. Marsh resigned due to health concerns; Harold Steele becomes replacement as superintendent, named also president in 1934. Steele serves until 1942.
Junior College receives accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the first year it is eligible.
Despite the difficult days of the Great Depression, the young college held its own. By fall of 1939, enrollment had reached 327, with 50 coming from outside the Union School District and five more from out of state.
First Jackson Junior College graduating class holds a 10-year reunion with an anniversary dinner in Jackson.
America’s entrance into World War II brought a sudden decline in JJC enrollment, which dropped 25 percent. In 1944, only 15 sophomores – all women – graduated.
During World War II, JJC men and women saw duty in every branch of service and in all corners of the globe. By war’s end, 39 of them had given their lives.
Dr. William N. Atkinson named president of Jackson Junior College. Atkinson had previously served as dean at JJC.
Jackson Junior College’s E.O. Marsh Hall is destroyed by fire following a lightning strike. College administrators faced with urgent problem of finding space for growth. (This site is now the Jackson High School parking lot).
A detailed study of the post-high school requirements of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale county areas was completed with educators and civic leaders from all three counties. Findings showed that the three counties would be best served by creating a three-county community college and assuming control of Jackson Junior College. In an election on the issue, two of the counties turned the proposal down. Jackson County voters, long used to having a college in their midst, supported the measure two-to-one.
Jackson industrialist J. Sterling Wickwire offered the county some 270 of property to build the new college. However, because of the way the bequest was made, it did not work out for the college site. Wickwire’s bequest was left in such a way that the property could not be used at that time for construction of a campus; he donated the land over a period of time.
Jackson County voters approve community college district, establishing Jackson Community College. Consideration was first given to a three-county community college district, including Lenawee and Hillsdale counties, but in an election, two of the counties turned the proposal down. Jackson County, long used to having the college in their midst, supported the measure two-to-one.
County voters approve charter millage that still funds the College today. Voters approve a 1.3-mill tax to pay to operate the new JCC. Two earlier proposals were rejected by county voters.
College began countywide operation. After 37 years under the direction of Jackson’s Union School District board, the year marked the change from city to county control, becoming Jackson Community College with its own governing board, the six-member board of trustees chosen by the voters of the county.
The new Jackson Community College keeps its colors, maroon and old gold, but changes its nickname to “Golden Jets.”
Construction on new campus begins, with much fanfare.
Justin R. Whiting Vocational-Technical Hall built. It was designed to serve the vocational and engineering areas of the community college program.
College connects with a three-computer complex operated by General Electric at Cleveland, Ohio. A program (or problem) was presented to one of the computers, and in about a quarter second, an answer came back. The service’s name was Fortran, the language for solving scientific-type problems. The College connected through a teletype machine. With the service, the College offered a new engineering course that fall, computer science.
Fieldhouse, originally called the health services building, built
Women of Jackson Community College faculty and staff start the Harriet Myer Student Emergency Fund. Named in honor of Harriet Myer, counselor and former dean of women who had recently passed away, it was originally a fund to help female students. After a few years, help was extended to men as well. The fund assists students who may face smaller financial burdens – car repairs, gas, an unpaid utility bill – which may prevent a student from continuing their education.
On the heels of the passage of Title IX in 1972, requiring equal education and athletic programs for men and women, JCC offers partial scholarships to 18 women athletes.
Wickwire House damaged by fire; students form chain to help save contents.
Potter Center construction begins; first phase finished in 1978, second phase with Music Hall in 1980. Facility was built to add meaning, scope and enrichment to lives of students and the life of the community.
Southern Michigan Law Enforcement Training Center, a policy academy program, conducted at the community college.
College purchases a building that had housed Jackson Aviation at Jackson County Reynolds Airport to restart the aviation program. Aviation would offer associate degrees in aviation as well as private pilot flight training; 73 students were enrolled in the program.
Women’s basketball team won conference, state and regional championships, went to Kansas City for nationals.
Clyde LeTarte becomes president, 1981-1993. LeTarte helped spread the College’s reach with opening of campuses in Lenawee and Hillsdale counties.
In May, trustees voted to eliminate all remaining sports to save money in the budget.
Jackson College Foundation formed. Since its inception, the Foundation, from its own assets and management of the College’s loaned funds, has offered thousands of dollars in support to the College, primarily in grants, programs and scholarships.
JCC offers community entrepreneurial development program, a comprehensive course in small business planning.
Jackson County Rose Run course moves to starting at Ella Sharp Park and ending at JCC campus.
Lenawee Center opens in Adrian, in a location on Maple Avenue. Courses continued there for nearly 15 years, until the current site was built in 2003.
CARE (Concerned Adults Responding Early) program established. It was designed to offer school children in sixth grade a scholarship to JCC upon successful graduation from high school. College leaders wanted to give something back to the community and thought this would be a good start.
Hillsdale Center opens on Carleton Road. Previously, all classes were offered through adult education at Hillsdale High School.
Robert L. Johnson Downtown Center opens on Cortland Street
A 25-foot diameter spray of enamel and steel, Nova 8, by artist and Jackson-native Mark Muhich was donated by him and mother, Marjorie Muhich, in honor of Dr. Ralph Muhich. Dr. Muhich was a long-time Jackson psychiatrist who volunteered for five years as a reading tutor. Daughter Chris Davis, is a prior nursing instructor and current assistant dean of health professions at Jackson College.
The Hillsdale campus is dedicated in honor of former college president and state representative Clyde LeTarte for his service to the College and to the tri-county area.
JC @ LISD TECH built, next door to the Lenawee Vo-Tech Center. Center offers classroom, office and science laboratory and study spaces.
James McDivitt Hall renovation completed. Classrooms, lecture halls and science laboratories all updated for today’s students.
William Atkinson Hall built. Houses the library, information technology offices, classrooms and café.
Campus View 1 student housing built, offers students the opportunity to live on campus.
Victor Cuiss Fieldhouse renovation completed. With sports returning to campus, facilities were improved and a parquet wood floor put down in the gym.
Rawal Center for Health Professions completed, Justin Whiting Hall. Provides prototype nursing and allied health laboratories.
Health Laboratory Center built. This facility offers laboratory spaces for nursing and allied health students, as well as classrooms, lecture hall, breakout study rooms and student lounges.
The Jackson College Foundation purchased the former Photo Marketing Association International building in Jackson, on Blake Road near I-94, then leased it to the College to use as another site. The location was renovated and the North Campus established; facility would later be named in honor of alumnus William J. Maher.
Bachelor of Science in Energy Systems Management approved, the first bachelor’s degree to be offered at the College. Degree prepares students for leadership careers in today’s energy and utility industry.
Campus View 3, a third student housing unit, opens. Campus has capacity for nearly 500 students on campus.
Renovated Bert Walker Hall rededicated, opens
Bachelor of Applied Science in Culinary Management and Hospitality approved