Happy Birthday Jackson College!

Feb. 16, 2023 marks Jackson College’s 95th anniversary. Your community college will not waver in the commitment set forth 95 years ago. Our commitment is to provide necessary, vital education for our students and our communities, and in so doing, we inspire and transform lives. It’s difficult to say what the community will look like in the future, but whatever form it takes, Jackson College will be there, helping to prepare students to be active, productive workers and community members.

Join us as we celebrate Jackson College’s 95th anniversary!



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.


In June, the Junior College hosted its first graduation ceremony in the Jackson High School Auditorium; 34 students graduated.

E.O. Marsh resigned due to health concerns; Harold Steele becomes replacement as superintendent, named also president in 1934. Steele serves until 1942.

College institutes athletics – including football. The school’s nickname is the “Maroons.” Its colors are maroon and old gold.


Junior College receives accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, the first year it is eligible.


College introduced a full range of courses in business and commercial skills.


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.

Civilian pilot training program course was added, under the direction of Frank Dove. This prepared many young men for aviation service in the armed forces.


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.


George L. Greenawalt, teacher, becomes superintendent of Jackson Union School District and president of the junior college. He served until 1952.


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.


College classes meet for the first time in John George Hall. Opening came just in time as veterans, returning to Jackson by the thousands, swelled the lists of applicants for admission and began a new era in the College’s history.

Jackson Junior College was the first school in its conference to introduce women cheerleaders; previously, only men were cheerleaders.


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.

George E. Potter is elected to the first JCC Board of Trustees.     


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.  

Women’s Recreation Association of Michigan granted JJC permission to form a WRA on campus; basketball, volleyball, swimming, golf and tennis were offered to JJC coeds.  



Construction on new campus begins, with much fanfare.  


Classes are held for the first time at JCC’s new campus. 


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.  

History through the Decades

  • 1970’s


    The 1970s saw the Vietnam War draw many young soldiers. The decade also saw the resignation of President Richard Nixon following the Watergate scandal. Americans celebrated its bicentennial birthday in 1976. Moviegoers enjoyed some landmark Box Office films, such as “The Godfather,” “Jaws,” “Rocky” “Saturday Night Fever” and “Star Wars.” Young people at home pulled on bell bottoms and danced to disco. Alex Haley’s “Roots” was a popular book and mini-series. Video cassette recorders gained mass market success, and an AMC Gremlin car cost $1,879.

    Jackson Community College in the 1970s was a place of more building and expansion. Finding a home for health and physical education, intramurals and sports programs, the college fieldhouse was built; at the time is was called the Health Services Building. Bert Walker Hall construction was completed, housing primarily language, literature and arts courses and the college library. Both were dedicated in 1971. Enrollment at the College had grown to 3,500, with more than 400 courses offered. The decade began with Dr. Harold McAninch as president, and Harold Sheffer became president in 1972.

    Jackson has long been known as a “prison city.” Following the first class with a handful of students in 1967, in 1969-70, a pilot prison education program for the Southern Michigan Prison was launched. The program provided an opportunity for qualifying inmates to further their education, which has been found to reduce recidivism rates, lessening the likelihood that they would return to prison after release. The first class had 211 enrolled in five classes, with 153 completing class requirements. By 1973, enrollment had grown to 450 students in 48 classes. JCC was one of 26 colleges in the nation making an associate degree available to prison inmates. At one time, prisoners were bused to campus after hours, at 10 p.m., and attended classes until 2 a.m. They participated in vocational program training, in coordination with the extensive curriculum offered at the prison facility. The prison education program would continue in the 1990s, before state legislators prohibited providing college courses to inmates unless they paid themselves.

    The 1970s saw Jackson Community College experience the changing times of the nation. With a focus on environmental safety, students got involved cleaning up natural areas through environmental action group ENACT. Concern for the environment prompted discussion of an environmental education center. Later discussions of a Nature Center would lead to the establishment of what would become the Dahlem Environmental Education Center. After the shooting at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, numbers of students gathered around the campus flagpole to the north of Whiting Hall. The decade that included racial tension and the Vietnam War continued to spur marches and demonstrations on campus and in Jackson. They were turbulent times.

    Political protest was not the only kind of action on campus. Students participated in dozens of organizations, men’s and women’s sororities, clubs, sports, PanHellenic groups, the international club, nursing student clubs. Athletics for both men and women grew strong, with many conference, regional and even national titles.

    In the early 1970s, W.A. Foote Hospital (now Henry Ford Allegiance Health), closed its longtime registered nurse-diploma program and collaborated with Jackson Community College to provide and registered nurse educational program. In 1974, the Michigan State Board of Nursing approved JCC’s proposal for an associate degree program in nursing, and the first class of 40 students was admitted. Since opening, the practical nursing certificate and an associate degree in nursing programs have had continuous approval by the Michigan Board of Nursing.

    The Michigan Space and Science Center opened in 1977. Planning began for the Potter Center, which opened in two phases, in 1978 and in 1980. (See related stories).

    Throughout the decade, JCC continued to expand learning opportunities for college and community. Articulation agreements were decided that would eliminate duplication of instruction for student and lead more students to attend college. An external degree program was designed to bring educational opportunities out into Jackson County with classes, seminars, workshops and more. For a time, the College took over adult enrichment courses from Jackson Public Schools. The College also planned to participate in the broadcast of two TV series that could be courses taken for college credit, bringing a new dimension in instruction.

    In 1978, JCC and Eastern Michigan University entered into what would be called a “2+2” program agreement. EMU established a University Center office on the JCC campus and offered the second two years of many bachelor’s degree programs in Jackson – students could complete a bachelor’s degree in certain programs through EMU, all on the JCC campus.

  • 1960’s


    Change and civil unrest were trends in the 1960s. Freedom riders challenged segregation in the South. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out for civil rights, including his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. He would be assassinated in 1968. President John F. Kennedy challenged America to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, accomplished by Neil Armstrong in 1969. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. U.S involvement in the Vietnam War grew throughout the decade. The Beatles were a hit on the radio the Motown sound was popular, especially in Michigan.

    The 1960s were a time of change at Jackson College as well as across the country. Planning that had begun in the 1950s for a community college continued. As enrollments continued to soar to the 2,000-mark with no change in sight, Jackson-area educators considered the future. In January 1960, a General Citizens Advisory committee for Jackson, Hillsdale and Lenawee counties began meeting. County superintendents and county board of education presidents, educators and civic leaders comprised the committee. The committee felt a study was necessary because of projected population growth that predicted enrollments of 4,000 to 5,000 by the year 1975. Because current facilities were inadequate with no possibility of expansion on their current site, leaders began to look to new opportunities.

    In the meantime, what was known as the West Intermediate school building was used by Jackson Junior College in 1962, upon completing of the new Hunt junior high. It was renamed the Cortland building and housed most of the College’s classes throughout the mid-1960s.

    Early in 1961, a detailed study was made of the post-high school requirements of the Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale county areas. Their findings, published after some six month’s work, showed clearly that the three counties would be best served by creating a three-county community college district and assuming control of Jackson Junior College. In an election on the issue, two of the counties turned the proposal down. But Jackson County voters, long used to having a community college in their midst, supported the measure by more than two-to-one.

    The following November, a proposal to create a community college district of Jackson County was submitted to the voters. Again they supported the idea and, at the same time, they elected six trustees to represent them as the governing body of the proposed new college. Among those first trustees was George Potter, an alumnus of the junior college, who would go on to serve on the board for 44 years. In February and again in October of 1963, the trustees tried to gain support for a millage necessary to create and operate the new college, failing both times. In the meantime at least six other Michigan counties had created countywide community college districts, had voted the necessary financing and were at work on building new colleges.

    The plan to broaden JJC’s support throughout the county had, meanwhile, been given a boost in August of 1961 when Jackson industrialist J. Sterling Wickwire offered the county some 270 acres or property south of the city as a possible site for the new facility. However, because of the way the bequest was made, it did not work out for the college site.

    Trying for the third time, the community college trustees once more submitted their plan to the voters in the general elections of November, 1964. Voters approved a 1.3-mill tax to pay to operate the new community college. This time the proposal carried strongly, and Jackson Junior College found itself about to become Jackson Community College. In each of the elections leading to the successful vote, JJC students worked to build up support for the proposal.

    In 1965, Jackson Community College began countywide operation. The new college kept its colors, maroon and old gold, but changed its nickname to the “Golden Jets.” The year also saw the first community college graduates, with 53 graduating in the college’s Cortland Building auditorium. Construction on a new campus began in 1966, with much excitement. The first building was Justin R. Whiting Vocational-technical built. Completed in 1968, it was designed to serve the vocational and engineering areas of the community college program. From its beginning, the community college was tied closely with its community, meeting increasing needs for vocational education, extending programs in public services and health services, and providing accessibility to the disadvantaged and physically challenged.

    The second building completed on the new community college campus was the James A. McDivitt Jr. Hall of Science, and a Campus Services Building, which housed a student commons, food services and college bookstore, was also constructed. Following a dedication ceremony in 1969, Whiting and McDivitt halls served the entire student population. More building on the new campus would continue into the 1970s.

    Throughout the establishing of the new community college, education and student life continued. While Jackson Junior College had female cheerleaders for years, in 1964, the Women’s Recreation Association of Michigan granted JJC permission to form a WRA on campus. Sports such as basketball, volleyball, swimming, golf and tennis were offered to JJC coeds.

    In 1969, the College took a step forward technologically when it connected 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, in fall, a new engineering course was offered, computer science.

    By 1969, everyone had moved to the new campus, and the president’s office was temporarily located on the first floor of McDivitt Hall of Science.  John George Hall was being vacated, and the library also moved into the lobby of McDivitt Hall, where it stayed until Bert Walker Hall was completed in 1971, and it was moved into its new space.

  • 1950’s


    The 1950s saw the U.S. continuing a time of growth and change. Fashion trends saw women sporting chin length and shorter hair and poodle skirts, wingtip shoes for the men, leather jackets, and blue jeans. Gasoline cost 25 cents per gallon, and an average car cost $2,200. It was a decade of many firsts – the first telephone answering machine, credit card, pocket-sized transistor radio, home microwave ovens, computer hard disk, and microchip. Color TV came into people’s homes, and Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly were big on the radio. Moviegoers thrilled to James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.

    The decade of the 1950s saw continued growth at Jackson Junior College, growth that would put the need for change front and center. What began as a handful of college courses grew to dozens. Enrollment continued to climb, and students were active in a variety of sports and activities that made up junior college life.

    In 1950, the Jackson Veterans’ Institute was incorporated into the junior college. It had previously operated as an independent unit. Both veteran and non-veteran students benefitted from a variety of preparatory courses on an accelerated basis, as well as approved on-the-job apprenticeship training in agriculture and a number of trades. Academic emphases on the school’s nursing program grew, and in 1953, the title “Associate in Nursing” was authorized for students completing the first two years of the prescribed three-year curriculum with the Foote Hospital Nursing Program.

    The year 1952 saw Dr. William N. Atkinson take over the as interim superintendent, after George A. Greenawalt’s departure. Atkinson was named the president of the junior college.

    In memory of the 39 Jackson Junior College students who lost their lives serving their country in World War II, faculty members Ruth Arnold and Barbara Fausel conceived the idea for a memorial library that would be open to JJC students. Lumber companies donated material for shelves, volunteers constructed the shelves, and friends and relatives of the fallen service members donated books. Some of the materials included history, fiction, medicine, and a collection of the Harvard Classics. It opened in 1952.

    Disaster struck in April, 1956, when a lightning strike sparked a fire that destroyed E.O. Marsh Hall, the junior college’s original building. Classes had to be moved to other location. Crowded to near capacity, JJC had no place to go. The College was forced to turn away applicants for the first time in its history, not because they were unqualified, but because of lack of space to put them.

    Growing pains for the junior college became very apparent in the later ‘50s. In 1956, a move to West Intermediate school building was in the foreseeable future. The dream began, at this time, of building on land south of town. An article in the student newspaper, The Oracle, from 1956 states that building was being considered, “but that is far ahead.” Enrollment in 1957 reached more than 850 students, an increase of 20 percent from the previous year and a figure that had been predicted for 1963. By the end of the decade in 1959, enrollment was approximately 1,100 students.

    To deal with burgeoning enrollments and lack of space, officials began studying the possibility of building a new junior college campus. By 1959, the 200-acre site contained within Kimmel and Emmons roads on the south and north and Hague and Browns Lake roads on the east and west had been identified. Further study in the early 1960s would lead to the launch of a new community college. [/column]


  • 1940’s


    The 1940s saw the U.S. drawn into World War II. There were food rations and a host of efforts to support the war on the home front. Radio was a mainstay in homes, for news and for big band and jazz music. with hits like the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by The Andrews Sisters, “All or Nothing at All” by Frank Sinatra, and “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday. Big names in music were Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Nat “King” Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

    As Jackson Junior College continued into its second decade, the Depression years were waning and enrollment continued to grow. Beginning in 1939, sharing of space with the high school created some difficulties. The board began to consider the possibility of finding more room for the College. “The board felt that early consideration to the problem of supplying junior college students with their own building is necessary,” reported the Jackson Citizen Patriot.

    The decade began with a small but significant event in June 1940: the College’s first graduating class held its first reunion at a 10th-anniversary dinner in Jackson. College programs had continued to grow beyond the traditional arts and science, with programs like engineering and general business offered. A civilian pilot training program, launched in 1939, expanded in the 1940s. Increasing numbers of graduates went on to take advanced military flying instruction.

    With the country’s entrance into World War II in 1941, problems with a need for more space came to a sudden end. Within a year, enrollments had dropped 25 percent. Enrollments would continue to drop during the war years until, in 1944, only 15 sophomores – all of them women – graduated. During the war years, JJC men and women saw duty in every branch of the service and all corners of the globe. Sadly, by war’s end, 39 JJC students had given their lives.

    The end of World War II again brought a rapid shift in college enrollment. In 1946, John George Hall, also downtown, was purchased with assistance from the John George Fund. John George was a Jackson publisher who had passed away and bequeathed the income from more than one million dollars as an educational fund for Jackson County young people. The board of trustees named to administer the fund later bought the building from its owners, the Shaughnessy family, and in 1946, made it available to the College.

    As veterans returned from the war, new challenges sprang up for Jackson Junior College. With faculty and staff in short supply, arrangements had to be made for the handling of a steadily-increasing number of discharged veterans under the provisions of the G.I. Bill of Rights. Enrollment began an upward climb; by fall of 1946 there were more than 550 students at JJC, and more than 350 of them were men. nor was there any relief from the upward spiral for, as the veterans eventually began to disappear from campus, they would be replaced by even larger numbers of young people who had been born during the war years who were now growing up in a technically complex world which demand that they pursue education beyond a high school diploma. The pattern was being duplicated on every college campus across the country.

  • 1930’s


    In the 1930s, the Great Depression gripped our nation. In 1931, the Star-Spangled Banner became our national anthem, and gangster Al Capone was convicted. In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected president while Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly. The year 1936 saw Jesse Owens win four Gold Medals in the Olympics held in Berlin, Germany, breaking Olympic and world records; German Chancellor Adolf Hitler did not recognize them. Radio shows were popular and big band music had people dancing the foxtrot, lindy hop, Charleston and jitterbug.

    Jackson College was born in later years of the 1920s. To meet the demands of the changing workplace and economic climate, there was a need for more high school students to go to college and gain education beyond high school. Many students, however, were reluctant or unable to travel far from home to attend college.

    To meet this need, members of the governing board of the Jackson Union School District founded Jackson Junior College. College classes met in what had been an old family home in downtown Jackson, at the west end of Jackson High School, which was subsequently named E.O. Marsh Hall. Laboratory, library, gymnasium, classroom and auditorium facilities were shared with the high school.

    The curriculum was patterned after the University of Michigan, with the thought that students could transfer after two years in Jackson. After the first year, an inspection committee from the University of Michigan reviewed the new institution very carefully and had reported that “an excellent start has been made,” rating the JJC courses on a par with their own. The University immediately began accepting JJC transfer students without loss of grade points or credit hours.

    Jackson Junior College opened with a total staff of 14, and the first year saw 113 students enrolled – higher than what school officials had expected. Unfortunately, October 1929 saw the Wall Street Stock Market Crash which started what would become the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Depression cut deeply into college enrollments across the country, and Jackson was no different. Of the 113 students who began at the College, only 34 graduated two years later.

    That first class, however, did have many who graduated and remained in the community. Robert Whiting became a longtime member of the College’s faculty and was active in the local Audubon Society. Class president Floyd J. Poole became a Jackson County Clerk for many years. Many among that first class would send their sons and daughters to the College in later years.

    Despite the Depression, the young college survived, adapting itself to the needs of the community. By the mid-1930s, the enrollment began to creep upward again. The first two-year terminal course that could be completed was a secretarial program started in 1935. By fall of 1939, enrollment had reached 327, with 50 coming from outside the Union School district and five more from out of state.

    In 1938, the Board of Education authorized organization of the junior college into two divisions, a division of Arts and Science for students interested in transferring to a four-year college, and a division of General Studies for those enrolled in two-year programs or other not leading to graduation from a senior college.

  • 2010’s




    The decade began with Barack Obama in the White House. The Occupy Wall Street movement protested what many felt was the undue influence of corporations on government. The Patient and Affordable Care Act is signed into law in 2010, designed to make health accessible for more Americans. In 2011, Osama bin Laden, leader of militant Islamic group Al-Qaeda, was killed. Reality TV shows grew in popularity, and the box office saw “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” engage in a new generation of fans. Donald Trump was elected president and took office in 2017.

    The second decade of the new millennium has seen the continued change at the College. At the outset of the decade, a renovation was underway to Justin Whiting Hall – the first classroom building on Central Campus in the 1960s. Following completion of the Rawal Center for Health Professions in the center area, renovation continued on the east and west wings and the addition of a 42,000-square-foot health learning center. The project was completed in 2011. The Health Laboratory Center includes laboratory spaces for nursing and allied health programs, in facilities including additional learning studios, a seminar studio, high-tech conference rooms, office areas and student study areas.

    College enrollment continued its climb through 2011 and 2012, then started a decrease. A variety of factors contributed to the decline, including smaller high school graduating classes, changes in Pell Grant availability for summer and the conclusion of programs like No Worker Left Behind that had been available from 2007 to 2010. Cuts in programs and personnel were made to bring the College’s budget back into balance.

    To broaden access to local students, in 2012 the Jackson Community College Foundation purchased a 42,000-square-foot building to lease back to the College as a new campus. The building, located near the crossroads of Interstate 94 and US-127. Originally called the North Campus, it provides an easily accessible option to students from the northern areas of Jackson County and to non-traditional students who may take classes in the evening. It provides high visibility for college marketing as it is easily seen from I-94. In 2013, it was renamed the W.J. Maher Campus in honor of alumnus William J. Maher, a longtime local businessman and pilot who had served both the College Flight Center Advisory Board and the JC Foundation Board of Directors.

    A momentous change came in June 2013, when the Board of Trustees voted to rename the institution Jackson College, from Jackson Community College. President Daniel J. Phelan suggested the name change because of the changing ability for a community college to offer a limited number of bachelor’s degrees, as well as an emphasis on drawing more international students. Focus groups and advisory meetings were held in the months leading up to the name change, and feedback was positive on the change, as well as keeping “Jackson” in the final decision. This marked the third name change in the College’s history.

    In 2014, Jackson College received authorization from the Higher Learning Commission to offer its first-ever bachelor’s degree program, the Bachelor of Science in Energy Systems Management. It prepared students for professional careers in the energy industry. The College saw its first bachelor’s degree graduate in 2017.

    The decade has seen continued campus growth with a third student housing unit, Campus View 3, opening in 2015. With three facilities, the College’s resident capacity is near 500 students. To help both campus residents and all students connect on campus, a new recreation area was created in 2015 in the former Community Events Center, now the Jets Hangar. The Hangar provides meeting and recreation space for students, computer access, offices for security and campus life, as well as a Subway restaurant.

    In 2015, work began on the renovation of Bert Walker Hall. Space was added for a large community room, and the building was reconfigured to house all of Student Services. With the College’s emphasis on student success, the decade has seen a shift to hiring more student success navigators – beyond an advisor, a total resource person and coach for students throughout their college experience. Walker Hall houses navigator offices, as well as financial aid, the Center for Student Success, Veterans Services, Multicultural Affairs and more. In addition, it houses classrooms and faculty offices for language, literature and arts department.

    In 2017, Jackson College gained approval for its second bachelor’s degree, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Culinary Management and Hospitality. With society’s trend of eating out more and more, there is growing demand in both the culinary and hospitality fields for qualified professionals.


  • 2000’s


    The first decade of the new millennium will be remembered, sadly, for the events of Sept. 11, 2001 in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania, and the resulting War on Terror. George H.W. Bush was president as U.S. forces invaded Iraq, leading to the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule as Iraqi president. Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg founded social networking service Facebook in 2004. At home, the popularity of the Internet, mobile phone and text messaging surged. At the movie theater, computer-generated films such as “Avatar” became widespread.

    The new millennium saw Jackson Community College continuing its longtime commitment to providing quality higher education continue, while people, programs and facilities continued to change and grow. Rapid growth in the use of the Internet opens a new area of distance learning opportunities via the World Wide Web. As more and more working adults found the need to return to college to further their education, course delivery methods were altered to meet busy scheduled, with mini-semester and compressed courses offering the same material in a shortened time frame, allowing students to get the credits they need faster.

    In 2001, President Daniel J. Phelan took the helm of the College following the retirement of Lee Howser. Later that year, Jackson and the nation was rocked by the events of Sept. 11. In response to those events, and with the efforts of some retired faculty, Phelan formed a committee to establish a flag display on campus, with the Spirit of America Flag Tribute dedicated in 2002.

    To help meet increasing demand for college classes in Lenawee County, Jackson Community College worked with the Lenawee Intermediate School District on a land acquisition to build a new campus. JCC @ LISD TECH was built next door to what was the Lenawee Vo-Tech Center, today LISD TECH, with completion in 2003.

    Renovations to the nearly 40-year-old Central Campus began in 2005 with James McDivitt Hall. The building houses many of the physical and social sciences, mathematics, criminal justice and engineering classes. Renovations were made to classrooms, laboratories and lecture halls, including additional prep spaces, improved computer commons on the first floor and bistro area.

    In the early part of the decade, College officials initiated efforts to boost student life activities on campus. Marketing surveys had indicated that students wanted a fuller college experience beyond going to classes. Student life was identified as part of the College’s strategic plan in 2003, and opportunities grew for students to connect and get involved. One part of that came in 2006 when the College welcomed back an intercollegiate sports program after a 25-year hiatus, with the team name the Jets. Men’s baseball and women’s and men’s cross country were first to begin, followed by volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball. Men’s and women’s soccer and golf teams came later.

    The community college’s facilities continued to change. Bringing library and information technology facilities together into one building, William Atkinson Hall was built and dedicated in 2007. A large, open computer area is joined by breakout rooms, along with the traditional library stacks. The building houses classrooms, information technology campus offices, and a café.

    Taking an innovative step for a community college, Jackson built student housing on campus. This again allowed those students ready to live on their own and have a residential campus experience that opportunity. Campus View 1 was constructed in 2007, and a second, Campus View 2, was built in 2009.

    With the return of sports, Victor Cuiss Fieldhouse was renovated in 2007, updating facilities and installing a beautiful parquet floor. Hillsdale LeTarte Center was also renovated in 2007, upgrading facilities and adding laboratory and office space for that location.

    In 2008, the center core of Justin Whiting Hall was renovated to create the Rawal Center for Health Professions, thanks to the generosity of local neurosurgeon and family, Dr. Harish and Sudha Rawal. The center contains prototype student laboratories for nursing and allied health fields, including simulation mannequins to enhance student learning. [/column]


  • 1990’s


    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.

  • 1980’s


    The decade of the 1980s saw former actor Ronald Reagan serving as president, and times of major change around the world as Mikhail Gorbachev lead the Soviet Union into what would be the end of an era. At home, young people were breakdancing to music on boom boxes, and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was everywhere. Children kept their Cabbage Patch Dolls and Care Bears, and teens donned mullets and became “mallrats.” Sally Ride became the first woman in space, and America witnessed the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, which claimed seven, including teacher Christa McAuliffe. In 1989, the Berlin Wall was torn down.

    Jackson Community College persevered through the 1980s, but it was a difficult decade on many fronts. Following Harold Sheffer’s retirement in 1981, Clyde LeTarte became president of JCC.

    Jackson County suffered a severe economic downturn during the 1980s. Having always been tied to industry, especially the auto industry, many Jackson businesses were lost as other industries failed, closed or moved out of the county. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and Clark Equipment Company closed during this time. Nearly 4,000 people were laid off. With close ties to the community and accessibility of a local campus, JCC offered an opportunity for many to campus for education and retraining.

    New departments came into being during this time. Community and Business Services, an outgrowth of earlier continuing education offices, developed to fulfill training needs. College staff and faculty worked to create a multitude of training opportunities for employers and for unemployed and underemployed workers. The Job Training Institute, the Entrepreneurial Center, the Personnel Development Institute, Continuing Education, an industrial incubator and courses for senior citizens were all part. Continuing education offerings were strong, at one time serving more than 1,500 senior citizens and 500 adults.

    Economic limitations caused college leaders to tighten their belt. In 1982, budget constraints led the Board to discontinue intercollegiate athletics programs completely, with basketball being the last to go. President Clyde LeTarte said that the decision to eliminate athletics was one of the most difficult decisions that he ever made.

    While the decision was difficult, JCC did continue to help Jackson County get active. Rather than sending sports teams out, health and physical education staff welcomed the community to the fieldhouse for fitness and hosted events such as the Ultimate Health Experience – Ultimate Runner, and businesses for the Corporate Challenge relays. The focus switched to health and wellness, motivating people to change behavior. Faculty got involved with the local Jackson Wellness Committee to help reach more people. LeTarte shared “What good does it do, JCC physical education instructors ask, for the college to prepare people for careers if their health habits contribute to illnesses that keep them from fulfilling those careers?”

    To help support the College and its students, the Jackson Community College Foundation formed in 1983. Sensing future trends in the areas of development and community support, the Board determined that an institutional foundation, whose role was to provide assistance only to the College, would be beneficial throughout the future. The Foundation maintains a tax-exempt status and is an independent corporation. 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.

    College life continued educating more and more students for transfer and careers. With the completion of the George E. Potter Center for the Performing Arts and the formation of a Michigan School of the Arts, drama, dance and music were center stage. Broadway show troupe the Starfleet Ambassadors highlighted Jackson’s talent, and in 1987, the Jackson Community Concert Band formed. Comprised of both college students and community members, the band still exists today.

    Instructional programs continued to grow, and technology needs prompted the opening of the first computer lab in 1986, a Mac lab. Developmental education opportunities advanced to better help all students become prepared for college. In 1989, the College launched a scholarship program for students identified in sixth-grade who went on to successfully graduated high school, CARE (Concerned Adults Responding Early). It was supported for a number of years by a classic car show fundraiser that drew hundreds to campus.

    The College’s reach outward continued in 1989 with the opening of the Lenawee Center in Adrian. This location allowed for consolidation of instruction and student services activities that had been taking place at several locations in Lenawee County. Courses continued there for nearly 15 years, until the College built its current site in 2003. [/column]