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Texarkana College celebrates 90 years

September 21st, 2017 by Jennifer Middleton in Texarkana News

James Henry Russell, president of Texarkana College, kicks off the college's 90th anniversary celebration Wednesday. Russell credited previous leadership from Dr. Carl "Cheesie" Nelson and others for their vision and guidance in creating a history of excellence at the community college.

Photo by Evan Lewis /Texarkana Gazette.

Texarkana College celebrated its 90th birthday Wednesday with burgers, cupcakes and recollections of the school's impact on the community over the years. Since the college first opened its doors Sept. 20, 1927, thousands of area students have passed through, gaining knowledge which changed their lives for the better.

Professor Emeritus Dr. Royce Granberry spoke of seeing a former student who he helped years ago to decide on a college career. The young man, who had a spinal disorder which limited his mobility, wasn't sure at the time if college was right for him. Granberry said he encouraged him and the student completed his degree and then secured a position with a foundation that deals with natural resources and natural conservation research.

"He went on to say he was married and had a family and the job of his dreams," he said. The man told him he could not be happier with his life and that if it had not been for Texarkana College, he would not be where he was.

"While he was expressing his appreciation to me, he was really thanking Texarkana College," Granberry said. "I believe that this epitomizes and demonstrates totally what this institution has been in the past, is at the present, and will continue to be in the future."

Texarkana mayors on both sides of the line signed a joint proclamation declaring Sept. 20 as TC day. Texarkana, Ark. Mayor Ruth Penney Bell and Texarkana, Texas, Mayor Bob Bruggeman are both graduates of the college. Bell said, "I will tell you this, the best decision I ever made was to attend TC."

Beverly Craft and others listen to Texas State Rep. Gary VanDeaver talk about the importance of the investment in educational institutions on Wednesday at Texarkana College's 90-year anniversary celebration.

Beverly Craft and others listen to Texas State...

Photo by Evan Lewis /Texarkana Gazette.

She added that she had wonderful experiences while going to school there and that during her teaching career, the students she encouraged to attend went on to have wonderful lifestyles thanks to that strong education.

"Thank you, TC, and thank you to those people who were farsighted enough back in 1927 to establish something that has been so valuable to this community," she said. "Thank you guys for supporting us."

Texas State Representative Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) was also in attendance Wednesday and presented TC President James Henry Russell with a Texas flag which had been flown over the state capitol.

He congratulated the college on the milestone, a day he said some weren't sure would come.

"I think there are a few people who kept the faith and had no doubt that this day would be coming. It is because of them that we are here to celebrate today," he said. A former superintendent, VanDeaver is known for strongly supporting both higher and lower education both locally and at the state level. He spoke on one of his favorite quotes, one he said guides him in many of his decisions. "If you think education is expensive, wait until you see what ignorance costs you," he said. "I believe that is so true. The money we invest in Texarkana College and in our other institutions and our public schools, it's not money blown. It's not even money spent. It's money invested in the future and I'm very proud to be a part of that and I'm very proud to see the result of that investment here today."

Professor Emeritus Dr. Patricia Morgan also spoke to the crowd, saying that when she hears someone speak of the college, the first thing she thinks of is community.

"Texarkana College is truly a community college. It has been our community's college for the last 90 years," she said. "A clear example of this was when the college was only 29 years old, in 1956, the local hospitals realized they needed more licensed nursing personnel in the hospitals. A group of registered nurses and physicians' wives set about to see if they could start a professional nursing program in a community college, which was almost unheard of. But, of course, TC said yes."

The college put together a planning commission, and along with the board of trustees, began a plan to determine exactly what they would be required to do to get the program going. At the same time, she said, the practical nursing program offered in the Texarkana, Ark., high school was being phased out. TC's program was approved by the Texas Education Association and the first class was held in 1956.

"Sixty years ago this month, the first class of vocational nursing students graduated," she said, adding that the program was unique in two ways. "It was the first nursing program on this campus and also it was the first vocational technical program at Texarkana College," she said. The school went on to offer an associate's degree in nursing in 1959, the first associate degree nursing program in the state of Texas. It was also the first associate degree nursing program that obtained national accreditation.

"For 90 years, the nursing programs at TC have been the leaders in supplying nurses for our hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and home health services," Morgan said. "We have done all this as a partnership with the community and Texarkana College. Texarkana College is my college. It's my home away from home and I know it's going to be successful for another 90 years and many to follow."

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