College celebrates 90th birthday

Students, faculty and government officials alike gathered in commemoration of IVCC’s 90th birthday at 1 p.m. Monday Sept. 15 in the new Peter Miller Community Technology Center.

The ceremony included speeches from President Jerry Corcoran, President from 1974-1996 Alfred E. Wisgoski, chair of the IVCC Board of Trustees Melissa Olivero, Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), Sen. Darin LaHood (R-Dunlap), Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley), and Rep. Robert Pritchard (R-Hinckley), IVCC Foundation President O.J. Stoutner, President A.F.T. Local Union 1810 Mike Philips, and student body trustee Amy Rogowski.

Corcoran began by comparing the seven faculty, 32 student total of La Salle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College to the 83 full-time faculty and over 8,000 student total of IVCC today, exemplifying the immense growth the college has seen since its inception in 1924.

Sept. 15 90 years ago marked the first semester for the second community college in Illinois, LPO Junior College, housed in LaSalle-Peru Township High School under the leadership of then supervisor, Thomas J. McCormack.

Even then, the goal of the college was to help students bypass costly tuition and fees at a regular four-year university, in particular the University of Illinois. Tuition was $16 per semester.

Despite the low rates, IVCC continuously prides itself for quality education to propel its students to reach the potential needed to meet the curriculum of larger universities. Just as Philips said, “The intellectual wealth of the Illinois Valley brings thousands of students to the college to enrich their lives.”

IVCC’s enriched history captivated the attention of all those in attendance, reviewing photos in yearbooks, newspapers, and literary magazines from decades past.

Reminders of the college’s history left Corcoran prospective for the future. “Oaks are sturdy and long-lived, just like our college,” he said in reference to the tree planted in honor of the school earlier in the semester.

“To a geologist, 90 years is like the blink of an eye,” Philips, also head of the geology department, mentioned, putting in perspective just how much IVCC has accomplished in such a short amount of time.

Within this time frame, LPO Junior College was transformed into Illinois Valley Community College in 1966, moving across the Illinois River to temporary buildings awaiting the permanent campus’ grand opening in 1972.

This permanent campus would facilitate students forming intramural and organized sports under the Apache mascot until the 2001 Eagle name change, then including football, track, and cheerleading teams. IVCC also once housed a fully orchestrated band, held a Homecoming dance, and had student-organized chess and foreign language clubs.

IVCC would also later welcome the Cultural Center in 1980, to host an array of guest speakers, musical groups, and the college’s own theater productions, as well as the truck driver training center in 2009, satellite Ottawa Center in 2010, and the Peter Miller Community Technology Center which opened recently in November 2013.

The college’s previous 90 years were celebrated with the cutting of a birthday cake, as well as a balloon release and other student spirit-themed activities throughout the remainder of the week.