South Plains College is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the vote to bring a community college to Levelland.
In 1957, a petition signed by 560 people was taken to Hockley County. The residents approved building the college with a vote of 2-1.
"There were community members. There were Rotarians," South Plains College President Robin Satterwhite said. "There were school board members, school employees, who looked up and blazed the pathway to say, 'We need a community college in Levelland, Texas, in Hockley County.'"
In July of 1957, $900,000 in bonds were issued to purchase 170 acres of land and get the brick and mortar moving.
President Satterwhite said it was the community then and the community now that makes SPC thrive and had led the institution to exceed the vision of its founders.
"The insight and vision they had is amazing because it has served hundreds of thousands of students over the years," Satterwhite said. "Their willingness to come together to make that investment of time and energy and resources made all the difference in the world."
September 15, 1958 was the first day of classes at SPC, with Dr. Thomas Spencer serving as its first president. A mere 19 teachers taught 60 classes for 576 enrolled students. SPC says most of those enrolled students were townspeople showing their support for the college.
Now, SPC has expanded beyond Levelland to facilities at the former Reese Air Force Base, in Plainview and Lubbock to provide academic and technical education. SPC plans to continue that growth.
"One of the beautiful things about being 60 years old is you have a very, very mature college," Satterwhite said. "You have facilities. You have traditions. You have things that have really developed over the years that we get to build upon."
Among the focuses for growth at SPC is relationship-building with surrounding universities and high schools to provide ways for students to use the college for beginning and lasting education.
For its celebration, SPC plans to look back on the 60 most notable events or milestones in its history.
"It's an exciting time for us to be able to celebrate the 60 years of the college and be able to celebrate all we've accomplished over the years and celebrate our alumni," Satterwhite said. "While I've seen a lot of changes in facilities, a lot of change in the horizon of the campus, the history and tradition of excellence have stayed firm."
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