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North Side: Community College of Allegheny County

College Marks 20th Anniversary

From The Communicator, September/October 1985.

This year CCAC [Community College of Allegheny County] celebrates its 20th anniversary.
When the College first opened its doors in 1966, a total of 1,516 students were enrolled. Today, more than 90,000 students are enrolled in thousands of credit and non-credit classes.
During these past 20 years, CCAC has grown to become the largest community college in Pennsylvania and among the largest in the United States. And last year, CCAC generated more than 20,000 full-time equivalent students, ranking it as one of the top three colleges in the state along with the University of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania State University.

But just how did community colleges and CCAC begin in Pennsylvania?
It all started 22 years ago when former Gov. William W. Scranton signed the Community College Act, thus creating a new type of college system in Pennsylvania.
Since 1963 the 14 community colleges in the state have attempted to fulfill their mandated mission of providing low cost, open-door education while remaining responsive to trends and the needs of local communities. The community colleges have grown from a dream to a $180 million dollar industry that provides jobs for nearly 11,000 individuals.
An economic study released by CCAC this year indicates that for every dollar invested in CCAC by Allegheny County taxpayers, $3.74 was directly returned to the local economy and $7.78 was indirectly spent in the county. And 3,942 local jobs have been created as a result of college-related expenditures.

CCAC began with a meeting.
In September, 1963, the Allegheny County Board of School Directors met, and upon the recommendation of County Superintendent of Schools Dr. A. W. Beattie, a proposal was made for a study of a community college in Allegheny County.
The need for a community college here was brought about by the continually increasing number of high school graduates wanting to attend college.
In February, 1964, material was gathered, and acting on a resolution adopted by the Annual Convention of Allegheny County School Directors, the President of the County School Board appointed a study committee to review the data and materials.
After studying this information, the committee met with the subcommittee for community colleges of the State Council of Higher Education in March, 1964. This committee recommended the County Board convene a special convention of the County School Directors.
At this convention in June, 1964, the proposed plan for CCAC was discussed. After the presentation by Dr. James S. Snoke, Assistant Superintendent of Allegheny County Schools, this special convention unanimously voted to have the County School Board ask the Allegheny County Commissioners to become the local sponsor of CCAC in accordance with the provisions of the Community College Act.
In August, 1964, the Board presented criteria to the County Commissioners (Dr. William D. McClelland, John E. McGrady and Blair E. Gunther) as to why they should become the local sponsor of CCAC. After studying the information, the commissioners unanimously decided on December 1, 1964, to become the local sponsor.
A request for county voters to approve the indebtedness of the county for $11.1 million was placed on the ballot in May, 1965. This People's Bond Issue was approved, and on November 10, 1965, the state Board of Education approved the application of the commissioners to establish CCAC.

Immediately the commissioners sought community leaders to serve as trustees. On December 8, 1965, 15 trustees were sworn in. They were:
Dr. Beattie, Dr. Irving H. Bartlett, Daniel Marguriet, William E. Howard, George N. Scheid, Hiram Milton, Mary T. Denman, Thomas L. Fagan, Herman Fineberg, Dr. M. R. Hadley, Dr. Blair Kolasa, Dr. S. P. Marland, Jr., the Rev. John B. McDowell, the Rev. James J. Robinson and Louis F. Sattele.
On April 5, 1966, Kermit C. Morrissey was elected the first president of CCAC. Morrissey had been Dean of Students at Brandeis University and Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Regional Community Colleges.
Meanwhile, Plant and Site Committee proposed the Western Theological Seminary buildings on Ridge Avenue on Pittsburgh's North Side for the site of one campus (Allegheny). The Board agreed and forwarded a request to the commissioners to purchase this property and the surrounding property referred to as "Monument Hill."

Boyce Campus also was opened in 1966. Originally known as the East Campus, it is located in Monroeville. The first facilities were temporary, utilizing Gateway Senior High School, Forbes Trail Technical School and the Monroeville Public Library. Because they were using public facilities the campus only offered courses that began after 4 p.m. each day.
Occasionally Boyce is referred to as the "Instant Campus" because of the rapid construction of the new campus in 1969 near Boyce Park. With this new campus, the College was able to offer traditional daytime classes. A major building program to enlarge the facility began in 1971 and was completed in 1973.
South Campus was opened in 1967 in temporary facilities at West Mifflin South High School and Lebanon Presbyterian Church. Additional facilities were acquired in McKeesport. Like Boyce Campus, classes at South began after 4 p.m.
During the College-wide building program initiated in 1971, South Campus was relocated to a 200-acre site off of Route 885 in West Mifflin.
In 1972 Center-North began operations out of a trailer on the grounds of North Hills Passavant Hospital. Center-North grew rapidly and is presently housed in facilities in the Pines Plaza Shopping Center on Perry Highway, Northway Mall on McKnight Road and at a variety of locations in the North Hills area.

The story of CCAC has been one of growth and change. Adaptability is the nature of the College and the tenet basic to CCAC's commitment to the community. The College has changed and adapted to new demands and circumstances of the community. And CCAC accommodates changing labor and social trends through programs that meet the needs of various individuals.

When CCAC opened its doors in 1966 at Allegheny and Boyce campuses, it awarded two associate degrees and offered fewer than 20 programs.
Today, CCAC offers three types of degrees: Associate in Arts, Associate in Science and Associate in Applied Science, as well as certificate and diploma programs for students who wish to acquire career or vocational training in one year or less. The College now offers more than 190 credit programs designed to prepare students for transfer to a four-year college or immediate employment in the community.

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