On the evening of Oct. 14, at Lane’s Florence campus, staff members and long-time LCC supporters assembled to herald the college’s 50th anniversary. In her speech to approximately 50 guests, LCC President Mary Spilde thanked members of the Florence staff for hosting the event and for their contribution to Lane’s success over the past 50 years.
“We are all very excited about what the next 50 years will look like,” Spilde said.
Spilde made special mention of two honored guests at the event, Al Owens, who was the first LCC Director at Florence and Dr. Al Brauer who was elected to the original Lane Community College Charter Board of Directors.
“We had the blessing of Dale Parnell who was a great leader,” Brauer said.
Spilde commented that Brauer had told her that in 1964 charter board members were elected for either two, three or four years. He got the most votes so he got four years.
“Dale Parnell told me to go to Florence and turn some rocks and start some classes,” Owens said. “I was having fun and was trying new things.”
The following night community leaders and Lane Community College staff, faculty and students came together at the Main Campus’ Center for Meeting and Learning in honor of Lane’s 50th anniversary.
Guests listened to jazz music as they were served hors d’oeuvres prepared by Culinary Arts students. Ninkasi Titan Power Pale Ale, created especially for the college, was unveiled at the event.
Ninkasi donated beer to LCC’s Al Fresco program over the summer and donated more to the school for this celebration, in addition to brewing this new ale, exclusively attributed to the college.
Lane’s mascot, Ty the Titan presented guests with free wristbands before members of the student government ushered them into the main room for the ceremony. Speakers included LCC President Mary Spilde, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore. 4th District) and members of the LCC Board of Education and student government.
Spilde reflected that citizens of Lane County held a vision in 1964 to build a college to help sustain their families and build meaningful lives. She noted that it was a transformational year both for Lane County and for the nation.
The Civil Rights Act was signed into law the year the college was founded.
“It is fitting, dedicated as we are to serving the underrepresented, the underprepared, the poorest and the most first-generation students in our country,” Spilde said.
She commended the community’s role in the national movement that defended higher education as a right for all and not a privilege for the few. Spilde spoke of the importance in the next 50 years of being vigilant in continuing to follow the ideals of the college’s founders.
Part of that vision in 1964 was to have a locally elected governing board, which the school still has today.
DeFazio described Lane as a great asset to Oregon’s system of community colleges. At the same time, he pointed out the need for more funding from the state for education.
“I know the legislature and the Governor are going to do better for [community colleges] in their next budget” DeFazio said.
DeFazio has helped fund roughly 237 scholarships at five Oregon community colleges in the 4th District, including Lane. He recalled making a fishing rod and learning to fly fish from a course at Lane when he came to Oregon. “What would fit more with Lane Community College than ‘perpetuating better living?’” DeFazio asked as he read the phrase on his empty beer cup.
Kitzhaber spoke about the importance of lowering the poverty rate in Oregon. A goal was set four years ago to reduce the poverty level from 18 percent to below 10 percent by 2020. He mentioned that when it comes to getting people out of poverty and putting them on the road to prosperity, there is not a single investment more important than education.
Oregon Lottery Executive Director Jack Roberts spoke about the lottery’s large contribution to education in Oregon. “That money goes to education, particularly K-12 and community colleges,” Roberts said.
Alumni Shirley Andress Tendick grew up on a farm and said that Lane taught her how to excel at school. She appreciated the one-on-one help that was available in Lane classes as compared to classes at a university that might have hundreds of other students.
Her three children are Lane graduates: one from the dental assistant program, one from the nursing program, and one from the culinary program.
Mary Spilde honored distinguished alumni from every decade beginning with the 1960s. Those called on stage were Bill Dwyer (1960s), Doug Koke (1970s), Shirley Andress Tendick (1980s), Dr. Terri Baarstad (1990s), and Dr. Tobias Policha (2000s).
The ceremony concluded with Ty the Titan running up to the stage and giving President Spilde a cupcake on a plate.