By Kamylla Brown
The TC News Reporter
A stroll down memory lane. An appreciation for growth, expansion, and technological advancement. Student success. Community.
Today, Texarkana College celebrated its 90th birthday with a ceremony on campus that included more than 300 people for just the speeches alone. The annual Fall Fest followed the program.
Despite temperatures near 90 degrees, the breeze blew sporadically, and the sunshine highlighted the program guest who spoke of the college’s longevity.
TC President James Henry Russell paid homage to Dr. Carl M. Nelson, a former TC president.
“There is no way we would be standing here today without the contributions of Dr. Nelson,” Russell said.
Russell introduced Texas State Rep. Gary VanDeaver, a supporter of the college.
“I just wish people from around the state would see how awesome it is at Texarkana College,” VanDeaver said.
He also stressed the importance of education.
“If you think education is expensive, wait until you see what ignorance costs you,” he said.
A joint proclamation was present by Texarkana Texas Mayor Bob Bruggeman and Texarkana Arkansas Mayor Ruth Penney Bell. Both are TC alumni.
Bell said attending TC started her on a path to success.
“My first semester at TC I enrolled for 22 hours,” Bell said. “I thought that if I hurried up it would mean that my parents would not have to pay so much. I learned quite quickly that was not my best decision. My best decision was choosing to attend TC.”
TC Professors Emeritus Herman Barnett, Vernon Wilder, Dr. Royce Granberry, and Dr. Patricia Morgan also shared stories about the college’s commitment to the community and student success.
Barnett, who came to TC in 1967, reflected on what TC has meant to him and his family.
“It means more than what we can say,” Barnett said.
His wife attended TC on an academic scholarship, and his two children attended during the time that dual credit courses were offered.
“My time spans more than four decades at Texarkana College,” Barnett said. “As an instructor, my association with students was a very rewarding experience. We continue to be blessed by the association with Texarkana College, a great place to start or start over.”
Vernon Wilder started in 1975 as an adjunct instructor. He said he was hired as a full-time faculty member in 1996 during the Nelson administration.
“People don’t quit here,” Wilder said. “They don’t quit working on projects. They don’t quit professionally either because it’s such a fantastic place to be.”
Wilder reminded the audience of the college’s progress when “everybody shared an office and it was elbow to elbow,” referring to the Social Science building.
Wilder described the Social Science faculty and staff as family, but he did not stop there explaining the bonds within divisions.
“As a matter of fact, all of the divisions are families within themselves, but together, as the family of Texarkana College, it is amazing the degree of cooperation and spirit we all have,” Wilder said.
Dr. Granberry came to TC as a student in 1961. Four years later, he joined the college as an instructor.
He noted how the campus had changed very little at that time.
When he was a student, Dr. Granberry said, “We basically had four buildings in which instruction was carried on…We could basically stand on one part of the campus and throw a rock to the other side.”
“It was the best of times and the worst of times, but it was good times because in those days…you learned to share,” Dr. Granberry said.
Dr. Morgan spoke about how TC started a nursing program and vocational technical program on campus. The vocational nursing program was established in 1956.
In 1957, the first class of vocational nursing students graduated. In 1959, TC started an Associate Degree Nursing program, the first of its kind in Texas.
“Texarkana College has been the leader in providing nurses for our hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and home health services, but they have done all of this as a partnership with the community and with Texarkana College,” Dr. Morgan said.
“TC is my college, and it’s my home away from home, and I know it’s going to be successful for another 90 years and many to follow,” she said.
Faith Harper, a current TC student and president of Phi Theta Kappa, concluded the ceremony with words of appreciation to faculty.
“Thank you for seeing our potential when we ourselves can not see it,” Harper said. “Thank you for making it a point to encourage questions in class. Thank you for caring about your students. And lastly, thank you for changing the lives of thousands of students of whom I am one.”