A Look Back: Somerset Community College Celebrates 50 Years of Education
Above: The groundbreaking of Meece Hall in 1964, the first building on SCCs campus.
Above: Meece Hall as it stood in 1970.
Above: Meece Hall today.
Throughout 2015, SCC will be celebrating its anniversary in numerous ways. One way the college will celebrate is through a 50th anniversary speakers series. Throughout the year, several nationally-known speakers and guests will be on hand to share their experiences with the college and the community. These speakers include Pulitzer Prize winning author Rick Bragg, Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Wes Moore, comedian Jeanne Robertson and much more. Visit www.scc50.org to view the full calendar as it develops, submit your personal memories of SCC through the years and view a message from SCC President and CEO Dr. Jo Marshall.
Our HistoryRecognizing the need for quality higher education in all parts of the state, the Kentucky General Assembly authorized the formation of the University of Kentucky Community College System in 1962. Somerset was chosen as the hub for education in the southeastern section of Kentucky and, with the help of the Education Development Foundation, a citizen corporation comprised of community leaders from Pulaski and several surrounding counties, land was identified and purchased for the formation of Somerset Community College (SCC).
On September 1, 1965, 290 students walked into Meece Hall to mark their spot in history as the first students of Somerset Community College.
According to The Somerset Journal's article on the opening day of school, the Meece building was a modern building with a well-equipped chemistry laboratory, special music room, commerce rooms, a modern library, several other classrooms, a large study area, several instructors offices and administrative offices.
Those first students were able to choose from several programs of study, including accounting aide, professional secretary, several fields of engineering technology, forestry and wood technology, professional secretary courses, stenography, marketing and accounting, the article said. The college also offered evening courses in topics such as real estate appraisal, painting for non-art majors, accounting, office appliance and procedures, commercial law, map reading and land descriptions.
Even though enrollment was slightly lower than expected, the newspaper reported that by September 18, a formal announcement was made in the Crystal Ballroom of the Hotel Beecher that an expansion of SCC was already needed and would soon be in process.
Since that time, several expansions at SCC have occurred. In 1970, Stoner Hall opened, followed by the Strunk Learning Resource Center in 1979 and the Richard Ernst Cooper Building in 1985.
In 1997, Kentucky Governor Paul E. Patton signed the Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997, creating the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Two years later, the KCTCS Board of Regents approved a resolution that encouraged consolidation of local community and technical colleges and on January 1, 2003, the Somerset Technical College, Laurel Technical College and Somerset Community College officially became one institution known as Somerset Community College.
Since the consolidation, Somerset Community College has continued to grow and expand services to students throughout the region. The Somerset Campus consists of two locations North and South. The SCC Somerset South Campus is home to most technical programs, Workforce Solutions department, classrooms and more. On the Somerset North Campus, the Alton E. Blakley Academic/Technical Building opened in 2003 and the following year, the Harold Rogers Student Commons opened. The 54,500 square foot Harold Rogers Student Commons is a state-of-art building with three levels. It houses a cafeteria, bookstore, community room, wellness center, student lounge, offices for student services and also provides classrooms for several healthcare programs. The building has become the center of activity on the Somerset Campus.
The Laurel Campus of Somerset Community College encompasses two locations. One campus, called Laurel North, is located at 100 University Drive, near the junction of Hwy. 229 and Hwy. 192 in London. The second campus, the Laurel South Campus, is located at 235 South Laurel Street, next to South Laurel High School.
Since the opening of the Laurel North Campus, two additional buildings have been added. On March 27, 2003, an open house was held to celebrate the opening of the new academic and technical building on the campus. Then, after a combination gift and purchase of a piece of land from Rick and Kimberly Brown, which is in front of the campus and is the road frontage for Highway 192, funds were provided by the state to build an Allied Health and Technical Education building. On May 10, 2010, an open house was held for that building, which provides the space for much needed health programs in the Laurel County area.
In addition, SCC has opened and developed four additional centers to expand the community college reach further into the region. Centers now exist in McCreary County, Russell County, Casey County and Clinton County. Combined, SCC has an enrollment near 8,000 and offers associate degrees, diplomas and certificates in more than 40 areas of study.
As SCC celebrates 50 years of quality education and workforce training in 2015, the college is still focused on some of the same goals: to expand the options of people in the region, to understand and meet the demands of the workplace, to educate students in a setting that is close to home and to provide quality education at an affordable price. Today, SCC students can easily transfer to a four-year college or university to further their education, or enter the workforce prepared and ready for their career.
To find out more about the history of Somerset Community College, or to share your story, visit scc50.org.