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Northeast Community College To Celebrate Its 40th Anniversary

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by James Curry

NORFOLK – Forty years ago, the college that area residents know today as Northeast Community College began serving 14 counties of Northeast Nebraska. Northeastern Nebraska College and Northeast Nebraska Technical College merged on July 1, 1973.

To mark its 40th anniversary, the College will celebrate by hosting a public open house on its Norfolk campus at 801 E. Benjamin Avenue on Saturday, September 28th from 12-4 p.m. The open house will include a barbecue for the first 250 people beginning at 12 p.m., tours of campus from 1-4 p.m., performances by the Northeast Area Jazz Ensemble, antique cars and tractors, and more.

Dr. Michael Chipps, president of Northeast, said it is amazing how much the college, which now serves 101 communities and 60 schools located in 20 counties and covering  over 14,000 square miles, has grown over the past 40 years. “From our modest start with four buildings in 1973 to 27 state of the art facilities on 860 acres and three extended campuses today, Northeast Community College has accomplished so much over the past four decades.  We deeply appreciate and commend the educational pioneers who over 40 years ago understood the junior college and technical concept of meeting the workforce and transfer needs of our citizens.  This is our same mission today,” he said.

Dr. Chipps said that mission is multi-faceted.  “It is our primary responsibility to educate students to enter the workforce upon achieving prescribed technical competencies. Our mission also includes playing  a vital role in the economic development of our expansive region.”

“Our annual Graduate Employment Report continues to clearly illustrate that we are providing so many wonderful opportunities for our students. It is phenomenal that 99 percent of our graduates report they are either working or continuing their education with 87 percent of them working in their field of study,” Dr. Chipps said.

He said the September 28th open house is a way to thank and honor the people of Northeast’s service area for their tremendous support over the years. “We are ‘rolling out the red carpet’ and inviting everyone to come out and join us for a complimentary lunch on the 28th and to take tours of the college.   We are so proud of Northeast Community College and the great reputation it continues to hold in the hearts and minds of our constituents,” he said. “I want to offer my deepest appreciation to the thousands of students and the hundreds of faculty and staff, to the great leaders and the outstanding citizens of Northeast Nebraska for making this college what it is today.”

Although the 40th anniversary marks the milestone of the merger, Northeast Community College’s roots go deeper into the 20th Century. Norfolk Junior College was established as part of the Norfolk Public School System in September 1928. Nearly 40 years later, in July 1968, Norfolk Junior College separated from the public school system and became known as Northeastern Nebraska College the following February.

In August 1965, the Nebraska Legislature adopted legislation that would allow voters in counties surrounding Norfolk to create a 14-county technical college region and Northeast Nebraska Vocational Technical School. Four years and a name change later, the College began conducting classes in Norfolk at a few temporary facilities. Northeast Nebraska Technical College opened its doors at 801 East Benjamin Avenue in June 1971.

In November 1972, Northeast’s region was expanded to the 20 counties of Northeast Nebraska.  The following July, Northeastern Nebraska College and NNTC merged as Northeast Nebraska Technical Community College. The name of the College was changed to Northeast Technical Community College (NTCC) in July 1975. The NTCC campus was annexed to the City of Norfolk in April 1977. In compliance with state legislation adopted in August 1991, the name was officially changed to Northeast Community College.

The College served approximately 800 credit on-campus students and offered a total of 39 programs of study in 1973. Today, there are over 80 programs and concentrations of study.  In 2012-13, Northeast’s enrollment totaled 7,300 students taking credit courses in the last year with over 15,000 students taking 1,400 continuing education, non-credit classes.

The original NNTC campus opened in 1971 with the Maclay Administration building, the Building Construction building and the Complex “B” building that included Diesel and Auto Body shops. A dormitory and the library were constructed a year later.

Site work is presently underway on Northeast’s latest facilities project. The 66,613-square-foot Applied Technology Education and Training Building will house the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Building Construction, Electromechanical, Electrical Construction and Control, and a portion of the Wind Energy Technology programs when it opens in 2015.                                                       

While the Norfolk campus has grown exponentially in the past forty years, so has the service area Northeast now serves. The College operates three extended campuses to meet the needs of citizens across the 20 counties. Extended campuses are located at the College Center in South Sioux City, in West Point and in O’Neill.

Northeast Community College continues to expand its reach to the western portion of its service area and will construct a new $2.5 million extended campus in O’Neill. A capital campaign is currently underway to secure funding for the endeavor.

In 2011 and again in 2012, Northeast was named to a list of the nation’s top 120 community colleges by the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. The Aspen Institute used a quantitative formula that assesses performance and improvement in four areas: graduation rates, degrees awarded student retention rates, and equity in student outcomes on all 1,200 community colleges in the country.

Dr. Chipps said Northeast Community College has a long, rich history in serving and meeting the needs of the 20 counties of Northeast and North Central Nebraska. “We’re Northeast. Success Starts Here’ isn’t just a tagline; it’s a belief system that clearly demonstrates the College’s commitment to the educational achievement of its students and to the region today, and for the next 40 years and beyond.

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Northeast Community College To Celebrate Its 40th Anniversary