College celebrates 39th year


The 39th anniversary of OCCC was celebrated this past Wednesday with a gathering in the College Union.

The celebration featured cake and drinks, and a presentation by Gary Lombard, human resources vice president, who has been with the college since it broke ground.

Lombard illustrated the college’s history with a slideshow, and emphasized the unique aspects of OCCC’s history through anecdotes.

One such anecdote was the traditional ribbon cutting ceremony. Instead of a ribbon, OCCC chose to have a chain, in which a link would be broken. The young lady who would break the chain simply had to hit it in the right spot, Lombard said.

“However, when she struck the chain, a spark flew off and set her panty hose on fire.

“The young lady was fine, and no harm was done, but it’s stories like these that give life and character to the college’s history,” Lombard said.

Lealon Taylor, institutional advancement executive director, said his favorite story was one about an individual mistaking OCCC for a parking garage.

“So this gentleman drove a truck through the front doors of the college. The sprinkler systems went off and obviously he was arrested; I think he was on some mind altering drugs at that point,” Taylor said.

“I’m sure it wasn’t funny back then, but now to think about the fact that it happened here, in the building we’re standing in today, I thought was particularly amusing.”

Taylor said he especially enjoyed the presentation for the insight it gave him into the college’s history.

“I started working here this year, in January, and I enjoyed seeing pictures that showed how the college looked before. And it was great learning about where we come from, and where we’re going, and the mission of this college.” Taylor said.

Among the audience were a number of students from the Success in College and Life classes, said Amy Reynolds, first year experience programs coordinator.

The students were invited to the celebration both to learn more about the history of the college, and to give them a better understanding of the college’s values.

“We had a fairly good student turnout, at least two whole classes, and about 10 individual students that I saw,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds also said that SCL students who attended had the opportunity to gain extra credit.

One part of the presentation Reynolds said she found particularly striking is the way the layout of the college has changed, reflecting the growth and needs of the students.

She said when the college was initially designed, there were no hard and fast classrooms.

“What they had instead was cubicle-like room dividers covered with carpet. So the classroom and offices would open over the top, and it was possible to hear what was going on in the rooms around you.”

But perhaps the biggest change in the college is the atmosphere, said Mary Turner, learning support specialist.

“This college was started as a small family; everybody knew everybody and they were really close. And the students who came in, they were just a part of the family,” Turner said.

“Now we’re big business. So even though we struggle to make it feel small and cozy, we’re not small and cozy.”

But the most important thing to take away from the presentation, Turner said, is the fact that this has always been and still is, a community college.

“Our symbol is people in the community intertwined, holding hands and taking care of one another.

“And that’s something we still try to do, even though it’s a greater challenge (than before),” Turner said.

“The college was founded for the purpose of providing community.

“And that’s something that, as an institution, we’re very proud of.”

To contact Jeremy Cloud, email

To contact Felicia Hinote, email

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