By Shelby Ford
On May 29, 1927, at the Leopold Hotel, a group of Bellingham community members sat down at their first meeting, marking the birth of Whatcom Community College.
These individuals were the Board of Trustees appointed by Dan Evans, then governor of Washington.
In 1927, Washington established 22 community college districts under The Community College Act.
Although, when Whatcom was first founded 50 years ago, it was not on the current, spatious 72-acres, with more than 11,000 students a year. It was far smaller and more spread out.
It was known as “the college without walls,” holding classes in community buildings throughout Bellingham, Ferndale, Blain and even people’s homes.
Bob Winters, Arts and Humanities division chair, is the 50th anniversary ambassador. He has been with Whatcom since 1985.
“The celebration of Whatcom’s 50th is about what has evolved with the college,” said Winters. “We started out as a college without walls and we became a college without limits.”
During 2017, there will be events to celebrate the past, present, and future of Whatcom.
“It started with a philosophy of a college without a campus,” said Winters. “But now that I look and see all the buildings, facilities, computer labs, the new Pavilion, and the Learning Commons to be built, I’ve seen how much has changed, and how we’re pushing towards the future.”
Some key features of the celebration will include STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) events, which showcase new technology Whatcom will be using in the future, like 3D printers. STEM also promotes education in the sciences for women, offering scholarships to students wishing to further themselves in the career.
“[Whatcom] is not the biggest college, or the newest, but we are the best choice for a lot of students.” said Winters. “Whatcom creates opportunities, and we make success happen.”
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