Celebrating 50 Years — Looking Back
Our Beginning, In Theory and On Paper
A demand for equal educational opportunities arises from a group of residents called the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission.
When Philadelphians again called for more access to education, Mayor Joseph Clark, Jr., appointed the Committee on Higher Educational Opportunities to recommend how to best serve growing educational needs.
The Philadelphia Commission on Higher Education is formed, based on the Committee on Higher Educational Opportunities' 1957 report, "Higher Education and the Future of Youth in the Greater Philadelphia Area," which was presented to Mayor Richardson Dilworth and the president of the City Council.
The co-author of the report is the College's eventual founder and first president, Dr. Allen T. Bonnell. He served as a consultant to the committee.
One of the findings that the Commission continued to explore—that Philadelphians required more access to educational opportunities—is the pillar of the College's mission.
In July, a special community college committee is created from the Commission to further develop a proposal for a community college in Philadelphia.
Pennsylvania passes the Community College Act of 1963, on Aug. 24, granting the establishment of associate's degree institutions in the Commonwealth.
On that day, the realization of a concept championed by dozens of Philadelphians had finally sprung to life.
The Commission of Higher Education finished "A Guide for the Establishment of the Community College of Philadelphia," also known as the gray book because of its gray cover, in January.
"As a community college, the Community College of Philadelphia is concerned with the post-high school needs of the community it serves. The community accepts the responsibility for leadership and proposes to develop and maintain a collegiate program sufficiently flexible to adjust to the changing educational needs of the area. To fulfill these needs, the Community College of Philadelphia will offer academic and technical courses, all directed toward the betterment of the student, and thus of the community."
—"A Guide for the Establishment of the Community College of Philadelphia"
The first board of trustees are appointed, comprised of 15 members, on April 24.
After nearly a yearlong national search, the board of trustees selects Dr. Allen T. Bonnell, who was involved in the research and groundwork that led to the creation of the College, as its first president.
Dr. Bonnell takes office on April 1.
Opening the Doors of Opportunity
Community College of Philadelphia opens on Sept. 23, 1965, in the former Snellenberg Building at 34 South Eleventh Street. Five course areas are offered to 1,200 students: Accounting, Liberal Arts, Marketing and Merchandising, Executive Secretary, and Electronics Technology.
By the end of the academic year, enrollment is 1,941.
First Row - Nancy Logan (Social Sciences), David Jobson (Business), Aloysius McFall (Business), C.M. Miranda (Language)
Second Row - Alexine Atherton (Social Sciences), Ruth Berelman (Secretarial Studies), Katherine Chang (English), Cecilia Ready (English), Florence Nennich (Secretarial Studies), Joseph Mamelak (Mathematics)
Third Row - Frank Chi (Mathematics), Thomas Scott (Mathematics), Marie Schober (Mathematics), Fred Goldberg (Mathematics), Gertrude Eaton (English), Estela Socarras (Language), Daphne Foster (English)
Fourth Row - Michael Hardy (Social Sciences), Robin Biggs (English), Jack Minnis (English), Sivya Molins (Language), Raymonde Aghazarian (Language), Margaret Jeffries (Biology), Gwendolyn Weiant (Secretarial Studies), Margaret Axilrod (Secretarial Studies), Carolyn Norwood (Secretarial Studies)
Fifth Row - Robert Beck (Social Sciences), Bernard Mergen (Social Sciences), Michael Zaccaro (Physics), Sydney Jaffe (Business), Barry Grossbach (Social Sciences), Robert McDonough (Language), Jasper Reed (Biology), Lorne Ruby (Biology), Gaetano Bisazza (Biology), Abraham Feldman (Social Sciences), Daniel Goldwater (Data Processing), Irving Krakow (Mathematics), C.R. Walther Thomas (English), Andrew Wargo (Mathematics/Data Processing), Robert E. Lawson (English)
The College celebrates its first graduating class on May 11, 1967.
The board of trustees develops criteria for a permanent site that will fit the needs of the growing College, with enrollment reaching 5,000 students by fall.
Former Governor William W. Scranton (left) talks with Dr. Allen T. Bonnell (center), president of Community College of Philadelphia, and Laird H. Simons, Jr., chairman of the board of trustees, before the college's first commencement at Irvine Auditorium, 34th and Spruce streets.
Dr. Bonnell, board of trustee chair Henry W. Jones and legal counsel Nochem S. Winnet (not pictured) are invited to the office of U.S. Senator Hugh Scott to receive a ceremonial key to the College's new home, the former Third Mint of Philadelphia. Also in attendance are U.S. Sen. Richard S. Schweiker and Robert L. Kunzig, administrator of the General Services Administration.
Classes are offered at the new Mint Building site, while plans for additional buildings are being developed.
The College celebrates the end of the first phase of construction on the permanent campus, eventually called Main Campus, on Oct. 2. The event was recorded, and the tape was sealed into the cornerstone of the West Building.
The End of an Era, and the College's Continued Growth
The College closes its first campus on South Eleventh Street in January.
Dr. Bonnell retires on Aug. 31.
Enrollment for the year is 31,948.
The sports deck, featuring a track and tennis courts, opens on top of the garage at 17th and Callowhill streets on Oct. 25.
The College’s first Regional Center, the Northeast Regional Center, is established at its first location, at Academy and Red Lion roads, in 1985.
The 17th Street parking garage opens.
The West Regional Center is established.
Dr. Eaton assumes the position of vice president at the American Council of Education.
Construction begins on the Student Life Building and Gymnasium, representing the second phase of campus development.
The Winnet Student Life Building and the Athletics Center (formerly the Gymnasium) open.
The Northwest Regional Center is established and opens for use.
A building is renovated for the new West Regional Center at 4725 Chestnut Street. It opens for use.
Dr. Temple assumes the job of chancellor of City College of Chicago.
The Workforce Development Center opens in a renovated building at 16th and Callowhill streets.
Dr. Capshaw passes away on June 21, 1997, following a brief illness.
Expansion plans get underway in spring 1998 for the Northwest Regional Center after the College agrees to acquire the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at 1300 W. Godfrey Avenue.
Stephen M. Curtis, Ph.D., is named the fifth president in August 1999.
Dr. Curtis is inaugurated on April 2, 2000.
Preparing for Success in the 21st Century
The new Pavilion Center opens in the fall at the Main Campus. The building houses the new Welcome Center, College bookstore, and student and staff dining services.