Tallahassee Community College Celebrates 50 Years of Dreamers
TCC Maintains Commitment to Affordable, Accessible Higher Ed
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TCC freshman, Zach Hurst
Twenty-five Calculus II students watch intently and jot down equations as instructor Lori Prudom explains the steps to finding a derivative.
An inmate in a Quincy prison studies to earn his GED.
Contemplating a “second act” career, a baby boomer takes a free online course in health information and management.
A woman carefully matches flash cards with some of the 500 or so implements she will learn about during her 18-month course of study to become a surgical technologist.
A man tends to a cage full of baby oysters he’s just pulled out of Franklin County waters, hoping to make a living “farming” the tasty bivalves.
Aspiring actors gather around a sound and light board to learn the “recipe” for creating the technical aspects of a stage production.
Different goals. Different dreams. Different places. Different walks of life.
But one thing they have in common is that all attend Tallahassee Community College.
Fifty years after TCC began serving Leon, Wakulla and Gadsden counties, just about the only thing that hasn’t changed about the school is its commitment to affordable, accessible higher education for all. Today, TCC boasts 14,000 students, six campuses, a 75 percent success rate for AA degree students moving on to universities, exceptional passing rates for graduates of its professional education programs, a burgeoning commitment to local workforce development and a plethora of awards and accolades for the college, its students and faculty.
“Coming up on the 50th (anniversary) you reflect, like with a birthday. You take measure of where you are in a way that you do differently than if this was just another year,” said TCC’s president, Dr. Jim Murdaugh. “It’s a remarkable story. Everywhere I go in this community, the reputation of the college is strong. People say such amazing and kind things. It’s an exciting time. Is the college where I want it to be? Yes. Would I change things? Of course. Anybody who’s satisfied needs to move out of this office. Your job is to push and to continue to look for ways to improve what we do for students and how we meet the needs of our community. I’m happy where we are (and) excited with the plans that we have to do those things.”
A LOOK BACK
Who better to share a glance in TCC’s rearview than Dr. Monte S. Finkelstein, who has spent almost 35 years there as a history professor and dean of the Division of History and Social Sciences.
He started teaching as an adjunct professor in 1982 and became a full-time professor in 1984, but his first recollections of TCC date to 1968, when he arrived as an undergraduate at Florida State University and the college was rising from the remnants of Tallahassee’s first airport, Dale Mabry Field. “In 1968, this was the outskirts of town. This was the frontier,” he recalled. “They must have had a bus service, but I don’t know how people got here. I’m sure there were buildings, but you didn’t come out here.”