Panola College celebrates 65th anniversary
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Panola College faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members gathered at 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 7 to celebrate the College’s 65th anniversary. The standing-room-only event was held in the Community Room of the M.P. Baker Library.
Speaking at the event were Mayor Carson Joines and community leader Bev Brown, both of whom were inaugural students at Panola College. Both men related memories of their time as students on campus, and praised the College for its positive impact on Panola County.
Dr. Gregory Powell welcomed guests, noting that the weather was far better than it had been on the first day of registration back in January 1948. That first year, determined college students had to battle a snow storm to make it to campus to register for classes.
“The vision back in 1947 was a challenging one,” Powell said. “Looking back, I think you will agree with me that the community’s investment in Panola College has been a good one that paid dividends many times over. We have educated tens of thousands of students.”
Powell spoke of the issues impacting the College in 2013, including the fact that one-third of Texans speak a language other than English at home, and that incoming freshmen have academic deficiencies that must be addressed through developmental classes.
“Panola College enrolls almost 2,600 credit students — that’s 10 consecutive semesters of record enrollment,” Powell said. “For the past several years, we have been one of the fastest growing community colleges in Texas.”
He said that 60 percent of the instruction is for academic transfer students who plan to earn a bachelor’s degree. The other 40 percent is in career programs. He added that 60 percent of students are enrolled in at least one online course.
In addition to serving the college-level student, Panola Colleges provides instruction in GED and ESL classes through the Workforce and Economic Development Department.
Powell thanked the community for its outstanding support of the college at a time when state funding is dwindling. He said gifts to the College include $3,139,887 million in endowed scholarships, and the Foundation received $642,285 during 2012.
He mentioned that in 2012 the College was named a Top Ten Digital College by the American Association of Community Colleges and the Center for Digital Studies. The Business Office earned the Government Finance Officer’s Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting last year, and the Chronicle of Higher Education named Panola College as a 2012 Great College to Work For.
“I thank the late Q.M. Martin and the other visionaries and voters for establishing Panola College in 1947,” Powell said. “And I thank our faculty, staff, Board of Trustees, and the community for continuing to support Panola College as we strive to fulfill our mission.”
To view more photos from the event, go to the Panola College 65th Anniversary Celebration Photo Gallery.