CHEYENNE – Laramie County Community College opened its doors Saturday in recognition of its gratitude to the community.
College officials, students and alumni, as well as local residents spent three days commemorating LCCC’s 50th anniversary, culminating in a celebration from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. across the campus.
Lisa Murphy, LCCC’s director of alumni affairs and event planning, and Troy Rumpf, LCCC’s manager of strategic communications and marketing, planned the event with the help of a planning committee.
“The overall theme of the event was really to thank the community for making this college great during the last 50 years,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the community has continued to support LCCC through athletic events, cultural events, helping the college build new facilities, etc.
Rumpf said, “We didn’t want to do forced recruiting (for this event). We just wanted to use the resources we had to celebrate the programs we have as a showcase to the community. This is what you helped make happen in Cheyenne.”
They planned events across the campus, including in new buildings, such as the Clay Pathfinder Building, and older buildings, such as the Fine Arts Building.
Events in the Pathfinder Building included a performance by LCCC’s Cantorei Choir, student ID cards for kids, and science games, such as DNA extraction, slime making and GPS mystery tours.
The Rocky Mountain Raptor Program brought a live golden eagle for visitors to learn about, as a tribute to LCCC’s mascot. They also had a truck show at the Flex Tech Building and Alpacaglobo Balloons in the Crossroads Building, among other events.
LCCC offered a free taco lunch and cookies to all attendees, and a free T-shirt to the first 1,000 people.
Rumpf said he’s been overwhelmed throughout the celebration by the number of people who have come forward to tell college officials how much LCCC has meant to them.
“It’s easy to forget what the impact has been in the community, but hearing these stories and seeing these people and the families that come back and say, ‘I have a connection to this college,’ it’s overwhelming in such a positive way,” he said.
Many of those individuals came to the celebration Saturday, including some of LCCC’s first students.
Susan (Carpenter) McBride drove down from Douglas. She is the daughter of LCCC’s first president, Charles Carpenter, and she is one of LCCC’s first students.
She recalled moving from classes in the First Methodist Church downtown to the first three buildings on campus.
“When we moved out here, things were still unfinished. They even had sheets hung as doors in the women’s restroom,” McBride said.
McBride didn’t complete a degree at LCCC, but she did transfer to the University of Wyoming to complete a degree in special education/elementary education.
She eventually followed in her father’s footsteps and started up a college campus in Wyoming.
“My dad was part of the building of this campus, and I was involved in building the new (Eastern Wyoming College) branch campus in Douglas,” she said.
Mary Connell also attended LCCC that first semester. “The rooms at (First Methodist Church) were very dark,” she said.
Connell said she felt comfortable attending LCCC for an associate degree, even though it was a brand new college. She said it was an informal atmosphere and the officials were always available.
Because she was married with two school-aged children, a community college was a better option for her than a university.
Connell earned an Associate of Arts and Sciences in 1971 from LCCC. Her diploma, which she brought to the celebration, does not list a major.
LCCC was not accredited at the time, and Connell said she couldn’t transfer credits to colleges in Colorado or Nebraska, but the University of Wyoming accepted her credits.
She completed a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wyoming, and taught for 24 years at Cheyenne’s Cole, Gilchrist and Pioneer Park elementary schools.
Although LCCC had just 1,217 students in 1969, 50 years later, about 15,000 students have earned a degree or certificate from LCCC.