Community comes together to celebrate SCC as kick-off to college’s year-long 50th Anniversary

Published 11:39 am Friday, July 16, 2021

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The year 1971 was pretty consequential: The Pentagon Papers were published, the Twenty-Sixth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, Walt Disney World and Starbucks first opened and “All in the Family” debuted.

Of more local significance, it was when Stanly Technical Institute, what would later be Stanly Community College, was first established. Thanks to the efforts of state Sen. Frank Patterson and Rep. Lane Brown, legislation was adopted in Raleigh on July 15 of that year, leading to the creation of the college.

The Stanly News & Press at the time referred to STI as “a new era of education.”

Classes were first held in the old Kingville High School, in what is now the E.E. Waddell Community Center. Eight faculty instructors offered classes in auto mechanics, air conditioning and refrigeration, secretarial science, industrial management, brick masonry and business. At the time, there were 31 students.

The institution slowly grew over the decades and transformed into a community college known throughout the state. The college, which offers more than 27 programs to roughly 10,000 students each year, was ranked by as the best community college in the state this year.

To celebrate SCC’s year-long 50th anniversary, people from across the county, including several local officials, gathered outside the Snyder Building Thursday morning for the kick-off event. There were several key speakers including Dan Hazlett, one of the original instructors who still teaches part-time, and Lane Brown, who in addition to helping pass the legislation creating the college, was one of its original board of trustees members.

“What a truly beautiful day for the best community college in North Carolina,” said SCC President Dr. John Enamait to much applause.

Enamait revealed some staggering statistics from a recently commissioned economic impact study about the college. From the 2018-2019 fiscal year, SCC added $70 million to the county’s economy, with alumni of the college generating almost $50 million in additional income to the county. Additionally, the cumulative higher future earnings that SCC students will receive over their working careers is estimated at around $162 million.

Enamait announced for the first time the establishment of a new endowed scholarship named after Brown. It will be provided annually to a student “and will preserve the legacy of a key founding stakeholder of Stanly Community College.”

“To those founding stakeholders, what you have sown is certainly providing a bountiful harvest for Stanly County, its students and the entire region,” Enamait said.

Brown described some of the background behind how the legislation, known as house bill 619, was approved in the state General Assembly. At one point deep into the legislative process, the bill was held up and would not pass unless Anson Tech, currently South Piedmont Community College, received some of the requested funding, which was around $525,000.

“Stanly County was being held hostage by its Anson neighbor across the Rocky River,” Brown said.

The amended house bill, which allocated some funding to Anson Tech, was adopted on July 15, 1971.

“When I walked back from the Senate chamber to the House chamber that day, I felt that I had been through a legislative baptism in the dividing waters of the Rocky River,” Brown joked.

Former state Rep. Lane Brown, who played a key role in SCC’s establishment, spoke during the college’s 50th Anniversary kickoff event Thursday morning. Photo courtesy of Michelle Peifer.

A time capsule, complete with photos, graduation tassels and other items, was buried in the lawn and will not be opened until the college’s 75th anniversary in 2046. Hazlett, who was the emcee for the event, said he was contributing some “Stanly Tech” matches, his first gradebook and an authentic 1972 polyester leisure suit.

State Rep. Wayne Sasser (R-Stanly) told the audience that SCC would be allocated roughly $5.6 million from the state budget to go towards capital improvement projects, part of about $50 million that’s coming to Stanly County.

There will be several events taking place over the next year, including a display of SCC through the decades at the Stanly County History Center from September through March and a SCC Alumni evening in late January. The anniversary will conclude next July with a community grand finale.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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