Front Range Community College celebrates 50th birthday this year

Longmont resident Pat Downing taught English composition and creative writing, business and technical communication, refresher grammar and English horse

Longmont resident Pat Downing taught English composition and creative writing, business and technical communication, refresher grammar and English horse riding at the Community College of Denver in Westminster in September 1977. (Front Range Community College / Courtesy Photo)

Front Range Community College turns 50 this year, although its first incarnation was as the Community College of Denver — North Campus.

The first classes started at the campus at 62nd Avenue and Downing Street on Sept. 23, 1968.

While the Colorado General Assembly willed the college into being with House Bill 1448 in 1967, Longmonters were yearning for a community college of their own since the early 60s.

The Longmont Daily Times-Call ran a story on Feb. 5, 1963, in which local parent-teacher association leaders bemoaned the lack of a junior college.

The problems were too many young people and not enough opportunities for a higher education due to the post-World War II baby boom in the United States, Front Range Community College spokeswoman Jessica Peterson said.

“Swelling enrollments in local junior colleges in Colorado — more students attending public rather than private schools — meant they needed more higher education training, whether it was academic or occupational or technical,” Peterson said.

Longmonters agreed, creating a 1966 document entitled, “A Proposed Plan for a Two-Year Community College for Boulder County,” and on the first page outlined the numbers problem that the community was facing.

“During the past several years, our American colleges and universities have been confronted with a tidal wave of students,” the report read. “Small wonder. Between 1960 and 1965 the college age population (18-21 years) has jumped 25 percent.”

Longmont was involved in CCD from the start. While Aurelia Anderson, of Longmont, began trying to acquire a community college for Boulder County in the 1960s, the time wasn’t right. She joined the efforts to get CCD going and was named the first secretary of the board in 1967.

By 1973, Anderson was named the chairman of the Denver Area Council, the governing board for the three CCD campuses. By that time, the college had grown from one location and 1,800 students to three with 8,600.

Aurelia Anderson, of Longmont, breaks ground on the new Community College of Denver campus in Westminster with former Gov. John Vanderhoof in 1974.

Aurelia Anderson, of Longmont, breaks ground on the new Community College of Denver campus in Westminster with former Gov. John Vanderhoof in 1974. Anderson attempted to get a junior college in Longmont in the 1960s. (Front Range Community College / Courtesy Photo)

“Here is the opportunity for high school graduates, who cannot afford to attend college this fall — or who think they cannot — to get started,” she said in a 1969 Times-Call article that only referred to her as Mrs. Harold Anderson.

Dean McDonald, who operated and lived on a farm south of Longmont, was also an instrumental figure the early days of CCD. He served as the North Campus’ director of communication and arts from its opening and had a special passion for recruiting students from Boulder County.

McDonald started the Longmont-Community College of Denver Chorale, which became the Longmont Chorale, as a college course.

“We at Community College would like it to become self-sustaining. So far, the chorale is doing very well. In three years, it has grown from 15 members to 35,” McDonald said in a 1976 article about the effort.

That year, McDonald took a sabbatical from his CCD job to continue outreach to potential students in Longmont.

In September 1977, CCD opened a new North Campus in Westminster. The Times-Call ran a four-page spread featuring interviews and photos with students and staff from the Longmont area.

“The closest Longmont and the St. Vrain Valley can come to having a college of its own is the new North Campus of Community College,” boasted the article. “Actually, citizens of the St. Vrain Valley may logically call it ‘Our College,’ and be mighty proud to do so.”

Carrie Corder, a 1977 graduate of Niwot High School, is quoted in the story.

“My largest class has 40 in it; my boyfriend at CU has a class with 550 in it. Our smaller classes are good,” the nursing student told the Times-Call.

Art student Fred Tedesco, a 1976 Niwot High School graduate, told the paper that he liked the low tuition and opportunity to be in a work-study program by teaching a PE swim program.

“You can’t believe how much less the tuition is. You can get a great education here!” Tedesco said.

At the time, CCD was offering prices of $12 per credit hour for the fall and spring semesters to Colorado residents. For 12 to 18 credit hours, a student would see a bill of $144 per semester, with each hour over 18 priced at $9.60.

By 1980, a Longmont campus of CCD was being seriously considered. In 1982, the newspaper ran a short item asking that readers submit their preferred new name for CCD. Although there’s no announcement of the new name in the paper, “Front Range Community College” appeared for the first time on Aug. 16, 1983.

Two years later, the CCD system was dissolved. The college system and FRCC had offered satellite classes in Longmont and Boulder for years, using high school classrooms and other community spaces.

In 2003, FRCC officially opened the Boulder County campus on Miller Drive in south Longmont.

Karen Antonacci: 303-684-5226, antonaccik@times-call.com or twitter.com/ktonacci

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