The history of Lakeland Community College has been one in which "community" has been the operative word. Conceived in 1964 by a group of 22 Lake County citizens, the college has grown considerably while serving the educational needs of over 250,000 people. The goal of the college has remained constant: to offer a comprehensive two-year college transfer program, to provide technical and paraprofessional programs, to provide general education, and to provide professional educational counseling. In addition, Lakeland has responded to the needs of the community by offering numerous programs including specific industry-generated requests for a direct impact on Lake County and the surrounding area. Today nearly 11,000 individuals attend Lakeland each year in credit and noncredit programs.
Lakeland Community College was the first college in Ohio created by the vote of the people. Twenty-two Lake County citizens provided the impetus for establishing a community college in Lake County by petitioning the Board of Commissioners. The petition led to the generation of a Feasibility Study, which recommended that the "creation of a community college district" be a serious consideration. Anxious to move forward, the League of Women Voters began a petition drive in 1965 to place the issue before Lake County voters. On November 2, 1965, Lake County voters approved the issue by a narrow margin. The State of Ohio further supported the movement in 1966 by authorizing the creation of a community college, and that year a board of trustees was appointed. On May 2, 1967, the citizens of Lake County approved a 1.7 mill levy, thereby giving final approval to the opening and operating of a community college district.
When Lakeland opened its doors in September of 1967, the first group of 1,073 students attended classes that were scattered around Painesville in various facilities. These included the Cleveland Trust Building, the YMCA, a Mill Street location, and the Painesville Methodist Church. The administration was housed in an abandoned mortuary home. The college eventually purchased approximately 400 acres belonging to the Edward W. Moore estate to house the permanent site of the college. In the summer of 1971, the college moved to its present site and the dream of 22 citizens took on a reality few could have imagined in those early organizational meetings of 1964.
From humble beginnings to a state-of-the-art campus, the college has been guided by five presidents - Dr. Wayne L. Rodehorst (1967-1981); Willis P. Kern (1977); Dr. James L. Catanzaro (1981-1987); Dr. Ralph R. Doty (1988-2001); and Dr. Morris W. Beverage Jr. (2001-present). They led the college as it expanded in its physical size and the programs and services it offers. The college now encompasses 10 buildings. The beautiful and historic Mooreland Mansion, the main house on the Moore estate, underwent an extensive restoration and now serves as an elegant conference center and reception site. The number of faculty and staff has also increased since the college's inception, so that Lakeland now employs approximately 1,300 people.
Since 1967, the number of classes and programs of study have grown substantially. Lakeland Community College now offers 900 credit courses, 75 degrees, 63 certificates, and transfer modules that provide transferable credits to other colleges and universities located all over the country. Students can take classes at the main campus, through online courses, in an accelerated format, as high school students in College Credit Plus or the Tech Prep Program. The Holden University Center of Lakeland Community College opened in the fall of 2011 to offer convenient access to complete a bachelor's or graduate degree from a variety of leading colleges and universities. Lakeland promotes lifelong learning for people of all ages, from summer camps for children to free credit classes for senior adults. Noncredit professional development courses are offered to learn new skills.
Culturally, Lakeland has become a focal point for high quality regional arts and lecture presentations. The college hosts professional theater productions, frequent concerts, and art shows that are housed in one of the largest galleries in Northeastern Ohio. Lakeland is the home to noted music and art competitions that draw artists from around the nation. Also, a variety of lecture series and symposiums are offered yearly to deal with important political, economic, environmental, and educational issues affecting area citizens.
The expansion of the college in terms of its physical size, number of employees and programs offered has been impressive since its inception in 1967. New programs are being created almost yearly to meet the needs of an ever changing society, economy and workforce. Residents of Lake County support the college through two operating levies, and a capital improvement bond that keep Lakeland always working for Lake County. For more than 50 years, Lakeland Community College has served generations of Northeast Ohioans, and as it continues to grow, will remain true to its original guiding principle: to serve the community.
Contributor: The late Dr. John C. Kesler, Professor of History » Read more
Lakeland's Holden University Center opens, offering bachelor and graduate degrees from a variety of four-year partner institutions.
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