Friends, colleagues, Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, Alumni Council, Retirees, County Commissioners, and distinguished guests:
Welcome. Welcome to the celebration of the establishment of Butler County Community College 50 years ago this very day.
I am Nick Neupauer, the very proud eighth president of BC3 – a nationally recognized, statewide example and county-leader in providing quality, affordable, and accessible education to our citizens.
Oh, where to begin? Perhaps the very creation of this College is a good start.
And it all started on March 3, 1965 when Butler County Board of Commissioners Green, Bachman, and McCune unanimously resolved for Butler County to become the local sponsor of a newly created community college (as allowed by the Community College Act of 1963).
But in September of 1965, a Butler County resident filed suit claiming that the Community College Act was unconstitutional because debt would be incurred by the local sponsor / local taxpayers.
The creation and literal building of BC3 was put on hold… and so were the federal, state, and local financial contributions to this new college.
While the lawsuit lingered in the courts, the College’s board of trustees and some community members pledged their own dollars to keep with the development of this new institution of higher education.
Mortgages were taken out on homes, personal savings accounts exhausted, and retirement plans tapped in order to make BC3 a reality.
Finally, on January 24, 1966, Judge Clyde S. Shumaker ruled that the Community College Act was constitutional. Funds were released and the College eventually opened its doors on September 26, 1966. A total of 431 students enrolled at the College that first semester. Today, close to 20,000 students take credit, noncredit, and various trainings annually at BC3 locations.
Our Board Chair Ray Steffler often states the importance of learning from our history. If the very origin of our College doesn’t teach us a lesson, I don’t know what does. No matter if it’s the lowest of the lows, or the highest of the highs, keeping our minds laser-focused on our mission in our student-centered institution is the goal.
And through each situation, we keep getting better and better.
I sometimes wonder if the College’s initial board of trustees, our first President Dr. Lawson, or even that original Board of Commissioners would even recognize this place today. Could they have had any idea that the simple geographic location of our college has propelled us into a regional institution of higher learning in the 21st century?
What would they think of that tiny hidden gem on the Oak Hill with four original Armco buildings that would turn into a 330-acre gorgeous campus setting with state-of-the art, one-of-a-kind facilities like the Student Success Center, the Science and Technology Building, and a soon-to-be Heaton Family Learning Commons?
Would they agree with our board and entire campus community’s vision back in 2007 to become a regional college with instructional sites in Cranberry Township, Lawrence, Mercer, and Jefferson Counties?
Or, could they even fathom that our faculty are recognized nationally in programs like Parks and Recreation Management, Metrology, and teaching STEM through guitar-making (just to name a few)?
The speakers who follow me represent each of our decades of existence – the 1960’s up to the present day. They will provide their perspectives on the College during that time and its impact in shaping their lives.
Our speakers will certainly reference the seven presidents who served before me. I would be remiss if I did not point each out and thank them. Thank you Dr. Lawson, Dr. Ten Hoeve, Dr. Woodward, Dr. Price, Dr. Penar, Dr. Bartok, and Dr. Azari. I am fueled each day by your legacy and contributions before me.
Not long after I took office in 2007, Michelle Jamieson interrupted a meeting I was holding in the Lawson Board Room. When I stepped into the hall of the Administration Building, Michelle introduced me to Dr. James Lawson’s two sons, their wives, and children (in other words, the grandchildren of our founding president).
As Dr. Lawson’s grandchildren, who had never been on our campus before, took pictures on their cell phones and smiled at their very sight of Dr. Lawson’s presidential portrait, their parents (Dr. Lawson’s sons) cried with tears of joy.
“This is the first time we’ve been back in many years,” one said. “We just can’t believe what this College has become. Our father would be proud.”
And I am proud; proud to work for so many dedicated and passionate faculty and staff at BC3. I am fortunate to have the wisdom of a wise, smart, and talented Board of Trustees and a giving, forward-thinking Foundation Board. With gratitude to our state and county who serve as sponsors of this College, our best asset continues to be the students we serve.
Thank you for attending today’s event.