Arkansas 2-year College Marks 40th Anniversary
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — More than 100 people took a walk down memory lane recently as current and former board and faculty members told stories about the beginnings of National Park Community College during an anniversary celebration.
The college held the 40th anniversary celebration in the Frederick M. Dierks Center for Nursing and Health Sciences. It marked 40 years since the first day of classes at Garland County Community College on Oct. 1, 1973.
“We are celebrating two birthdays today,” said NPCC President Sally Carder.
This is also the 10th year since GCCC merged with Quapaw Technical Institute to become a brand new community college.
Carder said it has been difficult to find information about the early days of Quapaw. It was originally authorized as a branch of Ouachita Vocational Technical School in Malvern in 1969. The school was authorized as Quapaw Vocational Technical School in 1973.
More information about the early days of GCCC has been more readily available, allowing for the discussions. A slide presentation was created by the college library staff that included pictures of students, faculty and staff from the early days of the college.
“We would not be here today if not for our pioneers,” Carder said.
Those in attendance were treated with beverages, cupcakes and cake in the Dierks building. A presentation and discussions were held inside the Eisele Auditorium.
A panel at the front of the auditorium included Gene Parker, an original board of trustees member that remains on the board today, and Mary Daniel. Daniel’s husband, Robert Guinn Daniel, was an original board member at the college and served on the board of directors at Quapaw.
“You would not believe the beginning,” Daniel said. “Talk about humble beginnings.”
Original members of the board of trustees were appointed by Gov. Dale Bumpers.
“The last time I saw Dale, he asked me if I was still on the board,” Parker said. “I said I was. He said he didn’t know if that was dedication or stupidity.”
Daniel said she gets emotional when speaking about the college. She was among several who had not previously been inside the new Dierks building, the most recent addition to the college campus. She said the growth of the college has been “phenomenal.”
Joining them on the panel were original faculty members, several of which remain on the faculty today. Those faculty members were Barbara Briscoe, Jim Castaldi, Arlene Cevela, Ron Chesser, Ken Cook, Thad Flenniken, Joan Henry, Ron Naramore and Don Harris, who now serves on the board.
Briscoe, Castaldi, Chesser, Cook, Flenniken and Henry are still teaching at the college.