Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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Until 1969 Tulsa was served by two private higher education institutions. State lawmakers addressed the lack of a public postsecondary institution for Tulsa area residents by chartering Tulsa Junior College (TJC) in April 1969. The college's Board of Regents appointed Alfred M. Philips as TJC's first president and Dean P. VanTrease as executive vice president. The first classes were held in leased space in the Sinclair Oil Building, located at 909 South Boston Avenue. This first campus, which offers nursing and allied health courses, is known as the Metro Campus. To assist disabled students, the Diagnostic and Prescriptive Learning Center (renamed the DisABLED Student Resource Center) opened on this site in 1977.

By 1976 plans were underway to build three additional campuses by 2000. As a result, the Northeast Campus, built on eighty acres at the corner of Harvard and Apache streets, opened in 1979. The Resource Center for the Hearing Impaired (now the Resource Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) and the International Language Center were constructed in 1982 and 1986, respectively. Expansion also occurred in the 1990s with the addition of classrooms for electronics and engineering instruction, a horticulture center, and the Enterprise building featuring twenty-first century technology.

In 1981 the college acquired eighty acres near East Eighty-first and Mingo streets for the Southeast Campus. Dedicated in 1984, this third campus provides additional business and enhanced liberal arts programs. Groundbreaking ceremonies in June 1994 signaled the final component of TJC's building plan. Stephen J. Jatras, a longtime friend of the college and former regent, donated eighty acres, and the West Campus opened in 1996 at 7505 West Forty-first Street.

On July 1, 1989, founding president Alfred M. Philips retired, and Dean P. VanTrease became president. In May 1996 TJC was renamed Tulsa Community College (TCC). Performing arts took on a new role at TCC in August that year, with the opening of the Tulsa Community College Performing Arts Center for Education (PACE). Recently renamed the VanTrease Performing Arts Center for Education, the performance hall, adjoining classrooms, and stage production laboratories house TCC's performing arts programs and the Signature Symphony, a professional orchestra operating under college auspices.

Enrollment continued to climb from 2,796 in 1970 to 22,866 in 2003. Minority student enrollment has more than doubled since 1990. The college ranked among the top 3 percent of community colleges in the nation in the annually awarded number of associate degrees awarded annually. Distance learning education was offered to more than four thousand students enrolled in online and telecourse classes each semester.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 18 December 1968. "Education, Higher–Oklahoma–Tulsa," Vertical File, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City. Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 17 December 2003.

John Hall

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