By Tom Lucas (PRESS RELEASE)
The Navarro College “family” is excitedly anticipating the celebration of the college’s 75th anniversary celebration. A celebration that will include special events and activities beginning on September 16, 2021 with the Bulldogs Unite Ceremony and culminating with The 75th Anniversary Gala on May 21, 2022. This year of celebration will be retrospective, permitting a look to the past and a tip-of-the hat to those who were instrumental in bringing Navarro College to its present position and, in addition, looking forward to its future.
When one looks at the campus of Navarro College today, it is difficult to imagine the planning and effort that went into taking A.A. Allison’s idea of a “first class junior college” for Navarro County from an idea to fruition.
Allison, a self-described farmer and layman in education, was also a successful businessman, cotton buyer and leader in his community. He had the resources to send his children to college. However, Allison realized that post-high school educational opportunities were not available to many Texas students, particularly those in rural communities. This realization caused Mr. Allison to commit, via the July 1928 issue of the TEXAS OUTLOOK, to making higher education available to as many students as possible through a two-year college. He saw this as the most efficient and least expensive way to achieve his goal.
On the heels of the federal government’s November 1944 announcement to close the flight training school located at the Corsicana airport, Navarro County School Administrators Association members again posed the question of creating a junior college. Then CISD Superintendent, W.H. Norwood, created a five-member committee comprised of himself, County School Superintendent J.C. Watson, Ray Waller of Dawson, W.B. Harrison of Frost and G.H. Wilemon of Kerens.
The committee was charged with making their respective communities aware of the proposed junior college and to ascertain the level of support for such an institution. The level of support was great and with the support of local businesses and professionals, the former flight training school was transferred to the Navarro Junior College Board of Trustees. I
In 1946, eighteen years after A.A. Allison committed to make higher education accessible to more students, his dream became a reality. Navarro Junior College was born! The original campus consisted of seven buildings, one hangar and two barracks.
This begins the extraordinary journey of an institution that has provided education, support and nurturing to literally thousands of students. Many of those students have gone on to hold places of responsibility in the corporate arena, medicine, and other positions which are a part of this thing referred to as life. How fortunate to have had people such as A.A. Allison and the others whose forethought included benefiting not only themselves, but their communities as a whole.
Acknowledgement and special thanks is given to Dr. Tommy Stringer whose book, WE ARE NAVARRO! A history of Navarro College (1) was used in the preparation of this article.
1 Stringer, Tommy WE ARE NAVARRO! A history of Navarro College The Donning Company, 2016