75 Years of Serving Students of Navarro County and Surrounding Areas – Part 6

From Staff Reports

By: Tom Lucas (PRESS RELEASE)

This is the sixth in a series of articles written in anticipation of Navarro College’s 75th anniversary. There is a full slate of special events and activities beginning next Thursday, Sept. 16 with the Bulldogs Unite Ceremony and culminating with The 75th Anniversary Gala on May 21, 2022. This year of celebration has been given the tag-line “Looking Back, Moving Forward”.

After the resignation of Dr. Gerald Burson, Lary Reed was tapped once again to act as interim president. A committee comprised of members of the College community and local citizens was created to seek out viable candidates to fill the presidency of the college. After an extensive interviewing and screening process, the Board accepted the recommendation of the committee and offered the position to Dr. Richard Sanchez.

Dr. Sanchez earned his BA from Northern Arizona University; his MA from California Polytechnic State University and his EdD from Western Michigan University. He brought with him extensive administrative, and personnel skills acquired from his experience at various institutions. Dr. Sanchez was the president of Grossman College in San Diego, California prior to his arrival at Navarro in March 1998. 

When Sanchez accepted the presidency at Navarro, he identified his primary goal to be increasing the enrollment.  The student population held at about 3,400 students from 1995 until 1999. By the fall of 2001, the enrollment had surpassed 4000 students and continued to increase each year for the next five years. In 2007, Community College Week, named Navarro as the fastest-growing two-year college in the nation.  

By 2011, there were 10,400 students attending NC. Contributing to this increase in the student population was aggressive recruiting by the Student Relations Office, new programs and the expansion of the dual credit program in area high schools.

In 2009, Navarro partnered with Waxahachie I.S.D. to establish a global high school emphasizing STEM courses (science, technology. engineering, and mathematics). The introduction of internet classes also helped to account for the dramatic growth. Because electronic information and devices had become such a large part of everyday life, instructors developed courses which students took “on-line” adding another dimension to distance learning.

By 2011, 20 percent of the total contact hours generated by the college came from enrollment in on-line classes. Another factor contributing to the growth of NC include the partnership with Texas A&M-Commerce in 1999. This partnership made it possible to have a four-year degree in Education without leaving Navarro County.

With growth comes a need for space and Navarro was no exception. Under the direction of the Board of Trustees and the leadership of Dr. Sanchez, the Walker Dining Hall was constructed, and the former Walker Student Union Building was renovated for classroom space. In 2006, the Richard M. Sanchez Library was opened and named for Navarro’s fifth president in honor of his leadership in moving the College forward during his tenure. The Gooch library was transformed into a “one-stop” student center. Being located near the registrar and admissions offices made the process of registering for classes much easier for the students. Other new buildings or renovations include Gibson Hall; the new maintenance/college police/petroleum technology program.

2012 saw new field houses for the soccer, baseball and softball teams. The Cook Education Center went through an extensive expansion 2003 to accommodate the two wonderful collections donated to the College by Charles and Peggy Pearce; a collection of Civil War memorabilia including 15,00 letters, documents, paintings and bronzes and an extensive collection of Western Art, which was Mr. Pearce’s passion. In 2014, a new exhibit Hunters and Gatherers of the Blackland Prairie opened at the Cook Education Center. The exhibit uses the Robert Reading Indian Artifact Collection to tell the story of the Native Americans who occupied Navarro County and surrounding areas.

In 2005, a unique addition to the campus came in the form of a clock tower. The tower is situated in a quad bounded by the Gooch Student Center, the Walker Dining Hall, the Sanchez Library and the Wolens Special Events Center. The Clock tower was dedicated to the Barracks Bunch in honor of the students who attended classes from September 1946 – May 1952 at the airfield.

After fifteen years of growth in Corsicana and the College’s service area, Dr. Richard Sanchez announced his retirement effective August 31, 2013.

This Thursday, Sept. 16 will be the inaugural Bulldogs Unite Ceremony held at the Barracks Bunch Clocktower at 6:30 p.m.  This affinity celebration will bring together current and former students, faculty, staff and community to celebrate Navarro College and the importance of being a member of the Bulldog Family.  This is beginning of a new tradition at Navarro College. For more information refer to the 75th anniversary page on the NavarroCollege.edu website.

Acknowledgement and special thanks is given to Dr. Tommy Stringer whose book, WE ARE NAVARRO! A history of Navarro College was used in the preparation of this article.

 If you are or if you know the whereabouts of a former Mr. or Miss NJC or other homecoming royalty OR if you have NJC memorabilia you are willing to lend to the college for display, please contact the college at marketing@navarrocollege.edu or you may call Michelle Smith at 903-875-7337.

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Categories: Community, History