A state committee proposed 4 new “junior” (later known as community) colleges. They included Colorado Springs as a location because of anticipated growth. They thought the college should have exclusive entrance qualifications and exams.
UCCS for transfer
Classes began at “Cragmor” (the original name of University of Colorado, Colorado Springs). Planners thought a community college could provide it with transfer students.
El Paso County Community College was the original name, then EPCC. A founding administration of the college included Robert O. Hatton (president), Donald Sieck (director of administrative services), Frederick Struthers (director of general services/later dean of instruction), Leonard Smith (director of vocational services), Frank Ross (director of student services), Wilmer Newcomer (registrar), and Carol Van Lew (executive staff).
The nickname was “Safeway U” because one building was a former Safeway store at Robinson Street and 25th. This location was EPCC’s main site until 1976-8. The campus grew with new buildings there, named Colorado-style: Antero (old Safeway), Blanca (new classrooms); Culebra (new classrooms), Kenosha (new, auto repair), Raton (new, auto body/paint), Poncha (new, student union), Shavano (leased for administrative offices), Welding Laboratory (built for lease) Another campus was the Old Town Center at W. Colorado and 25th St.
Dedication/Graduation The dedication of the Administrative Offices (at 5 W. Las Vegas St.) was Wednesday, Nov. 20, 1968. Tuition was $60 per quarter full-time (10 hours) state residents and $250 per quarter for out of state. No student fees. Enrolled: 976 students. The first teacher was an automotive instructor. Stephen Redmond, the first president of the student government, was also the first commencement speaker. Graduation was in Bancroft Park: 17 associate’s degrees and 70 certificate students. Students were skeptical about spending money on a ceremony. Future Colorado Springs leaders Bill Hybl and John Suthers were among first instructors.
When the college proposed that EPCC have a mascot, sports teams, and school colors, students scoffed because they were preoccupied with getting qualifications and jobs. Therefore, they chose the aardvark (first in the dictionary), and black and blue (the colors they thought they would earn in the sports fields).
Establishing Long Term Patterns
In 1980-1981, long-term funding developed with the creation of the PPCC Foundation, a donation from the Holly Sugar Company, and an endowment from the George and Josephine Lum Estate. The Colorado legislature also began funding the SBCCOE for distribution to Colorado community colleges. PPSC approved graduation fees to offset the cost of diplomas.
In 1980, a fired cosmetology instructor accused PPCC of racial discrimination. The verdict was that, while there was not racial discrimination, there was a “pattern of insensitivity to minority issues” at the college.
A closed circuit TV system made it possible to produce TV programs for class use. The Publications and Printing Office acquired the first word processing computer network to serve the college. The technology rapidly improved. Soon PPCC was designated High Tech Training Center for Microcomputers in Colorado. Military program offices moved to Centennial Campus from off-site offices.
In 1983-4, PPSC established the Curriculum and Instructional Practices (CIP) committee. In 1984, declining enrollments threatened faculty salaries, and even staff cuts, again. The PPCC Faculty Association opposed. President McInnis left his position for one with the SBCCOES. Vice President Monique Amerman became acting president and thus PPSC’s first woman president, temporarily.
New Systems for Growth
The Southern Colorado Educational Opportunity Center, designed to serve disadvantaged students, opened at PPCC. The Miami-Yoder School District and the PPSC AVP department initiated a unique program for high school seniors. They equipped a bus with a TV and headsets to teach a PPSC communication class at a distance. In 1985, PPSC hired a new president, Cecil Groves.
Downtown/Rampart Campus Utilization
In 1986, the Downtown Studio Campus opened for the Winter Quarter at 19 North Tejon. Malcolm McCollum was assistant coordinator. PPCC began to use Rampart High School evenings and weekends as a north campus, with Paul Doray (director of community services) leading.
Network Improvement/Transfer Credits
In fall, 1986, PPCC began offering classes on a semester system. In 1986, PPCC raised tuition to the highest of the 11 state community colleges. A new law required that four-year colleges and universities facilitate the transfer of credits among state institutions. This led to the “CORE” curriculum. Instructors began to record grades and attendance via networked computers. A major scholarship endowment fund honored of Amy Zlochower Smaldone, daughter of instructor Sol Zlochower.
Creation of a Police Academy
At the end of 1986, PPCC announced its new Pikes Peak Regional Law Enforcement Academy, a training program created partly to fulfill a need expressed by El Paso County Sheriff Bernard Barry. The program director was Al Bartok, Criminal Justice coordinator. Barry was one of PPCC’s first graduates (1968-70), then its director of Public Safety until 1983 when he became sheriff. He founded the PPSC Alumni Association in 1987.
Patricia Traynor launched a project designed to increase the number of women in high tech occupations. She received a $64,000 grant from federal vocational funds for the project. In 1988, a Minorities Affairs Committee expressed discontent over employment practices. Their survey report questioned progress in PPSC’s first 20 years.
The Twentieth Anniversary Festivities
PPCC’s 20th anniversary celebration included a Homecoming Dance, a dinner for new employees, and special recognition during graduation.
In 1989, Cecil Groves left as president and Don Goodwin as vice president of instruction. Dale Traylor was interim president. Marijane Paulsen became the first woman president of PPCC. Thus, she became a local symbol of women in new positions of power. The North Campus Task Force formed to make recommendations.
In 2008, PPCC established a new relationship and brought new buildings to the Rampart Range Campus, by introducing concurrent enrollment through The Classical Academy. PPCC was still “military friendly” and appealing to “re-entry women,” but special studies and programs began to address underrepresented minority males. Campus Life director Colette Berge won the city’s Athena Award for helping women attend PPCC.
In 2010, Anthony Kinkel resigned. Vice president for instruction Edwin Ray became interim president. In 2011, Lance Bolton became president.
Waldo Canyon/Black Forest Fires
The disastrous Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires of 2012-2013 occasioned much community involvement and affected many lives of the PPCC community.
Multicultural /Veteran center
In 2013, PPCC held its first Multicultural Awareness Conference for students to give academic presentations. In 2014, PPCC presented a new veterans’ center and its Upward Bound program was very successful. PPCC formed a Diversity Team and began online diversity training in 2015
Creative Commons/Executive Director
In 2016, PPCC received the largest single monetary donation in its history, $1 million, from the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation, to develop a Creative Commons for its art students. In August of 2016, PPCC hired its first executive director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. That year also began the Global and Diversity Studies Program.
Highlights of 2017-2018 include a new Cybersecurity degree program; bus service returning to Rampart Campus after years without; several major food distribution programs to help those in need; and PPCC’s first Bachelor’s degree, a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Emergency Services Administration, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to come