Kishwaukee College holds 1st homecoming event during 50th anniversary celebration
MALTA – In 1968, Terry Martin left his job as a high school science teacher to join the faculty of the brand-new Kishwaukee College as a biology professor. Community colleges were increasing in number at that time, and Martin said it was a risk to make the move.
But now, 50 years later, he said it was the best career decision he ever made, as he taught at Kishwaukee College for more than 30 years.
Martin and his wife were two of nearly 200 people who visited the college’s Malta campus Saturday afternoon for the first homecoming celebration to commemorate its 50th anniversary.
“It was the right decision to go to a community college. There was a pioneering spirit here among the administration, the faculty and the students,” Martin said. “Thinking back, I almost hated to retire. I miss the classroom and am very proud of our young people.”
Alumni and current students, retired faculty and employees, current faculty and employees and community members gathered at Kish’s student center to take tours of the campus, learn about the college’s 50 year history at the pop-up museum, enjoy children’s activities and watch the men’s soccer team take on Carl Sandburg College.
Laurie Borowicz, president of Kishwaukee College, said the 50th anniversary celebration is the perfect time to reflect on past successes while looking ahead to the college’s future, which she said is very bright. She explained that the college will continue to be a leader in providing innovative education to the communities it serves.
“Kishwaukee improves lives through quality, affordable education,” she said. “People got their starts here, they figured out what they want to do here and they feel like this was a great starting point. The college has changed so much, and people tell me stories of what Kish was like. They have a lot of fondness of how it has evolved over the years.”
Kish serves about 5,000 students a year and offers 70 associate degree and certificate programs for students in an 800-square-mile radius. Norm Jenkins, who served as president of the college from 1978 to 2000, said that the college was created to meet the needs of students and has been successful at doing so since the beginning.
“I think it’s great how Kish has progressed through the years,” he said. “The appearance and facilities certainly have changed, and the quality of education has always been top-notch.”
Jenkins’ wife, Diane McNeilly, began teaching physical education at the college when it opened. She said that there was no gym on campus, so her classes were taught at Malta’s Town Hall.
“I loved [the college] in the beginning, and I like how it’s grown,” she said. “Kish continues to meet the needs of the community and continues to change to meet the needs of the people in the district.”
Jud Curry began his tenure at Kish only three weeks ago as the dean of arts, communications and social sciences. Although he’s a brand-new employee, he said that the college is a special place.
“[It’s been around for 50 years] because it is responsive to the community and what’s happening in higher education and what’s needed in higher education,” he said. “It’s an amazing resource for the whole community, just the range of things offered here, for people who are pursuing a degree or a career program, or just taking a class for fun.”
And Kish has been meeting the needs of many of its current students.
Paige Harriss of DeKalb has been a student for three years and said she enjoys being at the college.
“I really like the small classrooms and the more comfortable environment,” she said. “You can engage with the teachers. I like that all my business teachers are also professionals in their fields.”
Sycamore resident Madeline Humm is in her second year at Kish, studying to be a special education teacher. She said that she is proud to be a student at the college.
“I like the variety of classes and all the different instructors,” she said. “Kish is close to home, it’s affordable and I definitely made the right decision to come here. [The 50th anniversary] is important to celebrate as a community.”