Fifty years ago today, the Cleveland County Unit of Gaston College opened its doors at 118 North Morgan Street, Shelby.
Led by Dr. James Broughton Petty, the unit began offering classes in two rented buildings, with only a handful of full-time employees and less than 40 students. The College offered a few programs, including practical nursing.
Before long, the College had so many students, classes were being held in any empty space available, including churches. Within four years of opening, the College moved to its current location on South Post Road and continued to grow.
Although the campus looks much different today, the College is still helping students get off to a great start toward a bachelor’s degree, or learn a skill that’s needed by local employers.
The practical nursing program is still going strong. It was recognized earlier this year by the North Carolina Board of Nursing for six straight years of a 100 percent passing rate among students who took the North Carolina Licensure exam for practical nursing.
In addition, many new programs have been added over the years. This fall, CCC will begin enrolling students into the new Mission Critical Operations program. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Training Administration awarded over $23 million to CCC and a consortium of college and university partners for the development of the program. The grant was the largest ever awarded to a North Carolina community college. The program was developed in response to industry’s need for trained workers in mission critical operations – those jobs that keep a company running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Today, staff and faculty celebrate CCC’s past, and the strong foundation that has been built. At the same time, we are looking forward to the next 50 years and beyond, excited to see what’s ahead for CCC and the students who build their futures here.