50 years of DMACC celebrates it students

DMACC is celebrating 50 years of educating in 2016.  It has a history growing from a vocational learning center to the community college it is today.

According to the DMACC website, “DMACC has become Iowa’s largest, most diverse community college, serving more than 70,000 credit and non1960s-1credit students annually throughout Iowa. Today, DMACC has campuses in Ankeny, Boone, Carroll, Des Moines Urban, Newton and West Des Moines, six learning centers and a growing catalog of online courses.”

The story of its beginnings in downtown Des Moines, the move to Ankeny in 1968, the expansion to Boone in 1969 and continued expansion throughout the 1970s are all available at the 50th Anniversary site: www.dmacc.edu/50.  But the story of its people is what has made the history much more exciting.

James W. Stick, academic dean, Arts & Sciences, has been around for 30 years of DMACC’s history.  Sixty percent of DMACC students are enrolled in the arts and sciences departments, which has between 80 and 100 professors at any one time in the college.

Dean Stick expressed why DMACC has been so successful.  “A couple things … we are in a growth area with the central population of the state.  And number two or even number one, our leadership because we have had, from the president on down, a push to go out to the community to grow and find out what they need,”  Stick said.

Stick said.  “We really try to work with anybody to help them train their people,” Stick said.

“We have students right now that are apprentices with the plumbers and steamfitters … and after five years they become a journeyman. They have all the credits to get a two-year degree … and we set an agreement with them and they come in and take four classes and then they can get their two-year degree with DMACC.”

Scott J. Ocken started out as a faculty member in 1985, around the same time as Dean Stick, and is now the Dean for Industry and Technology.

Ocken shared the same reasons why DMACC has been so successful but added: “The DMACC leadership is focused on helping students; we are only outpaced by the efforts of a great faculty team and fantastic student support services. Our first 50 years are only as successful as our graduates and others we have helped along the way. I truly hope we can even do more for our students and communities as time goes on.”

One of the things that Ocken expressed was that the multiple locations has allowed them to reach out into communities.  “We have worked hard to meet the needs of our communities and as things change so do we,” Ocken said.

In the office of the president of DMACC is Kim Linduska, who has also served in several positions within the Ankeny Campus.  Starting out as a faculty member in the STRIVE program she moved into student services, human resources and more.  She is thrilled to work at DMACC and calls DMACC the best community college in Iowa.

“We are able to attract exceptional faculty and staff, who truly care about students and the quality of our programs and services,” Linduska said. As part of this celebration, committees and staff members have worked to document the history of DMACC on its website: the history of campuses, individual departments and other things.  A shared story system also allows “Pioneers” from the past to put up their stories and history online.

Dolores Johnson, who started working at DMACC in 1970 and retired in 2008, wrote about one of her first classes meeting in a grocery store on Vine street in West Des Moines.

“There were 18 students. I had every type of student from flower child to bible banger, from single and just out of high school to married with 4 children,” said Dolores on the DMACC Pioneers web page.

Bob Anderson, who currently lives in Prescott, Ariz., added to the Pioneers shared stories.  Anderson was the Program Chair for Electrical and Machine Drafting started in March 1967 remembered “feeling of camaraderie among staff and faculty.  It wasn’t easy and we were all in it together.  We worked long hours to put this whole thing together.  I think we have a right to be very, very proud of what we have today!”

The celebration is happening all year long at Ankeny and other DMACC campuses.  A cupcake bash, open houses, breakfasts, an event at the Iowa Energy were all held during the 2015-2016 school year.  In October, DMACC held a DMACC Day of service for all faculty and staff and had a goal of preparing and packaging 210,000 meals to fight hunger with meals from the heartland.

This school year has one large event still coming up with the 50th Anniversary Gala at the Meadows Events and Conference Center at Prairie Meadows in Altoona.  This black-tie affair is geared more for professors, administration, and other dignitaries but all are invited to the reception, dinner, program and dancing starting at 5:30 p.m. on April 30.

Reservations are required and can be done through the 50th Anniversary site.

 

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