By ARTHUR CLEVELAND
JOHNSTOWN - Local politicians and educators were among those who visited Fulton-Montgomery Community College on Friday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the institution.
Fulton-Montgomery Community College President Dusty Swanger speaks with Montgomery County Board of
Supervisors Chairman and Root Supervisor John Thayer at FMCC’s 50th Anniversary Kick-off Community Celebration on Friday.
Faculty and guests filled the theater at FMCC on Friday afternoon for the 50th anniversary Kick-off Community Celebration, the first of several events marking the anniversary during the 2013-14 school year.
FMCC President Dusty Swanger described the event as a momentous occasion.
"I think it is important to honor Dr. [William] Gragg, our first president, who really took the idea of having a community college here and made it a reality with the help of supervisors and that first Board of Trustees," Swanger said.
In 1963, the college was first formed, using the old Johnstown High School, according to Fulton County Board of Supervisors Chairman William Waldron. The college was established on Route 67 in 1966, he said.
Waldron talked about various approvals the Fulton County and Montgomery County Boards of Supervisors gave to the college over the years to help it grow, including the early ones establishing the college and its Board of Trustees.
"Right from the start, both counties felt very strongly about the importance of having a community college," Waldron said. "So much so that every one of the enactments I mentioned were approved unanimously."
Swanger thanked the college's faculty for the culture that has been established by their hard work. Swanger said the teachers and other faculty have shown care for their students, and the perseverance to always help them.
Johanna Duncan-Poitier, senior vice chancellor for Community Colleges and the Education Pipeline for the State University of New York, said the college was responsible for half a century of excellence and opportunity.
"One of the things I love about community colleges is the community," Duncan-Poitier said. "This institution is so important to this community. It's more than a college, it is the center of the universe in this neighborhood."
Among the speakers at the event was Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who praised the college for its work.
Santabarbara, whose district includes Montgomery?County, said he recently toured the campus.
"I have to say, I was very surprised by everything I have discovered here. All of the technology, all of the programs, everything that is making a difference here and in our communities," Santabarbara said.
In the coming months, several events have been scheduled as part of the college's celebration of its 50th anniversary.
On Oct. 9, Richard Russo, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, will speak as part of the Barto Speaker series. On Oct. 12, Raiders Reunion Day will welcome back alumni from previous years with the annual 5k run.
Other events include:?On Nov. 22, the Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner; On March 21, the Charter Ball; and May 21, the 21st Annual Golf Classic.