The turbulent 60s. The transformative 70s. The tubular 80s. The thriving 90s. The technology-fueled 2000s. All mark five decades since the founding of Northampton Community College (NCC). At a 50th anniversary celebration on November 16, the college's past was commemorated while a new, exciting chapter in NCC's history was announced.
Representing the NCC graduating class of 1977, the Masters of Ceremonies for the evening were David Shaffer, chairman of Just Born Quality Confections and Chris Martin, chairman and CEO of C.F. Martin & Company. Shaffer and Martin were among the 50 alumni honorees.
"Chris and I are very excited to be here with all of you this evening to celebrate NCC's 50th anniversary. Tonight we will be honoring some of the college's most accomplished alumni," Shaffer said at the beginning of the evening. "These individuals are representative of the nearly 400,000 graduates that have been part of this fine institution since it opened in 1967."
"But don't worry, we're not going to spotlight all 400,000 tonight, only 50!" Martin quipped.
Alumni awards were presented by decade to the fifty alumni honorees in attendance. Among them were Earl J. Ihrie '69, who helped develop Heartgard® and Frontline®; Carol Guzy '77, a four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist; Dr. John DuPont '86, the R.D. Stout Distinguished Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at Lehigh University; Jennifer Zingales '92, coordinator of special education and early intervention services in Colonial Intermediate Unit 20; Andrea Weismiller '01, vice president of sales and marketing for the Joshi Hotel Group; and Ahmed Awadalla '10, delegate for the International Red Cross.
View a complete list of all of NCC's alumni honorees, including photos and bios, here.
NCC President Dr. Mark Erickson expressed what a privilege and honor it was for him to be a part of NCC's story.
"This special evening belongs to all who have been part of the extraordinary NCC journey. That includes our graduates as well as current students. It includes our incredible faculty and staff members - which I would put against any college in the country. It includes parents, brothers, and sisters. It includes our legislators and elected officials. And it certainly includes all those whose generosity has made the NCC dream a reality for so very many. It's an occasion to reflect on what we've accomplished, individually and together. And a time to recognize the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead as we seek to help more students realize their dreams," he said.
Dr. Erickson went on to commend the extraordinary alumni who were being honored that evening. "Their lives were forever changed by their NCC experience, and their successes and contributions are transforming their communities and our world."
Each decade was represented with lively video highlights of iconic cultural and historical moments before the alumni representing the decade were called to the stage to receive their recognition.
Other entertainment included NCC theatre students performing songs from the fall musical "Hair."
As the evening drew to a close, Dr. Erickson took to the stage to make an important announcement.
"NCC is a beacon of hope. We are the College of Access that opens the doors to a brighter future for our students and their families. We have a laser like focus on ensuring that every student who should have an NCC education has that opportunity. Yet, every fall and spring hundreds of students fail to return - not because they don't want to, but because, despite our best efforts, they can't afford to attend," he said.
"I am proud to officially announce the launch of our Transforming Lives Campaign. This is the largest, most ambitious fundraising endeavor in the history of the college. It is designed to ensure all those who seek a Northampton Community College education have access to it, by funding 100% of the financial need for all PELL eligible students in Northampton County, literally saying to every member of this community, college is possible!" he announced.
The $17 million campaign will focus on both Bethlehem and Monroe campuses including:
- $11.5 million for The Northampton Promise -- an endowment to fund the gap for NCC Pell eligible students so they can maintain access to continue their education.
- $2.5 million for The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship - The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) is the final stage in the redevelopment of NCC's Fowler Family Southside Center. The focus will be to develop students who are creative, energetic, resilient problem solvers with an entrepreneurial spirit for the workforce or as business owners.
- $1 million for experiential learning - Hands-on components in education help students absorb new knowledge more effectively.
- $1.5 million to increase scholarships for Monroe students - To fulfill NCC's mission to ensure that no qualifying student is shut out from a Northampton education because they lack financial means.
- $.5 million for experiential learning at the Monroe Campus.
"To be clear, this campaign is a 'heavy lift.' But the need is urgent. And it is real. Students still have financial need, even with our current level of financial aid. Today, 53% of NCC students need financial aid to pursue a college education. And if it were not for us, we know that 40% of our students see no option to pursue a college education," Dr. Erickson added before the NCC Transforming Lives video played, in which students and alumni expressed how scholarship funds which allowed them to stay in school literally changed their lives.
Dr. Erickson than revealed that in the first eleven months of the quiet phase of the campaign, $9.5 million was raised towards the campaign's goal!
The evening ended with thunderous applause and a new energy as NCC moves into this exciting new chapter of its history.
If you would like to play a role in transforming the lives in our Northampton and Monroe communities by donating to the Transforming Lives campaign, click here.
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