When it comes to having a significant impact on people’s lives in Franklin County, has there ever been anything as significant as the establishment of East Central College?

The Missourian has said a number of times, with gratitude to the voters, East Central College has been one of the most significant happenings in this county and area in history.

What was a dream to the early proponents of a community college district, became a reality when voters approved the creation of the taxing college district in 1968. The college opened in 1969 in Union in temporary quarters.

As the college prepares for the final event in its yearlong observance of its 50th anniversary, which will be Sunday, the early proponents, especially members of the steering committees, take great satisfaction in what was told to the people has been realized.

The main promise was that the establishment of a community college (called junior college in the 1960s) would enable high school graduates to be able to earn a two-year degree at an affordable price, living at home and probably working part-time. There were many high school graduates in the 1950s and 1960s, and before, whose education would end with a high school diploma since they couldn’t afford to attend a four-year college. It wasn’t only the cost of tuition, but the room and board added to the cost.

Many of the thousands of ECC graduates continued their education to earn a four-year degree, which also is possible today at ECC by the availability of four-year degree programs offered by two universities that have cooperative education agreements.

The proponets also stressed the point that adults who for whatever reason weren’t able to continue their college studies earlier in their lives would have the opportunity to complete their learning at a college that

is close to home and affordable. That has happened and adults always have been among the students who enroll. Night classes are offered for adults.

The cultural advantages that would be possible to students, and to the people in this area, were another result promised by the advocates of a college district. The educational and cultural levels in the area have been raised through ECC. This has helped businesses and industries. The college has been an economic development plus for this area. Having a community college has been a factor in drawing new industries to the area and it also has helped existing ones with the availability of having a more educated workforce. ECC’s technical courses have given industries a vital boost by having a more trainable workforce available.

The RN nurses training program at ECC is rated one of the best in the state. Many of the nursing graduates are able to find employment at the hospital and nursing homes in this area. That program was very timely.

ECC has left its mark on the Franklin County area by fulfilling promises made to the voters. It has turned promises into reality. ECC graduates have many success stories to tell and the role the college played in their life stories.

ECC has been a positive life-changer!

Members of the steering committees had a vision that has boded well for this area.

The climax to the 50th anniversary observance will come Sunday, September 15, from noon to 4 p.m. with the main ceremony at 2 p.m. at the college campus in Union — rain or shine.

The Missourian congratulates ECC on its anniversary and gives an eternal salute to the many people who made it happen.