Delaware Tech kicks off 50 years of education

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Delaware Technical Community College Terry Campus director Dr. June Turansky welcomes staff, students, past alumni and retired employees to the 50th birthday celebration of the statewide institution Wednesday on campus. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER –– Delaware Technical Community College kicked off a celebration of its 50th anniversary on Wednesday with events across the state.

“This year will give us an opportunity to showcase our history, our students and our accomplishments from the past 50 years,” said June Turansky, director of DTCC’s Terry Campus, at the Dover celebration.

DTCC was established June 9, 1966, as the Delaware Institute of Technology through House Bill 529. To this day it remains the only community college in the state.

After starting with 367 students in 1966, DTCC currently has more than 20,000 students enrolled in all three counties.

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Delaware Tech instructional designer Dallas Hayes of Milford enjoys the slideshow presentation of the school’s 50-year history shown during the celebration.

“Delaware Tech has remained committed to providing access to high quality, affordable education that meets the demands of Delaware businesses and contributes to the economic vitality of the state,” Ms. Turansky said.

That effort can be demonstrated by the class of 2014. About 70 percent of students graduated debt-free through the SEED –– Student Excellence Equals Degree–– scholarship program that guarantees students who graduated from high school with a 2.5 GPA or above and a record of good behavior to attend full-time for two years tuition free.

The SEED scholarship program celebrated a decade in service last year.

From the class of 2014, 93 percent of students went on to gain employment from more than 600 different employers in the state. Many of the students graduated prepared for a specific career path.

“Delaware Tech programs are specifically designed to have a career exit point upon graduation,” said Judith Sciple, vice president for College Relations at DTCC. “In order to prepare our students to enter the workplace upon graduation, our programs include hands-on training using equipment the student can expect to find in the workplace, regardless of their career field.”

But for those who don’t choose to enter directly into the workforce, DTCC provides them will the connections

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Delaware Tech Terry Campus employees Maria Harris, left, and Dawn McCloud, both of Dover, take a 50th birthday celebration selfie during the event.

necessary to pursue further education, officials said. Students from a variety of DTCC programs are eligible to transfer to a four-year college or university with junior status.

So with both employment and education opportunities available after two years studying at DTCC, 96 percent of the 2014 grads are either working or furthering their education.

But, as the college reaches its 50th anniversary many of its buildings are growing in age as well. That makes campus improvements an important part of the commemorative year as well.

“I think with infrastructure improvements, our top focus is going to be our hands-on courses and programs because we need to ensure that our students are completely prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation,” Ms. Sciple said.

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Hundreds of Delaware Tech Hawks, past and present, filled the conference center at the Terry Campus Education and Technology Building Wednesday morning.

But infrastructure improvements don’t come without cost. The college receives 40 percent of its operating budget through state funds and last year tried to increase its state funding through the legislative process.

Senate Bill 137, filed in June 2015, was meant to be the vehicle to the funds. The bill would treat DelTech like the state’s three vocational school districts, creating a fund supported by a new tax on assessed value of real estate. The legislation would create a tax maxing out at $1 for every $1,000 in assessed value.

The legislation was released from committee but did not pass before the end of the legislative session.

The bill was intended to be and could potentially be a way out of the capital funding process. Through capital funding, the college would need $14.2 million.

Of the college’s 40 buildings, about two-thirds are more than 25 years old. By 2020 that will rise to 80 percent, with half of the buildings being more than 40 years old.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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