PHCC to begin celebration of its 50th anniversary

October 3, 2011

Martinsville Bulletin

A “Kick-Off Tip-Off” will be held at Patrick Henry Community College on Wednesday to launch two events: the college’s year-long 50th anniversary celebration and the award-winning Patriots’ basketball season.

Admission is free to the public at the event, which will begin at 5:30 p.m.

The “Kick-Off” portion of the program constitutes the beginning of a list of activities to be held throughout the year to commemorate the founding of PHCC as a two-year branch of the University of Virginia’s School of General Studies in 1962.

According to Martinsville Bulletin articles, local businessman Francis T. West and Sen. William F. Stone, both of whom now are deceased, began a conversation about how Martinsville could “get a college” in October 1961. The first classes began Sept. 15, 1962, and the first graduating class in 1964 consisted of four students.

Patrick Henry College, as it was known then, offered a two-year degree in general studies. It became a member of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) in 1971 to better serve the community with a broader range of programs. Since then, the number of programs of study has increased to more than 90 and enrollment has risen from an initial 35 to almost 3,500.

Part of Wednesday’s celebration will be to recognize early graduates as “First Patriots.” The college is asking graduates from 1964 to 1971 to contact PHCC’s Public Relations Office to be included.

Also during the event, the Patriots basketball court in Collins Gym, Stone Hall, will be dedicated to PHCC President Dr. Max Wingett in recognition of his commitment to developing the athletic program at PHCC.

What was initially just men’s basketball has grown to include women’s basketball, baseball, softball, cheerleading and a new soccer program to be launched in fall 2012. The college was the first in the VCCS to join the National Junior College Athletic Association in 2008 and has since earned numerous regional and national awards and recognition.

The “Tip-Off” portion of the program will include typical pre-season activities such as player introductions, 3-point shootout, cheerleading performance, slam dunk contest, women’s basketball drill session and exhibition games.

Other events scheduled for PHCC’s year-long celebration will include a 50th anniversary float in the Christmas Parade, an on-campus “Decorations of the Decades” Christmas tree display, an author lecture series and an alumni picnic. The college also will bring in a well-known speaker in April.

The celebration will culminate with an open house and special event in September 2012.


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