By CHUCK MASON The Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Providing "a bridge to a better life" for residents in southcentral Kentucky since 1939, Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College celebrated its 75th "Anniversary of Excellence" on Tuesday.
The college dates back to 1939, President Phil Neal said. Western Trade School began on the site of what was then called Western State Teacher's College in Bowling Green. WSTC was the forerunner of Western Kentucky University.
The Western Trade School was jointly sponsored by the National Youth Administration and WSTC as an NYA training facility. It sat where the Dero Downing Student Union is today. Its mission was to train youth, industrial workers and Armed forces personnel during World War II.
"We are a bridge from one place in life to another," Neal said, speaking in renovated Building F on the main campus. The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce cut a ribbon in front of the building after items were placed in a time capsule in preparation for SKYCTC's 100th anniversary in 2039.
"You have made such an impact on the quality of life and quality of education," said John Mark Fones, chamber board chairman, calling SKYCTC "an important strategic partner."
SKYCTC is now part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. It has six locations in Bowling Green, Glasgow and Franklin.
Warren County High School graduate Donald Williams, who would later serve as director of the institution from 1987 to 1998 as it bore several different names over those years, went the Western Trade School in 1962 to learn about drafting. He later taught at the technical college in 1968, and was assistant director of the school in 1981 before being promoted to director.
"Warren County High School had an agriculture shop, but not drafting," Williams recalled. Williams would later study civil engineering.
The National Youth Administration was a New Deal agency implemented during President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term, according to the Roosevelt Institute.
The NYA operated from 1935 to 1943 as part of the Works Progress Administration. The NYA provided work training based on U.S. citizenship and financial need for youth between ages 16 and 25. In addition to offering courses in writing, reading and arithmetic, the NYA operated two programs: the Works Project Program to train unemployed, out-of-school youth, and the Student Aid Program to provide work-study training for high school, college and graduate students, the blog noted.
The technical college has been known by many names since 1939, each name reflecting the evolving mission of the educators as SKYCTC moved from vocational training to technical training and academic pursuits. Neal said the main mission has always been to provide training for people in southcentral Kentucky to obtain "high-wage, high demand careers."
"The best social program is a good paying job," Mayor Bruce Wilkerson said in lauding SKYCTC's academic role in job creation efforts. "The people who come out of this institution have a job waiting for them."
Neal said 16,000 people in the 10-county region of southcentral Kentucky last year benefited from a SKYCTC program.