For the past 50 years, Gaston College has served Gaston and Lincoln counties as an outlet for community members to pursue higher education opportunities.
At an Aug. 7 meeting, Lincolnton mayor John Gilleland and fellow City Council members honored Dr. John McHugh, dean of the college’s Lincoln Campus, for the college’s excellence and growth over the past half-century.
According to McHugh, Gaston College’s first classes met 50 years ago in the First Methodist Church building in Gastonia. Two months later, the college relocated its campus off of Route 321 in Dallas, where its main campus remains today.
“We opened the doors at our Lincoln Campus with 300 students in 1969,” McHugh said. “We moved to our current location in 1999, with the facilities there designated as the college’s Lincoln Campus, and in 2009, we added the Cochrane Building. Last fall, our Lincoln Campus had 1,600 students.”
According to a press release, in its first year, the college offered classes in business administration, education and liberal arts, with the first graduating class consisting of six students. During the 2013-2014 school year, Gaston College graduated 792 students. As the ninth largest community college in North Carolina, Gaston College now enrolls more than 6,000 students each term in more than 100 curriculum programs and averages approximately 16,000 students a semester in its Continuing Education Programs.
“We truly appreciate what Gaston College adds to our community,” Gilleland said. “And there are still lots of opportunities for Gaston College and the City of Lincolnton to continue to explore.”
The college plans to celebrate its 50 years of existence throughout the 2014-2015 academic year through several events and activities available to students, faculty, staff and the community.
For more information regarding the college’s celebration series, visit the Gaston College website at www.gaston.edu.