Where were you in '72?
That could have been the phrase Pasco-Hernando Community College officials asked celebrants who helped observe the 40th anniversary of the institution Thursday night.
When PHCC was still a gleam in the eye of its first president, Milton O. Jones, the White House was occupied by President Richard Nixon. Atari ramped up production of its first videogame, Pong. Sony introduced the semi-pro precursor to its consumer Betamax videocassette recorder. "The Godfather" lit up movie screens.
Like the nation, much has changed at PHCC during the intervening four decades. The theme of the anniversary, The Wild West, is a reference to the West Campus land in New Port Richey having been donated by rancher Alric C. Pottberg in 1972.
Dixie Highway Band entertained guests in the courtyard. Visitors had their pictures taken in an old time photo booth. Pit Boss Bar-B-Q catered the meal.
The PHCC Art Gallery featured a special 40th anniversary exhibit, "Waypoints: A 40-year Journey."
Katherine Johnson, PHCC president since 2005, led the formal ceremony. Speakers included cardiologist S.K. Rao Musunuru, chair of the district board of trustees; Monica Mills, member of the PHCC Foundation board of directors; and attorney Sallie Skipper, a 1987 alumna.
Some highlights from the PHCC timeline include:
1972 – President Milton O. Jones hired Robert Judson Jr. to recruit students, with classes held in temporary locations.
1973 – Groundbreaking for PHCC East Campus, in Dade City, while 80 courses were offered in 10 locations. Pottberg donates 140 acres for PHCC West Campus.
1974 – First official commencement graduates 68 students. Law enforcement program established.
1975 – Construction starts on West Campus, off Ridge Road.
1976 – Construction starts on PHCC North Campus, on U.S. 98 north of Brooksville, while the West Campus opens.
1977 – Registered nursing association degree program began with 30 students. business and marketing degree added.
1979 – Alric C. Pottberg Library and the Performing Arts Center open on West Campus.
1981 – Spring Hill Center opens as the fourth location.
1982 – Licensed practical nursing program begins.
1988 – Dental assistant program starts.
1993 – Email becomes available collegewide.
1993 – Judson succeeds the retiring Jones as PHCC president. Judson is Florida's first African American community college president.
1997 – New, three-story health building opens on West Campus.
2000 – Internet research becomes first, Web-based course offered.
2005 – Johnson becomes third PHCC president.
2010 – Spring Hill permanent campus, on U.S. 19 north of County Line Road, opens with seven buildings.
2011 – PHCC women's volleyball team wins national championship.
2012 – Construction starts on Porter Campus, at Wiregrass Ranch in Wesley Chapel.