Lorain County Community College was granted a charter to serve Lorain County’s higher education needs on July 15, 1963. In 1964, the citizens of Lorain County supported a 1.25 mil levy to provide funding for their college. That same year, the Lorain School of Technology was incorporated into LCCC, and the first classes were held in the summer in rented facilities. In its first fall of operation, 1,006 students registered for credit classes at LCCC. In 1966, LCCC moved to its current location on North Abbe Road, in Elyria, making LCCC the first community college in Ohio to have a permanent campus.
The campus opened with three buildings: Engineering Technologies, Mechanical Services, and Physical and Social Sciences. By the end of the fall semester, three more buildings were opened: Business, College Center and Physical Education. In 1971, LCCC received full accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, the highest-ranking accrediting association of higher education institutions.
The Health Sciences building was opened in 1972, the Learning Resources Center (library) in 1975 and the Physical Plant Services building was completed in 1976. LCCC opened its Stocker Humanities and Fine Arts Center in 1980, and the Nord Advanced Technologies Center in 1984. The Mabel L. Ewing Activities Center was completed in 1988, and the John A. Spitzer Conference Center opened in 1995.
Meeting New Demands
In 1998 the University Center opened and now 12 Ohio colleges and universities offer more than 45 bachelor’s and master’s degrees on the LCCC campus through the University Partnership program. The Patsie C. Campana, Sr. Engineering and Development Center opened in 2001 and the Barbara and Mike Bass Library/Community Resource Center opened in 2008 and it provides a resource to the community as it also houses the North Branch of the Elyria Public Library.
LCCC’s enrollment has continued to grow rapidly since the fall of 1999. With more than 15,000 students and an additional 3,000 students taking University Partnership courses to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees, it’s easy to see why LCCC’s impact is felt across the community. Along with that growth – all on a campus that was initially designed to handle 6,600 students – President Obama challenged community colleges to educate an additional 5 million students with degrees, certificates or credentials by 2020. Ohio’s goal – as set by the University System of Ohio – is to increase enrollment in public and private postsecondary institutions by 230,000 in that time frame.
In April of 2014 LCCC launched the MyUniversity plan. MyUniversity is a guarantee that gives high school students the ability to earn college credit and college degrees right at their own high schools through the College Credit Plus program. MyUniversity is one significant way LCCC is delivering on its promise to deepen the impact of the University Partnership program. MyUniversity will enable high school students to even go as far as earning an associate degree simultaneously with their high school diploma. Students can then continue on to earn a bachelor’s degree through LCCC’s University Partnership program. In doing so, students can save over 80 percent of the cost of a bachelor’s degree through MyUniversity, essentially saving families tens of thousands of dollars in college debt.
New “Learning Paradigms”
In tandem with these goals, LCCC’s Master Plan has embraced the concept of the “new learning paradigm” that allows for more flexible learning opportunities. The College recognizes that learning, teaching and social activities are inter-layered and that this new reality provides opportunities for more efficient use of campus space while creating greater institutional vitality. This new way of thinking means the entire campus should be thought of as a classroom and planned to maximize learning by all students.
The Innovative Learning Opportunities for Tomorrow (iLOFT) building, opened in 2012, provides the College with its first prototype of future learning spaces for the LCCC campus. It was the College’s original library and was renovated to foster a vibrant learning community in which faculty and students experiment with innovative and successful teaching and learning strategies. The typical classroom in the renovated iLOFT space supports course redesign and the new “learning paradigms,” through flexibility of the furniture and technology that allows easy reorganization of a classroom to different forms of study and instruction.
LCCC is now able to prepare highly qualified graduates for careers in the hospitality and tourism industry with the 2013 opening of its Culinary and Digital Arts facility. This supports events in the Stocker and Spitzer centers and links the new studio with the Arts and Humanities division and the Stocker scene shop. It also gives the Arts and Humanities division the ability to integrate computer and digital elements in the journalism, telecommunications, visual arts, graphics arts, audio arts and music programs.
The Laboratory Sciences building, opened in spring of 2014, is a full service science laboratory space with 50,000 square feet that includes 15 state-of-the-art labs for microbiology, biology, biotechnology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, geology, physics, and anatomy and physiology. It also includes a rooftop greenhouse and student and faculty teaming areas and has enhanced controls and equipment to offer upper level (300 and 400) chemistry courses to support a Chemistry program through the University Partnership. The building has earned LEED Silver status and was designed to comply with LABS 21 energy efficiency models for science facilities.
Also opened in spring of 2014, The Richard A. Desich SMART Commercialization Center for Microsystems is a unique multi-user, shared resource facility focused on commercializing sensor products by utilizing the manufacturing processes of Micro Electronic Mechanical Systems (MEMS). The SMART Center stands apart from and is complementary to other similar microfabrication facilities at universities across the Midwest in that, the SMART Center is a resource for the “back-end” of the process when these centers have exited. Also, more than 90 percent of lab time at the SMART Center will be utilized by industry partners as opposed to research activities.
The College has also worked to break down barriers for residents to access higher education through interactive video distance learning programs and courses, and a series of strategically placed Learning Centers in Lorain (at City Center and Lorain High School), Wellington, North Ridgeville and Brunswick.
The LCCC District Board of Trustees has governed the college since its inception. In 1963, the Lorain County Commissioners appointed seven trustees to the board. Today, nine members serve on the board, with six being appointed by the commissioners and three by the governor of Ohio. LCCC’s first president was Max J. Lerner, who served from 1963 to 1970. Thomas Bowen served as interim president from 1970 to 1971. Omar L. Olson followed from 1971 to 1986 and Richard R. Mellott also served in an interim capacity from 1986 to 1987. Roy A. Church, the College’s fifth president, served from 1987 to 2016. In July of 2016 Marcia J. Ballinger was chosen by the Board as the sixth president of LCCC. Today, as more students enroll each term in LCCC credit programs, bachelor’s and master’s programs through the University Partnership and non-credit continuing education programs, thousands more are here each year to take advantage of other educational, cultural and enrichment programs held on campus.
The support of the county has been instrumental in giving LCCC the ability to serve all of these needs. In addition to approving the first levy for funding in 1964, Lorain County residents have continued to show their support for the College by renewing the original levy in 1972 and in 1982, and by favoring a 1.2 mill replacement levy in 1992. In 1995, county residents voted for a 1.2 mill levy to establish the University Partnership at LCCC. In 2010, residents again showed their support by approving a 1.8 mill replacement levy for the College; and in 2013, Lorain County passed a 2.1 mill renewal to continue its support for the University Partnership.
The average age of an LCCC degree-seeking student is 26; 62 percent are women; 72 percent are enrolled in programs that provide them with skills for immediate employment; and 28 percent are enrolled in programs that lead to transfer into bachelor’s degree programs.