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PPCC 50th Anniversary

Timeline of events since the foundation of Pikes Peak Community College in 1968



A state committee proposed 4 new “junior” (later known as community) colleges. 

They included Colorado Springs as a location because of anticipated growth. 

They thought the college should have exclusive entrance qualifications and exams.


UCCS for transfer

Classes began at “Cragmor” (the original name of University of Colorado, Colorado Springs). Planners thought a community college could provide it with transfer students.  




 El Paso County Community College was the original name, then EPCC.

A founding administration of the college included Robert O. Hatton (president), Donald Sieck (director of administrative services), Frederick Struthers (director of general services/later dean of instruction), Leonard Smith (director of vocational services), Frank Ross (director of student services), Wilmer Newcomer (registrar), and Carol Van Lew (executive staff).

The nickname was “Safeway U” because one building was a former Safeway store at Robinson Street and 25th. This location was EPCC’s main site until 1976-8. The campus grew with new buildings there, named Colorado-style: Antero (old Safeway), Blanca (new classrooms); Culebra (new classrooms), Kenosha (new, auto repair), Raton (new, auto body/paint), Poncha (new, student union), Shavano (leased for administrative offices), Welding Laboratory (built for lease)    

Another campus was the Olde Town Center at W. Colorado and 25th St.


The dedication of the Administrative Offices (at 5 W. Las Vegas St.) was Wednesday, Nov. 20, 1968. 

Tuition was $60 per quarter full-time (10 hours) state residents and $250 per quarter for out of state. No student fees. Enrolled: 976 students.

The first teacher was an automotive instructor.

Stephen Redmond, the first president of the student government, was also the first commencement speaker. 

Graduation was in Bancroft Park: 17 associate’s degrees and 70 certificate students. Students were skeptical about spending money on a ceremony.

Future Colorado Springs leaders Bill Hybl and John Suthers were among first instructors.

 Mascot Selection

When the college proposed that EPCC have a mascot, sports teams, and school colors, students scoffed because they were preoccupied with getting qualifications and jobs. Therefore, they chose the aardvark (first in the dictionary), and black and blue (the colors they thought they would earn in the sports fields).


Ft. Carson Land/Master Plan

Returning Vietnam War veterans brought heavy enrollments, especially in vocational or occupational (now Career and Technical) programs: There were 928 general studies majors to 2,218 occupational majors.

In fall 1972, EPCC became a Servicemen's Opportunity College. 

The EPCC Veteran's Association formed.

Through 1973, EPCC negotiated for Ft. Carson surplus land (that the college had been leasing), which Congress approved. In 1974, EPCC got the grant. The new master plan would accommodate 15,000 students.

Programs/EPCC Enrollment

The Nursing Program began in fall 1970, was accredited by early 1972, and already operated at capacity with a wait list.

The Women's Center opened December 1971.

In 1972, the Environmental Protection Agency granted $23,750 to EPCC to upgrade training for “Spanish American” wastewater treatment employees in southern CO. 

EPCC reached 4500 enrolled for fall 1972; 70 percent were “occupational” students.

Radio/Auto Program

In 1973, George Shaiffer arrived from Ampex with a new open entry-exit program in electronics.

The radio station, KEPC 90.5, went on the air in 1973. It increased its power in 1975, under Manager Jack Donahue and Chief Engineer George Shaiffer.

In 1975, the Auto Repair Program finally added foreign car repair to its repertoire.

Sports/Presidential Transition

Bob Henry (activities director) created EPCC’s first health fair. 

EPCC formed its own basketball team (Aardvarks) coached by Ron Anderson, and its own cheerleading squad.

In 1974, President Hatton resigned. In 1975, President Donald McInnis replaced him.

The North Central Association accredited EPCC in 1975.


New Campus, Centennial

The architect of the new campus was Clifford Nakata, a Japanese American who had suffered “relocation” with his family during World War II. He served in the Korean War and became a noted architect for military bases. 

Through 1975-1976, controversies threatened the new campus. This included water supply, soil quality, costs, road placement and the need for an overpass, parking, distance from town population, a crisis in veterans’ funding, and whether to keep the old campus and split the college across both.

The new campus received the name Centennial because of the U.S. Bicentennial and Colorado’s Centennial in 1976. The American Revolution Bicentennial Administration designated EPCC a Bicentennial College. The EPCC committee that campaigned for this included Lance Wedor (bookstore manager) and Helen Anderson (information officer).

Dedication/New Name, Pikes Peak Community College 

The dedication ceremony for the Centennial Campus took place on August 18, 1976.  Pictured at the dedication with President McInnis were faculty and staff, including Robert McMullen (Biology). 

On March 21, 1978, Gov. Richard Lamm signed the law changing EPCC's name to Pikes Peak Community College. 

Moving to the Centennial Campus began June 1978.

Gov. Lamm dedicated Centennial Campus on October 22, 1978.

Developing an Identity: PPCC Struggled with Modernization

PPCC purchased its first computers: a “mini-computer” that cost $10,000 for the Math and Science Department and a used IBM 360 to automate the library catalog.

Student Government purchased a 1972 Mercedes passenger bus for student activities.

The press lauded PPCC as an all-coal facility, using the least expensive power source.

PPCC began its first computerized registration—that was, students mailed in their forms and staff entered the information—taking an average of four hours each! 

PPCC Student Newspaper Began

The EPCC student newspaper Pikes Peak News began, in 1976, a long dispute with President McInnis over his “censorship.” He wanted them to print more good news and less bad about PPCC. Their instructor/advisor, Judith Olson, defended their freedom of press and speech. PPCC administration withdrew financial support. The students printed an alternative: the Pikes Peak Fuse. By 1979, the students sued. The Associate Collegiate Press organization gave them its highest award. In 1982, the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Press did the same. In 1988, the students lost their appeal but, by then, a new president had better relations with the newspaper and it had become less controversial. 

Athletics/Foreign Program

The Aardvarks basketball team, affiliated with the National Junior College Athletic Association, played 28 games against colleges in Wyoming, Kansas, New Mexico, Montana, and Colorado. By decade’s end, however, PPCC basketball fell to a budget cut.

PPCC’s “Foreign Program” did not do well, but French students successfully traveled with their instructor James Hurley for many years.

Dwindling Veteran Enrollment/Faculty Pay

In 1977, declining veteran numbers decreased enrollments and led to threats of cutting faculty. In the same year, one faculty member accused President McInnis of discrimination and some sought collective bargaining.

There was discussion of raising faculty pay to meet the regional average.

PPCC 10th Anniversary Celebration

PPCC held its first formal graduation, at the Four Seasons Hotel, and later at the Broadmoor International Center.

Paul Pohl, an Army veteran and commercial art student, won the contest for designing the best PPCC logo. 

The Commission on Higher Education approved the Associate of General Studies degree. 

In 1978-9, PPCC celebrated its 10th anniversary. President McInnis won a dispute in the statehouse that he could remove the apostrophe from “Pike’s” as had already happened with the mountain and the street so named.



 Establishing Long Term Patterns

In 1980-1981, long-term funding developed with the creation of the PPCC Foundation, a donation from the Holly Sugar Company, and an endowment from the George and Josephine Lum Estate. The Colorado legislature also began funding the SBCCOE for distribution to Colorado community colleges.

PPCC approved graduation fees to offset the cost of diplomas. 

 Tough Times

In 1980, a fired cosmetology instructor accused PPCC of racial discrimination. The verdict was that, while there was not racial discrimination, there was a “pattern of insensitivity to minority issues” at the college.

Technology Improvements/Relocation

A closed circuit TV system made it possible to produce TV programs for class use. 

The Publications and Printing Office acquired the first word processing computer network to serve the college. The technology rapidly improved. Soon PPCC was designated High Tech Training Center for Microcomputers in Colorado. 

Military program offices moved to Centennial Campus from off-site offices. 

Leadership Change

In 1983-4, PPCC established the Curriculum and Instructional Practices (CIP) committee.

In 1984, declining enrollments threatened faculty salaries, and even staff cuts, again. The PPCC Faculty Association opposed. 

President McInnis left his position for one with the SBCCOES. Vice President Monique Amerman became acting president and thus PPCC’s first woman president, temporarily.


New Systems for Growth

The Southern Colorado Educational Opportunity Center, designed to serve disadvantaged students, opened at PPCC. 

The Miami-Yoder School District and the PPCC AVP department initiated a unique program for high school seniors.  They equipped a bus with a TV and headsets to teach a PPCC communication class at a distance. 

In 1985, PPCC hired a new president, Cecil Groves. 

 Downtown/Rampart Campus Utilization

In 1986, the Downtown Studio Campus opened for the Winter Quarter at 19 North Tejon. Malcolm McCollum was assistant coordinator.

PPCC began to use Rampart High School evenings and weekends as a north campus, with Paul Doray (director of community services) leading. 

Network Improvement/Transfer Credits

In fall, 1986, PPCC began offering classes on a semester system. 

In 1986, PPCC raised tuition to the highest of the 11 state community colleges.

A new law required that four-year colleges and universities facilitate the transfer of credits among state institutions. This led to the “CORE” curriculum.  

Instructors began to record grades and attendance via networked computers. 

A major scholarship endowment fund honored of Amy Zlochower Smaldone, daughter of instructor Sol Zlochower. 


 Creation of a Police Academy

At the end of 1986, PPCC announced its new Pikes Peak Regional Law Enforcement Academy, a training program created partly to fulfill a need expressed by El Paso County Sheriff Bernard Barry. The program director was Al Bartok, Criminal Justice coordinator. Barry was one of PPCC’s first graduates (1968-70), then its director of Public Safety until 1983 when he became sheriff. He founded the PPCC Alumni Association in 1987.

 Diversity Issues

Patricia Traynor launched a project designed to increase the number of women in high tech occupations.  She received a $64,000 grant from federal vocational funds for the project.

In 1988, a Minorities Affairs Committee expressed discontent over employment practices. Their survey report questioned progress in PPCC’s first 20 years.

The Twentieth Anniversary Festivities

 PPCC’s 20th anniversary celebration included a Homecoming Dance, a dinner for new employees, and special recognition during graduation. 

Organizational Shift

In 1989, Cecil Groves left as president and Don Goodwin as vice president of instruction. Dale Traylor was interim president.

Marijane Paulsen became the first woman president of PPCC. Thus, she became a local symbol of women in new positions of power. 

The North Campus Task Force formed to make recommendations. 



In April 1990, in an agreement with American Telecasting, Inc., PPCC acquired a satellite link to Cheyenne Mountain, making it possible to broadcast on its own TV Channel.  In May 1991, PPCC began Instructional Television Fixed Services. Students could view instruction at home through 13 receiving sites and talk to instructors through eight telephones available at each site. 

PPCC developed accessibility. Its LRC (library) established an Adaptive Computer-Assisted Lab equipped with IBM-Compatible computers, speech synthesizers, talking books, and visual enlargement screens. 

Addressment of Diversity

In 1993-1995, reports indicated a lag in PPCC minority graduates. In 1997, PPCC reported some improvement. The president “demanded” a more responsive PPCC. During this period, women “re-entry” students were conspicuously increasing and achieving.  


Expansion of Campuses/Programs

In July 1993, PPCC began to lease St. Mary’s High School as the new Downtown Studio Campus.

In 1994-1995, PPCC offered classes at additional sites: Commerce Center Downtown and Woodland Park.  

In 1996, a Danish Exchange Student Program brought international business students.

The Integrated Circuit Fabrication Institute began in 1996.

In 1997-1998, adjunct faculty organized to call attention to PPCC’s dependence upon them and inequities they faced.

In 1998, the Rampart Range Campus opened.

In 1999, several new programs began including Interior Design, Adventure Guides, and Weekend College. 


Diversity/Downtown Campus

In 2000, Marijane Paulsen retired. The interim president was Jack Lundberg. 

In June 2001, Joseph A. Garcia became PPCC’s first president of color. 

In 2002, PPCC acquired and renovated the Downtown Studio Campus property.


PPCC received a TRIO Grant of $760,000 for the Student Support Services Program.

Intel Corporation donated $22,500 to the IC Fab Program at PPCC.

A new Paramedic Program came to PPCC.

PPCC created additional childcare services at its newer campuses in 2003.


Enrollment Growth

In 2004-2005, PPCC programs and enrollment growth caused community comment about its value, calculated as $133.98 million for Colorado Springs.

The Kane Family Scholarship created new opportunities for UCCS transfer students in 2006.

Transition/Falcon Campus

In 2006, Joseph Garcia left for the presidency of Colorado State University—Pueblo. The interim was Bob Rizzuto. The new president hired was Anthony Kinkel.

PPCC created a Falcon Campus to serve the semi-rural East from Falcon Middle School, from 2008 to 2015.



In 2008, PPCC established a new relationship and brought new buildings to the Rampart Range Campus, by introducing concurrent enrollment through The Classical Academy. 

PPCC was still “military friendly” and appealing to “re-entry women,” but special studies and programs began to address underrepresented minority males. 

Campus Life director Colette Berge won the city’s Athena Award for helping women attend PPCC.

Presidential Transition

In 2010, Anthony Kinkel resigned. Vice president for instruction Edwin Ray became interim president.

In 2011, Lance Bolton became president.


Waldo Canyon/Black Forest Fires

The disastrous Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires of 2012-2013 occasioned much community involvement and affected many lives of the PPCC community.

Multicultural /Veteran center

In 2013, PPCC held its first Multicultural Awareness Conference for students to give academic presentations.

In 2014, PPCC presented a new veterans’ center and its Upward Bound program was very successful.

PPCC formed a Diversity Team and began online diversity training in 2015

Creative Commons/Executive Director

In 2016, PPCC received the largest single monetary donation in its history, $1 million, from the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation, to develop a Creative Commons for its art students.

In August of 2016, PPCC hired its first executive director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. That year also began the Global and Diversity Studies Program.


2017-2018 Achievements/Future

Highlights of 2017-2018 include a new Cybersecurity degree program; bus service returning to Rampart Campus after years without; several major food distribution programs to help those in need; and PPCC’s first Bachelor’s degree, aBachelor of Applied Science degree in Emergency Services Administration, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to come