Celebrating A Century of Learning in Southeast Iowa

In the fall of 1920, 44 students assembled in an upstairs classroom in Burlington High School to start their first day of college. Little did they know they would be the inaugural class of what would become Southeastern Community College.

2020 marks the 100th anniversary of SCC. To commemorate this momentous milestone, a year of events and activities will celebrate the rich history of SCC graduates and staff. They will also recognize the pivotal role the college has played as a catalyst for growth in the region. SCC President Dr. Michael Ash says a planning team has been working on the project over the past year.

“We have a century of accomplishments and contributions that we want to celebrate,” says Dr. Ash. “In addition to honoring our heritage, it’s also important that we highlight where we are today and where we hope to go in the future.”

Serving as the common thread and centerpiece of the commemoration, the college will tell the SCC story through the 100 Years, 100 Stories Project. Stories will celebrate the achievements of notable and lesser-known alumni and staff, and recognize the contributions the college has made to communities throughout our region. Stories will be featured across media, including written articles, videos, and recorded interviews.

“SCC has amassed tens of thousands of alumni, each with their own story,” Ash continues. “We’re just as proud of our famous and high-profile alumni as we are of those who are our neighbors, friends, and co-workers. That’s the beauty of a community college – SCC has been here for everyone.”

With so many alumni and people who have been a part of the SCC family over the past century, the 100 Years, 100 Stories Project team is actively seeking story leads.

Project director Jeff Ebbing encourages anyone with an SCC story to share it.

“There’s no way we could possibly track down all the amazing stories of our alumni on our own. That’s why we’re opening it up to anyone to submit their story.”

The team asks alumni to send stories to foundation@scciowa.edu.

Stories can be personal, of a loved one, a friend, or a community member. They need to include an experience directly related to SCC or one of its preceding institutions – Burlington Junior College or Keokuk Community College – or how they played a pivotal role in the success of an individual or event.

“We’d love to feature people like the oldest living SCC alumni or staff, the family with the most graduates, multi-generation graduates, as well as grads from and across the country and the globe,” Ebbing continues.

He says that a history of Southeastern Community College written in the early 70’s lists the first student to register at Burlington Junior College as Mrs. Toothacre. Ebbing would love to learn more about her.

“Imagine being the person who started it all,” says Ebbing. “I’m sure she couldn’t have imagined her place in SCC history, and I bet her descendants have no idea either.”

Ebbing says that the team has built a database to house leads they will receive, and that it will regularly review submissions and conduct follow up research and interviews. Stories will be published throughout 2020 and into 2021.

“One hundred stories sounds like a big number but with a place like SCC, I know that’s just a drop in the bucket for what we’re going to learn,” says Ebbing.

Dr. Ash explains that planners were mindful to not just host one big event or create one elaborate display and call it a day. The intent is to celebrate all year long and open the activities up to everyone, everywhere – whether that’s on campus, at local community events, on the web, or on social media.

“‘Community’ is literally our middle name,” notes Dr. Ash. “So we want to make sure we’re reaching everyone where they are.”

In addition to incorporating the 100th anniversary theme at regular college events, commemoration activities include an outdoor summer movie series, history and art exhibits, a special website, social media sharing campaigns, and community outreach activities.

The Athletic Department will also roll out a Blackhawks Hall of Fame. Athletics have played an important part in the history of SCC. Our tradition of excellence runs deep. From the original BJC Blackhawks and KCC Komets all the way through today’s programs, many talented athletes have worn our uniforms. Their efforts deserve to be formally recognized.

SCC Athletic Director Tyler Gaston says a committee has been developing the charter for the Hall of Fame for about a year and says coinciding the launch with the 100th anniversary is perfect timing. Gaston says that the committee hopes to induct 10 members into its inaugural class.

Nominations to the hall of fame are open to the public at sccblackhawks.com. Nominees can be an athlete, coach, administrator, staffer, or a notable contributor to any of SCC current and past athletic programs.

“We will honor a class that is representative of all eras, including Burlington Junior College, Keokuk Community College, and Southeastern Community College,” Gaston explains. “I know there will be a lot of worthy candidates.”

Dr. Ash says that a milestone like the 100th anniversary is a once in a lifetime opportunity. “This institution has done so much for so many. We’re looking forward to telling our collective SCC story.”

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