The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

March 21, 2013

Crowder College marks 50 years

NEOSHO, Mo. — James Tatum on Wednesday walked past a plaque and bust dedicated to him, stopping at the bell tower that bears his name in the center of the Crowder College campus.

Tatum has been part of Crowder College’s history as a member of the Board of Trustees for all of its 50 years, and several years before that. He was president of the board for 45 of those years. He has seen a lot of changes and progress at the school since he and the school superintendents in Newton and McDonald counties began meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a junior college.

Crowder College will conduct its 50th anniversary celebration beginning at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 2, on the campus. Tatum will be a featured speaker. The event will include historical photos, campus tours, sales of a commemorative anniversary book and a picnic lunch. It will conclude with softball and baseball games at 2 p.m.

THE BEGINNING

It was 1958 when the Neosho School District superintendent circulated the idea of a local college.

“The idea for this was conceived in the mind of Robert Anderson,” Tatum said, speaking in a classroom in the $7.5 million Arnold Farber Building, which Tatum helped dedicate in 2008. “Bob Anderson was the superintendent of schools here in Neosho. He kind of had a dream of having a junior college, as they were called then.”

Tatum said Anderson knew he couldn’t do it with the Neosho district alone, as the Joplin School District had done with what was then Joplin Junior College. Tatum said Fort Crowder had closed, and the idea was floated that the property and buildings could be used for the college.

Tatum was named to a committee, which he said also included Jack Wood, the Newton County superintendent of schools, and Alton Carnell, the McDonald County schools superintendent. Their first obstacle was that there was no mechanism for the state to recognize a college formed by more than one school district. They wrote a proposed bill for the Legislature to consider.

But others also were working to solve the same problem. Elmer Ellis, the president of the University of Missouri, told Tatum that St. Louis city and county were trying to form a junior college.

Gov. James Blair formed a subcommittee on junior colleges. Its members included Tatum and Roi Wood, superintendent of the Joplin School District.

The Legislature in 1961 approved the bill, modeled on ones prepared in Newton and McDonald counties and in St. Louis city and county.

Tatum said community colleges were becoming a popular education trend.

“In the early ’60s, they were being established almost one a week in the U.S.,” he said. “Here this national movement was evolving.”

The legislation didn’t solve all the problems. Tatum said he had to negotiate with what was then the War Department and other federal and state agencies for the property and the two buildings.

“The only things out here were the two buildings, Newton and McDonald halls,” Tatum said. “They had barely been used. We couldn’t have done it without those buildings and this land.”

After ballot petitions were filed, a ballot measure forming the community college district of Newton and McDonald counties was on the April 2, 1963, ballot. It included a 40-cent property tax. On the same ballot was a slate of 17 candidates for the Board of Trustees, with the top six vote-getters to be elected if the college district was approved.

“Almost 80 percent voted for this,” Tatum said. “Even though there was a big tax levy, they voted for it. People wanted something for their kids and their grandkids that they never had.”

The 37-year-old Tatum was the top vote-getter.

The board was busy early on, trying to hire a president and teachers.

“We were meeting two and three times a week to try to get off the ground,” Tatum said.

The first president, Henry Campbell, from New Mexico, experienced a personal tragedy early in his tenure. His wife, who was in New Mexico, died in childbirth, and so did the baby. He resigned after a short time as president.

The board hired Donald Shook as the second Crowder president.

Text Only
Local News
  • Pension funding improving, actuary reports

    An extra $1 million contribution by the city of Joplin last year to the Police and Firemen’s Pension Fund boosted the funding ratio of the plan by 2 percent, the plan’s actuary told the board Thursday morning.

    April 17, 2014

  • Special counsel to be appointed in ethics complaint against Neosho council members

    The Neosho Ethics Board on Wednesday voted to ask the City Council to appoint a special counsel to provide legal advice to the board’s remaining two members as they investigate a complaint against two members of the council.

    April 17, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Will new Earth-like planet have better cable offerings?

    When I read that astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet yet, I had a couple of deep scientific questions. First: What’s the Wi-Fi like? And: Are their TV channels better than ours? Hey, I didn’t get an “Incomplete” in college astronomy for nothing.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Christian ministry plans Missouri camp expansion

    A nondenominational Christian ministry is planning a $21.5 million expansion on land it owns near Table Rock Lake in southwest Missouri, with a goal of offering gatherings beyond the traditional summer camps.

    April 17, 2014

  • 041714 School safe rooms4_72.jpg Joplin school district readies community safe rooms for storm season

    Thousands of Joplin residents will soon be able to stay safe during storms in some of the region’s newest shelters. Community safe rooms at Cecil Floyd, Stapleton, McKinley and Eastmorland elementary schools, which double as gymnasiums, and Junge Field, which will double as a field house, are expected to be open within the next few weeks, according to Mike Johnson, the school district’s director of construction.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 041714 Treble Makers.jpg Carl Junction ‘Treble Makers’ to sing at Springfield Cardinals’ stadium

    Next month, 75 Carl Junction sixth-grade students will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Hammons Field before a Springfield Cardinals game. And with more than 600 parents, family members and other residents planning to attend, the May 3 event has been dubbed “Carl Junction Day.”

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Public hearing set on posed TIF district

    Financial details of a proposed new tax increment financing district for the Silver Creek Galleria area will be discussed in detail at an April 28 public hearing, members of the city’s TIF Commission were told Thursday. Chris Williams, a TIF attorney representing the city of Joplin, told the panel the Thursday meeting was intended to walk commissioners through the public hearing steps.

    April 17, 2014

  • Volunteer projects spark two bills in Jefferson City

     moving through the Missouri House and Senate were inspired by a volunteer project in Carl Junction last year that stalled over a question of whether those volunteers had to be paid prevailing wage under Missouri law. “This bill is very simple. All it says is if someone is a volunteer, they won’t be forced to be paid prevailing wage,” state Rep. Charlie Davis, R-Webb City, told lawmakers during a hearing on his bill last week.

    April 17, 2014

  • Chairman of Neosho Ethics Board resigns

    The chairman of the Neosho Ethics Board unexpectedly resigned on Thursday as the board investigates a complaint against Neosho City Council members David Ruth and Steve Hart.

    April 17, 2014

  • CWEP receives top honor from national power group

    The Carthage Water and Electric Plant has received the top award for reliable electrical service from the American Public Power Association.

    April 17, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

Would you use a community safe room when the area is under a tornado warning?

Yes.
No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter