Howard College celebrates 65th anniversary

Sixty-five years down, who knows how many to go.While hitting the age of 65 might seem like the beginning of retirement life to many, it was treated as anything but that during ceremonies marking the anniversary of the first day of classes at Howard College.College officials proudly showed off newly refurbished buildings — thanks to a $21 million bond project approved by district voters in 2007 — and expressed great confidence in the institution's future.Standing in front of the renovated administration building — now renamed “Old Main” — College President Dr. Cheryl Sparks talked about both the college's past and its future in an address to a large crowd of dignitaries, college staff and students.“All I can say is, 'wow,'” she said. “We finally made it to our special day.”During her address, Sparks talked about how the college has grown from a ramshackle collection of former Army barracks at the old air base to a now-refurbished campus on Birdwell Lane.“We have changed so much,” she said. “The Howard College of 65 years ago is very different from the Howard College of today … The Howard College of today serves an area reaching from O'Donnell in the north to Junction in the south, has four campuses and serves more than 5,000 students.”One former student who definitely made a name for himself is Benny Bob Moore, who also spoke during the ceremonies. Moore, an O'Donnell native, was academically suspended from Texas Tech University before enrolling for courses at Howard. There, he credited the college's staff with putting him back on the right track.Today, Moore is superintendent of Victoria Independent School District and a finalist for the Texas Superintendent of the Year award.“I remember most of all how great the faculty and staff were,” he said. “They were there to support you, but they also made you accountable and pushed you to do your best. A lot of kids need that.“This is a great college and I'm very proud to be an alumni,” he added. “I wish everyone here the very best.”While celebrating the past, Sparks said the college is also looking toward the future with enthusiasm.“We see a great future for Howard College,” she said. “We're just beginning our next 65 years.”