With the opening of the semester on Wednesday August 15, 2018, Doña Ana Community College celebrates its 45th anniversary.
In 1973, the Doña Ana County Occupational Education Branch opened their doors to students as a branch college of New Mexico State University and an area vocational school. The previous year the three Doña Ana County school districts, Las Cruces, Gadsden and Hatch had petitioned the NMSU Board of Regents to form the college.
The first students could pick from career paths in radiological technology, building trades, nursing, welding, engineering technology and water utility operations which are all options for students today. In addition, adult education was offered as a way for students to learn English and pass high school equivalency examinations.
Dr. Alex Sánchez was the college’s first president and worked collaboratively with NMSU and DACC professors to garner a $250,000 EPA grant to build the first water and wastewater technology program in New Mexico. In addition, Sánchez was instrumental in gaining $1.259 million from the state to build the first building on the Central Campus that now bears his name.
Dr. Sánchez sent his greetings, for the anniversary, “Being the founding director of Doña Ana Community College was one of the hardest––and most fun jobs I ever had. I am so happy and proud to see that the leaders who followed me stayed true to the original mission of creating technical, industrial, and trades programs that lead to good paying jobs and long-term careers.
Then, as now, these programs cost money. It’s expensive to buy the equipment and to hire well-qualified people to lead and teach them. With national and state legislatures continuously cutting funding for community colleges, many have eliminated them. I believe such training is needed now more than ever. As DACC celebrates its 45th anniversary, I am thrilled that it continues to innovate and to respond to current and future workforce needs. Well done and congratulations,” Sánchez said.
As DACC starts the countdown for a great 50th anniversary celebration, several initiatives will help community college students give back and serve the community, and prepare them for careers now and in the future.
The DACC “Graduation for All” program will help DACC student parents who earn less than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. The program will provide student success services and workplace assistance to help students graduate and get jobs that pay a higher salary. The initiative is targeted for DACC students in Southern Doña Ana County and is made possible by an $864,853 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
A recently announced collaboration between Delta Dental of New Mexico and DACC establishes a mobile dental unit to take dental services into the community. “Happy Smiles on the Road” will begin this fall as a result of a $30,000 grant from Delta Dental and will serve students at Lynn Middle School and patients at the Amador Health Care Center.
Academically, four new programs will begin after approval by the New Mexico Higher Education Department. The Associate of Applied Science degrees in Building Construction Technology, Cybersecurity, Game Development and Medical Assisting will help fill gaps in the local workforce.
All of this would not be possible without the dedicated faculty and staff DACC has now and had in the past. DACC looks forward to serving the needs of students and workforce development in Doña Ana County and appreciates the efforts and accomplishments of all those at the Community College who work to make Doña Ana County a better place.
Photo: Alex Sanchez and Lowery Davis examine drawings of the first DACC Building Construction. Archives