Celebrating 65 Years
It was standing room only for the 65th Anniversary of Panola College’s first class held in January of 1948. College President, Dr. Gregory Powell told the audience how Q.M. Martin had the vision for establishing the college which began with an enrollment of 55 students, only nine of which were female. “What would Carthage be like if we didn’t have Panola College,” Powell questioned. “We’re one of the major employers in the county, and when I look around, many of the people I see have some type of affiliation with the college, either from working here or taking some type of classes.”
Two of the guest speakers for the celebration included Bev Brown, former Trustee of the College Board and Mayor Carson Joines, both members of the inaugural class at the College. Mr. Brown told how the college was “flat broke” in the spring of 1951 and Dr. M.P. Baker came and saved the college. “He got more out of a dollar bill than anybody I know,” spoke Brown. “I like to think that everybody that has ever come thru this institution, for whatever reason, is glad they did. I think they look back on it with a smile.” Also speaking to the crowd was retired history professor, Bill O’Neal. He spoke of the “early” days when the first registration was held in a snowstorm and there were only seven teachers. “Students had to bring their own sack lunches and the old buildings didn’t have any insulation,” reported O’Neal. “The school newspaper, The Pony Express, stated that the college was no place for the faint-hearted.”
Panola College now boasts of having an enrollment of 2,600 students. The most popular course of study is the Health Sciences. According to Dr. Powell, “We are at capacity at Panola College, and we are turning people away from chemistry, anatomy, and physiology. We started two new programs this year, medical lab technician and medical assisting. Both were instantly popular, but we’re doing some of our lab preparation out in the hallway and on Saturdays. Our Board will be looking in to how we need to not only meet our current demand, but our future demand as well.”
In recent years the College has been recognized nationally. In 2010, an architect magazine recognized ten educational designs across the nation calling it “design for the decades.” Panola was one of the ten featured in that magazine. The Chronical of Higher Education recognized Panola in 2012 as “a great college to work for.” In the small college category, three colleges in the country made the honor roll and Panola was one of them. And, in the last decade, the College has been recognized as one of the top ten digital colleges. “We’ve had ten consecutive semester of record enrollment and have been one of the fastest growing colleges in the State of Texas,” says Powell. “The community’s investment in the College has been a good one that paid dividends many times over. We have educated tens of thousands of students thru the years.” Visit the college website.