Arapahoe Community College: A look at the early days

Not everyone was on board at first

Staff report
Posted 5/7/15

Although Littleton has a long history of supporting its schools, the same cannot be said for its initial enthusiasm about launching the metro area's first community college.

According to a September 1966 Littleton Independent article by Houstoun …

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Arapahoe Community College: A look at the early days

Not everyone was on board at first

Posted

Although Littleton has a long history of supporting its schools, the same cannot be said for its initial enthusiasm about launching the metro area's first community college.

According to a September 1966 Littleton Independent article by Houstoun Waring, the idea was originally floated by Littleton Public Schools Superintendent AA Brown in 1959, “but the time was not ripe and the plan was voted down on May 5, 1959, by 13 to 1. Most of us thought the junior college was dead.”

But one woman, Virginia Baker, refused to give up, and she was very much used to achieving her goals. Having launched a successful campaign to get art programs into schools and scratching out the beginnings of TLC Meals on Wheels in her kitchen, she began meeting with local businessmen at the early morning “Round Table” at the original Abe's Restaurant on Main Street.

Encouraged by the response of the likes of Jack Thomas, Norman Workman, R.B. Valore and Councilman John Kinghorn, she visited city council and arranged a meeting at Town Hall to launch the “Junior College Plan.” By the end of that meeting, a steering committee had been formed with Kinghorn as chair, and a feasibility study was launched.

Sheridan joined Littleton's effort, and the cities pledged a two-mill ceiling on a levy. Even the notoriously cost-conscious Waring was on board, endorsing the college in the Independent. An election was set for May 4, 1965, and intense campaigning ensued.

Opposition to the plan was led by William B. Myers, but the vote in his neighborhood was the only one opposed, 296-201. The other five polling places were favorable, and the final vote was 1,690 to 1,449 in favor of creating a junior college district.

On June 26, 1965, the College Governing Council was elected, headed by James McKechnie. Allan P. Crawfurd was hired, and he began to hire faculty to teach classes that were scheduled to begin in September 1966 in West School, where the child-care center is now, and surrounding buildings.

Simultaneously, staff at the City of Littleton was working on getting a more permanent solution to a building. Most of the work fell on the shoulders of Larry Borger, who was then the administrative assistant to the city manager, Carl Broberg.

Borger, who became the city manager later that year and served through 1972, calls the effort the city's first urban renewal authority, which bought 55 acres that housed 147 families and 12 businesses where the college's main building sits now. The land was cleared and sold to the college district at a discount.

On May 13, Borger mailed a foot-tall stack of paperwork to the U.S. Housing and Home Finance Agency, forerunner of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in Fort Worth, Texas.

“It was the first such urban renewal effort by a suburban community in the Rocky Mountain West,” says Borger.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

For a comprehensive history of Arapahoe Community College, check out retired history professor Frank Lee Earley's book, “The View From the Fourth Floor: A Personal History of Arapahoe Community College, 1965-2005.”

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