The first local resident to speak on record about a community college for the greater DuPage area was Roy DeShane, a former DuPage County Superintendent of Schools.
Realizing the learning potential that a community college could offer area residents, DeShane promoted this concept throughout the late 1950s, when statewide community college legislation was in the proposal stage at the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Despite DeShane’s commitment, adoption of the state’s Community College Act by the Illinois General Assembly did not come to pass until early 1965.
Next would be approval of a local referendum. The DuPage County Community College Association, which was founded in 1963 to represent residents of the then 10 area high school districts, mounted a considerable lobbying effort to convince voters that a community college was needed. The association had first hired a firm in 1964 to do a feasibility study of the prospects for a “DuPage” community college. When a positive report was received, instructions to get petitions signed were promptly developed by the association, which then provided pertinent information on the proposed college to the citizens.
After the Community College Act was passed, the Citizens Committee for a Community College in DuPage was formed and used the slogan “A Community College for an Advancing Community.” On Saturday, Dec. 4, 1965, residents of Community College District 502, which consisted of the Bensenville, Downers Grove, Glenbard, Hinsdale, Lake Park, Lisle, Naperville, West Chicago, Wheaton and York high school districts, passed the referendum by a solid 2 to 1 margin.
The first Board of Trustees was elected on Jan. 29, 1966, and organized on Feb. 3, 1966, with George L. Seaton named as its first chairman. The board invited the public to help name the new college. The winning entry, College of DuPage, was submitted by Wheaton resident Carol Hildebrand.
In early 1967, residents of the Lyons Township Junior College District voted to annex to the DuPage district, bringing a large section of west Cook County to District 502 and making it the state’s most populous community college district outside the city of Chicago with nearly 500,000 residents. The annexation also brought academic accreditation since most of the Lyons faculty and staff joined the new college. Following a formal request by the College, the Executive Committee of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools transferred the accreditation of Lyons Township Junior College to the new College in June 1967.
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