Fifty years ago Greenfield embarked upon a new educational venture, the founding of Greenfield Community College. Though the concept of the community college had enjoyed success in many parts of the country, this was a first in Franklin County. People were heavily invested in the four year colleges and the two year business schools and had limited contact with community colleges. In the view of the general public, expectations and assessments were mixed. Some did not see the need for a community college, others thought it was a ‘second tier’ approach for those not quite making the standard college grade. But one thing was certain: educational history was being made and many in our community lived that history.
Chris Forgey ’78 began at GCC when there was no centralized campus, just a few old school and factory buildings in the middle of town. However, there was a spirit of academic excellence that permeated the college. “GCC was one of the first to truly understand the needs of the non-traditional student,” said Forgey, “insuring that all had access to furthering their education without traveling long distances or incurring great expense. After all, many of us were busy with the ‘bread and butter issues of life,’ supporting ourselves, raising our families or making the difficult transition back into civilian life.”
At GCC, Forgey was able to take all that she had previously learned and turn it into something meaningful, a life spent seeking “the intellect.” She notes that it was not the stodgy, rote concepts of conformity that are so often associated with being educated, but the freedoms one receives when you learn HOW to think, which in turn informs every moment in a life. “The choices one makes, the paths one takes are enhanced by the freedom that knowledge brings. GCC became my educational guardian until I was able to take academic responsibility for my own life” she said.
So as we celebrate this golden anniversary of Greenfield Community College, pause and reflect on the fifty years of access and excellence in education that has been provided in this community. There are thousands in this community who have struggled and enjoyed the challenges of education. Whether GCC alumni or not, all know how important it is to provide higher education opportunities to those still to come. There would be no anniversary celebration today if our community had not stood firm behind GCC with dollars and commitments. We should be proud of all that has been achieved and stand firm in our stewardship of this wonderful home to learning. GCC changes lives.
Co-Chairs Chris Forgey and Beth Lorenz, of the GCC Foundation 50th Anniversary Annual Fund Campaign ask your support of this community’s college. They bring the perspective of those who have provided many years of business and individual support of Greenfield Community College and urge you to consider making a special tribute gift today of $50 for GCC’s 50th Anniversary at www.gcc.mass.edu/give.