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 Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical :

ANOTHER
COLLEGE AMONG THE PINES

by Archie P. McDonald
Archie McDonald Ph.D.
We who give "All Hail to SFA" think of our University by one of its earlier nicknames, "The College Among The Pines."

That also described another excellent institution headquartered in Carthage, Texas, named Panola College after its host county. Pine trees grow in abundance in Panola County, so they are as entitled to the moniker as are those of us who work and study in Nacogdoches County.

The G.I. Bill, America's "thank you" to servicemen and women returning from WW II, especially its education subsidy, proved the best investment in the future of the country our government ever made.

The G.I. Bill enabled veterans to obtain a college or vocational education, raised the learning level of a generation of Americans, and left in place hundreds of colleges-junior and community colleges especially-for future generations as well. And one of the best examples is Panola College.

Carthage School Superintendent Q.M. Martin worked to establish the Panola County Junior College. In 1947 the college obtained a thirty-five acre tract located west of Carthage's downtown shopping area, and the school registered its first students in January 1948. Classes were taught and residential students lived in Army surplus buildings obtained at nominal cost from Camp Majors in Greenville and Camp Fannin in Tyler; in fact, moving them cost administrators more than the buildings themselves. The first of more than a dozen permanent buildings began to appear after voters approved a $400,000 bond issue for construction.

B.W. Mustgroves served as the institutions first president, and Dr. Gregory Powell served as president in 2005. Panola enrolls approximately 1,700 students. Such outstanding teachers as Bill O'Neal, who developed the school's Traveling Texas History course, have spent entire careers at Panola College. The school is also noted for its vocational programs for forestry technicians and in nursing.

Panola College won the Texas Junior College Conference football championship in 1950 but discontinued the sport because of its expense to concentrate on basketball and baseball. Its women's basketball teams won National Junior College Athletic Association championships in 1977 and 1978.

Panola College was founded to provide educational opportunities to WW II vets; it still does so for their great great-grandchildren.
Archie P. McDonald
All Things Historical
June 19, 2006 column
A syndicated column in over 40 East Texas newspapers
(This column is provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association. Archie P. McDonald is director of the Association and author of more than 20 books on Texas. )
 
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