In 1961, John F. Kennedy was the president, a gallon of gasoline cost about 27 cents and Roger Maris of the New York Yankees clobbered 61 home runs.
That's also the year that Anne Arundel Community College opened, giving county residents the opportunity for higher education at an affordable price.
Last night, about 50 of the community college's early graduates -- from 1963 to 1972 -- gathered in the cafeteria of the Student Services Building on the Arnold campus to renew old ties, marvel at the changes that growth has brought and celebrate the school's 35th birthday.
"This brings back a lot of good times," said John Scheuler, president of the Class of 1964. "A lot of good memories were here."
"I've never had a reunion in my whole life," said Ralph Gonzales, a 1972 graduate. "I wanted this."
Many of the graduates realized quickly that this wasn't the community college they had attended in the 1960s -- and in fact, it wasn't.
Back then, the college enrolled 270 students in 48 evening-only courses at the newly built Severna Park High School. The college was moved in 1967 to the Arnold campus, where it now boasts an enrollment of 40,000 students -- most of them part-timers.
In the beginning, full-time tuition cost about $100 a semester. Now, the average cost is about $900.
Students who had to register for classes knew what courses were available only days in advance. Now, students can register in person, by telephone, and even by computer months before the first day of class.
The semesters also ran longer. Professors assigned term papers and exams after winter break. Now, exams are completed and papers handed in before Dec. 20.
Scheuler remembered having a mandatory gym class that started at 10 p.m., three nights a week.
Janet Pumphrey, Class of 1967, remembered how she was excused from class early whenever her math professor wanted to tell a dirty joke.
Robert Durner, Class of 1964, recalled how a handful of students staged an unofficial christening of the new campus, digging up a tree dedicated at the groundbreaking, placing several beer bottles in the hole, and replanting the tree on top of them.
But one thing that was not a laughing matter is the importance of rTC the community college, said many of the graduates.
"We wanted to go out and make the world a better place," recalled Robert Sutton, Class of 1972, who drove nearly three hours from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., to attend the reunion. "This was the place to do it, and they're still serving the community."
"I think it's serving a needed purpose," said Nancy Moreland, a member of the Class of 1964, who met her husband-to-be, Henry Moreland, at the college in November 1963 and married him three years later.
"It provides an education for a variety of people -- young people, professionals, housewives. It can change to meet the needs of the community," she said.
County Executive John G. Gary and college President Martha A. Smith talked about the future of the college. Gary said he hoped the county some day would be able to offer a community college education at no cost.
Smith envisioned courses being conducted entirely through home computers and students teaming with faculty members to draw up complete educational plans.
"We are committed to our students' success," she said. "We would be doing our students and our citizens a disservice if we did not make them as competitive as they can be."
Many graduates had their own ideas about the future of the college, though some not as expansive as that of John Pumphrey, who graduated with his daughter, Janet, in 1967.
"What I would like to see is it become a four-year college," he said. "I think it would compete with Maryland and the rest of them."
Pub Date: 9/12/96