Webster City Junior College
The beginning of the junior college movement in the United States dates back to 1901 when J. Stanley Brown, Superintendent of Joliet High School and Willam Raney Harper, President of the University of Chicago, met. They envisioned a local institution of learning, where a course of study paralleled the first two years of college. This Joliet Junior College had an enrollment of six students that year. The next year the Board of Trustees officially sanctioned the program and made postgraduate courses available tuition-free.
This movement spread to Iowa. Mason City Junior College grew out of a high school PTA meeting in the spring of 1916. The college opened in 1918, offering classes on the top floor of the high school building. Tuition was free for Mason City residents and $10 per semester for all others. This first class consisted of 28 students and six instructors offering five fields of study. Today the college has grown to occupy a 500-acre campus, has 2,800 degree students, a staff of about 300, and offers many non-credit courses. The Mason City effort was duplicated in about 30 different cities in Iowa in the next decade.
In the spring of 1926 discussions were held about starting a junior college in Webster City. By fall, the Webster City Junior College officially opened. The classes were held in the top floor of New Central Building, with some lab facilities shared in the Lincoln High School Building. New Central was built just three years earlier. In recent years the building has been called Washington Central. Room 310 was reserved as a study and library room strictly for the benefit of the junior college students. Kendall Young Library agreed to add reference materials needed by the college students. The school board members who created the college were Mrs. Will Clifton, F. J. Lund, Dr. E. S. Mitterling, I. J. Sayrs, and C. H. Currie. John E. Smith was the Superintendent of Schools.
The advantages of the junior college were mentioned in the first college catalog were that the students could remain at home for an additional two years, and they would be more mature when they transferred to a four-year school. The classes would be smaller, tuition costs were lower, transportation costs would be less, and books were furnished at cost. Tuition was set at $100.00 per year. Those students taking a science course were charged $2.50 each semester to cover the lab expenses.
A sports program at the new college included a girl's hockey squad consisting of 19 girls, a boy's basketball team made up nine men, and a girl's basketball team of 10 girls.
The courses offered in 1926 were English, Speech, French, Mathematics, European History, Chemistry, and Physical Education. The staff of six teachers were John Smith, Superintendent; Perry Moore, Chemistry & Mathematics; Daisy Chamberlain, English & History; Florence Landon, Romance Languages; Orville Rust, Director of Athletics & Men's Physical Education; and Elizabeth Kneeland, Women's Physical Education and Athletics. Charles Coulter served as an assistant to Mr. Rust.
By 1934 the curriculum was expanded to include these additional courses: Psychology, American Government, History of Education, Principles of Education, English Literature, and Mechanical Drawing. The Mechanical Drawing class was taught by William I. Naden.
In 1937 the tuition was still only $100.00 per year. The staff had increased to 11. The student body listed 45 students. The 1939 catalog listed an expanded extra-curricular offering to include Student Council, Assemblies, Dramatics, Debate, Bulletin Board, Athletics, Vocal Music, Sax Sextette, Teepee Times, Social Room, and Chapels. The athletics team were called the Indians; the college newspaper was the Teepee Times and the school annual was the Tomahawk. The basketball teams had a schedule of 15 to 20 games; the baseball team played from 12 to 16 games, depending on the weather. A tennis team was being organized. The library facilities were in Kendall Young Library which boasted of 20,000 volumes.
The student body had increased to 78. It is impossible to name all of the students, but a few identified were Homer Ankrum, Don Doolittle, John Chambers, Bill Bruner, Clark Mollenhoff, Georgia Osmundson, Bill Groves, George Ringer, and Jeanette McCauliff.
The college continued to grow until the years of World War II. The doors were closed in 1942. The college resumed operation in 1946 with J. H. McBurney as Superintendent and A. W. Langerak as Dean. Staff members were Elnora Griffith, History and French; Bernice Porter Black, English & Education; E. B. Coon, Engineering Drawing; Dean Schultz, Accounting & Economics; H. W. Mead, Mathematics; Everett Romig, Chemistry; Walter Crissey, Physics; Geneva Gorsuch, Speech; Deane Frey, Government; Eva Wainright, Girl's Physical Education; Donald Carrothers, Men's Physical Education & Athletics; and Richard Baker, Music. The fees were increased to $65.00 per semester.
A number of students came to the Junior College from the surrounding towns of Blairsburg, Kamrar, Jewell, Williams, Ames, Duncombe, Lehigh, Stanhope, Stratford, Fort Dodge, Rowan, and Woolstock. One student came from Peoria, Illinois. The college was moved from Washington Central to the Lincoln Building on December 4, 1961. (The bulletin lists the name of the building as Lincoln Hall.)
In 1962 the tuition was increased to $70 per semester, in 1964 to $90 for local residents, $100 for Iowa students, and $125 for out-of-state students. A new activity listed in the 1966 catalog was the Circle K Club, which was sponsored jointly by the college and the Kiwanis Club. Martin E. Nass was the college advisor of the club; Dr. Caryl Hollingshead was the Kiwanis advisor. The club had 22 members.
In 1966, the Iowa Legislature passed an act creating the Area Community Colleges. The Webster City Junior College was incorporated into the Iowa Central Community College and became one of the attendance centers. The college moved to new quarters at 1725 Beach Street in the winter of 1968 during the break between semesters.
Usually the junior college students graduated with the high school students, but in the spring of 1967, the last year of Webster City Junior College, graduation exercises were held exclusively for the junior college students. Clark Mollenhoff, a former graduate, was the commencement speaker in Jefferson Gymnasium.. At that time John Fields was the Superintendent of Schools and Hank Witt was the college dean. Thus ended the 41 years of Webster City Junior College.
The picture at the left is the sign located at the northwest corner of the Lincoln Building where the college was located. The two children pictured are Brian Nass on the left and his sister, Miriam, on the right. They are the children of Martin E. Nass, author of this article. Martin taught at the college for 30 years starting in 1965.