History of EACC
The roots of the EACC can be traced back to a generous donation and expectation given by a group of local businessmen led by Basil Turner, former CEO of the CTS corporation. In response to the Studebaker plant closing in the mid-1960s, local business leaders believed a training center was needed to prepare a local workforce for employment opportunities across Elkhart County. Mr. Turner approached Harold Oyer, Superintendent of Elkhart schools, with the desire to donate money and land in order to create new facilities for the district, but mandated that a school be created for students that were not college bound. The corporation agreed and planning began for the future construction of the EACC, Elkhart Memorial High School, and the Elkhart Community Schools administration building on a 140 acre plot of land located on California Road. In December of 1968, leaders met to begin planning for development of the EACC and outline programming, usage, and direction of the new technical education center. Access to the EACC was discussed during these sessions and foundational leaders, including the school’s first director Joseph Miller, thought it was important to serve all who had an interest in the “world of work.” Original plans outlined programming for both adults and secondary students that would benefit employers in Elkhart County and have the flexibility to adapt course offerings for relevant and timely hands-on instruction.
The EACC first opened its doors for the 1971-72 school year with 18 sending school partners. Original programming included: secretarial skills, clerical skills, auto body and auto mechanics, building trades, technical drafting, electronics, graphic arts and advance printing, welding, health occupations, commercial sewing, food service, horticulture, radio and television, and audio-visual technology. The EACC’s ability to adjust programming needs to serve employment trends has been a strength over its decades of service. An Early Childhood Education program was launched for the 1987-88 school year after a successful beginning of the Teenage Parent Program (TAPP) the previous year. Student interest in public safety led to the launch of a Law Enforcement program for the 1993-94 school year and five years later a Firefighting program was started. One of the original areas of programming, health occupations, has grown over the years as local needs have changed. A nursing assistant program was started prior to the 1990-91 school year and within 5 years staffing in health occupations grew to three instructors and programming was increased to offer second year training and dental instruction. Improvements in technology utilized for various careers has also necessitated programming changes to accommodate local needs. The impact of the computer can be seen throughout EACC programming over the last several decades. Computer Programming was first offered for the 1977-78 school year and courses related to applications and networking have been introduced to respond to changing needs within the field. The introduction of the computer in drafting compelled the EACC to begin offering CAD courses prior to the 1999-2000 school year.
Programs came and went over the years as community needs changed and the EACC made necessary adjustments to ensure programming was reactive to current times. Prior to the 1992-92 school year the EACC welcomed a new director that would significantly enhance the quality of education being provided, Steward Baylor. Dr. Baylor came to the EACC with a wealth of knowledge based on his years running a career center in South Carolina and teaching vocational education classes at Ball State University. The previous year the EACC had experienced its lowest enrollment since inception and Dr. Baylor provided a mandate for improving the center. Among the list of directives was strengthening academic focus and becoming fully competency based across all programs. These changes implemented under Dr. Baylor led to increased enrollment over the next five years and created a need for increased programming space. The annex building was acquired and made ready to serve students in the automotive and construction fields for the 1996-97 school year. Next, a massive building project was proposed that would increase the center by over 20,000 square feet and allow modification to be made in an effort to provide necessary technology for programming. The project was completed in time for the 2002-03 school year and allowed the Early Childhood Education, child care, and preschool programs to move away from the Rice Educational building and join other programs on the main campus.
The changes in programming, enhancement of curriculum, and additional space have all been implemented in an effort to support the EACC’s initial vision of offering instruction to anyone in the region that wished to learn about the “world of work.” EACC has continued to communicate with business partners and monitor employment trends to ensure programming not only benefits the Elkhart community, but position students to pursue career interests with the needed training to be successful.