Ellsworth Community College History
The history of Ellsworth Community College is a fascinating story of evolution and service. From its start in 1890 as a business academy and throughout the years, Ellsworth has evolved to serve the needs of the students of the time. Below is a brief timeline:
1890 – Ellsworth Community College was established as the private Ellsworth Academy by Professor John Tobin. Citizens of Iowa Falls raised $3,400, securing the land for the first building. The institution was named after Eugene Ellsworth, a prominent citizen who provided much of the financing for the building and growth of the college. Classes began in September 1890 with 50 students enrolled.
1900 – Within 10 years of opening, the first building, Old Main, had two wings added. The college then added the Ellsworth Conservatory of Music. Shortly after that, Ellsworth became a four-year college, offering a baccalaureate degree in liberal arts. More buildings were erected including a men's dormitory, women's dormitory, a library and heating plant.
1907 – E.S. Ellsworth dies and his will stipulated that two of his farms be sold and proceeds go toward an endowment for Ellsworth College. Some of that land is still under the jurisdiction of the Ellsworth Board of Trustees and rental from the land still serves as the college endowment.
1928 – Citizens of Iowa Falls voted to make Ellsworth a public junior college and it fell under the dual jurisdiction of the local school district and the Ellsworth Board of Trustees.
1930-39 – The poor condition of most of the buildings and small enrollment plagued Ellsworth during the World War II years.
1946-49 – Buildings were renovated and money was raised by private donors. Lightning struck the Old Main building in 1949 and it was destroyed. Some classes had to be moved to nearby churches.
1950 – Efforts began to replace Old Main. Townspeople were called upon to register their opinion concerning the future of the school, considering the financial troubles and enrollment, and they overwhelmingly registered their approval.
1959-61 – After a massive funding effort, a new building replaced Old Main and it was ready for occupancy in 1961. Enrollment increased and the return of intercollegiate football came in 1961.
1968-72 – ECC became part of the Iowa Valley Community College District along with Marshalltown Community College and Iowa Valley Continuing Education in 1968. A two-story expansion was added to the Kruse-Main building. New vocational programs were added to the curriculum, and McClure Hall was built in 1969 to accommodate those new programs. After a record enrollment of 1,123, a new men's residence hall was built in 1972 followed by a new math-science building in 1973.
1976 – The Panther Football team earned a trip to the Junior Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
1977 – The Panther softball team won the National Junior College Athletic Association's Women's Softball National Championship.
1978 – A new physical education building was constructed, which included an indoor swimming pool. The $500,000 private fund drive for the project was completed in one month.
1981 – Homer and Ruth Calkins donated 76 acres of land southwest of Iowa Falls to the Ellsworth Board of Trustees to be used as an outdoor conservation education area. The area was named Calkins Campus.
1982 – The Trades and Industry building was constructed.
1987 – The Panther Football team won its second NJCAA National Championship.
1988 – Voters approved a $7.5 million bond issue for construction of ECC’s Gentle Student Center and classroom expansions.
1991-93 – Reg Johnson Hall was constructed and dedicated in 1991. Gentle Student Center was dedicated in 1993.
2003 – The ECC College Apartments were opened for student occupancy.
2006 – Voters approved a $35 million bond issue for construction of an Agriculture & Renewable Energy Center, Wellness Center addition (Dale Howard Family Activity Center) and the new Ellsworth Equestrian Center.
2009 – The Dale Howard Family Activity Center, Agriculture & Renewable Energy Center and Ellsworth Equestrian Center were dedicated.
2010 – The College Suites were constructed and opened for occupancy.