Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Learn about Lakeland Community College's rich history

I’d like to invite you to a free breakfast.

Now that I have your attention, let us move on. I will get back to that offer later.

Lakeland is unique among community colleges in Ohio, and as far as I know, among all two-year colleges in the country.

PHOTOS: Lakeland Community College through the years

Of the 23 such colleges in the state, 22 of them were chartered by a vote of the county commissioners. Only Lakeland was chartered by a vote of the citizens.

There must be a reason. If you are not already aware of it, I will share it with you.

Back in the middle 1960s, there was a gentleman by the name of Erwin Maus III who was editor of The
News-Herald. His friends called him “Little Erv” because his father, Erwin Maus Jr., was the general manager of the paper, and he was known as “Big Erv.”

They were both short in stature, but that doesn’t matter in the context of what I am about to tell you.

Little Erv was very aware of what was going in Lorain County because our company also owns the newspaper there – now known as The Morning Journal.

Erv knew a lot about Lorain County Community College, which was already in existence, and he insisted that a similar institution would be good for Lake County.

He not only insisted on it. He practically demanded it. He traipsed the county, from Wickliffe to Madison and every place in between, telling anyone who would listen that Lake County should have its own community college similar to Lorain’s.

He spoke at chambers of commerce, service clubs and to anyone who would listen. He was most persuasive.

The entire story is too long to retell in a few paragraphs, but the word finally got to the county commissioners. Don’t forget, county commissioners had chartered every other such college in the state.

One of our three commissioners moved to charter a college. The motion was never seconded.

My recollection is that it was Howard Beebe who offered the motion to start the college. I am certain the two who opposed it were Jack Hadden and Bob Fulton.

(I ran into Fulton a few years ago and asked him what he had in mind, opposing the formation of a college here. His reply was that Lakeland should never have been built, that what was really needed was a branch campus of Ohio State. I told him in rather precise terms and somewhat colorful language what I thought of that idea. I dismissed it as nutty. But I digress.)

Well, after the two commissioners shot down the idea, a number of good citizens took the matter into their own hands. The negativism of two elected officials was not about to stop them in pursuit of what they believed was a great idea.

I knew many people who worked hard in the trenches to bring a community college here. Nobody worked harder than the League of Women Voters. There were, in fact, four such leagues in the county at the time. I don’t know the mechanics of how all this worked out, but the league members armed themselves with petitions and accumulated some 4,000-plus names.

Good things happened. The question found its way to the ballot and passed — barely. So did a subsequent question to help finance the college — barely.

Some unexpected opposition surfaced, which made the vote close. But the college was chartered in 1967. It is now a bustling institution with an enrollment approaching 10,000, and the wonder now is how anyone could have not been 100 percent behind it.

Many beloved names are attached to the startup of Lakeland, among them, Art Holden, Lillian Luthanen Robinson, Nel Speros, Ruth Densmore and others too numerous to mention.

But let’s get back to that breakfast offer. It will be at 9 a.m. May 15 in the Holden University Center on
Route 306 across from the Lakeland campus. It will not be fancy — a cup of coffee or tea and perhaps a bagel or a sweet roll.

I will be conducting an hour-long interview with three or four ladies from the league who worked in connection with the petition drive. It will be recorded for showing on Lakeland’s TV channel. The audience will be composed of people like yourself. We will allow time at the end for questions.

My main liaison with the league is Gale Bromelmeier, its treasurer. I couldn’t do it without her.

I am hoping to have with me at the interview table Joyce Grady, Clara Maurus, Barbara Vinson and Ellen Chamberlain. I hope it all works out.

Space is limited, so if you’d like to be there, don’t wait to call. The number is 440-525-7419. The deadline is May 8.

We will learn a lot of Lakeland history on May 15. Let’s learn it together.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

An idea to set up a Educational Center where students could go on to earn a 4 year degree gets "dismissed with colorful language" and called "nutty"?
Sounds like an uneducated journalist.

May 4, 2014 at 6:25 AM 
Blogger Painesville Duke said...

Mr. Collins dismissing a comment he disagrees with as nutty in nutty. Let me start by saying I gave graduated from Lakeland also Lake Erie and Baldwin Wallace, so I support Lakeland. This happened a long time ago. Both Mr Hadden and Mr Fulton are deceased so they can not speak for themselves on their thinking at the time. All we have from them is a conversation Mr Collins had which he dismisses as nutty. I was very young at the time but I remember discussions about 4 year collage startling a branch in Lake County. Not exactly a nutty idea since Kent State has both a Ashtabula and Geauga branch. Lakeland has proven to be a asset to the County as I am sure a branch of one of Ohio's major Colleges would have been. I don't feel either idea is "nutty", of course Lakeland doesn't give me a office.

May 5, 2014 at 12:45 PM 
Blogger Dugg said...

My dad was Erwin Maus III. I recall him taking me on a tour of LCC in the late 60s---when I was just 7 years old. I had no idea he was so instrumental in its inception. Thank you for remembering him fifty years later!

July 25, 2014 at 6:03 PM 

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