Mt. San Jacinto College kicked off its 50th anniversary celebrations Friday evening, Sept. 14 with a host of events that included the grand opening of a new Humanities and Social Sciences Building, the MSJC Foundation’s annual jazz festival, and a ceramics open house.
Approximately 150 students, faculty and community members gathered at the Menifee Valley Campus to show their support for the college and its growth.
After speeches from various MSJC staff members and a ribbon cutting ceremony, students led guided tours through the state-funded building.
“When I look back at this building, I am in awe,” said Dr. Richard Rowley, Dean of Humanities and Social Science, during his address to the crowd. “We know we are going to grow in this building.”
According to Rowley, the state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, offices and assembly rooms were built with flexibility and functionality in mind.
Several speakers noted that the desks and chairs were comfortably-sized for adults, unlike many furnishings found in other universities. The college recently transferred classes previously held in aging, modular structures into the new facility, which opened to students on August 20 of this year.
According to the MSJC website, the college was given three years to complete construction or risk losing the state funding, which the state approved because of college’s high increase in student population.
“This building takes our experience to the next level,” said Matthew Payne, an MSJC student studying Social and Behavioral Studies. “We feel like we can put more into our education, because we are being supported by the college.”
“Who would have thought that in this wheat field, farm area there could be a higher education campus, a beautiful legacy for this area?” said Becky Elam, Vice President of Business Services, who has been with the college for 22 years. “This building signifies visionary leadership on the part of those first generation attendees.”
The grand opening was held in tandem with the MSJC Foundation’s Sunset Jazz and Wine Fest, an annual event previously held as a brunch.
The festival included wine tastings, food and live music by MSJC’s Menifee Jazz Ensemble. All proceeds from the $40 per ticket event went toward raising scholarship funds for students, providing faculty mini grants and supporting college programs.
MSJC Ceramics also held an Open House where students and professional ceramicists displayed their work for sale. Visitors were also invited to a Kiln Dedication in honor of the department’s new Geil car Kiln.
The event was filmed by a team from the MSJC Multimedia Department as part of the “50th Anniversary Project,” a short film that will detail the history of the college. The film will be presented at the annual MSJC Foundation Gala on February 9, 2013 at Pechanga Resort and Casino.
Amy Donnelly is a local photojournalist and regular contributor to SWRNN.