1967-1969: The Beginning
Following the approval of the referendum that formed the college on July 6, 1966, the Board of Trustees met on Sept. 6, under the leadership of Chairman Dale Von Ohlen, an Auroran. The first few meetings of the Board of Trustees were held in the Office of the Superintendent of Schools in Geneva until administrative functions moved to 424 S. River St in Aurora on Feb. 14, 1967. This space was rented from Northern Illinois Gas.
In June of 1967 the college moved into the former Jewel Tea store at 15 S. Lake St. This business had opened in October of 1950 and closed in January 1965. The Learning Resources Center opened in September at 19 S. Lake St.
The first theatre performance was held on November 16, 1967, at Benjamin Franklin Junior High School in Aurora. This building was formerly West Aurora High School from the early 1900s-the early 1950s, and was later sold to Aurora Christian School in the early 1970s, who occupied it until 2004. Classes were also held at various other Aurora locations in the fall of 1967 including the YMCA, New England Congregational Church, Aurora Automotive Building, and both East and West Aurora High Schools. In the first semester of classes offered, 1,603 students were enrolled in more than 100 courses; however, only 403 were full time.
On December 18, the permanent campus referendum passed by only 2 percent. On February 20, 1968, 183.5 acres were purchased in Sugar Grove for the permanent campus. Despite the approval of a permanent campus elsewhere, Waubonsee’s efforts in Aurora remained. The first WCC graduation was held in the Freeman Room of the Aurora YMCA on June 5, 1968. The 16 graduates included Janet Sprague, who would later return to Waubonsee as an instructor. Classes for the 1968-1969 academic year were held at the Administrative Center in Aurora and both East and West Aurora High Schools. In fall of 1968, enrollment increased to 2,075, with 774 full-time students—a sharp increase in only a year. The first holiday performance of “The Messiah” was produced at the East Aurora High School Auditorium in December 1968. The second graduation was held on June 12, 1969, with 90 students receiving degrees.