Oakton’s 50th anniversary kicks off

Robin Sluzas, Reporter/Photographer

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Oakton’s 50th Anniversary Founders Day events kicked off on Tuesday, June 25, 2019.  Beginning with breakfast for employees to lunch for students, a tea for Oakton retirees and an opening ceremony with a special exhibit in the Koehnline Museum of Art the day was a taste of things to come.

Much like our first 50 years, the upcoming events will celebrate our milestone birthday all year long! And that’s lots of celebrating coinciding with lots of years.

Oakton’s history has coincided with many historical firsts and at times we’ve actually gotten “there” before other colleges and, believe it or not, even Senator Bernie Sanders! In 1969, Oakton’s first graduating class of 832 people were beginning their student careers in a factory complex in Morton Grove, Illinois.

Far away in Woodstock, New York on a cattle farm, four hundred thousand Woodstock attendees were contemplating waving hello to Neal Armstrong who was walking on the moon at the time. While the first Starbucks was opening in Seattle in 1971 Oakton became the first academic institution to install the IBM 370/3031 mainframe computer in the United States! 1970 saw Oakton purchasing land for its new campus on the Des Plaines River and in 1980 it’s first classes began. Shortly after Amazon launched in 1994, the Ray Hartstein campus in Skokie, IL opened and in 1998 the first online classes are offered to Oakton students.

2004 saw the launch of Facebook and in 2006 our first Art, Science and Technology Pavilion opened in Skokie. Barack Obama’s election in 2008 coincided with the economic downturn and Oakton’s response was to offer free tuition to laid off workers well before Bernie Sanders’ pitch for free college!

In 2013 we flooded (not for the first time) with the Des Plaines River cresting at 20.92 feet and in 2015 we upgraded once again opening the Lee Science and Health Careers building with state of the art classrooms, laboratories and training facilities. In 2016 the Cubs won the World Series again and three years later the Oakton Owls won their first World Series reminding us that Oakton is and has been home to many of us both past, present and future. Happy birthday to us!

For the remainder of Oakton’s 50th anniversary events, continue to check back at oakton.edu for details and how you can win! Intrigued? Check back.