50th Fridays – We begin at the beginning

Posted on Jan 26, 2015

RVC 50th logo

The unveiling of Rock Valley College’s 50th Anniversary logo has officially launched the college’s year-long celebration of this historic year for Rock Valley College.

As part of the celebration, we are pleased to bring you 50th Fridays! Every Friday starting January 23 through December 18, we will be sharing RVC facts and photos from over the years in here and on social media. Be sure to check the Daily News every Friday and follow us on all of our social media platforms as we will be posting unique content across all media throughout the year!

We encourage you to use #RVC50 to share your memories and photos with us on social media all year long.

Our first 50th Friday will actually cover the formative years of 1965-1968. Starting next Friday, we will highlight just one year each week as we count up to the year 2015 in December!


Opening Day

“Opening Day” of classes began on September 29, 1965, but none of the classes were held on the campus on Mulford Road where the College currently resides.  A variety of buildings were used to accommodate classes during the first year and included the Naval Reserve Armory, National Guard Armory, YMCA, and Harlem High School.

The College had 1,064 students register for classes that first year.

RVC opening day at the armory

“Opening Day” of classes at the National Guard Armory in 1965.


Not-So Temporary Buildings

In the fall of 1966, classes began meeting on the Mulford Road campus in wood frame classroom buildings. These buildings were sometimes referred to as buildings A, B & C or as the “temp buildings.” The “temp buildings” would remain on campus and used in various capacities until 2003. Despite the “temporary” designation, the buildings were used meaningfully for 38 years!

Temp buildings

Students head to class in the “temporary” buildings on the main campus.


A Starlight is Born

In the fall of 1967, a group of Rock Valley College students wanted to bring their community to the corner of Spring Brook and Mulford Roads. They hoped to encourage the public to appreciate the beauty of their college’s farm setting. With the permission of Reuben Johnson, acting Dean of Community Services, the students decided that the best way to accomplish this goal was to perform a musical nestled beside the beautiful farm pond. They chose the production Finian’s Rainbow, which explores the overcoming of racial barriers through hard work and a little bit of magic.

Finian’s Rainbow opened on the lawn beside the farm pond on the RVC campus on Thursday, August 3, 1967 at 8:30 pm. Opening night of Finian’s Rainbow was a greater success than anyone had ever imagined. People from the community came out with their lawn chairs and watched the amazing production. It had two more performances on August 4 & 5 and tickets were $1.50 or $.75 for children under 12. It was billed as “the first all-community musical.”

During the past 48 summers Starlight theatre has brought 140 productions to the stage. A cast and crew totaling 23,287 people have all given of themselves for our community’s enrichment, and in the process have shared their joy of performing for over 1,189,000 audience members!

Starlight Finnians Rainbow

Starlight Theatre’s first performance was Finian’s Rainbow in 1967.


The Birth of a Campus

The groundbreaking for the permanent buildings on campus was held October 15, 1967. The first buildings to be constructed on campus were the Boiler House, CLI, and CLII and would be followed by the ERC, Student Center, and PEC. In all, the project would take five years to be completed. But when those shovels hit the dirt in 1967, the vision for the RVC we know today began to take shape. Nearly 50 years later and after hundreds of thousands of students have passed through their doors, CLI and CLII are scheduled for major renovations over the next few years.

Main campus construction

Construction on CLI in 1968.


Key Programs Take Flight

Two programs still offered at RVC today began at off-site locations in 1968 when the Automotive Service Technology Program opened in Belvidere and the Aviation Maintenance Technology Program opened at the Rockford Airport. Forty-six years later, RVC broke ground on its new Aviation Maintenance facility at the Chicago Rockford International Airport. The 40,000 square foot facility will have four classrooms, four labs, and an aircraft hangar. By comparison, the current facility has 15,000 square feet with one classroom, one lab, and a small hangar area. The new facility is expected to be ready for classes by fall 2015.

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