Northwest College

College History

1940s  |   1950s  |   1960s  |   1970s  |   1980s  |   1990s  |   2000s  |   2010s  |  


February 1960: Physical plant doubles in size
The college's second major building campaign was launched when voters approved a general obligation bond issue Feb. 16, 1960, to build a liberal arts building (now called the Nelson Performing Arts Center), a library (which later became the Frisby Social Science Building) and a men's and women's dormitory/cafeteria (Colter Hall).

April 1964: Northwest validated by NCA accreditation
On April 9, 1964, Northwest Community College received accreditation from the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges.

April 1965: College becomes a multi-dormitory institution
The college culminated its first decade of growth with a $2.8 million building program. $850,000 came from a general obligation bond issue approved by voters on April 20, 1965. $1,750,000 was obtained through the sale of revenue bonds to the State of Wyoming, and a grant from the Higher Education Facilities Act provided another $175,000 (used for what is now the Fagerberg Building). In 1966 and 1967, the college opened the buildings that are known today as the DeWitt Student Center, Bridger Hall and Lewis and Clark Hall. With three dormitories and a student center, Northwest established its identity as a residential campus, a distinction among community colleges in Wyoming and across the country. In later decades, the college also took advantage of federal mineral royalty funds to add several other buildings.

January 1966: NWC Foundation formed
The Northwest College Foundation was launched in June 1966 with a $15,000 gift from R.A. Nelson, who has presided over the organization since its inception. The foundation now claims assets of nearly $4 million.

August 1966: College placed on public probation
After a turbulent and controversial year, inner strife at the college boiled over into the public arena when faculty members contested a board ruling restricting political activity by faculty. During 1966 the college underwent investigations by the National Education Association, American Association of University Professors and the North Central Association. In August, the NCA placed the college on a two-year public probation pending the removal of certain deficiencies. NCA lifted the probation in 1968-1969 with accreditation extended to 1978-1979.

January 1967: SinClair Orendorff takes over presidency
SinClair Orendorff, the college's longest-tenured chief administrator, took the job as president when the institution's soundness was marred by an accreditation probation, faculty morale problems, budget crisis and the need for an ambitious campaign to expand the district's tax base. Despite the odds, Orendorff led Northwest through a time many consider its darkest hours and continued at the helm of the institution for 22 years.

January 1968: College district expanded
On Jan. 30, 1968, Park County voters outside the Powell school district approved, 808-572, the expansion of the college district to include all of Park County. This helped secure the college's fiscal future by doubling its tax base. An attempt in 1965 to annex the Cody school district failed in the voting booths, as did the Jan. 30, 1968, annexation vote in several Big Horn County communities encompassed by the Byron, Cowley, Deaver and Lovell school districts.

1960s photo 1 1960s photo 2