Pulaski Technical College guests were treated to food, music and a bit of a history lesson as the college kicked off its 15th anniversary celebration Tuesday night on the Campus Center plaza.
More than 100 guests, including college faculty, staff, students, business leaders, and community residents enjoyed music by rhythm and blues trio Brenda and Ellis.
Also debuting Tuesday evening was the newly published "Decades of Success: A History of Pulaski Technical College" written by Pulaski Technical College history instructor Jason Martin.
The history chronicles the history of the college and vocation-technical education in Arkansas from the early 1900s to the present.
While Pulaski Tech's history dates back to 1945, it was not a college until 1991 when the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 1244 that converted the state's vocational-technical institutions into community colleges and brought them under the guidance of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
At that time, the former Pulaski Vocational Technical School became Pulaski Technical College.
Dr. Dan F. Bakke, college president, recounted how the college's enrollment has grown from 875 students in 1991 to enrollment this fall of 8,455 students.
"We've come a long way in a short time," Dr. Bakke said. "Our success has been our ability to adapt and fulfill the needs of students who come to us."
Dr. Bakke also introduced Quenton Burge, who was Tuesday night's guest speaker and also happened to serve as a source for Jason Martin's history project.
At 86, Mr. Burge is both the college's oldest employee and long-serving employee. He began working for the school in 1964 as a second career after serving in the U.S. Air Force.
Mr. Burge helped relocate the school from its former site in Little Rock to the present day site atop Scenic Hill. The college was built in 1976 on surplus land that belonged to the U.S. Army post at Fort Roots.
"I think was the first person up here with my bushhog," Mr. Burge said. "I sure never thought I'd see this," he said, of the college's rapid expansion.
He continues to work five days a week, with the college's physical plant.
"The people here at Pulaski Tech are some of the finest people you'll ever meet," he said.
If you missed Tuesday's festivities, you're in luck.
The college's Student Life and Leadership is sponsoring the 15th Anniversary Birthday Blowout on Thursday night. Festivities are 6-8 p.m. on the Campus Center Promenade and feature musical entertainment by the Big John Miller Band.