GLEN ELLYN – Fifty years ago, the College of DuPage opened before it even had a campus.
On Sept. 25, 1967, the college started holding classes in office trailers and at leased suburban sites throughout the newly formed Community College District 502.
COD’s main campus in Glen Ellyn was acquired in 1968, and the college’s first permanent building, today’s Berg Instructional Center, opened in 1973. Tuition at the time was $5.50 per credit hour.
Nancy Svoboda of Downers Grove has been a part of much of the college’s history. She started working at COD as a student counselor in 1972 before retiring from the college in 2006. Svoboda is also a former COD board trustee.
“I was helping with career counseling, life-transition counseling, helping the students with the kinds of needs that they might have in looking toward their future,” Svoboda said.
Svoboda was one of those chosen to ring COD’s Founders’ Day bell during the college’s Founders’ Day celebration Sept. 28. Long after retiring, Svoboda continues to be involved with the college.
“I’m on several committees, including the lifelong learning advisory committee,” she said. “The lifelong learning effort is to try to have educational opportunities for the older people in our community. And that’s really bringing forward the true mission of the community college, to serve the full community.”
During the ceremony, some of the college’s more noteworthy milestones in its 50-year anniversary were presented. One of those milestones was the hiring of Ann Rondeau in 2016 as the college’s first female president.
“We’ve had 50 fabulous years,” Rondeau said, in addressing those attending the ceremony. “And they are years of distinction and that really mark this college as not only a place for the region and the state but also for the nation. ... So we are delighted to have you here today celebrating what we were, and we are even more delighted to have you being part of what we will become.”
Svoboda started at COD only five years after it first opened. She said she was drawn to the community college concept.
“The community college concept was just being developed,” Svoboda said. “And I thought that it would be a wonderful place for me to learn and grow. I was just out of graduate school when I started here.”
Svoboda still has a love and appreciation for COD.
“We are tops in the nation in so many different ways,” she said.
“I’ve always had great pride in what the College of DuPage has been able to do to help serve our community, not just in education, but we also have the McAninch Arts Center. We are continuing to reach out in so many different ways.”