On Friday Ranger College officially dedicated its new campus in Stephenville during a grand opening ceremony featuring dignitaries from the local community and the community college and university systems. The event was capped off with a ribbon cutting with the assistance of July Danley, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce and her staff, followed by refreshments and tours of the new facility.

Ranger College is one of the oldest continuously operating public two-year colleges in the state of Texas. It opened its doors on the third floor of Ranger High School in August, 1925, with 30 students enrolled. Ranger College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award certificates and associate degrees. The institution awards the Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Science degrees. The Stephenville campus will open its new LVN nursing program in August.

Addressing the audience was Dr. Bill Campion, President of the college. Campion’s background includes work during more than 40 years in higher education, with experience as president and CEO of four multi-campus institutions.

Campion began by thanking State Representative Jim Keffer, calling him “The patron saint of community colleges in Texas,” for his tireless work on behalf of institutions such as Ranger College. He also thanked Stephenville Mayor Kenny Weldon, Ron Mullins President and CEO of First Financial Bank, Kerry Schindler, Vice President of Ranger College, John Sharp, Chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, State Representative from our district, Dr. Sheffield, Fernando Camuzzi and Kelly Greer of FMC and many others for their work on behalf of Ranger College.

Campion said he was particularly proud of the partnership they have for skills development with private industry companies such as FMC, Pal-Con, Schreiber Foods and others in the area.“I believe this will become one of the largest public-private partnerships in this country. And to think that this can take place right here in Stephenville is particularly impressive.”

Keynote speaker was John Sharp, Chancellor of Texas A&M University who pointed out that, in essence, what Ranger College and colleges like it represent is economic development. “When businesses are considering relocation to Texas the first question they ask is ‘How many 18- to 21-year-old people live in this area?’ whether it’s Dallas, Erath County or wherever it might be.

“If those numbers sound good, the next question is, ‘What is the educational level of those kids?’ And if the education level is low, they don’t ask any more questions; they aren’t going to come here. Because what they need is bright, young people to fill their workforce.”

He commented that Texas has the right answer to both questions, and that because of the many great ISDs, community colleges, colleges and universities here, the potential for powerful economic development to continue at a rapid pace is enormous.”

In conclusion, he said, “That’s why taking these young people past high school and into skills development, then on to a great university like Tarleton or Texas A&M is a big, big deal and that’s why I’m proud to be here and associated with that effort.”