Yakima Valley College begins research for centennial celebration

Yakima Valley College seeks material highlighting its nearly 100-year history in preparation for the institution’s centennial celebration in 2028. Five years may strike some as being early to start planning an anniversary celebration, but not in the opinion of a small committee of current and former instructors who started compiling historical materials in 2015. The group hopes to engage the community and gather submissions of photographs, yearbooks, publications, anecdotes, memories and other material to help showcase the college’s legacy.

The college, which was originally named Yakima Valley Junior College (YVJC) and located in the old Columbia Elementary School on North 4th Avenue, has a long-standing commitment to student success. In 1949 YJC moved from its original location and welcomed students for the fall term of the 1949-1950 academic year to the new campus located at its current site along 16th Ave and Nob Hill Blvd. The group hopes to gather material that spans the college’s entire history.

Efforts are being led by retired Athletic Director Jerry Ward. The objective over the next few years, says Ward, is to reach out to former students and college staff, asking them to look through family picture albums, yearbooks and other college publications that they may have in their possession.

“These individuals could be a valuable asset to finding information that could not only reflect their own YVC days, but what could have been passed down to them from their parents and grandparents dating back to the 1920s and 30s.”

The committee, comprised of retired faculty and staff members Chuck Weedin, Millie Stenehjem, Barbara Boutaine, Gary Tollefson, Brooke Creswell, Roger Carlstrom, Robert McCutcheon, John DiBari and Judy Kjellman with the assistance of college staff, has access to yearbooks and commencement programs dating back to the first year of operation for YVJC in 1928. There are also archived files of the student newspaper, The Galaxy, that was published into the 1980s.

A primary objective of the committee is to find pictures taken “inside” the original YVJC building that was constructed in the 1890s and used by the college from 1928 until 1949. Though the college published yearbooks from 1928 until 1962, Ward noted these books do not provide a very good representation of the original building’s interior.

Ward, who worked for YVC from 1968 to 2004, feels the project helps showcase what he considers one of the crown jewels of the Yakima Valley.

“Each of us, during life’s journey, is presented with many types of opportunities that can improve or enhance our lives or the lives of our family,” said Ward. “YVC has provided educational and cultural opportunity to the residents of the Yakima Valley ranging from quality instruction to museum, library, plays, musicals, and sports.”

Since his first years at the college more than 50 years ago, Ward has observed and been a part of numerous changes and growth at the college. He hopes this project highlights some of what he has seen.

“From an academic standpoint, YVC is an acknowledged leader in the health professions — nursing, radiology sciences, dental hygiene, allied health programs,” Ward said. “YVC also has one of, if not the most, attractive campuses in the Washington and Oregon community college systems. It is always a pleasure to host friends and family on a tour of the campus that is not only beautiful but conveys the rich heritage of the college via the names on buildings and facilities.”

Help showcase YVC’s legacy by sharing information or photographs with the Community Relations Department at communityrelations@yvcc.edu.

Press Release Contacts:
Dustin Wunderlich / 509.574.6870 / dwunderlich@yvcc.edu
Stefanie Menard / 509.574.4646 / smenard@yvcc.edu