The History of LSSC
When Lake and Sumter County citizens rallied to establish an institution of higher learning in Lake and Sumter Counties, in 1961, the Florida Legislature authorized Lake-Sumter Junior College (LSJC) for white citizens and Johnson Junior College for black citizens. In the fall of 1962, LSJC students began classes in modular buildings located on the Leesburg High School campus with Dr. Paul P. Williams as the College’s first President. At the same time, Johnson began classes at Carver Heights High School led by President Perman Williams. In 1964, thirty-nine students graduated at the first Commencement of LSJC. In 1965, fifty-seven students graduated at the first and only Commencement ever held for Johnson Junior College.
In May 1964, groundbreaking for the 70 acre Leesburg Campus along Highway 441 took place, and the Library and three other buildings opened their doors to students in January 1965. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prompted the Lake County School Board, the College’s governing body, to merge LSJC and Johnson Junior College in 1965. Johnson then was operated as Johnson Center of Lake-Sumter Junior College.
That same year LSJC was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), which meant that credits earned at LSJC would be accepted for transfer to other regionally-accredited institutions. Every decade since 1965, LSCC has been granted SACS reaffirmation of accreditation with the latest in June 2011.
After the Florida Legislature authorized a Division of Community Colleges to oversee all community colleges in Florida, the LSJC District Board of Trustees changed the College name to Lake-Sumter Community College in 1970.
President Paul P. Williams retired in 1980 and was followed by Dr. Robert S. Palinchak (1980-1987) and Dr. Carl C. Andersen (1987-1992). Dr. Kenneth J. Stack served as Interim President for eight months until 1993 when Dr. Robert W. Westrick (1993.-retired 2002) was selected President.
In 1988, LSCC and the Sumter County School Board adopted a resolution to establish a joint-use facility in Sumterville that would provide adult education classes for the School Board and college-level programs. Through the efforts of the College, community, and many individuals, the 40 acre Sumter Campus welcomed its first students in the summer of 1995. Construction of the Clark Maxwell, Jr. Library and Student Services Building took place in 2000.
The expansion of the Leesburg Campus to 114 acres occurred in 1990 when the Legislature appropriated funds for the Board of Trustees to purchase two additional parcels adjacent to the campus. Since then, other parcels have been added to the College’s Highway 441 frontage with the purchase of Building M and the Facilities Building. The Health Sciences Center, Science-Math Building, refurbished Everett A. Kelly Convocation Center/Magnolia Room, and the Sports and Recreation Complex have also enhanced the facilities of the campus.
Over a number of years since the mid 1990’s, the initiation, growth, and construction of buildings at the South Lake Campus in Clermont came to fruition through the efforts of LSSC and its partners: many generous individuals, the University of Central Florida, Lake County Board of County Commissioners, South Lake Hospital, the National Training Center, Cooper Memorial Library Association, Inc., and the Friends of Cooper Memorial Library.
Leadership of the College changed hands in 2002 when Dr. Charles R. Mojock (2002 – present) was selected President by the District Board of Trustees. Under his guidance, partnerships with the community and its agencies have been strengthened and horizons have been expanded. For two consecutive years (2011-12 and 2012-13) the College was named by the Aspen Institute to be among the 120 best community colleges in the United States (top 10% in the nation), and was invited to participate in competing for the $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. In 2012, LSSC advanced to the second tier in the competition.
At its meeting in August 2011, the District Board of Trustees voted unanimously to enhance LSCC’s academic program by offering four-year bachelor and/or bachelor of applied science degrees. Required permissions for the expansion were sought and granted, and in January 2013, classes started for a four-year degree, Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Management. The Nursing Program which has been accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission has also been enhanced. Beginning in fall 2012, a student may earn an associate degree in Nursing from LSCC while concurrently earning a bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the University of Central Florida, all on the Leesburg Campus. The expansion of popular online courses was approved by SACS so students can take degree programs fully online.
In addition to these landmarks, during the 2012-2013 year LSCC celebrated its 50th Anniversary using the slogan “Appreciating the Past, Anticipating the Future.” Because of the four-year degree program, LSCC’s name was changed on November 1, 2012 to Lake-Sumter State College.