When the doors to higher education were first opened at Northeastern Technical College, not only did it have a different name, it was different. Ingram Hall, and what now serves as merely the front hallway, was the entire school. The fluted, Ionic columns of Ingram Hall towered over the open fields where the school was built. People from all over the state came for the opening ceremony in 1969, including Senator Strom Thurman.
There were no shade trees, but there was a huge, glorious water fountain at the front entrance. Unfortunately, a decade or so later, one too many bubble pranks put a permanent end to that.
But there are no blemishes on the school’s reputation. Since its inception, the school has continued to grow and evolve physically, technically and academically. Not only is the original campus now full size, there are satellite programs in Marlboro and Dillon counties. And the school’s partnership programs were recently touted as some of the most advanced and efficient business ventures in the state by Gov. Nikki Haley.
Northeastern Technical College, or Chesterfield-Marlboro Technical College as it was then named, graduated its first class in 1970 with 32 students graduating from five programs: technical secretary, automotive mechanics, air conditioning, refrigeration and heating; welding; and machine shop.
Today, NETC enrolls more than a 1,000 students and offers 21 associate degrees, 23 certificates and four diplomas in various topics from nursing to electronics technology to criminal justice. NETC boasted a record enrollment of 1,221 students for fall semester 2010. The college topped that record by one student (1,222) for fall semester 2011.
This spring the college plans to celebrate the success of its various programs by hosting a homecoming event in conjunction with graduation ceremonies May 18. “We are very excited to invite more than 4,000 graduates, and their families, to this event,” said Dr. Watson-Smith, director of the Alumni Association for NTEC.
Graduation will be held at the main campus, said Watson-Smith. And from there, “we’ll march straight into homecoming with free food, fun and fellowship for everyone.”
Entertainment for the event has not yet been finalized, said Watson-Smith, “but we plan to have a band, inflatables and other games for the children, door prizes, hamburgers, hots dogs, and plenty more.” This should be an event most of the community will enjoy, she said.
And it matters not, said Watson-Smith, whether the name of the institution on one’s diploma or certificate reads Chesterfield-Marlboro or Northeastern. “Everyone earning a degree here, at TEC, is invited and welcomed.”
Here’s a brief synopsis of the school’s history:
1967 A group of interested citizens led by Mayor Miller Ingram of Cheraw initiated a training needs survey of Marlboro and Chesterfield counties. The results illustrated the need and community support for an educational institution that would prepare its citizens for employment in various technical and related fields.
At the request of The State Committee for Technical Education, a joint delegation of the two county area appointed a committee to study the location and financing of a post secondary, state-supported, two year educational institution.
As a result of the committee work, Governor Robert E. McNair signed into law Legislative Act (R478,S425) officially creating the Chesterfield-Marlboro Technical Education Commission, the governing body for the new education center.
1968 Chesterfield‑Marlboro Technical Education Center began operations.
1969 Relocated to a new physical plant west of Cheraw on Chesterfield Highway (SC Highway 9).
1974 Per the request of the Commission, The State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education changed the institution’s name to Chesterfield‑Marlboro Technical College.
1975 Construction began on three new buildings on the campus including a Community Education Center, Electrical Technology Building, and Learning Resource Center. Construction doubled the physical plant and was completed by fall 1976.
1978 The College received a 10‑year reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
1979 The College celebrated its 10‑year anniversary. A new instructional building was completed and several facilities were opened including a Career Center and Placement Office. A Registered Nurse satellite program in partnership with Florence‑Darlington Technical College and Richmond Community College was also offered for the first time.
1981 The College established a data processing curriculum to meet the needs of the emerging computer technology industry.
1983 An innovative training agreement for maintenance employees with a major textile manufacturer was established.
1986 A computerized registration program and process was implemented.
1991 Working with a major local industry partner, the College established an innovative apprenticeship program in metalworking.
1992 The academic scheduled changed from the Quarter to Semester system.
1994 The College celebrated its 25th anniversary and established access to the Internet for students, faculty, and staff.
1996 A video-based distance learning system was established and improved access to educational and training programs across the service area.
1997 Major restoration and remodeling work on CMTC’s buildings occurred and final plans were completed for the construction of a new classroom/library building, as well as continuing education facilities (completed in 2000).
1998 The College received a 10‑year reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
2000 The College name was changed to Northeastern Technical College (NETC) to reflect the regional nature of its three-county service area including Dillon County.
2003 Community campuses in Bennettsville, Pageland and Dillon were completed.
2004 The College began a new workforce training initiative known as REWARD (Rural Economic Workforce Alliance for Resource Development) in partnership with local Adult Education agencies.
2007 NETC earned approval to offer an Associate Degree Nursing (RN) program. The first class graduates in 2009.
2008 The College received a 10‑year reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
2010 In partnership with Marlboro County to bring more educational opportunities to Marlboro County citizens, the Marian Wright Edelman Public Library was completed adjacent to the College’s community campus in Bennettsville.
2011 For the second consecutive fall semester, the College enrolled the largest number of students in the College’s history. The College also completed expansion of the Dillon campus to better serve the citizens of Dillon County.
2013 NETC begins offering classes in basic machine operation at the Pageland campus, using a computer numerical control (CNC) machine donated by Screwmatics of Pageland. These classes prepare students for employment in high skill, high wage manufacturing jobs.
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.