Celebrating 50 Years — Looking Back

Our Beginning, In Theory and On Paper


A demand for equal educational opportunities arises from a group of residents called the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission.


Mayor Joseph Clark, Jr

When Philadelphians again called for more access to education, Mayor Joseph Clark, Jr., appointed the Committee on Higher Educational Opportunities to recommend how to best serve growing educational needs.


The Philadelphia Commission on Higher Education is formed, based on the Committee on Higher Educational Opportunities' 1957 report, "Higher Education and the Future of Youth in the Greater Philadelphia Area," which was presented to Mayor Richardson Dilworth and the president of the City Council.

The co-author of the report is the College's eventual founder and first president, Dr. Allen T. Bonnell. He served as a consultant to the committee.

One of the findings that the Commission continued to explore—that Philadelphians required more access to educational opportunities—is the pillar of the College's mission.


In July, a special community college committee is created from the Commission to further develop a proposal for a community college in Philadelphia.


PDF of the Community College Act of 1963

Pennsylvania passes the Community College Act of 1963, on Aug. 24, granting the establishment of associate's degree institutions in the Commonwealth.

On that day, the realization of a concept championed by dozens of Philadelphians had finally sprung to life.



PDF of "A Guide for the Establishment of the Community College of Philadelphia"

The Commission of Higher Education finished "A Guide for the Establishment of the Community College of Philadelphia," also known as the gray book because of its gray cover, in January.

"As a community college, the Community College of Philadelphia is concerned with the post-high school needs of the community it serves. The community accepts the responsibility for leadership and proposes to develop and maintain a collegiate program sufficiently flexible to adjust to the changing educational needs of the area. To fulfill these needs, the Community College of Philadelphia will offer academic and technical courses, all directed toward the betterment of the student, and thus of the community."
—"A Guide for the Establishment of the Community College of Philadelphia"

The first board of trustees are appointed, comprised of 15 members, on April 24.


After nearly a yearlong national search, the board of trustees selects Dr. Allen T. Bonnell, who was involved in the research and groundwork that led to the creation of the College, as its first president.

Dr. Bonnell takes office on April 1.

Dr. Bonnell's Biography

Opening the Doors of Opportunity

Community College of Philadelphia 11th Street Campus Entrance

Community College of Philadelphia’s first campus at the Snellenberg Building, 34 S. 11th Street

Community College of Philadelphia opens on Sept. 23, 1965, in the former Snellenberg Building at 34 South Eleventh Street. Five course areas are offered to 1,200 students: Accounting, Liberal Arts, Marketing and Merchandising, Executive Secretary, and Electronics Technology.

By the end of the academic year, enrollment is 1,941.

Original Faculty Group Photo

Students at the 11th St Location

Students at the 11th St. Location


The College celebrates its first graduating class on May 11, 1967.

The board of trustees develops criteria for a permanent site that will fit the needs of the growing College, with enrollment reaching 5,000 students by fall.

Former Governor William W. Scranton (left) talks with Dr. Allen T. Bonnell (center), president of Community College of Philadelphia, and Laird H. Simons, Jr., chairman of the board of trustees, before the college's first commencement at Irvine Auditorium, 34th and Spruce streets.


Dr. Bonnell, board of trustee chair Henry W. Jones and legal counsel Nochem S. Winnet (not pictured) are invited to the office of U.S. Senator Hugh Scott to receive a ceremonial key to the College's new home, the former Third Mint of Philadelphia. Also in attendance are U.S. Sen. Richard S. Schweiker and Robert L. Kunzig, administrator of the General Services Administration.


Classes are offered at the new Mint Building site, while plans for additional buildings are being developed.


Detail of Mint building entrance ceiling




Rotunda Sm



Construction starts on the new buildings at the permanent site, which become the Bonnell and West buildings.


Cornerstone Ceremony

The College celebrates the end of the first phase of construction on the permanent campus, eventually called Main Campus, on Oct. 2. The event was recorded, and the tape was sealed into the cornerstone of the West Building.

The End of an Era, and the College's Continued Growth


The College closes its first campus on South Eleventh Street in January.

Dr. Bonnell retires on Aug. 31.

Enrollment for the year is 31,948.

Judith S. Eaton Ph.D., is appointed as the College's second president on Sept. 1 and is inaugurated Dec. 4, 1983.

Dr. Eaton's Biography


Dr Eaton and Dr. Bonnell Cutting the Ribbon Opening the new Sports Deck

Ribbon cutting opening the sports deck

The sports deck, featuring a track and tennis courts, opens on top of the garage at 17th and Callowhill streets on Oct. 25.


The Community College of Philadelphia Foundation is established.

Learn more about the Community College of Philadelphia Foundation >>

Increasing Access and Opportunity—The Start of Regional Centers

The College’s first Regional Center, the Northeast Regional Center, is established at its first location, at Academy and Red Lion roads, in 1985.


The 17th Street parking garage opens.

The West Regional Center is established.


Dr. Eaton assumes the position of vice president at the American Council of Education.

Construction begins on the Student Life Building and Gymnasium, representing the second phase of campus development.


Ronald J. Temple, Ph.D., is inaugurated on Feb. 17, 1991, as the College's third president.

Dr. Temple's Biography

Inauguration of Dr. Temple

The Winnet Student Life Building and the Athletics Center (formerly the Gymnasium) open.

The Northwest Regional Center is established and opens for use.


West Regional Center

A building is renovated for the new West Regional Center at 4725 Chestnut Street. It opens for use.


Dr. Temple assumes the job of chancellor of City College of Chicago.


The Board of Trustees appoints Frederick W. Capshaw, Ph.D., as president. Dr. Capshaw assumes office on March 1, 1994.
Dr. Capshaw is inaugurated on Oct. 2, 1994.

Dr. Capshaw's Biography

Inauguration of Dr. Capshaw


The Workforce Development Center opens in a renovated building at 16th and Callowhill streets.


Dr. Capshaw passes away on June 21, 1997, following a brief illness.


Expansion plans get underway in spring 1998 for the Northwest Regional Center after the College agrees to acquire the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at 1300 W. Godfrey Avenue.


Stephen M. Curtis, Ph.D., is named the fifth president in August 1999.
Dr. Curtis is inaugurated on April 2, 2000.

Dr. Curtis' Biography

Preparing for Success in the 21st Century


The Center for Business and Industry opens at 18th and Callowhill streets.


Center for Law and Society established.

(renamed Fox Rothschild Center for Law and Society in 2010)

Initial Law and Society Week Initial Law and Society Week Initial Law and Society Week Initial Law and Society Week


Center for International Understanding established.

Center for Male Engagement established.

Center for Science and Engineering Education established.


Center for Small Business Education, Growth and Training established.

The newly expanded Northeast Regional Center opens




The new Pavilion Center opens in the fall at the Main Campus. The building houses the new Welcome Center, College bookstore, and student and staff dining services.


Dr. Donald Generals appointed as the College's sixth president.
Dr. Generals will be Inaugurated in 2015.

Dr. Generals' Biography