Midland College Physical Plant– expanding to meet the needs of the Permian Basin for 50 years

Midland College Physical Plant– expanding to meet the needs of the Permian Basin for 50 yearsDecember 12, 2022

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. Students walking on MC campus near TC Building.

In December 1972, Midland voters approved the establishment of the Midland Junior College District; however, it would be several years before a physical college campus would be built.  During the early years, college faculty conducted classes at various locations in Midland, including Lee High School (now Legacy High School) and Museum of the Southwest.  In March 1973, the Midland College Board of Trustees approved the purchase of 114.87 acres of land for $114,870 located on Garfield Street, just north of Wadley Avenue.  This vacant property consisted of sand and a few mesquite trees.  It is now the sprawling, beautiful Midland College main campus.

In the Beginning

The first five buildings on campus—an administration building, a science building, a technology training building, a maintenance facility and the Learning Resource Center (library)—opened in 1975.  In addition to those buildings, the Hodge Carillon Tower also stands as a symbol from the very first days of the Midland College campus and continues to be a Midland landmark.  On October 2, 1975, Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe was the main speaker at dedication ceremonies held outdoors in front of the Learning Resource Center.  Between 1975 and 1981, Midland College dedicated other campus buildings including a physical education building, student center and a fine arts building.

In September 1978, a crowd of thousands gathered at the Al G. Langford Chaparral “Chap” Center’s inaugural event, a live concert featuring The Captain and Tennille.  Never before in Midland had there been an adequate facility to accommodate such a production.  Located in the southeast section of campus, it has approximately 73,000 square feet of floor space and is home to the Midland College basketball and volleyball programs.  Chap Center also hosts high school basketball games and tournaments, and the community uses Chap Center for various fundraising events, banquets and other activities.  Midland College also holds its Davidson Distinguished Lecture Series and Phyllis and Bob Cowan Performing Arts Series events at the facility.

In the 1980s, the college continued its main campus expansion with a dedicated building for its growing health sciences programs.  Also, in the 1980s and again in 1999, Midland College purchased additional acreage on the north part of the campus yielding a total of 224 acres for today’s campus.

The Next 20 Years

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Midland College renamed buildings and rooms in honor of those who gave large donations to the Chaparral Circle Endowment Fund.  These include the Clarence W. & Dorothy Scharbauer Student Center, the Helen L. Greathouse Children’s Center, the Davidson Family Health Sciences Building, the Pevehouse Administration Building, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Presidential Suite, the Orpha Olsen Gibson Board Room, the Harriet and Harvey Herd Faculty Lounge, the Wagner & Brown Auditorium, the Dr. Arnulfo T. Carrasco Room , the Elizabeth and Herb Blankinship Lecture Hall and Beal Plaza.  This started a tradition of naming buildings on campus, and those constructed from 1998 through today have names of individuals who gave generously toward each building’s capital campaign, such as the Dorothy and Todd Aaron Medical Science Building, the Leona G. and John E. Fox Science Building, the F. Marie Hall Academic Building, the Dollye Neal Chapel, the F. Marie Hall SimLife Center and Midland College’s newest building—the June and Frank Cowden, Jr. Dining Hall.

Since the early 1980s, Midland College had a residence hall for athletes.  It was conveniently located directly across the campus drive from the Al G. Langford Chaparral Center.  In the fall of 1998, Mrs. Donald E. O’Shaughnessy and the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation committed $1 million to Midland College for construction of a new residence hall for the general student population.  In September 1999, the college opened O’Shaughnessy Hall named in memory of Donald O’Shaughnessy who was a Midland College Foundation board member from 1977 until his death in 1993.  Construction of Daniel Hall and Craddick Hall soon followed.  Athletes are now housed in one of the three newer residence halls, and Midland College renovated and repurposed the original athletic residence hall into housing for students with families.

In May 2005, Midlanders overwhelmingly passed a $41.8 million bond for campus improvements.  The bond provided funding to supplant donations for new buildings and to expand existing buildings.  The first and only other bond, passed in February 1976, approved the construction of the Allison Fine Arts Building and the Al G. Langford Chaparral Center.

Off Campus Sites

From its earliest days, Midland College offered instruction at various locations in Midland and throughout the college’s service area.  In fact, shortly after the establishment of Midland College in the early 1970s, long-time Midland College Accounting Professor Dale Westfall began teaching business courses on a part-time basis in Big Lake, TX at the request of local residents.  Midland College continues to offer classes and programs at off-site  locations and at its branch campus in Fort Stockton.

Williams Regional Technical Training Center – Located deep in the heart of West Texas, Fort Stockton is the county seat of Pecos County and is the location of Midland College’s only branch campus—the Williams Regional Technical Training Center (WRTTC), named in honor of Chicora & Clayton W. Williams, Sr.

The WRTTC opened in 1996 as a result of a unique partnership among Midland College, the City of Fort Stockton, Pecos County and the Fort Stockton Independent School District.  The Center symbolizes the Williams family’s commitment to Fort Stockton and the surrounding area in providing educational opportunities and enhancing workforce development.  

The branch campus serves Pecos County residents with over 60 credit, continuing education and customized training courses each semester.  The WRTTC is also available to community groups and organizations for educational purposes. The facility has a multi-purpose science lab, a nursing lab, a multi-use computer lab, industrial technology labs, classrooms, a library, student lounge, advising center and faculty offices.

Cogdell Learning Center - In 1992, retired Midland  businessman Bill Pace Cogdell helped the college fulfill a dream of establishing a presence in South Midland when he donated buildings on Florida Street to house the Cogdell Learning Center.  Today the center serves as an off-campus outreach site serving residents in the area.  Cogdell staff help students apply to Midland College and complete federal financial aid paperwork.  The center also hosts community events and provides English as a Second Language classes, preparatory classes for the high school equivalency diploma (GED®) and U. S. citizenship classes.  With its mission of helping people increase credit scores, purchase homes and start or expand businesses, the Midland College Business & Economic Development Center is also located at Cogdell and provides free business, credit and housing counseling, and related classes and workshops.

Advanced Technology Center - In 2001, Midland College completed an ambitious $9.5 million campaign to establish an Advanced Technology Center (ATC).  The establishment of the ATC was an innovative, collaborative public/private partnership among Midland College, the Midland Independent School District (MISD), Abell-Hanger Foundation, the City of Midland, federal agencies, other foundations, corporations and individuals.  From the beginning, the ATC’s priorities were technical training allowing students to gain employable skills while in high school through graduation and thereafter as college students.  ATC graduates provide a stronger skilled workforce for Midland, thereby aiding in economic stability and diversification.

Today, the 85,000-square-foot facility houses the highly successful MC/MISD College & Careers Academies.  The academies provide high school students with opportunities to learn valuable technological and academic skills.  These academies are specifically designed to meet the current and future needs of the Permian Basin’s thriving industries and to provide high school students with college credit while training for rewarding careers in high-growth, high-wage fields.  Students regularly experience industry through hands-on state-of-the-art labs, industry site tours, guest speakers and clinical/intern placements.  An additional training site for the College & Careers Academies is the Midland College Firefighter Training Facility located at the City of Midland’s Harris Field Firefighter Training compound.

Future Expansion

In August 2020, Midland College closed the Jack E. Brown Dining Hall after moving its on-campus dining facilities to the June and Frank Cowden, Jr. Dining Hall located adjacent to the Scharbauer Student Center.  Midland College is now repurposing the old dining hall, which had been in operation for 19 years, into the Jack E. Brown Conference Hall.  The first phase of renovation is currently underway and includes offices and classrooms for the College’s workforce continuing education department and the Petroleum Professional Development Center (PPDC).

A major capital project also in progress is the construction of the Pre-K Academy and Center for Teaching Excellence.  This $30 million facility is scheduled to open in fall 2023.  Funding is being provided by Permian Strategic Partnership, Scharbauer Foundation, Midland College Foundation, Abell-Hanger Foundation, The Beal Foundation, Henry Foundation, Warren Charitable Foundation and other private entities/donors.  The facility will house a school serving approximately 300 three- and four-year-old students on the first floor.  The Teaching Excellence Center on the second floor will provide exemplary professional development for educators in the Permian Basin and will be the home of the College’s new Bachelor of Applied Science program in Early Childhood Education.

MC Office of Institutional Advancement

Pevehouse Administration Building, Room 141
Midland College, 3600 N. Garfield
Midland, Texas 79705
(432) 685-4556

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