CARTHAGE – Panola College’s 75th anniversary signs have popped up on the Carthage campus.
According to Jessica Pace, vice president of institutional advancement, banners showcasing 75 of the “tens of thousands of students” who are Panola College alumni have recently started going up. They feature former students from the late 1940s through last year.
“There are 75 alumni featured on the banners whose names were nominated for recognition last year,” Pace said. In total, there are 110 banners highlighting the college’s 75 years of experience providing higher education opportunities in and around Panola County, she said.
Short biographies of alumni and other details of special anniversary events can be found online at panola.edu/75. Compiling basic alumni information from the nominations was an interesting process, Pace said.
Alumni include the former mayor of Carthage, Carson Joines, as well as alumni who have made their mark in the entertainment industry, fields of science and technology to professional sports.
Among them is Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, who attended Panola College from 1976 to 1978 before becoming president of Huntington University.
Others include Jim Payne, CEO and Chairman of the Board of First State Bank and Trust Co., who attended Panola College in 1962-63; Tamesha Sneed, who attended from 2005 to 2008 and later served as assistant professor of nursing at Tarrant County College; Linda Davis, a 1981-82 alum who became a well-known, Grammy Award-winning country music artist; and Keron Jackson, who attended in 2003-05 and later became an opera singer for the Fort Worth Opera.
The banners may be the first visible sign of the college’s diamond anniversary, but they won’t be the last.
“We have about nine or 10 special events planned this fall,” Pace said.
“Our community kick-off will be on August 23 with the dedication of a historical marker,” Pace said. The college and the Panola County Historical Commission applied for the marker through the Texas Historical Commission.
“It took a long time to prepare,” she said. “We actually applied for the marker in 2018.”
Pace said foundry issues, COVID-19 and supply chain issues all contributed to nearly four years of delays in completing the groundbreaking.
“He ended up popping up just in time for our 75th,” Pace said. The marker dedication will take place in front of the Panola College Student Center and will feature comments from local officials.
Other events commemorating the anniversary include a laser show produced especially for the 75th anniversary; a reception featuring the collection of works by longtime Panola College teacher and author Bill O’Neal; a book signing event by O’Neal for a new coffee table volume, “75 Years on the Pony Trail”; alumni mixers and recognition events; and a dinner theater featuring Panola College alumni.
Pace said the modern campus had small beginnings, but has grown steadily over the past 75 years. The college was founded in 1947.
“From humble beginnings, the new institution sprang up in a handful of surplus military buildings with an initial enrollment of just 55 students,” Pace said. “The modern Panola campus has spacious, state-of-the-art facilities and a student body of 2,600 or more.