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SLCC preps for its 75th anniversary celebration by creating new PR position

Aug 01, 2018 12:55PM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

SLCC personnel are already starting to consider how it celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary in 2023. (SLCC)

By Carl Fauver | carlf@mycityjournals.com 

Just two years after World War II ended, the Utah State Legislature took action to assist military veterans, and others, as they set their sights on post-war careers and lives. 

In March 1947, State Senate Bill 76 established what was then the Salt Lake Area Vocational School, with a budget of less than $400,000. Classes began in September 1948, with 24 faculty members teaching 40 different majors and minors to 948 students. 

With the 70th anniversary of that auspicious start date coming next month, the updated numbers are 328 full-time faculty — and 1,186 adjunct faculty members — teaching 120 programs of study to more than 60,000 credit and non-credit students each year. 

Oh, and that annual operating budget has grown from $382,500 to $235 million, with students paying about $3,800 per year for tuition and fees. Utah taxpayers pick up roughly 40 percent of the tab. 

To call the school — long ago renamed Salt Lake Community College — a “success” is to call the Kennecott mine a “hole” or the Salt Flats “deserted.” 

“We now have ten campuses throughout the Salt Lake Valley and have just finished expanding one of them to accommodate even more students,” said the college’s Institutional Advancement Vice President Alison McFarlane. “We are constantly trying to adjust to the needs of Utah employers. The expansion of our Westpointe campus is due to a direct employer need.” 

Located just off the west side belt route, east of Salt Lake City International Airport (1060 North Flyer Way), the SLCC Westpointe campus has been renovated to serve many more students. The 121,000-square-foot building is more than 12 times the size of the school’s very first Salt Lake building back in 1948. And students there will be studying a number of things no one had ever heard of 70 years ago either, such as solar installation and plastics injection molding. 

Although students will begin studying at the expanded Westpointe campus on Aug. 22, the official grand opening will be Sept. 19, within days of the 70th anniversary of the school’s beginning. 

But SLCC officials had already decided to let the 70th anniversary quietly slide by this year, while looking ahead to a 75th diamond anniversary soiree in 2023. 

That’s where Erika Shubin enters the picture. 

“Salt Lake Community College is growing, and school officials decided they wanted to better integrate their public relations and marketing efforts,” said Shubin, the school’s first-ever strategic communications and public relations director. “I have experience meshing public relations and marketing. This opportunity came just as I had decided I was ready for a new career adventure. I’m very excited about the change.” 

“We received more than 60 applications (for the new position) and interviewed 10 to 12 people,” McFarlane said. “We wanted someone with deep communication skills, strong Salt Lake area media contacts and a good knowledge of fundraising. Erika is very poised, articulate and a strong writer. We are glad to have her on the team.” 

Shubin worked 10 years as the Utah Transit Authority public relations and marketing manager prior to her move to the community college three months ago. 

“Initially, I have been working on the alumni magazine and mostly just learning about all the things SLCC offers students,” Shubin said. “About 85 percent of our graduates remain here in Utah to work. The institution really relishes its role in the community, and I am proud to be a part of it.” 

Shubin is a 1993 BYU graduate who came to Utah from the Spokane area. A few years younger than John Stockton, “I remember going to a couple of his Gonzaga games and following him with the Utah Jazz; we thought it was great he was from our area,” she recalls. 

Erika and her husband — a Salt Lake Community College graduate — have one daughter, age 10.  

“Since (the 75th anniversary) is still five years out, we haven’t done a lot of planning for it yet,” Shubin said. “But we plan to make it a big event to help showcase all of the ways Salt Lake Community College serves area residents.”

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