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Submitted by on Sat, 04/05/2008 - 5:28pm.

In 1958 the Wilmington Industrial Education Center--a small building on 13th and Market streets was founded. Today we know it to be Cape Fear Community College--and it's celebrating fifty years in the port city this weekend. “We've more than doubled in size. We have more than three times as many full time faculty members now and over twice as many programs as when I first started,” said CFCC President Dr. Eric McKeithan. “Back in the 1970s it was one building and now it's like half of Wilmington,” said CFCC alumni Demure Bell. In fifty years the college has grown from an industrial education building, to a technical institute to the state's fifth largest community college. It currently has an enrollment of more than twenty five thousand and it's not getting any smaller. “We have thirty percent less space per full time student than the average North Carolina community college,” said McKeithan, who has been president of CFCC for fourteen years. McKeithan said the college had to turn away between 800 and 1000 students this past semester and that keeping up with high demand will be the college's biggest challenge in years to come. “As the population continues to grow, and as the economy continues to grow, we must have additional facilities to be able to train more people to fit local jobs,” McKeithan said. After all, alumni like Demure Bell have high expectations. Bell hopes her daughter will attend CFCC one day, and that it will be bigger and better than ever... “It'll probably be stretched from here to PPD all the way up to 3rd street. So I'm looking for new growth, new challenges and a whole new different environment,” Bell said. Cape Fear Community College is currently expanding it's downtown location and north campus in Castle Hayne. An $11 million public safety center is scheduled to open in Castle Hayne this May.

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