Exhibit shows 'hand-in-hand' growth of RCTC and its city

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The original lights from the downtown Coffman building were saved after demolition. The lights are part of the Rochester Community and Technical College's centennial art exhibition.

Everybody knows that Mayo Clinic founder Dr. Charles Mayowas the key figure in starting what would become Rochester Community and Technical College.

The next 100 years would just fly by.

To grasp how RCTC went from a humble downtown junior college to a sprawling 518-acre campus, RCTC is hosting a centennial art exhibition, "A Proud Past,"in the RCTC Art Gallery, College Center Room 200. The exhibit began this week and will run through Dec. 12.

It's a confusing, very non-linear history. But that's what you get when you combine two schools into one— Rochester Community College and Riverland Technical College — and give them a dozen different names. The exhibit attempts to give coherence to that history through never-before-seen artifacts and photos from the college's 100-year history.

They include pictures of Charles Mayo himself, who as a Rochester School Board member traveled to California in 1915 to research a new concept in education called the junior collegeand brought it back to Rochester.


Visitors also will find such unusual artifacts as the beaniescollege freshman wore back then to distinguish them from the high school kids in the same building. Vintage 6-feet-tall light fixtures that lit up the original downtown Coffman Building also will be on display. Photographs from the last century will tell the story of the college's growth.

Nifty sports memorabilia for people to view will include the trophy the 1969 football team won in the Wool Bowlin New Mexico. (No explanation why it was called the Wool Bowl. But a hundred years from now, people might be asking the same question about the Bowl.)

If the exhibit says anything, it shows how RCTC's fortunes were and remain inextricably bound up with those of the city and Mayo Clinic, said RCTC director of marketing and public relations Nate Stoltman.

"The fact that you can look at both how Rochester has grown and how the college has grownand how we've kind of done it hand in hand," Stoltman said. "A hundred years later, we're on a 518-acre campus. We have world-class facilities better than a lot of four-year colleges."

RCTC's Art + Design Department, the Centennial Steering Committee, RCTC Student Life and the Olmsted County Historical Society all made contributions toward the exhibit.

The opening reception was to be held today from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday (closed on major holidays). The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Stoltman at or 507-536-5604.


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