Bill Jason Priest, Community College Pioneer
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: University of North Texas Press
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List of Illustrations
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This is the story of the remarkable development of a new kind of educational institution, through the experiences of Bill J. Priest, a maverick who took the reins in building for Dallas what Bob Thornton called the “the best damn junior college in the country.” I enjoyed this book. There is nothing dry or abstract about it. Is the story well told? It is. I have known Bill since we first came ...
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As people began to learn that I was planning to write the biography of Bill Priest, the responses were expressions of surprise followed by comments of approval. Several added that they could not believe someone had not already done this. Those reactions assured me that my own sense of the importance of this project was ...
1. Early Influences
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Bill Priest stood chuckling as the more than seven hundred people who had gathered to honor him laughed and applauded. The occasion was his retirement from the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) after fifteen years as chancellor. A group of college administrators and faculty gathered ...
2. The War Years
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While a junior in college, Priest had been invited, along with most of the community, to the wedding of a rather prominent couple. He attended, and at the reception, he saw her again— the beautiful girl who used to ride horse back by his house, Marietta Shaw. The difference in grade-level had separated them in high ...
3. The Wave Swells
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After returning stateside and to civilian life, Priest continued his studies full-time for his master’s degree at the University of California Berkeley. He completed it in May, 1946. Utilizing some of those graduate courses toward the doctorate and his master’s thesis, “Administration of Philippine Education Under the Commonwealth ...
4. The Dallas Story: Establishing the District and Hiring the President
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There were early attempts at establishing the junior college in the Dallas area, but those built in the late 1800s did not survive. The junior college movement did not reach fruition in Dallas until the mid-1960s when two-year colleges were being opened nationally on the average of one per week.1 Efforts toward the establishment ...
5. Building a National Model: The Flagship
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Selecting a president was only the first of many tasks facing the newly elected Board of Trustees of the Dallas County Junior College District. At the top of the list was securing a site for the campuses. They chose to wait to involve whoever the president was to be in the land acquisition and planning process. Once Priest ...
6. Building a National Model: Then There Were Seven
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El Centro opened the fall semester of 1966 with all the essential elements in place and an enrollment of 4,047 students. That was 2,047 more than had been projected.1 It was a success. That October, Priest marked one year with the Dallas County Community College District. Thornton asked Priest how much he wanted for a ...
7. Bill Jason Priest: The Man Personally and Professionally
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In a Dallas Morning News article in 1995, the description was given, “He was a thoroughly upright, cantankerous, feisty individual, and Americans have always had a soft spot for that type of figure.”1 Those were the words of a political science professor from Tulane University about Harry S. Truman. It could have been said of Bill J. ...
8. Retirement: The End of an Era
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By 1980, the Dallas County Community College District had grown from a concept and to the fourth largest community college district in the country. Seven college campuses had been built placing every citizen in Dallas County within fifteen minutes driving time from a campus. That surpassed the “twenty-minute ...
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The word legacy by definition denotes something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor from the past. It is derived from the middle English and middle French word, legate. A legate is an official emissary. It is akin to the word legend which is a story or body of stories coming down from the past. Not ...
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Appendix: Publications and Vitae of Bill J. Priest
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Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 36 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2004