Jeff State campus celebrates 25th anniversary

HOOVER – Jefferson State Community College’s Shelby-Hoover Campus celebrated its 25th anniversary on Friday, Feb. 16, with a program that marked the campus’ past, present and future.

Jefferson State Interim President Keith Brown welcomed those in attendance and said such a celebration brings back memories of former President Judy Merritt and her efforts to expand the Shelby-Hoover Campus.

“I can’t think of the Shelby-Hoover Campus without thinking of Dr. Judy Merritt,” Brown said. “We continue to honor her memory with the work we’re doing here.”

Elected officials in attendance were recognized before Jefferson State students Ashton Ayers and Tala Samour led attendees in an invocation and Pledge of Allegiance, respectively.

A video tribute was shown that highlighted the importance of providing access to students in the area and the vision of Merritt and former Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos.

Petelos, who is currently the county manager for Jefferson County, said Merritt contacted him in 2004 about the college’s need to expand the campus.

After checking with city and school officials, Petelos said he offered to sell property to Jefferson State and use the proceeds to develop the adjacent Veterans Park, with Shelby County also contributing.

“Through the years we continued to have a great relationship with Jeff State,” said Petelos, who also noted the area’s economic growth and the role the college plays in workforce education.

Jefferson State Junior College opened in 1965, and partnered with Berry High School in 1973 to establish an off-campus extension center to accommodate southern Jefferson County and Shelby County.

The Alabama Board of Education authorized the college to establish an educational site in Shelby County in 1991, and the original building at the Shelby site opened on Sept. 1, 1993.

The General Studies Building opened in 2000, and the Health Sciences Building—which was later named in honor of Merritt—opened in 2008. It is Jefferson State’s largest building.

Jefferson State’s Shelby-Hoover Campus has served 77,904 students in its existence, awarded 10,011 associate degrees and graduated 2,414 registered nurses, Brown said.

“Our success here has been nothing short of phenomenal,” he said.

Current Hoover Mayor and 1979 Jefferson State fire science program graduate Frank Brocato also spoke at the celebration.

“This campus means so much to the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan area in so many ways,” Brocato said and noted the college’s importance to the health care industry and a part of the city that includes Veterans Park, Spain Park High School, Berry Middle School and adjacent communities. “What an honor it is and a privilege to have an institution like this to anchor this area.”

Brown recognized Jefferson State faculty and staff and said the campus’ future is bright, with recent new offerings including coding and respiratory therapy.

“We’re going to continue to do a lot of great things here in the Shelby-Hoover area,” Brown said.