WACO, Texas – McLennan Community College’s founding president, Dr. Wilbur Allen Ball, passed away after a brief illness on Wednesday morning.
He served as president at MCC from 1966 until 1988, when he retired.
Ball was the builder who laid the foundation for the college and set the vision to provide an affordable, quality education for students, “while supporting the community” – current President Johnette McKown said.
Ball was one of 30 candidates for the new presidency at MCC.
Founding board members said, “Ball had an unbridled optimism that he could hire a staff, set a curriculum, and find a location for the permanent campus within the next nine months to open for fall classes in September 1966.”
On February 22, 1966, the board unanimously voted to hire Ball – who become MCC’s first president on March 1, 1966 – leading the college for the next 22 years.
On September 19, MCC opened its doors to approximately 800 students, and was temporarily located in the barracks on John Connally Air Force base.
Ball and the board were soon planning the permanent campus location on the former Cameron Estate in north Waco. Upon his retirement, Ball was honored at MCC with the dedication of the Wilbur A. Ball Performing Arts Center.
The board and Ball agreed to establish an open-door admission policy, stressing the importance of attracting students from all races and cultural backgrounds to the new school, as well as providing continuing education courses for working adults.
Ball said, “A community college has to have something for everybody.”
Ball is survived by his wife, LaWanda Gersbach Ball, daughter Christi Lee Ball Nichols, son Jason Allen Ball, and four grandchildren. Services are pending.