Hobart’s Junior College
It is not too well known that Hobart had a junior college for about 18 years. During the first two years, 1923-1925, it was called the Hobart Junior College. The school began offering a one year course. The plan was to offer two year courses for the future, with an appropriate degree, what is now referred to as an associate degree. The “good times” that prevailed in 1923-25 made it hard to keep the students for the second year. In fact, there was difficulty in securing a large enough one year class to justify it financially. The high school graduates preferred to go away to college if they could afford it. So the first school closed in 1925.
The Hobart Democrat Chief ran an article regarding the closing in the paper, August 11, 1925. THe Hobart Board of Education reported the cost of maintaining the junior college was $3,300.00 and after canvasing the Hobart school and surrounding schools an enrollment of only 16 students was secured. The board felt it was hardly justifiable to continue the course on an income of only $1,600.00. Under regulations set by the state university for a teacher to instruct the course, made it difficult to secure a teacher within the salary limits of the funds available.
With the depression coming about, many students couldn’t go off to college, so the Hobart college re-opened under the name of Kiowa County Junior College in 1933. The college was open through 1949. It soon had enough enrolled that it could offer a two year course, with expanded curricular and extra-curricular activities and a degree. In 1934-35 there were 15 of these junior colleges in Oklahoma, eight of them having begun or resumed during the depression years.
Informal approval or accreditation was at first obtained through having the instructors approved by the departments concerned at the University of Oklahoma. As junior colleges increased in number and size, the State Department of Education and the State Regents for Higher Education, assumed responsibility for accrediting, support by law. Assisting them were two committee members each from the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma A & M College, and two superintendents of towns having “municipal” junior colleges. Inspectional visits of committee members yearly helped strengthen them and their credits. Until this time, it was controlled by the Hobart Board of Education.
Most of these schools, including Hobart, offered two years work, with the second year a smaller enrollment. The Kiowa County Junior College offered an Associate in Arts degree, sometimes with a designated major in Commerce. Kiowa County Junior College graduated 4 in 1936; 14 in 1937; 4 in 1938; 11 in 1939 and 8 in 1940. This list included 91 freshmen, 30 sophomores and 12 “special”. They had nine Kiowa County addresses and class member enrolled form 12 towns in other counties. One of the graduates of Hobart High School and the Hobart Junior College was Navy Lt. William Nathan Arbuckle, who's plane was shot down August 20, 1944, near Me'ze, France during Operation Dragoon in WWII.
By 1940, with N.Y.A. assistance a dormitory was provided for junior college girls. Assistance was given those needing to find work to help pay their way. Scholarships were given to high school valedictorians, applied on their tuition. Extra-curricular activities some years included music, dramatics, forensics, sports and social activities.
In 1948, the Board of Education foresaw the decline in enrollment, so announced to those enrolling in the fall of 1948, that it would be the last year in Hobart. This helped those that had started their program to finish it and others that wanted their first year in Hobart to know it would be the last.