PARKERSBURG - On May 14, 1972, Parkersburg Community College graduated its first class as an independently governed community college.
The community called upon businessman and community leader Julius "Jay" Stern to deliver the commencement address. Stern at the time was chairman of the board for Wood County Bank. He later created The Interactivity Foundation, which is still in operation in downtown Parkersburg.
Within the address Stern spoke not only of the future of the college, but also its importance to the community, which Stern called "the most important change in the history of this area." The Parkersburg News printed the entirety of Stern's speech in its May 15, 1973, edition.
In the opening minutes of his speech, Stern told the 138 graduating students in attendance, part of a class of 239, their collected accomplishments were an important moment of history for the Mid-Ohio Valley.
"Why is the operation of this community college the most important change in the history of this area? Because you are here, learning what you want to learn. You have been learning the fundamentals of what you need for your chosen life's work. You have been learning to think for yourselves. You have discovered something about the need for thinking and acting together, as members of the local, everyday community in the years which lie beyond," he said.
"In another age, under other circumstances, this would seem almost too commonplace to be described as the most important change in the history of this area. But these are unusual times, and the things you have been doing here have been preparing you for the unusual times in which we live."