A booming era

Campus Life

The last of the 20th century prepared for a technological millennium

BY CASEY SAMYN AND LAUREN LUKENS
CAMPUS LIFE EDITOR AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

The McDowell Center was a major construction event that occurred on campus during the 90s. Schoolcraft’s president at the time, Dr. Richard McDowell, right, breaks the ground for the new building. Next to him, from right to left are Board of Trustee members Richard Devries, Mary Breen, Stephen Ragan, John Walsh, Patricia Watson and Harry Greenleaf.
The McDowell Center was a major construction event that occurred on campus during the 90s. Schoolcraft’s president at the time, Dr. Richard McDowell, right, breaks the ground for the new building. Next to him, from right to left are Board of Trustee members Richard Devries, Mary Breen, Stephen Ragan, John Walsh, Patricia Watson and Harry
Greenleaf.

The 1990s was an era that dawned the first “Harry Potter” book, “Titanic” and eBay. It ended the Apartheid, the Cold War and “Calvin and Hobbes.” The technological world was exploding; laptops, then known as “freedom machines,” were made public, texting was invented and by 1997, the Web had one million sites, which was compared to the 130 in the beginning of 1993.

Increased Internet usage created a different school experience than people were used to. Classes requiring computers, such as Computer Aided Design (CAD), prepared people in the 90s for the expected boom in technology to happen in the 21st century.

“I remember getting my first computer and working a whole weekend to get a modem working, so we could play the first Doom! Game over the phone line,” said Plymouth native and 1996 Schoolcraft alumnus Phil Laurette.

Phi Theta Kappa in 1999 consisted of (from left to right) president Jennie Howard, recording secretary Melanie Turner, secretary Sherry Bowerman, vice president Kelly Eva and treasurer Felicia Crawford.
Phi Theta Kappa in 1999 consisted of (from left to right) president Jennie Howard, recording secretary Melanie Turner, secretary Sherry Bowerman, vice president Kelly Eva and treasurer Felicia Crawford.

“I had one CAD teacher that asked the school to do away with drawing on the board—CAD was taking over for sure—but the school said no. He requested to have the class moved to the Radcliff Center where there were no administrators, and then cut the manual drafting from the class,” said Laurette. “We got double CAD lab time and learned a lot more than we would have otherwise. We worked harder on those designs, because we knew we were getting a special opportunity. Manual drafting was dying.”

Tom Gilliland, an alumnus who grew up in the Dayton, Ohio, and graduated from Schoolcraft in 1998, said, “I had to learn new skills from the ground up. I had started my graphics schooling at Ohio State many years previous, but didn’t finish the program largely because I saw computers coming to do all things we were doing by hand. I also ran out of money and went into sales at the time.”

The look of Schoolcraft’s campus was similar to the today’s campus. People often went to the commuter school straight out of high school to save money before transferring to a university. An associate’s degree could land one a well-paying job at the time, which helped pay off graduate school bills.

“My associate degree in ‘98 got me into graduate school,” said Mike Marihugh, who grew up in Redford Township.

Throughout Schoolcraft’s history, the college newspaper has gone through many style changes. The current name seems to be the one that’s stuck for quite awhile. “The Connection” has been one of the longest running news publications at Schoolcraft.
Throughout Schoolcraft’s history, the college newspaper has gone through many style changes. The current name seems to be the one that’s stuck for quite awhile. “The
Connection” has been one of the longest running news publications at Schoolcraft.

Students were able to work on or off campus while attending full or part-time classes year-round. Men and women often worked various jobs to support their education due to the increased demand of higher education. In 1991, federal minimum wage was $3.80 an hour, but by 1999 it increased to $5.15 an hour.

“I worked in the campus testing center and at various other establishments. I worked about 30 hours a week,” said Gerald Tiernan, who grew up in Westland and Livonia and graduated from Schoolcraft in 1995.

Gilliland said, “[I] worked full time. I attended night classes for over two years.”

With the turn of the century on the near horizon, Schoolcraft was ready for a new decade. Technology was increasing not only in speed in the 90s, but also in accessibility. This allowed for student resources to prosper, making Schoolcraft ready for the challenges of the new century.