Triton College kicks off 50th anniversary with sundial, giant cake

Students, college administrators and politicians gathered in Triton College’s newly-renovated outdoor commons area Thursday to commemorate the school’s 50th anniversary.

Mark Stephens, chairman of Triton College’s Board of Trustees, was thankful for the good weather as they dedicated a new sundial and cut a decadent cake.

“It’s a great day,” he said. “It’s a great day to kick off the anniversary.”

The Aug. 28 event was one of many the college has planned to celebrate Triton’s many years of educating students. Stephens touted a pending $50 million bond issue, which trustees are expected to vote on soon, that would pay for renovations across the campus.

“It will help our students get an education for the next 50 years,” he said.

Stephens said that although he had studied at other places to obtain his degrees, he also attended Triton in the early 1980s. He said that’s where he found one teacher he would never forget.

“The best professor I ever met was Russ Anderson — he was my physical geography professor at Triton College,” Stephens said. “He made sure when I was done with his class I knew about physical geography. He was the best teacher I ever met at the collegiate level.”

The class was a required course and he wasn’t necessarily interested in geography, but he saw back then, as a student how the staff took their job seriously.

“People at Triton took the time to guide me,” he said.

Triton President Patricia Granados will be retiring from her position at the end of the year, but believes her leadership has helped spark good things for the college in years to come.

“It’s a great day and I see a great future for Triton,” she said. “I’m part of this history, but there’s a little bit of my leadership that will lead them into the future.”

Joe Portillo, 31, of Elmwood Park, stood back admiring the crowds who met in the college’s student center for the college’s cake-cutting ceremony, which followed the sundial dedication.

He said he’s impressed with Triton, and as an Army veteran, he’s impressed with the college’s various degrees — especially in criminal justice. He wants to become a police officer, and thinks Triton can help him get there.

“It’s close to my house and it’s one of the top community colleges in the area, he said.

Denise Smith-Gaborit, head pastry chef at Triton College, worked with other chefs and culinary students to make the five-tier cake as well as hundreds of cupcakes.

“It was a group effort; everyone worked together,” she said.

She attended Triton in the 1980s and said there wasn’t much to look at when it came to culinary classes, but things have changed since then.

“The culinary school was very small, but now the program is six days a week,” she said.

Triton College Police Chief Jeff Sargent, who also attended the college, has been a part of the college for a long time and has watched it grow and transform over the years.

“I’ve been [working] here for 30 years,” he said. “It’s incredible. What a nice way to celebrate 50 years.”

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