April 19, 2021

DMACC Newton Campus celebrates 25 years

Last November, a well-known educational institution in Newton celebrated its existence for a quarter of a century.

In association with Newton Chamber of Commerce, the Des Moines Area Community College Newton Campus celebrated its 25-year anniversary with a ribbon cutting and re-dedication ceremony. The school’s culinary students provided food and hors d’oeuvres.

Joe DeHart, DMACC provost, said the college played a big role in training for work places like Maytag when its was here and after it closed.

“DMACC is 53 years old, and we’ve been here about half of that,” DeHart said. “We’ve seen Maytag come and go. We’ve seen the rebuilding after Maytag.”

Elsewhere, the 25-year milestone has been celebrated among students in their own on-campus organizations. A staff and faculty breakfast is planned at a date yet to be decided for the celebration and a small event at the Fourth of July parade. The event celebrates 25 years of DMACC Newton Campus history.

DeHart said, the building was constructed within 11 months, after Lann Hadley called the DMACC board president at the time and said, “Hey, I’ve got some money, I’ve got a building, I’ve got some land.”

It housed a high school, the college and the Maytag Training Center. DeHart said he had been working for DMACC for 17 years, driving back and fourth to Ankeny before becoming the provost of the Newton campus.

“I’ve seen a lot of things happen here,” DeHart said. “When I got to be provost, I got to deal with it all first hand on campus.”

Once the Maytag company left Newton, that gave the DMACC campus an opportunity to expand some of its programs, especially its culinary program. The space allowed for the campus to, at the time, take in entities such as the Newton Development Corporation and the Goodwill Career Center.

Today, the campus offers a number of programs for students to pursue careers in, such as welding, court reporting and culinary arts. A new program this school year involves a human services certificate, as well as a human services career academy for duel-enrolling high school students starting next school year.

One of the human services instructors, Kara Dirksen, said her classes deal with the paperwork side of the degree like HIPAA, as well as theories, mental health, social work and psychology.

“I think a lot of it is about self care (and) getting into that field,” Dirksen said. “A big part of that field is taking care of yourself, and there’s a little bit of that gets brought into every class period.”

Although enrollment has declined two percent since last year, DeHart said that is a small decrease amount when compared to other colleges.

“We’re trying to mitigate that decline,” DeHart said. “The good thing here is even though we are declining in enrollment a little bit, we have grown the number of students attending campus. We’ve attracted more students to come to the Newton campus, even though we lost a little bit online.”

Contact Orrin Shawl at
641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or