Diana Baker-King was the first official KCC graduate. Also among the first graduates was Baker-King’s husband, James King. In all, 22 graduates earned degrees in 1970, with 12 people receiving degrees in the spring and 10 more receiving degrees that summer. The first graduating class established school colors (scarlet, white and navy) and the school mascot, the Cavaliers.
The KCC Student Association sponsors a Neil Diamond concert. Yes, Neil Diamond! It was at the Abraham Lincoln gymnasium (now Martin Luther King Jr. Gym, at King Middle Grade School) in Kankakee. A sell-out crowd got to see Diamond as his career was launching. His song Cracklin’ Rose was one week away from hitting no. 1 on the Billboard chart.
Other Diamond hits which had already been on the charts by this date were Solitary Man; Shilo; Sweet Caroline; Holly Holy; Cherry, Cherry; Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon; Kentucky Woman; I Got The Feelin' (Oh No No); and Red Red Wine.
For more than 40 years, KCC has been the physical agent and service provider for the federal CETA program (Comprehensive Employment and Training Act) and its later incarnations (Job Training Partnership Act), Workforce Investment Act and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The program currently offers up to $12,000 in monetary assistance to qualified participants who are training for the workforce. The WIOA offices are at KCC's North Extension Center in Bourbonnais, in Morris at the Grundy Workforce Services Office and in Pontiac at the Livingston Workforce Services Office.
KCC's academic game show, Match Points, debuted on local cable television. Rick Manuel, who worked at KCC for 33 years until retiring in 2006, hosted the event for 18 years, including a TV broadcast. The original show was KCC's version of It's Academic – which still continues and was named by TV Guide as one of the 60 Greatest Game Shows of all time. At KCC, Match Points is no longer televised, but local high school competitors still "buzz in" each February to compete for scholarships.
The college closes the door on an unfortunate time when Dr. Jack Samlin was removed as the president after financial irregularities are discovered.
Days before KCC’s 10th Anniversary, Skylark was dedicated to the college’s first board of trustees: Ralph Francis, Mary Fraser, James Geist, Merlin Karlock, John Rooney, Kenneth Seebach & Kenneth Wiser. The $3,000 cost was funded through a bequest by William F. Brandenburg and the Illinois Arts Council. The artist, Alice Richheimer Culbert Wolk, lived in Glencoe at the time the work was purchased. Completed in 1977, the 8-foot, 6-inch tall Skylark is made of corten steel and weighs 800 pounds. The sculpture was originally installed on KCC’s front lawn. It had at least one other roost before being moved in 2014 to its present location, alongside the college’s main drive.
At the dedication in 1978, Dr. Janet Heinicke, head of the visual arts program, described the piece: "The skylark bird is an appropriate educational symbol. In literature, the skylark is referred to as a soaring bird with distinct, if not loud, voice. Chaucer called it the messenger of the day. Elizabeth Barrett Browning noted 'soaring music within the soaring lark.'
"In light of education, such images conjure thoughts of lofty, bold, clear and fresh ideas that prosper in educational institutions of a democracy and give us insight into ourselves and our world. Skylark, distinguished by its curves that give an impression of infinity, and its contrasting earthborn foundation, connotes two characteristics of the public community college. One, a continuum of thought and intellect reminiscent of the skylark bird and, two, an institution whose roots are firmly embedded in the land and the people of the land known as the community college district."
The college now has four other permanent outdoor sculptures, Breezekeeper, Chicago Nike, Meridian IX, and Tin Man. The Arts and Culture site has more information about them, and about indoor sculptures at KCC.
The Alpha Delta Eta chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Academic Honor Society is chartered. Hundreds of KCC students with outstanding academic achievements have been members. The chapter and its members have earned numerous state and national awards for programs and service projects. In 2015, the KCC chapter was named one of the "100 Outstanding Chapters," among 1,300.
At graduation, Phi Theta Kappa members can wear a gold stole and tassel. Minimum qualifications for membership are completion of 12 semester hours of credit division coursework at KCC with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5. Members must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher.
In 2013, KCC’s president, Dr. John Avendano, received the Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction to become one of just 22 college presidents and campus CEOs who received the honor that year.
In 2014, an administrator from KCC, Susan LaMore, was selected to be the coordinator of the Illinois Region of Phi Theta Kappa. In the position, which she still holds, LaMore facilitates activities among the 57 chapters in Illinois. She also is the liaison between the national headquarters and individual chapters. While a student at KCC, LaMore also was a Phi Theta Kappa member.