Wenatchee Valley College celebrates its 75th year from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday with campus tours, a barbecue, kids activities, lectures and a Wenatchee Big Band concert. The event is free and open to the public.

Just over 75 years ago, community leaders envisioned a robust and vibrant North Central Washington, and identified a need for higher education in the region. At that time, there were only seven junior colleges in the state, and North Central Washington was the largest populated district without an institution of higher learning. Wenatchee was ripe for a junior college; it had the required facilities available at Wenatchee High School, qualified instructors, and eager students. Now it just needed state approval and funding.

These community leaders solicited $100 pledges from 50 local businessmen to assure a $5,000 contingency fund to support the first class of Wenatchee Junior College students.

Seventy-five years later, Wenatchee Valley College serves thousands of students at two campuses in Wenatchee and Omak. To commemorate this anniversary, here are five facts you may (or may not) know about Wenatchee Valley College:

1. WVC employs 462 full- and part-time employees that served 7,292 students enrolled in classes and programs at both the Wenatchee and Omak campuses in 2013-14. These students attend classes on campus and online. The faculty at WVC are well-educated and experts in their field. In fact, 78 percent of full-time faculty members hold master’s degrees and 14 percent hold doctorate degrees.

2. WVC is a sound investment for students, taxpayers and society as a whole. According to an economic impact study completed in 2011-12 by EMSI, WVC’s economic impact was $152.8 million, which includes the return on students’ investment, the return on taxpayers’ investment, a more educated workforce that receives a higher income, the college’s operating expenses, and the reduced costs related to medical care, lower crime rates and less need for income assistance. WVC’s economic impact represents 3.5 percent of the regional economy; WVC at Omak generates $20.6 million.

3. Community members and businesses provide extensive feedback and support for college programs and degrees. In 2013-14, the college worked with 17 advisory committees composed of more than 300 faculty and staff, community and business members. This fall, WVC began offering new degrees in machining and outdoor recreation management; development of these programs and their curriculum is not possible without the assistance of advisory committee members who represent those industries.

4. More than 140 students and seven teams make up Knights athletics. Those teams include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, fast-pitch softball and baseball. A large number of Knights athletes hail from Montana, Idaho and Alaska. On average, Knights athletes earn some of the highest GPAs on the Wenatchee campus. In spring quarter 2014, the average Knight GPA was 2.88, while the overall Wenatchee campus GPA was 2.75.

5. The Wenatchee Valley College Foundation is providing $159,245 this academic year for student scholarships from endowed and annual giving, and $20,000 for veteran work-study scholarships. This financial assistance has been granted to 71 students on both campuses for the 2014-15 school year.