In October of 1973, the Student Government of Florida Technological University drafted a bill to appropriate $2,000 for a child day care center on campus. Within just a few months, the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation offered an additional grant of $60,000 for the construction and equipping of the center. The project was initiated as the result of a campus survey that indicated 40% of all FTU students were married, many of them with small children. Child care for students was to be developed and managed within the Division of Student Affairs under the advisement of Dr. Rex Brown and Mrs. Jay (Carol) Wilson.
With a great deal of campus attention on the planning of several new buildings, groundbreaking for the child care center did not take place until October 31, 1975 on Gemini Blvd adjacent to the University Police Office. The building was set to cover at least 3,000 square feet, in addition to the outdoor play areas. Oswald Garcia, Director of University Physical Planning, indicated that the facility would have an isolation wing for sick children, sanitary rooms, as well as kitchen and storage areas.
FTU held an open house for the new Child Care Center on May 27, 1976. However, when the university went through a name change, Dolores Burghard, the new director, lobbied for the center to have a new title that would reflect another educational branch of the university. Thereafter, the facility became known as the Creative School for Children. Director Burghard is pictured above in 1984 with Pat Bowers, Coordinator of Development, as they observe two children on the computer.
Over the first decade, much of the school’s survival depended on continued donations from Student Government. The CSC charged a low tuition fee, but the budget did not become self-sustaining for at least seven years. In 1981, the operational staff consisted of eight people, including one teacher, two aides, and a custodial worker with the curious name of Thomas Jefferson.
The CSC expanded in 1981 with new construction, new classrooms, and a library resource room. Enrollment rose to more than 70 children. By 1984, the CSC formed a board of directors and grew into a substantial and notable property on the campus. When Director Burghard retired after 27 years of service in 2003, the university recognized her by renaming the CSC Outdoor Environmental Learning Center in her honor.