Delgado Honors Founder, Isaac Delgado, on 182nd Anniversary of Birth

November 23, 2021

Every year on Isaac Delgado’s birthday, the college he founded in New Orleans 100 years ago honors his memory and legacy with a ceremonial visit to his tomb in Metairie Cemetery. Flowers are placed at the tomb and words of appreciation and gratitude are spoken.

This year, the ceremonial Founder’s Day visit took place on Tuesday, November 23—Isaac Delgado’s 182nd birthday and the 100th anniversary of opening ceremonies for the college. Members of the Delgado Community College Centennial Committee along with Delgado Institutional Advancement staff members visited the tomb.

“Our college family remains forever grateful to our founder and benefactor, Mr. Isaac Delgado,” said Dr. Larissa Littleton-Steib, Chancellor of Delgado Community College. “Over the coming months, we have exciting things in store as we continue celebrating Mr. Delgado’s legacy and our college’s history.”

Isaac Delgado, the bachelor businessman and philanthropist whose bequest to the City of New Orleans established the trades school that became Delgado Community College, was born in Kingston, Jamaica on Nov. 23, 1839. Of Sephardic Jewish descent, he migrated to New Orleans as a boy to work with an uncle in the sugar industry, and in time he became a pillar of the city’s business community and a respected member of society.

By the day he passed away in 1912, Delgado had amassed a fortune as a sugar broker, and his estate funded not only the establishment of the Isaac Delgado Central Trades School--now Delgado Community College--but also the establishment of the New Orleans Museum of Art and an expansion of Charity Hospital.

Isaac Delgado Hall, which opened in 1921 as the Delgado Trades School, was built at a cost of $708,900. The 57-acre site for the school was purchased from nearby City Park at a cost of $178,000, and about $100,000 was invested in furnishings and equipment--meaning the school cost about $1 million to build, equip, and open. Delgado Hall housed the entire school, including the administration, shops, and classrooms. A state-of-the-art auditorium spanned the third floor and was the site of dedication ceremonies on November 23, 1921 attended by 2,000 people during which the building and its founder's mission were celebrated.

The Delgado Trades School became a technical college in the 1950s, then a comprehensive community college in 1966. In 1970, ownership of the college passed from the city to the State of Louisiana. Accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools came in 1971. Today, Delgado has seven locations and is the largest college in the state, second in total annual enrollment only to Louisiana State University.

More than 20,000 students are enrolled each year in for-credit programs at Delgado. These students earn associate degrees or diplomas, career certifications, and transferable college credits. Another 12,500 students participate in non-credit workforce development and continuing education training at Delgado each year.

Isaac Delgado’s original gift of $800,000 in 1921 to establish the Delgado Trades School has produced today’s economic powerhouse for the region. Now, this investment in Delgado has a total annual economic impact of more than $500 million. Delgado currently supports over 10,000 jobs across the New Orleans metropolitan area.

Delgado Community College celebrates 100 years of service to the New Orleans region in 2021. The oldest and largest community college in Louisiana, Delgado provides instruction online and at seven locations. Fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Delgado offers students the most comprehensive array of education and training services available in the 10-parish New Orleans region. Additionally, Delgado has articulation agreements with most of the state’s four-year colleges and universities that allow students to transfer their Delgado credits to bachelor’s degree programs. As well as offering degrees and transferable college credits, Delgado provides diplomas and certificates in many professional and technical areas. Workforce development is a priority at Delgado, hence the college’s motto: “Education that works!”


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Honoring Isaac Delgado, founder of Delgado Community College, on the 182nd anniversary of his birth, Nov. 23, 2021: front row, from left, Harold Gaspard and Arlanda Williams, co-chairs, Delgado Centennial Committee; back row, from left, Dan Summit, Emily Cosper, Nikki Dingle, Hilton Guidry, Kim Tubre, Leslie Salinero, Tony Cook, Cynthia Jones, and Tyler Scheuermann. (Photo by Todd Taylor, Delgado Communications and Marketing)