History Highlights1967 - 2017


Students today train for careers unimagined 50 years ago. In 1967, students learned to repair televisions and typewriters. They worked with computer punch cards, T squares and protractors.

  • 1925
       

    Centralia College

    Centralia College, the state’s oldest existing community college, opened its doors as Centralia Junior College with 15 students.

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    Centralia College
  • 1926
       

    Skagit Valley College

    Skagit Valley College established in Mount Vernon.

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    Skagit Valley College
  • 1928
       

    Yakima Valley College

    Yakima Valley College founded.

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    Yakima Valley College
  • 1930
       

    Grays Harbor College

    Grays Harbor College was founded as a private institution and eventually became part of the Aberdeen School District.

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    Grays Harbor College
  • 1933
       

    Clark College

    Clark College established as a private, two-year junior college in Vancouver, Wash. The college officially became a public institution in 1958.

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    Clark College
  • 1934
       

    Lower Columbia College

    When Lower Columbia College opened its doors as Lower Columbia Junior College, classes were held at R.A. Long High School in Longview. Students registered for classes at Korten’s Music Store in Longview, Dahlman Hardware in Castle Rock, and the Orr Furniture Store in Kelso.

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    Lower Columbia College
  • 1939
       

    Spokane Community College

    The Spokane School District established the Spokane Trade School, which eventually became Spokane Community College.

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    Spokane Community College
  • 1939
       

    Wenatchee Valley College

    Wenatchee Valley College opened as a private institution thanks to donations from 51 local citizens. In 1941, it became part of the state’s public education system. Classes were held on the third floor of Wenatchee High School until the donation of the A.Z. Wells home in 1949.

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    Wenatchee Valley College
  • 1940
       

    Bates Technical College

    Bates Technical College, the oldest existing vocational technical institute in the state, opened as Bates Vocational Technical Institute in Tacoma.

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    Bates Technical College
  • 1941
       

    Everett Community College

    Everett Community College holds its first classes at a converted elementary school.

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    Everett Community College
  • 1941
       

    Renton Technical College

    Renton Technical College opened as Renton Vocational Technical Institute, a war production training school, offering training throughout World War II.

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    Renton Technical College
  • 1942
       

    Clover Park Technical College

    Clover Park Technical College opened in shop buildings at Clover Park High School, teaching auto and aircraft mechanics to support the war effort.

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    Clover Park Technical College
  • 1945
       

    K-12 Oversees Junior Colleges

    Junior colleges were made a part of their local K-12 school districts and supported through K-12 funding.

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    K-12 Oversees Junior Colleges
  • 1946
       

    Olympic College

    Olympic College opened its doors as Olympic Junior College in Bremerton.

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    Olympic College
  • 1949
       

    Lake Washington Institute of Technology

    Lake Washington Institute of Technology was founded in Kirkland  by Lake Washington School District as an adult vocational training program. At first only offering a sewing program, it expanded to other vocations over the years including automotive, culinary arts and engineering

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    Lake Washington Institute of Technology
  • 1955
       

    Columbia Basin College

    Columbia Basin College in Pasco held its first classes in temporary quarters at the former Pasco Naval Airbase as part of the Pasco School District.

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    Columbia Basin College
  • 1957
       

    Bellingham Technical College

    Bellingham Technical College was established as Bellingham Vocational Technical Institute on its current 35-acre site (a former truck farm) and operated by the Bellingham School District. The college was renamed in 1991 when it joined the community and technical college system.

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    Bellingham Technical College
  • 1961
       

    Community College Expansion Approved

    The state legislature removed restrictions against building community colleges in counties with existing four-year institutions.

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    Community College Expansion Approved
  • 1961
       

    Highline College

    Highline College in Des Moines, Wash. was founded in 1961 as the first community college in King County, holding classes in 14 portable buildings on the Glacier High School campus. Construction began in 1964 on the current 80-acre hilltop campus overlooking Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.

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    Highline College
  • 1961
       

    Peninsula College

    Peninsula College was founded in 1961 because a group of local citizens wanted to continue their educations without having to travel great distances. Student demand quickly outgrew the small building at Port Angeles High School where the first classes were held. Construction of the current campus began in 1964.

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    Peninsula College
  • 1961
       

    Democracy’s Colleges Take Hold

    The Washington state legislature designated junior colleges as “community” colleges, a term which first appeared in a 1947 Commission on Higher Education report to President Harry Truman. “Higher Education for American Democracy” — also known as The Truman Commission Report — called for significant changes in postsecondary education, including a network of public community colleges.

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    Democracy’s Colleges Take Hold
  • 1962
       

    Big Bend Community College

    Big Bend Community College held its first classes at night at Moses Lake High School. In 1963, the college moved a facility a short distance away from Moses Lake. In 1975, the current campus opened on 159-acres from the former Larson Air Force Base.

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    Big Bend Community College
  • 1962
       

    South Puget Sound Community College

    Founded as Olympia Vocational Technical Institute by the Olympia School District, classes were held in downtown Olympia’s Montgomery Ward Building. Groundbreaking for the Mottman Road campus was in 1970. In 1976, OVTI became Olympia Technical Community College as its mission grew. The name changed to South Puget Sound Community College in 1984.

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    South Puget Sound Community College
  • 1963
       

    Spokane Community College

    Spokane Community College began as Spokane Technical and Vocational School (STVS) in 1957 as part of Spokane Public Schools. The State Board of Education finally approved its converted status to community college in 1963.

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    Spokane Community College
  • 1964
       

    Shoreline Community College

    Shoreline Community College began holding classes in the evenings at Shoreline High School in 1964, until its new campus was ready for students in 1965.

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    Shoreline Community College
  • 1965
       

    Green River College

    Green River College’s professional and technical program began in 1964 at a location near the Auburn Boeing plant. A year later, Green River opened its doors at its present location on Lea Hill, east of Auburn.

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    Green River College
  • 1965
       

    Five students hold a large Vote Yes campaign in 1964

    Tacoma Community College

    In September 1965, after years of community involvement and a series of local levy attempts, Tacoma Community College finally welcomed new students to its new campus built on 40 acres of undeveloped Scotch broom at the corner of South 12th and Pearl Street.

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    Tacoma Community College
  • 1966
       

    Growing Pains

    Bursting at the seams and turning away students, total enrollment reaches 74,363 students at the state’s 18 community colleges.

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    Growing Pains
  • 1966
       

    Bellevue College

    After 10 years of grassroots and community effort, Bellevue College accepted its first students in January. Fifty people camped out overnight to be first to register for classes, which were held in the evening at Newport Senior High School until its own campus was ready in 1969.

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    Bellevue College
  • 1966
       

    Seattle Central College

    Seattle Central College was the state’s first public vocational school when it first held classes as Edison Vocational School in 1930. When it opened as a community college in 1966 it was part of the public school system and was called Seattle Community College until the 1967 Community College Act created a multi-campus Seattle district.

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    Seattle Central College
  • 1967
       

    Community College Act

    April 3, 1967: Gov. Daniel J. Evans signed the Community College Act on April 3, 1967, creating a unified system to offer an open door to every citizen, regardless of academic background or experience.

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    Community College Act
  • 1967
       

    Edmonds Community College

    Edmonds Community College takes shape in Lynnwood to serve a growing suburban population.

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    Edmonds Community College
  • 1967
       

    Pierce College Fort Steilacoom

    Pierce College Fort Steilacoom opened as Fort Steilacoom Community College in Lakewood.

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    Pierce College Fort Steilacoom
  • 1967
       

    Walla Walla Community College

    Walla Walla Community College was first housed in buildings formerly used by Walla Walla High School. When WWCC outgrew that location, it purchased land east of town near the airport and built its current campus.

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    Walla Walla Community College
  • 1967
       

    Whatcom Community College

    Whatcom Community College leased two acres next to the Whatcom County Library. Modular buildings housed offices and the college library. Over the years, the college held classes in an old Thriftway grocery store and parks facilities. Groundbreaking for the campus was in 1986 on nearly six acres of land donated by The Trillium Corporation.

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    Whatcom Community College
  • 1967
       

    Spokane Falls Community College

    Spokane Falls Community College opened on a 113-acre site above the Spokane River in west Spokane. The college has emphasized international education; attracting students from other countries, encouraging students to study and work abroad.

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    Spokane Falls Community College
  • 1970
       

    North Seattle College

    North Seattle College opened its 62-acre campus in the Northgate area, with environmentally sensitive wetlands making up 11 of those acres, serving as a natural classroom. From early on, the college gained a strong reputation for extensive science, engineering, and technology programs.

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    North Seattle College
  • 1970
       

    South Seattle College

    South Seattle College overlooks downtown Seattle and Elliott Bay from an 87-acre wooded campus in West Seattle. To this day, the college has strong ties with both its industry neighbors and its community residents.

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    South Seattle College
  • 1971
       

    Student looks through microscope

    Associate Degree Transfer Agreements

    Associate transfer degree guidelines were adopted to ease transition from Washington state’s two-year colleges to four-year colleges and universities.

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    Associate Degree Transfer Agreements
  • 1982
       

    The 1980s: a Grim Decade

    The global recession took its toll. State and federal budget reductions forced colleges to cut enrollments, close programs and lay off faculty and staff. Some colleges cancelled summer quarter. With enrollments declining because of the “baby bust,”  colleges raised tuition and searched for revenue to make ends meet.

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    The 1980s: a Grim Decade
  • 1985
       

    Tuition Soars

    Between 1980 and 1985, students faced tuition rate increases of more than 200%, jumping from about $100 per quarter to $233.

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    Tuition Soars
  • 1989
       

    The New Boom Begins

    Fall 1989 student enrollment increased nearly three percent over fall 1988. Washington’s adult population was increasing and students under age 25 from the so-called “echo boom” baby boom were heading off to college.

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    The New Boom Begins
  • 1991
       

    Automotive mechanics student looking under hood of car

    Technical Colleges Join the Community College System

    March 24, 1991: The Community and Technical College Act of 1991 designated the state’s five public vocational-technical institutes as technical colleges. The State Board for Community College Education is renamed the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

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    Technical Colleges Join the Community College System
  • 1994
       

    Cascadia College

    Cascadia College, the 30th college district, was founded to serve north King County residents. The college opened in 2000 on a campus shared with University of Washington Bothell.

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    Cascadia College
  • 1999
       

    Pierce College Puyallup

    Pierce College Puyallup was established as the Fort Steilacoom Community College Eastern Extension to better serve east Pierce County residents. In 1989, a new campus was built in Puyallup, just east of South Hill Mall. By 1999, its status was upgraded to a full-service college.

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    Pierce College Puyallup
  • 2005
       

    Applied Bachelors of Science

    The legislature grants authority for a handful of community and technical colleges to offer applied baccalaureate programs as a pilot program. Today, 25 colleges offer bachelors of applied science, which build on the education and training from a two-year technical associate degree.

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    Applied Bachelors of Science
  • 2008
       

    Where to Next?

    System-wide Mission Study gives Washington’s community and technical college system the direction it needs to meet economic demand, student success and innovation over the next 20 years.

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    Where to Next?
  • 2009
       

    Technical Colleges Enhance Applied Transfer Option

    Legislature allows technical colleges to offer transfer degrees to prepare students for applied bachelor’s degree programs.

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    Technical Colleges Enhance Applied Transfer Option
  • 2015
       

    Math Strategic Plan

    Math Strategic Plan advances the system’s goal of eliminating barriers to math success and help more students complete academic and professional-technical programs.

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    Math Strategic Plan
  • 2017
       

    Happy 50th Anniversary

    April 3, 2017: Gov. Jay Inslee proclaims April 3 Community and Technical College Day in celebration of the college system’s 50th anniversary. Inslee will be joined by former Gov. Dan Evans, who signed the original 1967 legislation creating the college system.

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    Happy 50th Anniversary
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