On May 21, 1996, the voters of Klamath County overwhelmingly approved formation of the Klamath Community College Service District with a 79 percent affirmative vote. In addition, they agreed to establish a $3.5 million tax base to operate the district.
On July 1, 1996, Klamath Community College joined Oregon’s largest education network. There are now 17 Oregon community colleges. Initially, KCC contracted with Rogue Community College for educational services. During the first year of operation, KCC offered three one-year certificates to students: Business Assistant, Computer Software Specialist, and Criminal Justice. At the same time, KCC contracted with Oregon Institute of Technology to provide general education courses, student health services, and library services. Classes were conducted in facilities rented from the Klamath County School District and Klamath Falls City Schools.
During its first year of operation, Klamath Community College provided services to approximately 3,000 students. In July 1997, KCC contracted with Portland Community College for educational services. The Klamath Community College Board of Education appointed Dr. Wesley R. Channell as the College’s first permanent president on August 1, 1997.
In December 1997, the Oregon State Board of Education approved the Charter for Klamath Community College and in January 1998, authorized the Klamath Community College Board of Education to award degrees and certificates. In April 1998, the curriculum in KCC’s first catalog was approved by the Oregon State Board of Education and Portland Community College. That same month, KCC submitted its Application for Initial Candidacy to the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NASC), now known as the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the accrediting agency for the region, and began its one-year self-study process. On November 10, 1999, KCC received initial candidacy for regional accreditation at the associate degree level. At its January 2005 meeting, the NWCCU granted initial accreditation effective September 1, 2004. Accreditation was reaffirmed in 2009.
While KCC was advancing its bid for accreditation, it was also working on finding a permanent home. In September 1999, President Channell announced the purchase of 57 acres, which included two buildings that would become the first permanent home of Klamath Community College. The buildings were redesigned and renovated, and on March 27, 2000, KCC students attended their first day of classes on the new campus. Additional buildings were completed in Fall 2002 to provide eight additional classrooms, computer labs, a new Learning Resources Center, food service, and student study areas.
In the spring of 2004, the Klamath Community College Board of Education accepted President Channell’s retirement and appointed Vice President Fred Smith as president on May 1, 2004. Dr. Smith resigned his position on August 1, 2007. Gerald Hamilton was then appointed as Interim President on September 1, 2007, and then President on February 26, 2008.
As part of its ongoing effort to meet ever-changing community needs, Klamath Community College added two new buildings in 2010—a 30,000 square foot structure that is home to classes in health and science, including a new program in Practical Nuirsing, and a 16,000 square foot building that is home to career technical education, including new programs in Automotive Technology, Diesel Technology, and Construction Management. These buildings nearly doubled the square footage of facilities on campus and provided students with exciting new programs and state-of-the-art labs.
The Klamath Community College bookstore opened Fall 2011, giving students the convenience of purchasing their textbooks and supplies on campus. In addition to the two new classroom buildings and the bookstore, KCC also saw construction of an athletic field on campus as well as a trail connecting KCC to the OC&E Woods Line State Trail.
In the spring of 2012, Dr. Roberto Gutierrez was selected by the Board of Education to replace President Hamilton following his retirement. Dr. Gutierrez became KCC’s fourth president in July 2012.
In the spring of 2012, KCC was selected as a participant in the Achieving the Dream Reform Network and has received national attention for instituting mandatory student orientation and advising, which have resulted in greater student retention and success. Additionally, as a regional leader behind the vision and drive of President Gutierrez, KCC is creating a college-going culture in the region.
Thus, KCC has embarked on the Klamath Promise with its K-12 partners, implementing a fifth-year high school program in 2013 and 2014, and establishing a Blended K-12-to-College program in which students can earn college credit toward certificates and degrees as early as the eighth grade.
In 2014, KCC opened a satellite campus in Lakeview, Oregon, at the Innovation and Learning Center, where students attend courses in face-to-face and synchronous classrooms. Also in 2014, KCC expanded educational options beyond two-year degrees by partnering with Southern Oregon University and the Oregon Institute of Technology to provide completion of four-year degrees institutions on the KCC campus and in the community. This effort carries on a similar partnership KCC has with Oregon State University in Agriculture. Finally, KCC has expanded learning opportunities by adding distance education, synchronous course delivery, and hybrid courses, thus allowing the College to offer its students classes anywhere and any time.