Klamath Community College was created to fulfill a community vision for improved prosperity. Starting in 1991, a group of community leaders formulated a plan called the Klamath 2002 Vision Statement. The heart of the 2002 Vision Statement involved rallying community support for a new community college to improve jobs, the local economy, and the regional quality of life. Responding to their extraordinary leadership efforts, in May 1996 Klamath County voters overwhelmingly approved formation of the Klamath Community College Service District with a 79% affirmative vote. In addition, voters agreed to establish a $3.5 million tax base to operate the district.
On July 1, 1996 KCC became the seventeenth community college in Oregon. Initially, KCC contracted with Rogue Community College for educational services. During its 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 as an accredited, KCC provided services to approximately 3,000 students. In July 1997 KCC contracted with Portland Community College for educational services. The KCC 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 KCC, and in January 1998 it authorized the KCC 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. Classes and administrative offices expanded to rented facilities on Williams Avenue.In the 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. 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 KCC’s permanent home. 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, KCC added two new buildings in 2010: a 30,000-square-foot health and science building and a 16,000-square-foot automotive and diesel technology building.
The KCC 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 a trail connecting KCC to the OC&E Woods Line State Trail.
In Spring 2012, the Board of Education selected Dr. Roberto Gutierrez to replace President Hamilton following his retirement. Dr. Gutierrez became KCC’s fourth president in July 2012.
Also in Spring 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. As a regional leader behind the vision and drive of President Gutierrez, KCC is creating a college-going culture in the region.
To support this college-going culture, KCC has embarked on the Klamath Promise with its K-12 partners by 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 eighth grade.
In 2014, KCC began offering courses at the Innovation and Learning Center in Lakeview, Oregon 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. 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 anytime.
In 2016 and 2017, KCC embarked on another exciting development: the design and construction of Phase II which includes two new buildings. The first building, scheduled to open Fall 2017, will focus on the workforce needs of our community. The second building, anticipated in 2018, will house administration, student advising, registration, and financial aid student support. These developments continue to meet the needs of our Klamath and Lake County communities.