Alamance Community College was founded in 1958. As one of the first organized community colleges in North Carolina, the Burlington-Alamance County Industrial Education Center (known as IEC) signified a change in the landscape of education. A half century later, ACC continues to reinvent itself to fit the demands of an ever-changing workplace and the needs of 21st century students.
In its first year of operation, the College offered 15 programs, such as industrial chemistry, yarn and fabric analysis, loom fixing, and machine shop. By the 1970s, course offerings included computer systems, secretarial skills, drafting, and chemical technology.
Flash forward to today’s College where a student body of 5,000-plus has the option of traditional technical courses as well as biotechnology, culinary technology, medical laboratory technology, and a host of university transfer courses. Today’s cutting-edge programs clearly reflect the newest career and job opportunities for our students.
In the Beginning
What is known today as Alamance Community College became a reality when, in 1957, a statewide system of industrial education centers was begun through funding by the North Carolina General Assembly. With the strong support of local industrial leaders, Burlington became the site of the state’s first educational institution of its kind in 1958. By its second year, the IEC had increased its initial enrollment of 1,700 to 2,000 students.
The early 1960s saw the school begin its inevitable transformation. The North Carolina State Board of Education initiated a new Department of Community Colleges in 1963, bringing the growing number of industrial education centers under one entity, but each one still controlled by its own board of trustees. One of the new board of trustees’ first acts was to receive approval from the state to become a technical institute. At the same time, authority was granted to award the associate in applied science degree (A.A.S.) in approved programs. IEC consequently changed its name that spring to Technical Institute of Alamance (TIA).
Expansion and Growth
The College found a new home following the 1971 donation of 48 acres of land in the Haw River community by then-Governor Robert Scott and Mrs. Elizabeth Scott Carrington. With the support of the community, a sprawling green pasture bordering the Haw River became the site of a new and expanded facility, completed in January 1976. Classes have been held there ever since.
By 1978, the former Glenhope School had been purchased from the Burlington City School Board to accommodate the growing number of adult continuing education courses. Classes would be taught here until August 2001, when a new facility was opened.
With changes in curriculum that now included more advanced career choices, the board of trustees voted in 1979 to rename the school Technical College of Alamance (TCA). It became Alamance Community College (ACC) on January 1, 1988.
Meanwhile, the school was growing. In 1985, a 12,000-square-foot shop building opened to house the automotive, welding, and new industry programs. A 40,500- square-foot wing opened in 1988 with additional laboratories and classrooms. The College opened a 49,535-square-foot science and technology addition in 1996 that includes classrooms, laboratories, and offices.
ACC’s growing roster of continuing education courses and its small business center found a new home in 2001 when the College opened the 20,000-square-foot Burlington Center on Maple Avenue, replacing the old Glenhope School location.
On January 13, 2004, Alamance Community College broke ground on the Graham campus for a 50,000-square-foot administrative building. The new facility, opened in November 2005, includes the library, Student Development offices, business offices, administrative offices, and conference and training rooms. On December 7, 2005, that new building was dedicated as the Wallace W. Gee Building, honoring the late ACC Board of Trustees charter member. Gee was influential in forming the N.C. Community College System.
In November 2005, Alamance County voters approved a $7.5 million bond referendum which, along with funds from the 2000 bonds, provided funding for two new facilities.
The Powell Building, named in honor of Alamance County’s Powell families and their collective history of commitment in the fields of health and science, opened in October 2007 on the main campus. It is home to the College’s allied health and biotechnology curricula.
The Dillingham Center, a renovated retail facility at the Burlington Outlet Village, opened in January 2008, giving adult students more than 46,000 square feet in which to learn. The Dillingham Center houses Cosmetology, the Small Business Center, Continuing Education and community service classes.
In late 2008 at the main campus, the Academic Advising Center, the Student Activity Center and an expanded student bookstore were opened in response to student needs.
In 2010, the College upgraded the dental clinic, added a second kitchen for culinary and opened its new Literacy Building on the main campus to accommodate an increasing number of older adult students.
In 2012, Alamance County voters approved a $15 million bond referendum for the Advanced Applied Technology Center. County leaders are studying ways to fund that facility.
Future development of Alamance Community College will, as in the past, be constantly responsive to the educational, occupational, and cultural needs of the community.