Southern West Virginia Community College was established as an independently accredited, comprehensive community college on July 1, 1971, through the consolidation of two existing branches of Marshall University. These branches, located in Mingo and Logan Counties, had been in operation under Marshall’s direction since 1963 and provided the first two years of liberal arts and teacher education, as well as career programs in secretarial science and radiologic technology. In 1971 these two locations became the first two campuses of Southern when it became an independently accredited institution of higher education. It was also in 1971 that Southern’s first building was completed in Williamson.
Since 1971 the College has continued to expand its academic, workforce development, and community service offerings. In 1976 the West Virginia Board of Regents established formal service areas for each of the state’s public colleges and universities. Southern was assigned an area of approximately 1,900 square miles that included the counties of Boone, Logan, Mingo, and Wyoming. In 1981 the College’s service area was expanded through an interstate agreement with Kentucky, which provided for students from Martin and Pike counties to attend Southern at the in-state tuition rate.
In 1995, with a renewed emphasis on workforce development and technical training, the state legislature changed the names of all community colleges in the state to emphasize their technical components, and Southern’s name became Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. In addition to the name changes, Senate Bill 547 also outlined eleven community and technical college districts throughout the state, which added three additional West Virginia counties–Lincoln, McDowell and Raleigh–to Southern’s district. McDowell and Raleigh were identified as “shared counties” with responsibility for providing educational opportunities shared with two other community colleges.
Along with increasing enrollment, expansion of the geographic area served, and growth in the number and types of programs offered, the College’s physical facilities have also grown through the years. Beginning with the original building on the Williamson Campus in 1971, new facilities have been constructed throughout the College’s district. The construction of the first Logan Campus building was completed in 1979, and a new addition was added in 1987. In Wyoming County a new location was selected near Twin Falls State Park, and a building was constructed there in 1989. This location has added new classrooms and remodeled the student commons area since that time. In 1996, the Boone Campus relocated from a renovated facility in Madison to a new building adjacent to the Boone County Career and Technical Center. The Earl Ray Tomblin Workforce Development Center and Administrative Complex (Building B) opened in Logan in October 1998, and in 1999 a new library wing was added to the Williamson Campus. In the fall of 2007, a first of its kind classroom physically connected to the Lincoln County Comprehensive High School was opened to better serve the Lincoln County area. The College welcomed students into a new 55,000 square foot, state-of-the-art Allied Health and Technology Center on the Logan Campus in January 2008. In April of 2013 Southern proudly opened its state-of-the-art Applied Technology Center on the Williamson Campus, which greatly enhances the opportunities for career training in Mingo County and surrounding communities. In 2016, the College acquired and continues to renovate the adjacent National Guard Armory building and property. These facilities allow Southern to continue to provide comprehensive education and training to meet the needs of current and future credit and non-credit students.
Through the years, Southern has developed educational agreements with several public and private colleges and universities to provide local access to additional opportunities for those who have completed the associate degree. This local access to baccalaureate and master’s degree programs utilizes a variety of delivery modes, including on-campus, traditional instruction, as well as electronic distance learning and on-line instruction. These agreements with higher education institutions throughout the state and across the nation are continuously updated and new ones initiated as needed.
Higher education governance in West Virginia has undergone many changes over the years. Since 2001, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College has been a member of the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education. This system provides for each member institution to have a local Board of Governors, and the Council serves as a policy and coordinating board.
In 2006, in cooperation with the Southern West Virginia Community College Foundation, the College launched its first Major Gifts Campaign‚ Vision 2020‚ with the purpose of raising additional funds to assist in achieving a number of long-range goals related to academic programs, physical facilities, and improving student financial support. This campaign’s success and support by the local communities has been extraordinary.
Although the institution continues to face many challenges, Southern continues to provide the highest quality programs and services and remains committed to meeting the educational and training needs of the residents of its service district.