In 1963, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the Community College Act creating a system of comprehensive community colleges and technical institutes. In September 1964, the people of Wilkes County approved the establishment of a community college through a bond vote for construction of facilities and a tax authorization for the operation of the college. Wilkes Community College was approved by the State Board of Education on October 1, 1964.
The first Board of Trustees was sworn into office on January 15, 1965, and the name "Wilkes Community College" was officially adopted on that date. This board employed Dr. Howard E. Thompson as the college's first president, and he served from March 5, 1965 to June 30, 1977. He was followed by Dr. David E. Daniel, July 1, 1977 to April 2, 1989; Dr. H. Edwin Beam, interim president, April 3, 1989 to July 16, 1989; Dr. James R. Randolph, July 17, 1989 to July 7, 1995; Dr. Swanson Richards, interim president, July 8, 1995 to February 29, 1996; and Dr. Gordon G. Burns, Jr., the college's current president who assumed duties on March 1, 1996. In 1990, the Board of Trustees was expanded to include two trustees from each of Alleghany and Ashe counties, making a total of 16 trustees plus the Student Government Association president.
Thompson, Hayes, and Lovette Halls, the first buildings on the Wilkes County campus on Collegiate Drive in Wilkesboro, were occupied on April 1, 1969. Since then, the college has expanded with more buildings for classrooms and offices. These include the Power Mechanics building in 1978. the Continuing Education building in 1981, and the John A. Walker Community Center, a convention center and cultural arts complex, in 1984. Daniel Hall was added in 1989; the Doc and Merle Watson Theater in 1990; the Beacon Building, purchased in 1994; WCC Alumni Hall, completed in 1998; the Horticulture Compex in 2005; and Lowes Hall which was occupied in spring of 2007. These facilities make up the current eleven buildings and 151.7 acres of the Wilkes campus.
The college also has an Alleghany County center in Sparta and an Ashe County campus in Jefferson which was elevated to multi-campus status in 2008. In 2009, an addition to Daniel Hall on Wilkes Campus provided classroom and lab space for an applied technology center, and classroom space was added through renovation and an expansion of the shipping and receiving building. Also in 2009 the Wilkes Early College High School opened on the Wilkes Campus of the college. In 2011, Randolph Hall was expanded to add a fitness center. An Automotive Technology Complex is under construction and scheduled for completion before the end of the 2012-2013 academic year.
Apprenticeship training courses were the first to be offered and began in September 1965. Part-time business technology programs began in December 1965. The first one-year diploma program, Practical Nurse Education, began March 7, 1966. On September 15, 1966, students were admitted to full-time status in Associate in Arts and Associate in Applied Science Degree programs.
In August 1997, the college completed the redesign of all its curricula and began issuing credits based upon semester hours. Course offerings over the Internet began in spring 1998 and offerings through the North Carolina Information Highway began in fall 1999.
Wilkes Community College, a member of the North Carolina Community College System, is a public, two-year, open-door institution serving the people of Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany counties and beyond.
Wilkes Community College enhances the quality of life through
- quality education and workforce development, including basic skills, occupational,
technical and pre-baccalaureate programs;
- economic development services to business and industry, both public and private; and
- community development through a variety of services, cultural activities and
The college's vision is grounded in the statement of purpose and is guided by the institutional values of caring, community, education, excellence, innovation, integrity, and responsibility.
Wilkes Community College provides programs, resources, and services which create quality educational and economic development, and cultural opportunities.
Wilkes Community College aspires to be an effective learner centered educational institution and a dynamic learning organization.
Wilkes Community College 2011
The State Board of Community Colleges and the North Carolina General Assembly have established eight performance measures and standards for North Carolina Community Colleges. Performance data from the 2011 Critical Success Factors report are located in the table below. WCC met all of the eight measures in 2011.
|| # of
|Progress of Basic Skills Students
|Passing Rates on Licensure/ Certification Exams for First-Time or Greater Test Takers
(None < 70% for Exceptional Institutional Performance)
0 Exams <70%*
|Performance of College Transfer Students
( 87% for Exceptional Institutional Performance)
|Passing rates in
| 75% "C" or Better
|Success rates of developmental students in subsequent college- level courses
|The level of satisfaction of students who complete programs and those who do not complete programs
||90% of Combined Respondents will Report Satisfaction with College's Programs and Services
|Curriculum student retention and graduation
|| 65% of the Fall Cohort will Complete or Still be Enrolled
|Client Satisfaction with customized training
*45 colleges met the 80% standard; 28 colleges had no exam with a passing rate <70%;
**46 colleges met the 83% standard; 33 colleges met or exceeded the performance of native UNC sophomores and juniors (87%).