History of the College
The 1963 North Carolina General Assembly authorized a system of comprehensive community colleges, technical institutes, industrial education centers, and extension units to be established and placed under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education.
The Cleveland Unit of Gaston College was established on July 1, 1965, as a result of the vision and effort of many individuals over several years. The Shelby Chamber of Commerce and the County Commissioners worked with the State Board of Education and Gaston College in establishing a unit of the College. Two buildings were rented by the County Commissioners at 118 North Morgan Street to start the school.
On July 11, 1965, James B. Petty was elected director of the Unit. The first classes began in September 1965, in the old Porter Brothers and McBrayer buildings. The number of classes and students has grown rapidly since that date.
On October 3, 1967, a local Board of Trustees was officially appointed and the Extension Unit became Cleveland County Technical Institute, a unit of the Department of Community Colleges of North Carolina.
In July 1969, the institute leased the County Home property at 137 South Post Road for a campus and moved to the new location.
Having secured a grant of $500,000 from the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners and matched by a like amount from the State of North Carolina, architects were commissioned in 1972 to plan a long-range building program on the present campus and the first two buildings for the new campus layout. The first two buildings were completed and placed in use for the Fall Quarter 1974. In June 1977, the voters of Cleveland County approved a $5,000,000 bond referendum to construct the next two phases of the long-range development plan for the campus.
Construction began in summer 1979 on these buildings to add approximately 100,000 additional square feet of permanent facilities including a new Learning Resources Center, classrooms, shops, laboratories, snack bar, bookstore, and offices. Shop additions were placed in use for Fall Quarter 1980. The main additional construction, known as the Jack Hunt Campus Center, was placed in use in March 1981. Formal dedication was held October 18, 1981.
On March 3, 1980, the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners voted to concur with the request by the Board of Trustees for a name change of Cleveland County Technical Institute to Cleveland Technical College.
By action of the state legislature, effective July 1, 1987, the College was authorized to become Cleveland Community College and to offer two-year college transfer programs. The first college transfer students were enrolled in the Fall Quarter 1987.
A Field House building was completed in July 1987 and became part of the College’s physical education complex. Contracts were awarded in December 1987 for the construction of a new Student Activities Center. This building was placed in use for Spring Quarter 1989. A Maintenance building was completed in August 1990. The James Broughton Petty Amphitheater was completed and dedicated April 24, 1991.
The founding president, Dr. James Petty, retired as President Emeritus on July 31, 1990. The College’s second president, Dr. L. Steve Thornburg, assumed the presidency on August 1, 1990.
During years 1995, 1996, and 1997 the College pursued an extensive reengineering process to completely redesign every course and every program of study in order to accommodate converting from a quarter hour system to a semester hour system. Cleveland, along with all other community colleges in North Carolina, began offering semester credit hours in the summer term of 1997.
On May 20, 1997, the voters of Cleveland County again expressed their confidence in the College by approving a $3.1 million bond referendum to construct a new classroom building and an emergency training center. The technology classroom building was placed in use for Fall Semester 1999.
On November 7, 2000, the voters of North Carolina approved a $3.1 billion bond referendum for the North Carolina Community College System and the University of North Carolina System. Cleveland Community College’s share was approximately $5 million-$3.8 million for new construction and $1.2 million for repairs and renovation.
After four years of anticipation, the Emergency Training Center (ETC) was completed and dedicated on December 12, 2002. This facility is one of the most advanced in the Southeast. The Emergency Training Center provides a higher quality and variety of training for volunteer and professional firefighters, rescue workers, EMS personnel and law enforcement officers.
In 2003, the College’s Foundation embarked on a Capital Campaign for new construction. In the 2005-2006 academic year, CCC celebrated 40 years of building futures in Cleveland County. At the 40th Anniversary celebration several families and individuals were recognized for their contributions with the renaming of College facilities. The auditorium is now the Mildred H. Keeter Auditorium, the library is the Jim and Patsy Rose Library and the ETC is now the Brown Emergency Training Center, named by Doug Brown in honor of his family, and the technology building is the Paksoy Technology Center.
The Bailey Allied Health and Science Center was dedicated on July 28, 2009, and was named by CCC Trustee Chairman Hoyt Q. Bailey in honor of his wife, Anne Dover Bailey. This state of the art building houses CCC's allied health programs including biotechnology, radiography and nursing programs. Also finding a home in the center is the John O. Harris Studio for C19 TV as well as faculty offices and classrooms.
On July 1, 2010, CCC celebrated 45 years of Building Futures for the citizens of Cleveland County. A celebration was held on August 6, 2010, to commemorate the anniversary. During this special celebration CCC Board of Trustees, along with CCC President Dr. L. Steve Thornburg, faculty and staff reflected on CCC's 45 year history and progress. This time was also used to celebrate Dr. Thornburg's 20th anniversary as president of Cleveland Community College.
Shortly following the College's 45th Anniversary, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 14, 2010, for the LeGrand Center. This 84,000 square-foot building currently provides offices and classroom space for CCC's Continuing Education, Cleveland NCWorks, The Carl and Doris Dedmon Center for Cleveland Early College High School, and much needed space for Cleveland County's economic development efforts.
On September 18, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor Employment Training Administration awarded over $23 million to Cleveland Community College and a consortium of college and university partners for the development of a Mission Critical Operations program. This grant is the largest ever awarded to a North Carolina Community College.
On January 17, 2014, Dr. L. Steve Thornburg was named the Wells Fargo President of the Year by the North Carolina Community College’s State Board. CCC Board Chair Hoyt Q. Bailey says Dr. Thornburg works with the faculty and staff and the community to pull people and resources together to move Cleveland County forward. “We are very proud of Dr. Thornburg and his leadership at Cleveland Community College. Our Board of Trustees believes that we have the best community college in North Carolina, and that speaks for itself with regard to my feelings toward Dr. Thornburg's leadership,” he adds.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 03:40:01 PM