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The history of Jefferson College is a success story. It begins with Senate Bill Number Seven, presented by Senator Earl Blackwell of Hillsboro, in the spring of 1961, that made possible the formation and financing of public junior colleges in Missouri.
When several Jefferson County citizens began to recognize the need for a public junior college in their community, they met, organized and petitioned the State Board of Education for the formation of a Junior College District. On April 2, 1963, Jefferson County voters gave their approval as the issue passed by a mere 58 votes. . .Jefferson was the second junior college district in Missouri to be approved.
Within 17 months, 300 students gathered at Hillsboro High School to enroll in classes at Jefferson College.
The previous February, the first of a series of bond issues for a permanent campus had been approved by a margin of 3 to 1, and 175 green rolling acres adjacent to Highway 21 in the center of Jefferson County just north of Hillsboro, were donated by Jack Molasky and Max Lubin. In September 1965, Jefferson College moved into its first permanent building on that site, the Student Center. The college’s first commencement was held in June of 1966, where 31 graduates received associate degrees.
The first class offerings in 1964 were college transfer courses. As enrollments rose, new programs were added and offerings in the Vocational-Technical Division were created. In 1965, Jefferson College became the first community college in Missouri to be designated as an area vocational school.
Offerings in the Arts and Science Division were increased to provide a broader range of transfer courses as well as service courses for vocational-technical students. In 1970, off campus evening classes became available to students in area schools.
Today, the Hillsboro campus has expanded to 400-plus acres and 16 buildings with natural rock and brick, designed for flexibility to accommodate the growth and changing needs of the college. Additional sites are located in Arnold and Imperial.
Jefferson College Imperial opened in 1984. The 20,000 square foot building is located at 4400 Jeffco Boulevard and is home to the Law Enforcement Academy and EMT-Paramedic program.
Jefferson College Arnold was opened in 2007 to expand educational services to those in northern Jefferson County. The 40,000 square foot facility is located at 1687 Missouri State Road behind the Arnold Library and Recreation Center.
JC Online was established in 2010 as the college’s “virtual” campus, providing a full range of classes and e-services to students who prefer this highly popular method of instruction.
From its small population of college transfer students in 1964, Jefferson College has grown to 4,425 full and part-time college credit students (Fall 2018) and over 2,600 enrollments in continuing education classes (FY 2016-17).
Early in the 1960s, the citizens of Jefferson County dreamed of a public junior college which would make higher education more accessible to their community. Today, a flourishing comprehensive community college is the product of that vision. It is a continuing success story, and one on which we are building every day.
The Student Center was built in 1965. It is the first permanent building to be erected on a junior college campus in Missouri.