Virginia Highlands Community College was established on November 30, 1967 by action of the State Board for Community Colleges, and assigned a service region of Washington County, the western portion of Smyth County, and the city of Bristol, Virginia. Today it is one of 23 community colleges within the Virginia Community College System.
During its first academic year, 1969-1970, VHCC began delivering the occupational-technical programs that formerly were offered by the Washington County Technical School. More than 300 students enrolled in the first Virginia Highlands classes, which were offered at night in the technical school’s facilities.
The College moved to its permanent 100-acre campus during the summer of 1970 and, in response to the community’s needs, expanded its course offerings to include both occupational-technical programs and baccalaureate-transfer programs.
Over its 36 years of operation, Virginia Highlands Community College has become a dynamic leader in Southwest Virginia with a primary goal of providing comprehensive and quality education and related services for residents throughout its region. More than 3,200 students were served this past year by 121 full-time and 168 part-time faculty and staff members. The rolling hills of the campus have been developed to include six modern buildings, athletic and recreational facilities, and substantial parking. Programs and services also have changed to meet the needs of the local community. For example, the Center for Business and Industry was created in 1996 to better prepare the local workforce. The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center — a separate organization located on the VHCC campus — opened in 1998 to bring baccalaureate and graduate programs to the area, and the Arts Array cultural program was expanded into a community-wide program.
In addition, the dual enrollment program now offered by the College is allowing students to earn college credit while still in high school, the service learning initiative is teaching VHCC students the value of volunteerism, and the Tobacco Outreach program is providing tuition assistance for tobacco farmers and their families.
State-of the-art technology has made it possible to take distance education courses and has provided the entire College community with modern, up-to-date computer facilities. Through Federal Trio programs – Student Support Services (Project EXCEL), Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search – middle school, high school and college students are receiving the academic help and encouragement they need to complete high school and succeed in college.
To evaluate each of its programs and services, the College is aggressively pursuing a strategic planning process aimed at examining every aspect of campus life. This thorough self-examination will ensure Virginia Highlands Community College continues to achieve its fundamental mission of effectively serving a community that is always changing.