Edmonds Community College opens its doors to 460 students in September 1967.

  • By Alan J. Stein
  • Posted 10/15/2007
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 8332

In September 1967, the Edmonds Community College opens its doors to 460 students, even though funding is in place for only 300. Classes are held at Woodway High School, which is still under construction.

A College for Edmonds 

Between 1955 and 1965, enrollment in the Edmonds School District nearly quadrupled, due to suburban expansion from Seattle, as well as an increase in the number of jobs at Boeing’s Mukilteo manufacturing center. The district decided in 1965 to expand its curriculum to include a junior college.

The school was planned with three divisions: a college parallel program, with the same curriculum given at the first two years of a liberal arts college; a vocational and occupational education program; and a continuing education program, including adult high school, specializing in courses set up with local businesses.  

Two months before the college opened, the state legislature formed statewide community college districts, wresting control away from local school districts. Edmonds Community College and Everett Community College were merged into a single district. When it opened, Edmonds Community College had four fulltime administrators, seven fulltime faculty -- including a counselor and a librarian -- and more than 100 part-time teachers.

A Rough Start 

Classes were held at Woodway High School, which was still under construction and would not be fully used as a secondary school for two years. Meanwhile, construction began on a 10-acre parcel of land located a few blocks to the northeast, along 68th Avenue W. The property was once the site of an Army radio station during World War II.

When the faculty and students moved to the new campus in 1969, the only buildings were two houses left over from the Army station. Seven portable buildings would have been there, had it not been for Richard Nixon, who was having some work done at the summer White House in San Clemente. The portables were shipped there first, and arrived back at the school only one week before the fall semester began.  

After they arrived, television news crews were on hand to document the school’s historic opening. Edmonds Community College President James Warren walked over to open the door for the cameras. It wouldn’t budge, so he rattled the knob, which came off in his hand.

For its first year, much of the grounds were mud, and students named their first newspaper The Quagmire, in honor of this inauspicious beginning. But within a few years, the school proved to be popular with students, faculty, and the community.  

In 1981, Edmonds Community College separated from the Everett Community College, giving the school board full control over campus decisions. As of 2007, EdCC offers 17 certificates and degrees and serves nearly 10,000 students per year.

Sources: Edmonds: 100 Years for the Gem of Puget Sound (Edmonds: The Edmonds Paper, 1990),  78, 378; David Cameron, Charles LeWarne, M. Allen May, Jack O’Donnell, Lawrence O’Donnell, Snohomish County: An Illustrated History (Index: Kelcema Books, 2005), 313.

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