In 1966, the citizens of Pima County, Arizona, approved by a large margin the formation of a junior college district. As a result of this vote, Pima College was established.
The county superintendent of schools then appointed a five-member governing board, which laid the groundwork for the new college. With help from committees of citizens, the board developed educational goals, created a financial plan, selected a president and chose a campus site. The next year the citizens of Pima County elected a board to replace the appointed officials. The voters also approved a $5.9 million bond issue for the College.
In 1969, construction on the first campus began on 267 acres in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains west of the city.
The College's first classes met in the fall of 1969 at Tucson Medical Center and Villa Maria, and in Marana. In fall 1970, Pima College officially opened its doors to 3,543 students. Classes were held in unlikely quarters, a hanger at the Tucson International Airport. By January of 1971, students in all programs attended classes in the 11 buildings on the new Anklam Road campus, today's West Campus.
In 1972, the board renamed the institution Pima Community College to better reflect its mission statement.
From these beginnings, Pima College grew to its current six campuses.
- In 1974, the Downtown Campus opened near Stone Ave. and Speedway Blvd. At first, classes were held in a remodeled post office building. The campus grew to fifteen buildings after the purchase of neighboring structures and the construction of the Campus Center and Classroom Technology Building.
- In 1975, the College established the Community Campus to supplement traditional on-campus education. Currently, this campus offers classes at more than 100 sites in Tucson, Green Valley, Marana and Sells, as well as at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. In addition, Community Campus provides televised classes on local cable channels, online classes, customized training for the business community, noncredit classes and study tours. A new, larger Community Campus facility opened in January 1997 near St. Mary's Road and Interstate 10.
- The College established the East Education Center in 1976. Five years later the center became the East Campus, located on a desert site east of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, near Pantano and Irvington roads. In fall 1989, the campus doubled in size with the construction of the student union and library.
- The Education Center-South opened in 1986 and by 1993 had relocated near Interstate 19 and Valencia Road and become the Desert Vista Campus. In 1973, Pima Community College became the local agency sponsor for the Tucson area's Skill Center. This workforce development unit, now called the Center for Training and Development, is located at the Desert Vista Campus.
- In 1998, the College opened the Northwest Community Learning Center, as a forerunner to the 2003 establishment of the Northwest Campus.
- In 2000, the College opened the Northeast Community Learning Center, and in 2002, the Southeast Community Learning Center.
Growing with pride
After a 1995 Pima County bond election, the College has used taxpayer-supported bonds to finance much-needed expansion and important facility and technology improvements throughout the Pima County Community College District.
For many of its 35-plus years, Pima Community College has ranked among the 10 largest multi-campus community colleges in the nation, and currently enrolls more than 70,000 students annually.
The College celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009. An online timeline with photographs walks you through many significant events in the College's history.