Tri-County Community College is an accredited, comprehensive, public-supported, two-year, post-secondary institution which operates in accordance with North Carolina Law and the administrative policies of the North Carolina Community College System. Located in the westernmost tip of North Carolina, the College serves commuter students in a rural area consisting of Cherokee, Clay, and Graham counties by providing college transfer, vocational, technical, and adult education programs.
The roots of Tri-County Community College date back to mid 1964, when political and educational leaders of Cherokee County met with representatives of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Institute. That same year, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved the Tri-County Industrial Education Center to operate as a part of the State Department of Community Colleges.
In July 1965, the Cherokee County Board of Education negotiated a lease agreement with the State of North Carolina for the Center to occupy the abandoned Cherokee County Prison Camp. Newly constructed buildings soon joined the original prison facilities. Most of Tri-County’s present buildings on the Murphy campus were built in the sixties and seventies.
Holland McSwain, Tri-County’s first President, found support from the Appalachian Regional Commission to construct a new classroom facility and to assist in the purchase of the existing property in Cherokee County. In the 1970s, the Appalachian Regional Commission provided grants to renovate and construct three buildings on the Murphy campus of the College, renamed Tri-County Community College.
The state legislature appropriated the money for the construction of a new multi-purpose building in 1984. The building, completed in 1989 and named the Enloe Building, joined the three other main facilities - the McSwain, West, and Crisp buildings.
Enrollment at Tri-County continued to grow each year, making new facilities for teaching and student support necessary. In 1998, a new dual purpose building was dedicated. The Harper wing serves as a student activities center and the Jarrett/Oglesby wing as an early childhood education center.
As Tri-County Community College and the area continued to grow, the need for an off-campus site to serve the people of Graham County became obvious. One of the major goals of Tri-County Community College is to offer convenient, affordable access to educational services for Graham County residents, and the construction of the Graham County Center made this goal a reality.
In November 1993, voters passed the Statewide Bond Referendum, providing funds needed to construct the new center. The Graham County Commissioners and the Graham County Board of Education conveyed land and buildings for the Graham County Center in May 1995. The State Board of Community Colleges approved obtaining the proposed property in June 1995. Construction began with renovating, modernizing, and equipping two buildings. The Center opened in January 1998.
An extension campus of Tri-County Community College, the Graham County Center offers a variety of curriculum and continuing education courses to meet the educational needs of the county’s residents. Curriculum courses in computer information, college transfer, business administration, office systems technology, accounting, criminal justice and welding are offered at the Center, supported by modern classrooms and student services. Students at the Center have access to computer labs, e-mail accounts, Internet access, basic skills lab, and a full array of student developmental services. Counseling, financial aid, placement exams, admissions registration, records, and other services provided at the Graham County Center are equal in quality and availability to those found on the Main Campus.
Thanks to a cooperative agreement from the Cherokee County Commissioners and Board of Education, the college opened the Andrews Office in 2000. In 2003, TCCC opened its Fire and Rescue Training Center. A permanent site for the TCCC TeleCenter/Small Business Center was dedicated in 2004 with the opening of the Jane Smith Patterson Building. The college recently renovated two buildings on its main campus in order to expand classroom and laboratory space to better serve our three counties.
In 2005, Cherokee County purchased a 25,000 square foot building in Marble to be used as the Cherokee County Center for Applied Technology. The Center is the result of a collaboration between Tri-County Community College, Cherokee County, and several industry partners to develop a facility to be used for classes and short-run manufacturing, plus provide space for manufacturers to develop prototypes for contracted items. The Center provides facilities for workforce development in the community and houses the college’s Small Business Center, the Machinist Training Program, and Associate Degree programs in Electrical/Electronics Technology and Machining Technology. The NC Rural Center and the Economic Development Administration provided grant funds for the renovation of the building. Phase One of the building renovation was completed in 2008.
Tri-County Community College has had five presidents since 1964:
Holland McSwain 1964 to 1972
Vincent Crisp 1972 to 1992
Dr. Harry Jarrett 1992 to 1995
Dr. Norman Oglesby 1996 to 2006
- Dr. Donna Tipton-Rogers 2007 - Present