The fourth oldest community college in Michigan, Muskegon Junior College was established in 1926 by the Muskegon Board of Education. Originally housed on the third floor of then-new Muskegon Senior High School, the College as well as the high school enrollment had grown beyond the capacity of a single building by 1934.
The Junior College moved into the former Hackley School in downtown Muskegon across from Hackley Park. The building was presented to Muskegon Public Schools by local businessman and Charles H. Hackley after fire had destroyed the original Central School. He believed that a community was obliged to offer its youth the kind of training which would enable them to earn a good livelihood and at the same time contribute to the well-being of the community.
Until June 1951, the Junior College was primarily geared to those students intending to complete at least four years of college. Muskegon’s reputation in this field of the “college transfer” program was an enviable one, and continues to be so today. After an enabling act by the Michigan Legislature, the name and educational scope of the College was changed. “Muskegon Junior College” became “Muskegon Community College,” thereby reflecting the expanded nature of the College’s programs.
The College now served a larger number of students with a wider variety of interests. Courses were added in retailing, the vocations, the technical fields, public health, and the trades. These courses enabled young men and women to prepare themselves for a specific field of employment in two years of training beyond high school. There was no shrinking of the transfer program, only an expanded curriculum to serve a larger segment of the community.
In the years after World War II, enrollment climbed quickly and the Community College campus had to grow accordingly. The Muskegon Board of Education, which still operated the College, utilized available space in many of its buildings, and rented other community facilities when enrollment exceeded the capacities of those buildings.
By the early 1960s, enrollment had topped 2,000 and the College was operating full-time at Hackley, Vanderlaan, and Wilson schools and part-time at eight other locations. The time had come for another step in the development of the College. The Board of Education formed a Special Citizens Committee to study the entire program and make recommendations. The Committee proposed that: the College be separated from the public school system; a county-wide community college district be created; a board of trustees be elected to plan, build, and operate the school; and a millage be voted in sufficient amount and for enough years to build and operate the College.
In April of 1963, the county overwhelmingly approved the recommendations of the committee and elected the first Board of Trustees. The board went to work immediately and by September of that year had purchased the tract of land upon which the College exists today.
Alden B. Dow and Associates was named architect and by the summer of 1965 drawings were completed and construction begun. The Vocational Technical Wing was completed and occupied in the fall of 1966. The following September the entire complex was placed in service. Formal dedication ceremonies were held October 22, 1967.
The first addition to the new campus was the Frauenthal Foundation Fine Arts Center, completed in 1968 and named for A. Harold Frauenthal, the Muskegon industrialist whose gift had made the Center possible.
When the new district was created, the name of the College was changed to Muskegon County Community College. In the spring of 1969 and at the request of the Board of Trustees, the State Board of Education approved changing the name once again to Muskegon Community College.
In January 1995, a new era of educational opportunity opened with the completion of the Muskegon Center for Higher Education on the campus of Muskegon Community College. The Center houses upper-level courses and programs offered by Ferris State, Grand Valley State, and Western Michigan universities. These institutions, along with Muskegon Community College, have formed a “consortium” to coordinate offerings to meet the needs of West Michigan residents.
The 90,000 square foot facility, named in honor of former MCC President James L. Stevenson, represents about one-third the size of the main building and was constructed to complement existing architecture. The houses the Media Center and Graphic Design program.
Opened in January 2006, the 40,000 square foot Hendrik Meijer Library Information Technology Center offers students and the community the latest in communication capabilities, including wireless internet access, state-of-the-art library facilities/technologies and classrooms, and an internet café.
Building up its two decades of offering classes in Grand Haven, MCC opened its Ottawa County Center in 2012 in the Grand Haven Community Center.
MCC and the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) launched the Early College of Muskegon County in 2012 offering select high school students an intense five-year program leading to both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. The concept was expanded and MCC offered Early College of Newaygo County, North Ottawa County Early College and South Ottawa Early College.
In November 2013, Muskegon voters approved $24 million to support MCC facilities expansion, which includes construction of a new Science Center, the addition of a Health Center, the purchase of the former Muskegon Chronicle building for technology and entrepreneurial programs in downtown Muskegon, and the renovation of campus facilities for creative and performing arts.