Muskegon Junior College was established by the Muskegon Board of Education in 1926 and was housed on the third floor of what was then the new Muskegon Senior High School. It was a pioneering effort, since only four other two-year institutions existed in Michigan at the time.
By 1934, enrollment of both the College and the high school had grown beyond the capacity of a single building. The Junior College, therefore, moved into the former Hackley School in downtown Muskegon across from Hackley Park (now the Board of Education Building).
It was appropriate that the College should occupy the old Hackley building, which had been presented to the public schools of Muskegon by Charles H. Hackley after fire had destroyed the original Central School. The city’s First Citizen 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.
At the time of its move into this facility and for 17 years after, Muskegon 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.
Then in June of 1951, 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.
They were broadened to serve 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 post World War II years, 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, that a county-wide community college district be created, that a board of trustees be elected to plan, build, and operate the school, and that 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 elected board went to work immediately and by September of that year had purchased the 111-acre campus on 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 and the following September the entire complex was placed in service. Formal dedication ceremonies were held October 22, 1967, with Dr. Ashley Montagu, one of the world’s foremost anthropologists, delivering the dedicatory address.
The first addition to the new campus was the Frauenthal Foundation Fine Arts Center, completed in 1968 and named for the Muskegon industrialist whose gift had made the Center possible – A. Harold Frauenthal.
When the new district was created, the name of the College was changed to Muskegon County Community College; but in the spring of 1969, at the request of the Board of Trustees, the State Board of Education approved changing the name once again to Muskegon Community College. With an enrollment of over 5,000 students, the College exists today in its eighth decade of service to area citizens.
January 1995 opened a new era of educational opportunity with the completion of the Stevenson 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 represents about one-third the size of the main building and was constructed to complement existing architecture. Attached to the main building near the Technical Wing, the James L. Stevenson Center for Higher Education contains the latest in communication technology with all of its 35 rooms connected via fiber optics for voice, video and data transmission. In addition to housing the educational programs of the consortium member institutions, the Center is also the new home for MCC’s Media Center and Graphic Design program.
Opened in January 2006, the 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. The 40,000 square foot facility has three levels overlooking the woods and creek, and offers special services including interlibrary loan, photocopy machines, group study rooms, a quiet reading room, a workstation for visually impaired persons, and both group and individual orientations.