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 and 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 its namesake, local businessman and philanthropist Charles H. Hackley, after fire had destroyed the original Central School.
In the years after World War II, enrollment climbed quickly and the 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.
Until June 1951, Muskegon Junior College was primarily geared to those students intending to complete at least four years of college. After an enabling act by the Michigan Legislature, the name and educational scope of the College was changed. Muskegon Junior College was renamed Muskegon Community College to reflect 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 with their two years of training beyond high school.
By the early 1960s, enrollment had topped 2,000. 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 made several proposals: 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 1963, the Muskegon County overwhelmingly approved the recommendations of the committee and elected the first Board of Trustees, which went to work immediately and by September had purchased the tract of land upon which the College exists today.
Alden B. Dow and Associates was named architect. By the summer 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, which was 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 1969 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 Center for Higher Education addition to provide upper-level courses and programs offered by Ferris State, Grand Valley State, and Western Michigan universities. The 90,000 square foot facility, named in honor of former MCC President James L. Stevenson, is home to classrooms, a lecture hall, MCC-TV, Graphics and Printing.
In January 2006, the 40,000 square foot Hendrik Meijer Library Information Technology Center was added to the main building to offer 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 upon its two decades of offering classes in Grand Haven, MCC opened its Ottawa County Center in 2012 in the Grand Haven Community Center.
That same year, MCC and the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD) launched the Early College of Muskegon County 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 four MCC facilities expansion projects outlined in the College’s 2010-2015 Master Plan.
MCC signed a purchase agreement in September 2014 to acquire the former Muskegon Chronicle building and an adjacent parking lot for a downtown campus. In December 2017, the Peter and Carolyn I. Sturrus Technology Center opened as the new home to MCC’s Applied Technology programs in CAD, Electronics/Automation, Engineering, Machining, Metal Casting, Materials, and Welding, as well as to MCC’s Experiential Learning Program.
In June 2015, local developer Jonathan Rooks donated the former Masonic Temple to MCC for its Entrepreneurial Studies program and related business-generating activities. Nick Sarnicola, a West Michigan native and highly successful entrepreneur, and his wife, Ashley, then created a $200,000 permanent endowment through their Next Gen Foundation to the Foundation for Muskegon Community College to support an annual $10,000 cash award for the best business idea generated by an MCC entrepreneurial program graduate. The Rooks-Sarnicola Entrepreneur Institute opened in June 2018 and is home to the Lakeshore Fab Lab.
In August 2015, MCC opened its $9.6 million Science Center, home to the MCC Life Sciences Department and the College’s biology labs and research areas. The facility earned the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification – one of only four buildings in Muskegon to have received this high honor – for its sustainable strategies used in its design and construction.
The same year, MCC purchased the Muskegon Family YMCA’s West Western Avenue property on Muskegon Lake for $1.17 million as part of the college’s community-focused health and wellness initiative, which also included the construction of a new center on campus. The former YMCA facility was re-opened in 2016 as the MCC Lakeshore Fitness Center.
In November 2018, the 52,000 square foot MCC Health and Wellness Center opened on the main campus. The facility houses the College’s Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department; the Medical Assistant Program; the Athletic Department Office; a state-of-the-art Health Simulation Lab for MCC students in nursing, respiratory therapy, and medical assistant programs; learning spaces and classrooms; the Ron Gaffner Multipurpose Room; a regulation wood floor gymnasium; a one-tenth mile indoor running track; and a fitness center. The Mercy Health Partners Primary Care Center, a collaboration between MCC and its Mercy Health and Grand Valley State University educational partners, is also located there.
In Fall 2019, the new MCC Arts and Humanities Center is scheduled to open on the main campus.
MCC was the top-ranked Michigan community college in 2017 by BestColleges.com for its gainful employment, graduation rates, and earnings outcomes. MCC has earned acclaim as a national leader in student success as an Achieving the Dream Leader College. In 2016, MCC was ranked 27th nationally among the 1,711 community and other two-year colleges by Value Colleges in its Top 50 Best Value Community Colleges in the U.S. rankings.