College History

Kankakee Community College was organized in October 1966 by a group of citizens concerned with providing a post-secondary educational resource for the people of the Kankakee area. The college offered its first classes in September 1968. Since that date, it has served as an educational, vocational, and recreational center for residents of Community College District 520, an area encompassing all or part of Kankakee, Iroquois, Ford, Grundy, Livingston, and Will counties and serving a population of approximately 150,000.

From its beginnings in a rented room in the Kankakee Hotel, KCC has grown to an accredited educational institution offering associate degrees and certificates of completion in more than 45 disciplines. In addition, numerous continuing education courses are offered to area residents each semester.

The Adult and Community Education Department offers adult basic education and General Educational Development programs throughout the district for adults wanting to complete their secondary education. It also offers English classes for non-English-speaking students.

KCC plays a key role in workforce development within the college district. The Office of Continuing Education and Career Services offers seminars and customized training to the business community, as well as a wide variety of personal enrichment courses.

The original faculty team of 13 instructors has grown to more than 200 full- and part-time instructors. KCC has had six presidents: Dr. Robert Zimmer, Dr. John Samlin, Dr. L.H. Horton Jr., Dr. Larry Huffman, Dr. Jerry Weber, and Dr. John Avendano. Avendano has been president since July 1, 2009.

College buildings

The college completed Phase I of its permanent facility in 1972 and Phase II in 1973. Phase I and II, which include the three-story main building and two-story Technology Building, house more than 60 classrooms and laboratories, the Harold and Jean Miner Memorial Library, College Center, cafeteria, auditorium and administrative offices. The George H. Ryan Activities Center for athletic and recreational programs opened in the fall of 1988.

In spring 1993, the one-story Prairie Building opened, connecting the Technology Building to the main building, and a three-story addition was added to the east wing of the main building. The project added eight classrooms plus a conference facility and provided for the expansion of the College Center, food service facilities, and bookstore.

A Workforce Development Center covering 49,900 square feet was completed in 2004. It connects to the main administration building on the southeast wing. The first floor is dedicated to workforce training, including facilities for customized training for local businesses. The second floor includes classrooms and a conference room and the third floor has additional classrooms and faculty offices.

The newest building on the Riverfront Campus is the 41,000 square foot Arts & Sciences Building at the northwest end of the main campus. This building has science facilities and houses art programs as well. It opened in January 2007.

The college renovated the former nursing and science lab into a new Health Careers Center for Excellence. The renovated space encompasses 22,000 square feet, and includes smart classrooms, student gathering spaces and several labs equipped with teaching tools specific for health careers programs. The Health Careers Center for Excellence opened in August 2008.

The Harold and Jean Miner South Extension Center in Watseka opened in June of 2013. It replaced a satellite center which had been open since 2002. The Manufacturing & Industrial Technology Center on Route 45/52 near the Riverfront Campus opened in January 2014. The facility houses several technology programs.

A North Extension Center on Kinzie Avenue in Bradley also opened in Spring 2014. It has the Education and Employment Center,GED and adult education classes, a variety of credit classes and Massage Therapy Program classes.

Athletic successes

The Cavaliers athletics teams have enjoyed tremendous success beginning with the baseball teams' first trip to the national tournament in 1974, where they finished ninth. Since then, the women's basketball team earned a national championship in 1995, and has been runner-up four times. Three other teams have been national runner-up: men's basketball, softball and volleyball. The baseball team finished third in the nation in 2009. In all, KCC teams have won 73 region championships, the teams have played in 40 national tournaments and numerous student athletes have been named All-Americans.

The 1994-95 women's basketball team was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in December 2013.

Bright future

KCC continues to expand, adapt and seek ways to follow its mission, Enhancing quality of life through learning.

Each year, hundreds of new alumni join more than 14,000 previous graduates who live and work in this area and throughout the U.S. KCC's alumni include a judge, a mayor, a bank president, a NASA engineer, an Emmy-award-winning stunt coordinator, lawyers, doctors, business leaders, principals, teachers, coaches, artists, police officers, welders, machinists, electricians, health care professionals and many others.

KCC celebrates the successes of these alumni as well as all those who have entrusted the college to be a part of their education. You are the economic engine for this area!