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 first college classes began on Sept. 23, 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 high school equivalency preparation 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.
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. Eight classrooms were added, and the construction project also expanded the College Center, food service facilities, and bookstore.
A Workforce Development Center covering 49,900 square feet was completed in 2004. The building features a Welcome Center and conference hall. It also has additional conference/meeting rooms, classrooms for credit courses, rooms for corporate training, 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, which opened in August 2008. 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 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 Kankakee Workforce Services/Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act program, high school equivalency and adult education classes, and a variety of credit classes
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. Women's softball earned a national championship in 2015, and was the runner-up in 2010. The Baseball team won the national championship in 2017. Baseball also finished third in the nation in 2009. Two other teams have been national runner-up: men's basketball and volleyball. In all, KCC teams have won 79 region championships, the teams have played in 68 national tournaments. Numerous student athletes have been recognized by the NJCAA as All-Americans and All-Academic Team members.
The 1994-95 women's basketball team was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in December 2013. Two coaches also are in the NJCAA Hall of Fame: Dennis Clark, softball, 1983-2017; and Denny Lehnus, men's basketball, 1974-1993.
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, several mayors, 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!
Page updated 2-1-2018