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Howard College - Big Spring, Lamesa, San Angelo, SWCID

History of Howard College

A brief history of the Howard County Junior College District

The Howard County Junior College District was created by a county wide vote on November 17, 1945.  Seven representative citizens of Howard County were elected on that same ballot to serve as a Board of Trustees.

Howard College 1945The college was first housed in the hospital area of the former Army Air Force Bombardier School, two and one half miles west of the center of downtown Big Spring, and began its first session on September 30, 1946.

On September 12, 1951, the college was moved to a 120 acre campus located in southeast Big Spring.  The physical facilities constructed through the ensuing years include an administration classroom building, a coliseum, a library building, a science building, an auditorium, a gymnasium, a student union building, a practical arts building, an occupational building, a greenhouse, a music building, an applied sciences center, dormitories for men and women, a baseball field, and a football stadium with a seating capacity of ten thousand that is currently being used by BSISD.  In 1973, the college acquired a 137 acre site in Martin County, near Stanton, Texas, to be used as an agricultural research and demonstration center.  An additional 138.39 acres adjacent to the original land was acquired in 1978. Additionally, the college houses a rodeo arena and livestock pens on 20 acres three miles east of Big Spring.  A softball field was constructed in 2002.  In 1990 the original dorms were enlarged.   In December 2002, the original auditorium was demolished to make room for the new Hall Center for the Arts which houses the college’s performing arts programs as well s classroom space.  In 2004, the original greenhouse was renovated and an addition was added to house “Howard Cottage” - a campus child care center and a new greenhouse was constructed.  A long range master landscape and campus beautification plan was initiated in 1977 and updated in 1992.  The master plan is currently being updated as the Big Spring Campus Bond Project is underway.

The Lamesa campus of Howard College, 45 miles north of Big Spring in Dawson County, was established in 1972. A variety of learning opportunities are available, including academic transfer and workforce education courses. The building, owned by Dawson County, includes three large classrooms, a computer lab, office space, and a distance learning classroom with interactive video equipment for receiving courses from the Big Spring and San Angelo campuses. High school students are also able to take courses at Lamesa High School for dual high school and college credit.

In the spring of 1979, steps were initiated to study the feasibility of establishing a self-contained post-secondary program uniquely designed for deaf and hard of hearing students as a part of the Howard County Junior College District.  Property and buildings at the site of the former Webb Air Force Base were deeded to the Howard County Junior College District.  This campus, named the SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf, began offering classes on August 25, l980.  This campus located on approximately 57 acres contains buildings and improvements, including the 66,000 square foot administration/classroom complex, residential complex for men and women, a student union building, activity center, diagnostic center, building trades facility, and a softball field.  A new workforce training center is under construction to expand the vocational training programs offered on the campus.

The San Angelo campus of Howard College, 87 miles south of Big Spring, held its first class in 1973 at Goodfellow AFB.   In 1981 Howard College San Angelo assumed operation of a vocational nursing program from the San Angelo Independent School District.  At that time the college also offered a limited selection of courses in real estate and law enforcement.  In February 1986, Howard College assigned a full-time campus director to oversee the campus and supervise four personnel.  The entire operation occupied 2,500 square feet of converted office space.  Currently, the San Angelo campus offers technical and vocational programs and support courses as well as general studies courses in two sites.  Updates and renovations were completed at The West Texas Training Center in 2008 and a new addition at the St. Johns Hospital was secured to house the school’s medical training programs.

The Bureau of Prisons provides classroom and laboratory facilities at the Big Spring Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) for a variety of classes in the vocational trades.  Presently, computer, ESL, masonry, plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, carpentry, drafting, horticulture, pre-industry, high-tech soldering and executive housekeeping classes are offered through workforce training.  Additionally, the college program at FCI offers inmate students the opportunity to pursue a Certificate Level 1 or Associate degree in business.  Cornell Corrections, a private contractor with the Bureau of Prisons, provides classroom facilities and instructional equipment at four locations to offer a variety of workforce training classes to inmates: Flightline, Interstate, Cedar Hill, and Airpark units.  In addition, classes are offered at the Eden Detention Center, also a private contractor with the Bureau of Prisons, in Eden, Texas.  

Senate Bill 397, passed by the Texas Legislature in 1993, established service areas for Texas Community Colleges. The Howard College service area includes 13 counties and covers 13,000 square miles.  Counties included are Howard, Dawson, Martin, Glasscock, Sterling, Coke, Tom Green, Concho, Irion, Schleicher, Sutton, Menard, and Kimble.  The service area hosts 29 independent school districts including Big Spring, Coahoma, Forsan, Sands, Dawson, Lamesa, Klondike, O’Donnell, Grady, Stanton, Sands, Glasscock, Sterling City, Robert Lee, Bronte, Water Valley, Grape Creek-Pulliam, Miles, San Angelo, Veribest, Wall, Christoval, Paint Rock, Eden, Irion, Schleicher, Sonora, Menard, and Junction. Howard College courses for which students receive both high school and college credit are offered at most of these school districts.

The Virtual College of Texas is a collaborative of all Texas public two-year colleges. It was created by the Texas Association of Community Colleges to facilitate sharing of distance learning courses among member colleges. CEO's of VCT member colleges developed the host-provider model upon which VCT operations rest and defined the principles of VCT's organization and management.  A three-year pilot project was launched in the fall semester of 1998. Concluding a successful pilot, VCT was established as an ongoing service beginning with the 2001 fall semester.  Howard College hosts approximately 100 courses each semester.