El Paso County Community College District was established in June 1969 when citizens of El Paso County voted to form a junior college district and elected a board of seven trustees to administer the college, but did not pass a tax or bond to fund the school.
By 1971, the Board of Trustees and citizens of the community requested state financial assistance to open the doors. The 62nd Texas Legislature appropriated funds and El Paso Community College became a reality, enrolling 901 students in September of that year.
By Fall 1972, day classes started in buildings leased from the U.S. Army at Logan Heights on Fort Bliss. This first “campus” allowed for the standardization of instruction at one location and the consolidation of administrative facilities to support the expanding enrollment, which had grown to 5,041 students by Fall 1973.
During 1974, the College purchased a complex of buildings near downtown through a grant written in conjunction with Project Hope. Also, through the assistance of Project Hope, the College developed 12 programs in the fields of medicine and dentistry between 1974 and 1977. The Rio Grande Campus has housed the allied health programs and arts and sciences support programs since then.
El Paso Community College began the process of seeking academic accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 1973. Meanwhile, the College embarked on the development of a Master Plan to provide for orderly growth and direction and to define its role in the community. Official accreditation was received in December 1978, following the completion of an institutional self-study and a site visit by a SACS committee. On its third try, a bond finally passed. Students and staff went door to door to campaign. The approximately 20 million dollar bond later would fund construction that was peaking in the mid 1970s.
Construction of new facilities was essential as the vocational technical programs offered at EPCC increased from 27 to 91 during 1977-79. The first of two new campuses, Valle Verde in southeast El Paso, was completed at a cost of $15.5 million in time for classes in the Fall 1978. The second new campus, Transmountain in northeast El Paso, was fully operational a year later.
Expansion and renovation at Rio Grande was completed in 1980, with the addition of a five-story wing, improved utilities, and handicap accessibility, all made possible through a $1.75 million grant from the Economic Development Administration and College matching funds.
By 1981, the enrollment had reached 10,341 students and the college began preparations for a second self-study and re-affirmation of SACS accreditation in combination with revisions to the Master Plan. SACS reaffirmed accreditation in 1983, and the revised Master Plan was enacted in 1984.
With academic and vocational programs in place, the College became increasingly involved in major community initiatives by establishing the Literacy Center to provide service to the area’s functionally illiterate. The ALPHA Center provides basic adult education and training for employment.
Physical facilities at Valle Verde expanded once again with the installation of a 31-building “modular village” (1989), construction of a new Student Services Center, and the Advanced Technology Center (1990).
In the Fall of 1993, more than 19,000 credit and 7,500 non-credit students utilized educational facilities at each of the teaching locations throughout the county.
Construction of a new Northwest Campus was completed in the county’s upper valley in January 1994. The $3 million facility was partially funded by an Economic Development Administration grant. Northwest provides complete student services, Academic Computer Services, and a Learning Resource Center, as well as occupational training programs, academic support courses, and basic academic skills programs.
El Paso County Community College District celebrated its Silver Anniversary in 1994 by inviting the community to join in recognition of its many successes during the previous 25 years. With administrative changes in place and a new facility in northwest El Paso, the College continued to enroll record numbers of students. The College District received notice of re-affirmation of accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools after completion of an intensive two-year self-study process.
In December 1994, the Board of Trustees adopted a five-year financial plan for remodeling, expansion, and construction of College District facilities through the sale of revenue bonds financed through student tuition and fees. New classroom space was added to Transmountain (1996) and Valle Verde (1997) and parking and renovation to Rio Grande (1996). In 2003-04 a multi level parking garage and Health and Science Laboratory building was added to the Rio Grande Campus.
Mission del Paso, serving the Eastside/Lower Valley area of the county, opened in the spring of 1998. In 2000, the College opened a state of the art Law Enforcement Training Academy which serves area law enforcement agencies at Mission del Paso. In 2006, Mission Early College High School (MECHS) opened. This school allows students to earn an Associates Degree and High School Diploma concurrently.
Realizing the importance of the NAFTA agreement and its regional impact, the College created the Institute for Economic and Workforce Development in 1995 to organize and intensify its service efforts in training the emerging workforce and providing education and expertise to area business and industry. The Institute brought together existing departments to increase efficiency and coordination of service.
The College continues to receive national recognition for its educational excellence and is one of the fastest growing community colleges in Texas. Currently, we serve over 27,000+ credit students and 8,000 continuing education students each semester.