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SPCC History

South Piedmont Community College is North Carolina's newest community college, having been created in 1999 by the North Carolina General Assembly. The legislature's action abolished Anson Community College and designated the new college's service area as Anson and Union counties in south-central North Carolina.

South Piedmont is in the unique position of being a new institution with a proud history. The institution traces its roots to 1962, with the founding of the Ansonville unit of the Charlotte Industrial Education Center. In collaboration with Stanly Community College, it also provided years of service in Union County as Union Technical Education Center.

The institution was originally designated as the Ansonville Industrial Education Center in November 1962 by action of the State Department of Public Instruction. Trustees of the General William A. Smith Trust, public school officials and local individuals assisted in the establishment of the center in Ansonville. State, local, federal and Smith Trust funds supported the center.

From this beginning in 1962, the Ansonville Industrial Education Center made steady progress. Classes were offered in many parts of Anson County in addition to those held at the center.

On Dec. 2, 1967, the Anson County Board of Education and county commissioners officially appointed a local Board of Trustees. As a result, the Ansonville Industrial Education Center became Anson Technical Institute, a unit of the Department of Community Colleges of North Carolina.

Progress in fulfillment of the purpose of the Institute led to the authorization by the North Carolina General Assembly of Anson Technical Institute as a separately chartered institution on July 1, 1971. The governor appointed four additional trustees to the governing board.

From the early 1970s through 1981, Anson Tech, Central Piedmont Community College, and Stanly Community College offered credit and non-credit courses in Union County.

Further progress, larger enrollment and additional support from the community, especially Polkton Mayor W. Cliff Martin, enabled Anson Technical Institute to acquire land, obtain additional funds, and complete construction of a 28,000-square-foot building in Polkton in 1977. The original building in Polkton, on the L.L. Polk Campus, was named in honor of Linn Dunklin Garibaldi, a trustee and longtime supporter of the institution.

To better reflect the offerings of the institution, the Board of Trustees on June 7, 1979, changed the name to Anson Technical College.

In 1981, Union Technical Education Consortium was created when Central Piedmont voluntarily withdrew from Union County and the N.C. Department of Community Colleges authorized service in the county by a consortium of Anson and Stanly community colleges.

In 1982, construction was completed in Polkton on a second building, the Martin Learning Resources Center, named in honor of trustee and benefactor W. Cliff Martin.

In 1986, Union County commissioners appointed a 12-member committee to study the need for technical education in Union County.

In 1987, Union Technical Education Center underwent major expansion, moving to a 13,500-square-foot facility in the old Belk Building in downtown Monroe. The consolidation from three sites provided space for nine classrooms and labs and offices for a staff of 13.

Effective Nov. 1, 1987, the official name of Anson Technical College was changed to Anson Community College. The Community Services Division of the college was located on Greene Street in Wadesboro.

In 1988, four Union County residents were appointed to serve on the Boards of Trustees for Anson and Stanly community colleges. In 1989, Union County commissioners purchased a tract of 36.9 acres on N.C. 200 South as a future campus site.

A third building on the Polkton campus was completed in May 1989. This 13,000-square-foot vocational/technical building, named in honor of trustee J.B.Watson, Jr., was used for electrical/electronic technology, nursing, drafting, science, developmental studies and general education classes.
The main administrative offices of the college were on the Ansonville campus until July 1991. At that time, administrative and personnel offices moved to the Polkton campus. The Ansonville campus was essentially closed in July 1991, except for three programs: Automotive Mechanics, Autobody Repair, and Welding.

In 1993, the institution's fourth president, Dr. Donald P. Altieri, was installed, a Total Quality Management philosophy was introduced, and the institution's focus began to change from teaching to learning. Faculty initiated a variety of interdisciplinary learning projects, and a Weekend College was implemented during the winter of 1996. A major change involved the systemwide conversion from quarters to semesters, with the first semester courses being offered during the summer of 1997.

In 1994, UTEC occupied its new 13,600-square-foot facility on Brewer Drive in Monroe.

During the summer of 1998, the college embarked on the final phase of construction of the 28,000-square-foot W. Cliff Martin Technology Complex on the L.L. Polk Campus in Polkton, with its first classes scheduled during the fall of 1998. At the same time, the college accepted the Anson Community College Foundation's gift of a 10,500-square-foot Autobody Repair/Welding facility located adjacent to the Polk Campus. That facility was named in honor of long-time department chair and instructor Philip O. Whitaker.

During the summer of 1998, the college acquired the West Knitting Mills Plant One in Wadesboro, which had 7.369 acres of land in two tracts with a three-story building of approximately 115,000 square feet and a 397-space asphalt parking lot. Initial renovation plans for this acquisition included construction of a 500-seat banquet facility, conference rooms, and meeting rooms for community use as well as construction of classrooms and computer labs for Continuing Education use.

On May 19, 1999, Gov. Jim Hunt signed a bill, based upon recommendations of an independent study team, which abolished Anson Community College and Union Technical Education Center and created North Carolina's newest community college. The signing of this bill created a single college with two campuses, one in Anson County and one in Union County, to serve the residents of both counties, and a new 14-member Board of Trustees was appointed.

The college was named South Piedmont Community College on Aug. 3, 1999, using one of the 441 different names suggested during a contest held during July, and college officials began planning construction of a new 40,000-square-foot building at the West Campus. During the interim, mobile units were set up at Brewer Drive.

Renovations to West Knitting Mill in Wadesboro, which was renamed the Lockhart-Taylor Center in honor of former N.C. Lt. Gov. H.P. Taylor, Jr., his wife, Elizabeth Lockhart Taylor, and their families, began during the summer of 1999. The building houses the college's Continuing Education and Basic Skills operations in Anson County.

On March 1, 2000, SPCC completed the purchase of an 83,000-square-foot building and 23.45 acres on Old Charlotte Highway in western Monroe. The building was renovated to serve as the Continuing Education Center for the Union County operation, and those offices moved from the old Belk Building in downtown Monroe in June. The WCEC, as it was dubbed, opened for business in its new location on June 5, 2000.

On May 8, 2000, the Union County Board of Commissioners voted to purchase approximately 25 acres of land adjacent to the Old Charlotte Highway site to make it possible for SPCC to expand its operations and build a complete campus at this location. The trustees decided to build the 43,000-square-foot building originally planned for the Brewer Drive campus on the Old Charlotte Highway site.

During the spring of 2000, the South Piedmont Community College Foundation, Inc. was created to promote SPCC in the community while seeking financial support for the college from the community.

In 2002, a 35,000-square-foot portion of the Lockhart-Taylor Center in Wadesboro was renovated, creating a 600-seat community room, classrooms and offices for the college and its continuing educational programs. That year also saw the completion of the 12,500-square-foot Cyber Center/Learning Resources Center on the L.L. Polk Campus. 

Construction began in May 2002 for the 42,600-square-foot Technical Education Center, which also houses the library, at the Old Charlotte Highway Campus. The building was occupied by the college in 2003.

On July 1, 2003, Dr. John R. McKay succeeded the retiring Don Altieri as president of South Piedmont Community College.

SPCC closed its Brewer Drive Campus in Monroe in May 2004. Under an agreement between the college, the Union County Board of Commissioners and the Union County Board of Education, SPCC received an additional 48 acres adjacent to the Old Charlotte Highway Campus in exchange for the building and land on Brewer Drive. The deal gave SPCC a consolidated Monroe campus of about 96 acres.

Due to a shortage of ultrasound technicians in the region, SPCC and Carolinas Medical Center-Union partnered to start a two-year degree program in medical sonography in 2001. The same year, SPCC launched a therapeutic massage program.

To meet another critical healthcare need in the region, SPCC launched a two-year associate degree program in Radiation Therapy Technology in 2004 with start-up costs underwritten by the Duke Endowment.

In 2005, the N.C. Board of Nursing approved South Piedmont's application for an Associate Degree Nursing program, and the first class of 20 students enrolled in Fall 2006.

The South Piedmont Community College Foundation, Inc., concluded its first major gifts campaign in 2007, surpassing its $3 million goal by more than $500,000.  Campaign chairs were Chuck Horne and Charles Norwood.

Also in 2007, the Covington Wing at the Lockhart-Taylor Center was dedicated in honor of Anne Covington Leary, a long-time member of the Board of Trustees and a former chair.  The renovated 8,100-square-foot space houses New Ventures Business Development, Inc., and the Olde Mill Art Gallery and Studios.

Two new programs were launched in 2007: A 2+2 program in elementary teacher education in partnership with Wingate University and the Career Readiness Certification program.

In 2007, South Piedmont Community College was named the 14th best community college in the United States by Washington Monthly magazine.

The Advanced Manufacturing Center opened in a renovated metal building on the Old Charlotte Highway Campus in 2008 and initially housed the CNC Machining and Industrial Maintenance programs. The following summer, Industrial Maintenance was renamed Mechatronics and the program moved across campus to more spacious quarters. Both programs feature state-of-the-art equipment purchased through Duke Energy grants.

The first annual Battle of the Bands was begun in the Helen Goodman Amphitheater on the L.L. Polk Campus in 2008, and the Night Owl Carnival began on the Old Charlotte Highway Campus the following year.

In 2009, a simulation education center began operation at CMC-Union in Monroe, a partnership between the hospital and the college.  Funding was provided by the Duke Endowment. 

In 2010, Dr. John McKay announced his plans to retire at the end of June 2011; the Anson Community Kitchen was dedicated at the Lockhart-Taylor Center; and the college began operating the Career Cruiser, a mobile classroom designed to take training programs to all areas of Anson County.  Funding for the Career Cruiser - more than $500,000 - was provided by the Golden LEAF Foundation.