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College History

KCClogos.jpgKankakee 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 130,000.

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 seven presidents: Dr. Robert Zimmer, Dr. John Samlin, Dr. L.H. Horton Jr., Dr. Larry Huffman, Dr. Jerry Weber, Dr. John Avendano and Dr. Michael Boyd. Boyd has been president since July 1, 2019.

College buildings

Construction-LBuilding.jpgThe 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 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 conference/meeting/corporate training rooms, classrooms for credit courses, and faculty offices.

In January 2007, the 41,000 square foot Arts & Sciences Building opened on northwest end of the Riverfront Campus. This building has science facilities and houses art programs as well.

Advanced-Technology-Education-Center-DSC_0624.jpgThe newest college building is the Advanced Technology Education Center, which opened for the Spring 2019 semester. It houses KCC’s award-winning Electrical Engineering Technology program. The 21,000 square foot building includes classrooms, labs, offices, and support spaces to provide hands-on technical training in fields such as wind generation, solar thermal, solar photo-voltaic systems, and electrical (National Electric Code NEC) instruction. The building has earned the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Gold certification.

Another new space on the Riverfront Campus is the newly renovated (2020) Harold and Jean Miner Memorial Library, which now also includes a Student Success Center which emphasizes collaboration, technology and learning.    

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.

KCC opened a North Extension Center—the first LEED Gold Building in Kankakee County—on Kinzie Avenue in Bradley 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.

Athletic successes

Baseball-World-Series-Crowd.jpgThe 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. Two other teams have been national runner-up: men's basketball and volleyball. In all, KCC teams have won 83 region championships, and have played in 71 national tournaments. Numerous student-athletes have been recognized by the NJCAA as All-Americans and for academic achievement.

The 1994-95 women's basketball team was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame in December 2013. Two coaches are in the NJCAA Hall of Fame: Dennis Clark, softball, 1983-2017; and Denny Lehnus, men's basketball, 1974-1993.

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, 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 1-21-2021​​​​​​