50th Anniversary Celebration
Opening Doors to Opportunities
Efforts began in the spring of 1966 to create Columbia State as prototype for the other Tennessee community colleges that were to follow. In a brief span of 18 months, the college was conceptualized, personnel were hired, temporary quarters were secured, classes were scheduled, and three full quarters of instruction were provided while a new campus with six buildings was completed and readied for occupancy by the fall of 1967.
When planning for Tennessee's first community colleges, the state board of education's Junior College Committee visited Maury County to view prospective sites. A committee of 600 Maury County citizens made a presentation to the Junior College Committee which finally recommended the first community college be built in Columbia. Two other locations were chosen as well for future colleges thus providing a community college in each of Tennessee's three divisions.
On June 30, 1965, Commissioner Warf toured sites in Maury County and selected the 204-acre Hickman farm, located four miles west of downtown Columbia, as the location for Columbia State. Warf and Governor Clement turned the first spades of dirt at the groundbreaking ceremony on October 20, 1965.
In the fall of 1966, Columbia State opened its "doors" despite the construction not being complete on the new campus. Facilities for the college were used all over town, including First Baptist Church, Columbia Military Academy, and the Memorial Building. The first student body started with 363 students but quickly grew to 538 by the winter quarter.
Perhaps the most exciting day for Columbia State was March 15, 1967 when the First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, came to dedicate the new campus. She declared that Columbia State represented the "new beat and rhythm of our land... when a Columbia Community College rises from a once empty field, the country expands not outward, but upward."
Today, Columbia State has grown to five campuses serving nine counties in southern Middle Tennessee. We remain committed to student success and opening doors to opportunities.
Share Your Story!
In celebration of our 50th Anniversary, we're looking for stories from students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff, business owners, and community members - anyone who has been positively affected by Columbia State Community College! Email your story to 50Years@ColumbiaState.edu.