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History in the making: HCC grows to meet community needs

fr hcc historyAs Haywood Community College leaders look to the future, it’s import to reflect on how far the institution has come in its first 50 years. 

When it started in 1965, Haywood Industrial Education Center was a unit of Asheville-Buncombe Technical Institution, with one curriculum program and 39 students. Since those humble beginnings, HCC has seen steady growth throughout the years — today it offers more than 50 curricular programs and has 4,392 continuing education students and 2,210 curriculum students.

Originally, the college was housed in the Patton School in Canton but moved to Clyde Elementary School in 1966. The college moved to its present location in Clyde in July 1972. The new campus was made possible by seed money donated by A. L. Freedlander, an industrialist, inventor and founder of Dayco Corporations in Ohio and Waynesville. 

Freedlander was also the driving force behind the iconic waterwheel located on the beautiful wooded HCC campus. In 1947, Freedlander bought the waterwheel for his estate. After his death in 1979, the owners of the estate donated the mill wheel to Haywood Technical College in memory of Freedlander’s dedication and benevolence to the college. 

HCC received a $10,000 gift from the Dayco Charitable Foundation to move the waterwheel to HCC and refurbish it. Over a 10-year period, HCC students built the millhouse, which was dedicated in 1987 and is still used today for a number of student and community activities.

The college presented its charter to the state in 1968 and received accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges in 1975. 

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In 1975, the Haywood Community College Foundation was founded to aid, strengthen and further the work and service of Haywood Community College.

The college has had six presidents during its 50 years and many community members have dedicated decades of service to the board of trustees. 

Sara Queen Brown, Trustee Emeritus, served on the board of trustees for 20 years and was the first female chairperson. Her term began in 1983 and ended in 2003. Brown has a strong connection to the college and served on the planning committee for the college to be built. 

“I strongly believe in education and between myself, my parents, two brothers and two sisters-in-law, we have taught more than 150 years,” Brown said. “Haywood Community College made higher education available to so many people that would not have been able to go to college away from home. It has a proven track record. So many students have gone there and have received good jobs.” 

Brown stands behind her commitment to education. She established the Sara Queen Brown Endowed Scholarship at HCC for students in the Early Childhood Education program. 

As the needs in the region have grown and changed, so has the college. There have been a number of campus additions and satellite locations that have helped HCC meet the workforce needs in many industries. 

In 1986, HCC opened its Regional High Technology Center on Industrial Park Drive in Waynesville. It was the first advanced technology center of its kind in the state of North Carolina and has provided services to more than 50,000 people and 100 companies. Today, RHTC serves Western North Carolina by providing high technology training and by promoting the growth of regional industry.

In 1991, Raymond and Bernice Fowler donated 320 acres of forestland to the HCC Foundation and the Raymond J. Fowler Conservancy and Teaching Forest was created. 

In memory of her late husband John, Catherine Beaty donated a 54-acre tract of forestland to the HCC Foundation and the John T. and Catherine Beaty Natural Resources Classroom opened in 2002. 

In 2009, HCC acquired 328 acres located at Balsam Gap through a gift from the Conservation Fund. The property serves as a teaching environmental laboratory for HCC’s Natural Resources programs. 

HCC’s new Creative Arts Building was completed in 2013 at the Clyde campus. 

The state-of-the-art green building is a model for art and craft education and contains both studio and gallery space. The space is utilized by students pursuing an associate degree in clay, fiber, jewelry or wood as well as students taking continuing education classes in clay, fiber, metals, wood, painting, drawing, music or design.

Looking to the near future, HCC is planning for the construction of a Public Services Training Center to provide training courses for firefighters, rescue workers, law enforcement, SWAT teams, emergency medical technicians and prison guards. 

The center will consist of classrooms, apparatus bay, multi-disciplinary training tower and burn building. Like the Creative Arts Building, the $5.4 million project will be funded by a Haywood County special quarter-cent sales tax.

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