On May 3, 1963, Governor George C. Wallace announced that Opp would be the site of a postsecondary technical institution that would serve five South Alabama counties. A local committee, chaired by Opp City Schools Superintendent Vernon L. St. John, directed plans for the construction of the school one mile north of downtown Opp on a 100 acre campus provided by the City of Opp and the Covington County Board of Revenue. Mr. E. C. Nevin, then principal of Kinston High School, was appointed President.
On November 22, 1965, Douglas MacArthur State Technical College opened its doors, admitting 116 students in twelve departments. The campus consisted of four buildings, the George C. Wallace Administration Building and three shop buildings.
In the next several years, six additional buildings were added to the campus. These were the Gaines Ray Jeffcoat Building, the Vernon L. St. John Building, the Henry R. Donaldson-Bennie Foreman Building, the E. Claude Nevin Building, an electronics building and the Student Center.
Mr. E. Claude Nevin retired in December of 1982, and Dr. Raymond V. Chisum was appointed President in January of 1983. The Raymond V. Chisum Health Sciences Building was added in 1996.
After Dr. Chisum’s retirement in August of 1996, Mr. L. Wayne Bennett was named Interim President and served until the merger with Lurleen B. Wallace Junior College in January of 2003.
On December 14, 1967, the Alabama State Board of Education authorized the development of a junior college to be located in Andalusia, Alabama. On August 15, 1968, the State Board of Education named the College the Lurleen Burns Wallace State Junior College in honor of the former governor. Dr. William H. McWhorter was appointed the first president. In September of 1969, the College opened in the Bethune School, a temporary location leased from the Covington County Board of Education. In May of 1970, the College moved to its new campus consisting of 112 acres, an administration/classroom building and physical education dressing rooms.
The 160 acre Andalusia campus consists of nine buildings, six lighted tennis courts, a lighted baseball field, a lighted softball field, a two-mile scenic trail, a nine-hole golf course and driving range, and expansive parking. Dr. and Mrs. Solon Dixon of Andalusia, Alabama, through the Solon and Martha Dixon Foundation, have provided more than $3 million through the years for facility development, such as the Solon and Martha Dixon Center for the Performing Arts and the Dixon Conference Center.
On August 31, 1990, Dr. McWhorter retired and Dr. James D. Krudop was named Interim President until February 1, 1991, when Mr. Seth M. Hammett was selected as the new President.
Extensive renovation, remodeling, and refurbishing of the infrastructure of the College took place with twenty-six major projects undertaken.
On October 6, 1992, groundbreaking ceremonies took place for construction of a new 11,300 square foot facility on seventeen acres of property in Greenville, Alabama. This facility opened for classes in the fall of 1993.
President Hammett retired in June of 2002 and Dr. James D. Krudop served as Interim President until the merger with Douglas MacArthur State Technical College in January of 2003.
On January 23, 2003 the Alabama State Board of Education took official action to merge Lurleen B. Wallace Junior College and MacArthur State Technical College. Dr. Edward Meadows was appointed President on that date, with the responsibility of providing leadership to bring about the consolidation of the two colleges to create Lurleen B. Wallace Community College. The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools recognized the two institutions as a singly accredited community college in December, 2003. The Alabama State Board of Education took final action regarding the merger in December, 2003, and the U.S. Department of Education recognized the two colleges as a single institution in January, 2004. The successful consolidation resulted in a multi-campus, comprehensive community college with campuses in Andalusia, Greenville, and Opp, Alabama, serving the counties of Butler, Crenshaw, Coffee, Covington, and Geneva.
In 2004, a ten-year Facilities Master Plan was developed to facilitate the programmatic growth of the College as a result of the consolidation and expanded mission of the College. Major renovations and new construction were undertaken at the Andalusia and MacArthur campuses to accommodate new programs and courses. In 2005, construction of a 30,000 square foot technology center was initiated on the Greenville campus to facilitate the expanded comprehensive mission of that campus.
In January 2006, the College established a center in Luverne with the primary function of offering adult education and training for business and industry. Classes were held in the former National Guard Armory which was leased from the Armory Commission. The State Board of Education approved the purchase of the Luverne facility in July 2007. In February 2015, SACSCOC gave its approval to offer complete programs of the College at this center.
In October, 2006, the Vermelle Evers Donaldson Cosmetic Arts Center was dedicated on the MacArthur Campus. In November, 2007, the College celebrated the completion of two new buildings: the Child Development Center on the Andalusia Campus and the Technology Building on the Greenville Campus.
Dr. Meadows retired as President in August, 2008 and Mr. L. Wayne Bennett served as Interim President of the College until December 31, 2008. On January 1, 2009, Dr. Herbert H. J. Riedel began his service as President of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.
The Wendell Mitchell Conference Center on the Greenville Campus was completed in August, 2009. Renovations to the Luverne Center were completed in 2009 as well. This year also saw completion and implementation of the college’s five-year strategic plan.
Renovation to the Martha and Solon Dixon Center for the Performing Arts entrance was completed in 2010 and a landscape enhancement plan for the Andalusia Campus was developed. The first phase was completed in 2012, and included a drop-off area in front of the performing arts center, an enhanced streetscape along Dannelly Boulevard with improved drainage, new curbs, angled parking, more than 40 new trees, and additional attractive street lighting. A concrete patio with picnic tables and benches was also added in front of the Jeff Bishop Student Center as a place for students to sit and relax outdoors.
A collaborative effort between LBWCC, the LBWCC Foundation, and local, state, and national government entities resulted in the creation of Saints Hall in 2013, a Foundation-owned student housing apartment complex adjacent to the Andalusia campus. This collaboration resulted in the College being named a 2014 Bellwether Award Finalist by the Community College Futures Assembly.
In 2015, following the passage of Alabama Act No. 2015-125, LBWCC was placed under the governance control of the newly created Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees. That same year, LBWCC celebrated the 50th anniversary of providing higher education in South Alabama.
In 2016, LBWCC received a five-year, $2.25 million grant under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III “Strengthening Institutions” program. This grant is designed to improve academic and student services and includes online advising and early intervention tools, success coaches, and resources for starting a new Physical Therapist Assistant program.
In 2017, the College’s federally funded Upward Bound program was not refunded and ceased operation. However, a grassroots community effort secured sufficient local funds to start a new program, called Apex, that serves the same population of high school students to prepare them for college success.
As a result of several initiatives contained in the 2014-2019 Strategic Plan, LBWCC won national recognition in 2018 as an AACC Awards of Excellence finalist in Student Success, based on exceptional increases in fall to fall retention, graduation rates, and other measures.
The members of the Douglas MacArthur State Technical College Foundation (DMSTCF) and the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College Foundation (LBWCCF) voted in May 2019 to merge the DMSTCF into the LBWCCF. The combined Foundation will administer endowed scholarship funds from both prior foundations and raise money to support students at all locations of LBWCC.
On June 12, 2019, the ACCS Board of Trustees authorized LBWCC to enter into an agreement with the LBWCC Foundation for the lease, operation, and management of the Foundation’s student residential property known as Saints Hall. Under the terms of this agreement, the College has the option to purchase the housing complex for a nominal amount at the end of the United States Department of Agriculture loan, on January 8, 2044.
Following the retirement of Dr. Herbert H. J. Riedel, the Alabama Community College System appointed Mr. Bryan Helms as Acting President of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College on September 3, 2019. Mr. Helms served in this role until December 31, 2019. Effective January 2, 2020, The Alabama Community College System appointed Dr. Chris Cox as Interim President of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College.
LBWCC’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan was approved by the College’s Executive Council on February 11, 2020. The goals and objectives in this document will serve as a roadmap to guide the College over the next several years.
Dr. Chris Cox completed his service as LBWCC’s Interim President on September 30, 2020. Dr. Brock Kelley was appointed Interim President of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College on October 1, 2020. Dr. Kelley served in this role until his appointment by the Alabama Community College System as the President of Lurleen B. Wallace Community College on December 1, 2020.
Revised December 2020