Ozarks Technical Community College celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2015 to commemorate a critical step taken by voters on April 3, 1990, which approved the establishment of the Junior College District of Central Southwest Missouri.
As a result of the vote in 1990, Heart of the Ozarks Community Technical College was founded as the region’s first open admission, two-year community college with a focus on technical education. Students could earn a one-year certificate, two-year associate of applied science degree (A.A.S.) or associate of arts degree (A.A.).
In September 1991, with 1,198 credit-seeking college students, OTC opened its doors at the Cox Medical Center North and at 815 N. Sherman, which formerly housed the Graff Area Vocational Technical Center and would later become known as Lincoln Hall and Graff Hall. These buildings became the cornerstone of the newly established educational institution. The following year, the college continued to grow and expanded its offerings to include general education courses at the North Town Mall in Springfield.
In 1994, the college shortened its name to Ozarks Technical Community College. The institution received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Community Colleges in 1996.
Enrollment grew at the annual rate of 11.4 percent between 1991 and 2014. With this accelerated growth rate, the college expanded in Springfield and beyond to accommodate the need for additional facilities. The Nelson Center opened in Lebanon in 1996 to offer general education and technical programs. At the OTC Springfield Campus, the Norman K. Myers Technical Education Center opened in the summer of 1997.
In February 2001, OTC was given a 10-year reaccreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The renovation of the historic Lincoln Hall was completed the same year, after the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in May 2000. A plaque recognizing the building’s placement on the National Register ― honoring it as the first Julius Rosenwald School in Missouri ― was unveiled in August 2004.
In 2003, OTC adopted a policy that prohibited the consumption of tobacco or tobacco products on campus. OTC was the first college in Missouri, and one of the first higher education institutions in the nation, to become a tobacco-free institution.
In 2002, the college expanded to serve the Branson area through an education center located in the Branson Shoppes. The OTC Richwood Valley Campus, located on Highway 14 between the cities of Ozark and Nixa, opened five years later in the spring of 2007. Named for the historic area where the campus now stands, the Richwood Valley campus was created to house both allied health and general education programs.
As the college continued to grow, the fine arts programs moved to the third floor of the Gillioz Theatre complex in downtown Springfield in 2007.
Later that year, the Center for Workforce Development expanded into a new location just west of the OTC Springfield Campus.
In 2008, OTC began offering courses in Waynesville through a new 10,300 square-foot facility located in the Townfield Plaza Center. In the fall of 2011, the Nelson Center in Lebanon was renamed the OTC Lebanon Center and moved into new facilities donated to the college by Reuben and Mary Lou Casey.
The Higher Learning Commission (formally North Central Association) granted OTC another 10-year reaccreditation in February 2011. That summer, OTC became the Ozarks Technical Community College system, a transition that put the institution in a better position for future growth and expansion plans.
In the fall of 2013, the OTC Waynesville Center moved to a larger location along Interstate 44. That same year, the OTC Table Rock Campus celebrated its grand opening in Hollister along Highway 65 to offer general education courses.
As of today, the OTC System encompasses three campuses and two centers across southwest Missouri, along with a robust online education center. More than 200,000 citizens of southwest Missouri have taken advantage of one or more of the college’s educational services since its inception 25 years ago.
OTC’s comprehensive mission, focus on job-skill training, and college transfer preparation has made it a vital part of one of the fastest growing areas in the state of Missouri. OTC looks to a promising and productive future as faculty, staff and community members work together to provide high-quality and affordable learning opportunities to the region.
OTC Historical Timeline
- April 1990: Thirteen counties in southwest Missouri vote to establish the Junior College District of Springfield.
- July 1990: Board of Trustees select the college name “Heart of the Ozarks Community Technical College.”
- September 1990: Dr. Norman K. Myers named founding president.
- September 1990: First semester begins with 1,198 credit-seeking students.
- May 1992: First commencement ceremony held at Kickapoo High School with 54 college graduates and 41 GED recipients.
- August 1992: OTC rents 14,000 square feet from the North Town Mall for additional instruction space.
- August 1994: OTC relocates within the North Town Mall to secure 22,000 square feet of instruction space.
- October 1994: Board of Trustees shortens college name to “Ozarks Technical Community College.”
- March 1996: Groundbreaking ceremony held for the Technical Education Center (Norman K. Myers building).
- June 1996: The Nelson Center in Lebanon established as the college’s first education center.
- May 1997: Groundbreaking ceremony held for the Information Commons building on the Springfield campus.
- March 1998: Groundbreaking ceremony held for the Information Commons East building on the Springfield campus.
- November 1998: Tax levy passed that allows OTC to construct the Industry and Transportation Technology Center on the Springfield campus.
- June 1999: Groundbreaking ceremony held for the Industry and Transportation Technology Center.
- June 1999: John Q. Hammons dedication ceremony held for the fountain along Chestnut Expressway.
- October 1999: Graff Career Center buildings renamed Graff Hall and Lincoln Hall.
- April 2000: OTC celebrates 10th anniversary.
- October 2000: Property between Ozark and Nixa purchased for the Richwood Valley campus.
- February 2001: Branson Education Center opens in the Branson Shoppes.
- December 2001: OTC recognized as the fastest-growing community college in the 5,000-9,000 enrollment range.
- August 2003: OTC becomes a tobacco-free institution.
- April 2005: OTC celebrates 15th anniversary.
- August 2005: Groundbreaking ceremony held for the Richwood Valley campus.
- May 2006: Dr. Hal Higdon named president of Ozarks Technical Community College by Board of Trustees.
- August 2007: OTC Center for Workforce Development opens.
- August 2008: OTC Waynesville Education Center opens.
- August 2009: OTC opens FEMA shelter at Richwood Valley campus.
- April 2010: OTC voted into the Hollister taxing district via “hop-over legislation.”
- April 2010: OTC celebrates 20th anniversary.
- July 2011: OTC transitions to the Ozarks Technical Community College System.
- August 2013: OTC Table Rock Campus opens in Hollister.
- August 2013: OTC Waynesville Center opens along Interstate 44.
- April 2015: OTC celebrates 25th anniversary.