The public junior college system of Alabama was established in 1963 through the efforts of Governor George C. Wallace and the Alabama Legislature. Enterprise was selected as the site for one of the original twelve state junior colleges. Area citizens and civic groups raised money for the purchase of a 100-acre campus site, donated library materials, and provided a number of scholarships— thus beginning a history of college and community cooperation for which Enterprise State Community College is noted.
On September 27, 1965, the first freshman class, numbering 256 students, was registered at the College which was originally named Enterprise State Junior College. These students attended classes in rented rooms in downtown Enterprise and in the educational building of the First Methodist Church. Fortunately these makeshift arrangements lasted during the first year, for in the fall of 1966 the present campus was occupied. This campus has grown and now consists of seven modern buildings situated on a beautifully landscaped site. An addition to the Learning Resources Center in Snuggs Hall, an addition to Lolley Hall, and a new building— Talmadge Hall—were occupied spring quarter of 1990. In 1983, the College began offering credit courses and non-credit short courses at the Fort Rucker site. Recently, in 2018, the site was closed.
Upon the retirement in 1981 of the College’s first president, B.A. Forrester, Dr. Joseph D. Talmadge was appointed President of the College. Dr. Talmadge had served as Dean of the College since its establishment and provided dynamic leadership for the development of the College’s academic program. He retired in September 1994. When Dr. Talmadge retired, Vice Chancellor for the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education, Dr. Stafford L. Thompson, was appointed Interim President. Dr. Thompson was appointed President of the College on March 28, 1996. He led the College through the reorganization to include the state’s aviation maintenance training programs. He obtained funding to build the Aviation Technical Training Center on the Ozark Campus. Dr. Thompson retired July 1, 2008. At that time, Dr. Nancy W. Chandler was appointed Interim President. Dr. Chandler came to ESCC from Faulkner State Community College where she served as Vice President of Instruction, Institutional Advancement and Effectiveness. She was appointed President of the College on May 28, 2009 and worked diligently to expand the availability of Aviation training for students in Alabama. On March 5, 2014 Dr. Chandler resigned and on March 24, 2014 Dr. Cynthia Anthony was selected as interim president. Dr. Anthony moved to Shelton State Community College in September, 2015 and Dr. Vicky Ohlson was appointed interim president on October 1, 2015.
In February 2003, the Alabama State Board of Education approved the reorganization of Enterprise State Junior College with the Alabama Aviation College at Ozark and the Aviation Center at Mobile of George C. Wallace Community College—Dothan. This created a new comprehensive community college that was named Enterprise-Ozark Community College. The Alabama Aviation College in Andalusia opened fall semester of 2006, and the Alabama Aviation College at Albertville opened spring semester 2009. Aviation maintenance courses are taught at both of these sites. In November 2009, the Alabama State Board of Education approved a name change to Enterprise State Community College and approved a marketing name for the aviation programs as the Alabama Aviation College, a unit of Enterprise State Community College.
The Alabama Aviation College at Ozark originated in 1960 as a part of the educational program administered by the Ozark City Board of Education. In 1962, the institution’s aviation maintenance program was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. By act of the State Legislature in 1963, the institution, which was then known as the Alabama Institute of Aviation Technology, was brought under the Alabama State Board of Education as a state vocational trade school. In 1970, the institution was accredited by the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1973, the Alabama State Board of Education changed the name to Alabama Aviation and Technical College, and in 1976, the Board authorized the establishment of an off- campus center in Mobile, Alabama. In 1991, the College was accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the associate in applied science degree, and the College’s accreditation was reaffirmed in 1997. In 1996, the College and its Mobile center were merged with George C. Wallace Community College, and the names of the locations were changed to the Alabama Aviation College in Ozark and the Aviation Center at Mobile. In 2008, under EOCC, the new Aviation Technical Training Center on the Alabama Aviation College in Ozark opened its doors for classes. Additional sites have been added for aviation programs, including the Alabama Aviation College at Andalusia. For a time Enterprise controlled all aviation sites in the state, however in the Alabama Community College System decided that each site should be governed by an institution in the same geographic region.
The College received state and national recognition for a variety of student activities. For more than 30 years, the Enterprise Campus chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society of American two-year colleges, was recognized as one of the top chapters in the nation. In 1984 and 1992, the chapter was named The Most Distinguished Chapter in the Nation. In 1986-87, 2001-02, and again in 2010 the sponsors were named Most Distinguished Sponsor, and the Enterprise Chapter continues to be placed in the top ten percent internationally. The chapter is also active at the Alabama Aviation College at Ozark. The First Impressions Team (FIT), now the Ambassadors. leads the orientation programs for new students, has been recognized by the Southern Regional Orientation Workshop of the National Orientation Directors Association (NODA) for outstanding leadership. Former FIT sponsor, Dr. Betty Cully, was designated as an Outstanding Orientation Director in 1995 and 2003. The College’s show choir, the Entertainers, has been consistently rated Superior in competitions and the group continues to receive “Best in Class” awards.
Athletics have been an important part of the ESCC collegiate experience as well. The baseball team won the Alabama State Junior College Championship in 1982 and the Southern Division Championship in 1986. In 1985, the College’s Weevil Women earned the runner-up trophy in the state championship tournament in women’s basketball and were fourth in the state championship tournament in 2003. Also in 2003, the men’s basketball team was runner-up in the Alabama Junior College Division I Conference. The men’s team won that conference in 2004. Former head coaches David James, Dr. Chelita DuBois, and Jimmy Messer were named 2003 Coaches of the Year by the Alabama Community College Athletic Division, and Coach Messer received this honor again in 2004. At one time the College had a women’s tennis team which won second place in state competition for Division II in 1997 and 1998. The College’s golf team won second place in state competition for Division II in 1998.
Throughout its history, Enterprise State Community College has been successful in attracting federal and private funds that have enabled the College to develop innovative programs and services. The College received four major five-year development grants and three endowment grants totaling approximately $9 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III Strengthening Institutions Program. In addition to comprehensive faculty development and curriculum improvement projects, these grants have financed the purchase of state-of-the-art computer equipment throughout the campus and other projects focused on student retention. Other federal and foundation grants enabled the College to establish the Tutorial Assistance Program for Students—now Student Support Services—the Adult Basic Education Program, the Workplace Literacy Program, Student Academic Support Services Laboratory, and the National Science Foundation scholarship program. In 2000 and 2001, National Science Foundation Grants provided scholarships to students majoring in science, engineering, or computer information science. In 2005, a Community-Based Job Training Grant was awarded by the Department of Labor to build the capacity of the College to train technicians for the skills required to succeed in high-growth, high-demand aviation industries. In 2010, a 3-Dimensional Simulation and Modeling short-term certificate program began, funded by a grant from the Alabama Governor’s Office of Workforce Development.
The ESCC Foundation was established in 1982 to enhance the College’s ability to seek private funding. Administered by a Board of Directors composed of business and civic leaders, the Foundation has developed an endowment program that funds student scholarships as well as faculty development, curriculum improvement, and continuing education projects.
Before his untimely death in 1993, Enterprise native and nationally renowned theatre director and producer, James Hatcher, made arrangements for his valuable collection of theatre memorabilia and literature to be displayed at ESCC. The James Hatcher Collection is housed in Forrester Hall.
On August 9, 2017, Matt Rodgers was named the fifth permanent president of the College. During his first year, the College received approval to offer two new career and technical programs: the Medical Assistant Program and the Commercial Truck Driving License program. The College continues its rich tradition of serving the needs of the community. Mr. Rodgers, the faculty, and staff are continuing the College’s legacy of excellence in education at all locations of the College and in the surrounding communities. Dynamic leadership, dedication to the teaching-learning process, and superior support services achieve the College’s mission.