History of Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College
The history of technical education in Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties began many years before Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College officially opened in 1968. Previous to this date, many citizens were concerned about the future of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties and felt the need to take action to ensure the counties' growth.
At that time, the two principal economies in the state were textiles and agriculture - both of which were having problems. South Carolina was losing her most valuable resource - her young people - who were taking jobs out of state.
Then Governor Ernest F. Hollings signed legislation in 1961 creating the technical education system. Its purpose was to help encourage economic growth in South Carolina by attracting more industries to the state and to provide job training for South Carolinians who would be employed by those industries.
The South Carolina General Assembly passed legislation in May 1966 creating the Orangeburg-Calhoun Area Commission for Technical Education. This commission was charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing an adequate training program at the post-secondary level. On October 25, 1967, state officials, all of whom had a hand in making the new Technical Education Center a reality, participated in officially breaking ground for the facility, which today is known as Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.
On September 16, 1968, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical Education Center registered its first students, becoming the eleventh South Carolina Center in operation. During the official dedication ceremonies held on May 16, 1969, the late Senator Marshall B. Williams stated that this new education facility "represents the dreams and work of many people in the area."
An important milestone in the development of how the College is recognized today was marked on December 2,1970, when Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical Education Center Director Charles P. Weber announced that the institution had become fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
Upon recommendation by the Orangeburg-Calhoun Area Technical Education Commission and approval by the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, the Center's name was changed in May 1974 to Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. The purpose of this change was to more accurately reflect the College's post-secondary education mission. The director's title was changed to that of president at the same time.
The campus, built on land that had previously been a dairy farm, included 84,232 square feet of classrooms, labs and administrative offices. In early 1974, an expansion program, estimated to add 140,000 square feet of usable space, was begun. The new additions housed administrative offices, student personnel services and a learning resource center. These buildings were dedicated in 1978 to two men recognized for the vital roles they played in the success of technical education. The Gressette Learning Resource Center was named in honor of Senator L. Marion Gressette of St. Matthews, and the Williams Administration Building in honor of Senator Marshall B. Williams of Orangeburg.
Since its inception, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College has continued to seek new avenues for growth both academically and technically; and in 1988 the College marked its 20th anniversary with the opening of the Health Sciences Building. After 11 years in the planning stage, this 32,430 square foot, $3.3 million symbol of continuous commitment to quality health care training began holding its first classes in September 1988.
In January 1993, the College dedicated buildings to its three OCtech Area Commission charter members. In a ceremony marking the occasion, the Industrial/Technology, Business/Computer Technology and Faculty Administration buildings were named in honor of Joe K. Fairey II, John O. Wesner, Jr. and Ben R. Wetenhall, respectively.
The Distance Learning Center brought video conferencing capabilities to the OCtech campus in 1996. This interactive center is connected to all 16 colleges in the South Carolina Technical Education System, giving them the technological ability to work with one another by providing additional services and educational programs, not heretofore available to their respective communities. The system-wide video conferencing capability also allowed the 16 colleges in the System to offer a more comprehensive selection of educational opportunities in a cost-effective manner while avoiding duplication within their service areas.
After receiving full approval to proceed with its distance learning initiatives by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in early 1998, OCtech began optimizing use of its new technology by pioneering a program, which offered college credit courses over the Internet. In taking this bold new step, OCtech opened up limitless educational opportunities to the community.
In 2001, the College developed a comprehensive five-year strategic plan to continue to move the College forward in educating and training the community. This plan was reviewed and updated yearly. The second five-year plan was developed in 2007 through a cooperative effort of faculty, staff, students, and the community.
OCtech broke ground for a 37,000 square foot, $5.2 million Student and Community Life Building in 2002 and cut the ribbon on its new Student and Community Life Center in 2003. Student Services, Planning, Development and Research offices, as well as the president’s office are housed in this building. In 2012, OCtech renamed the building Patrick Student Services to honor Larry W. Patrick who served on the College’s governing board for more than 40 years.
Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College completed extensive renovations to both the Gressette and the Williams buildings in 2004. The Math and Science Center was formally opened in December 2006 with needed laboratories, classrooms, lecture halls and a 400 seat auditorium.
OCtech reached another milestone in August of 2009 by enrolling a record of 3,252 students for the fall semester.
The Anne S. Crook Transportation and Logistics Center, named in honor of the former president, opened on May 10, 2010. This state of the art 25,000 square foot building houses the Corporate Training and Economic Development offices as well as classroom and laboratory space for welding, mechatronics, truck driver training and logistics programs.
Continuing to grow, the College opened the Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College QuickJobs Development Center in the summer of 2010.
Located strategically in the Global Logistics Triangle of I-26, I-95, and Highway 301, Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College is moving forward to provide leadership and training in Advanced Manufacturing, Transportation, and Logistics. The College continues to strive to fulfill the mission of the College by providing opportunities and services for the citizens of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties.