The History of Galveston College

Galveston College has served the learning interests of Galveston residents, businesses, and industries for more than forty years. Many groups and individuals, both past and present, have played an important part in the development of Galveston College.

Although the Galveston College District was established on November 2, 1935, by a vote of the citizens of Galveston, the institution was not organized until 1966. The original Board of Regents was appointed on September 21, 1966, by the Public School District Trustees, and on December 3, 1966, an election was held to establish a maintenance tax for the operation of the College. An annual ad valorem tax was authorized at a rate not to exceed $0.27 per each $100 valuation of the taxable property within the College district.

Galveston College opened for student enrollment in September, 1967, and from 1967 through the spring of 1970, occupied Moody Hall, a refurbished orphanage, as its only campus facility. The initial academic offerings were fairly broad in scope, while the occupational program was minimal, but with strong offerings in vocational nursing, office occupations, engineering/drafting, and law enforcement.

During this period, the College implemented cooperative agreements with the University of Texas Medical Branch hospitals resulting in programs in associate degree nursing and associated health occupations. In addition, the College received a gift from the Moody Foundation of one million dollars and achieved its initial accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

During its twentieth anniversary celebration in 1987, the College enjoyed an expansion in programs, facilities, and student enrollment. The College‘s new degree programs of horticulture, fast food management, criminal justice, and microcomputer applications were accompanied by huge increases in community education enrollments and course offerings.

In March of 1990, after two and a half years of planning and construction, the College held gala opening ceremonies for the new Regent‘s Hall and rededication of the David Glenn Hunt Memorial Library. Shortly thereafter, in December of 1990, the faculty, student services, and administration occupied a completely remodeled Moody Hall, the site of the old orphanage and the College‘s once meager beginnings.

By early 1995, Galveston College‘s Board of Regents had approved campus expansion plans at the main campus that involved the $3.1 million development of a new fine arts building and gymnasium. The increasing demand for parking due to record enrollments required the purchase of several residences for the provision of satellite parking adjacent to the main campus. In August, 1996, Galveston College opened its newest facilities, a fine arts complex and the relocation of the Hermes Fitness Center to the main campus.

During the fall semester of 1996, the College formed the Galveston College Foundation, whose initial campaign of ―Universal Access‖ earned Galveston College the top award for innovation in Texas Higher Education. College and community leadership had conceived a unique plan to enhance the human resources of the economically and socially challenged island community. Universal Access proposed to raise $9.3 million to provide free tuition and fees for every local high school graduate to attend Galveston College beginning in the fall semester of 2001.

In early 1998, the College celebrated its 30th anniversary with a reception for the college community and a variety of special events. The President‘s Report to the Community showed the remarkable evolution of a community college that had become proactive and transformed into one of the most important core elements of our community.
As Galveston College made its way through the first year of the millennium in 2001, the first local high school graduating classes had their tuition and fees paid for by the Galveston College Foundation‘s Universal Access endowment, and a new vision statement was developed – ―Galveston College: A beacon of light guiding lifelong learning.
During the 2003-2004 academic year, the College‘s annual operating budget topped $13 million, and architects and builders completed renovations creating the new Health Sciences Center and the Learning Resource Center.

In fall of 2005, Galveston College became a Hispanic-serving institution and received a 2.4 million dollar Title V grant. This grant was coupled with a $450,000 Achieving the Dream grant and a $100,000 Dreamkeepers grant to promote student success.

Galveston College entered its 40th anniversary year in fall 2006, holding several events to celebrate four decades of service to Galveston Island residents and the surrounding region. The process of selecting the College‘s eighth President was also near completion by May 2007, and a strong emphasis on student recruitment and workforce development programs guided the faculty and staff as they concluded the 40th Anniversary with a record graduating class of 350.
On September 12, 2008, Hurricane Ike struck Galveston Island, causing considerable damage to the island and over a million dollars of damage to the Galveston College Campus. With the College resuming classes on October 8, 2008 and with adaptations to the schedule (extended days and weekends), the returning students were able to complete the fall semester just prior to the winter break.

Beginning in the fall of 2008 and continuing forward, the College worked to restore the campus. In like manner, the community continued to recover and rebuild. Following the hurricane, the College renewed its dedication to serve the community and to serve students by identifying a need for new technical programs and by committing to develop the facilities to support these programs.

As Galveston College students registered for 2009 fall semester classes, the College announced the expansion of the Cheney Student Center by developing the Abe and Annie Seibel Wing. The Seibel Foundation made a generous donation to enable the new construction expansion at no cost to the local taxpayer.

In the spring of 2010, the College announced the purchase of a 4.3-acre site on Galveston Island to be used for the development of facilities to support new technical programs. The Grand Opening of the Charlie Thomas Family Applied Technology Center at 7626 Broadway Boulevard helped build a better Galveston by answering a workforce training need. The Grand Opening ceremony took place on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 with over 300 citizens, dignitaries and elected officials in attendance. Businessman Charlie Thomas and his family members were on hand for the ribbon cutting and the unveiling of the commemorative plaque.

Programs in Welding, Industrial Systems, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration that began in 2012 at the Center were joined as students entered fall 2013 with new programs of Electrical and Electronics Technology, Cosmetology, Medical Administration and others. 

As Galveston College enters its 48th year of service to the community (in fall 2014), enrollment is expected to continue to increase. In addition, facility expansion, Foundation Universal Access and scholarships have positioned Galveston College to continue to serve students and its community.

Updated 6/9/2014 - Content Author sojeda