Columbia State Community College
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Columbia State Community College

35°36?59?N 87°05?59?W / 35.616527°N 87.099709°W / 35.616527; -87.099709

Columbia State Community College
Type State-funded two-year
Established 1966
Endowment $707,627[1]
President Janet F. Smith
Academic staff
292 (99 full-time)
Students 5,297
Address 1665 Hampshire Pike
Columbia, TN 38401
, Columbia, Tennessee, USA United States
35.616527, -87.099709
Campus Columbia Campus
Colors Green and White         
Affiliations National Junior College Athletic Association
Mascot Chargers

Columbia State Community College is a two-year college located in Columbia, Tennessee. Founded in 1966, it serves nine counties in southern Middle Tennessee through five campuses. Columbia State was established as Tennessee's first community college.

The main campus is located at 1665 Hampshire Pike in Columbia, Tennessee.

Columbia State Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award Associate of Art, Associate of Science, Associate of Science in Teaching, Associate of Fine Arts in Music, and Associate of Applied Science degrees, and technical certificates.


In 1957, a public higher education study, commonly referred to as the Pierce-Albright Report, identified a significant need to expand higher education in Tennessee. The report identified three areas that were considered underserved by higher education, including the south central Middle Tennessee region. This report would later serve as a cornerstone in the history of Tennessee's community colleges.

The report generated great interest and led to the development of a Maury County committee that sought to have a college established in Columbia. The committee comprised some 600 people and was led by John W. Finney, editor of the Columbia Daily Herald, and Hardin Hill, a local engineer and civic leader. In addition, the Maury County Quarterly Court pledged one million dollars toward development costs if the new college was located within 12 miles of the courthouse.

On Aug. 9, 1963, the State Board of Education adopted a resolution to appoint five board members to make preliminary plans for a state college that would be located in the south central area of Tennessee. Although there was significant need in the other two areas of the state, the south central area had a long-standing desire and support to obtain a college dating back to the early 1900s. This college would serve as the prototype for those that followed.

During this time there was also growing support for the development of junior colleges. Federal legislation authorized a grant program under the 1963 Higher Education Facilities Act to assist with financing construction of two-year colleges. After much discussion and research, the committee adopted a landmark resolution on Dec. 17, 1964 for the establishment of three community-junior colleges, one in each of the state's grand divisions. The resolution would later be approved by the full State Board of Education in Feb. 1965.

On June 22, 1965 the State Board of Education approved the locations of the first three community colleges - Columbia, Cleveland, and Jackson. The exact sites were to be chosen by the Tennessee Commissioner of Education, J. Howard Warf. The new colleges would be called "community" rather than "junior" to reflect the partnership between state and local entities and would have a strong emphasis on community participation. These multi-purpose institutions would offer university parallel courses that would transfer to four-year universities, have a strong emphasis on career and technical training, and provide adult continuing education courses and community service activities.

On June 30, 1965, Warf chose the 204-acre Hickman farm as the future site of Columbia State. On July 12, 1965 the Maury County Quarterly Court unanimously approved purchase of the Hickman farm and pledged an additional $250,000 toward construction costs. A few months later, Warf and Gov. Frank G. Clement scooped the first shovels of dirt during the groundbreaking ceremony held on Oct. 20.

Dr. James Wesley Clark was appointed dean of instruction on March 29, 1966 with directions to open the college for the fall 1966 semester and to provide leadership until a permanent president was hired. Construction on the new college began that spring with plans for completion by fall of 1967. A flurry of activity began as nine administrators and 21 faculty members were hired, temporary buildings were procured and readied for instruction, and classes were scheduled.

An initial student body of 363 registered on Sept. 23, 1966, and classes were held in almost a dozen facilities across town, including First Baptist Church and the lab facilities at Columbia Military Academy. The Memorial Building on West 7th Street served as the student center, while professors and other college personnel transported students between the various locations.

The first college convocation was held Sept. 26, 1966 at the Polk Theatre in downtown Columbia. Members of the State Board of Education were present, and Clement was the featured speaker. "Because of this school, young people who otherwise would have to terminate their academic career at the high school level will here find a way into the world of higher education."

Mayor James Dowdy and County Judge John Stanton proclaimed March 15, 1967 as "CSCC Dedication Day." This event would mark the first visit of a sitting president to Maury County in 150 years. More than 8,000 supporters gathered in the cold that day and excitement filled the air as they welcomed President Lyndon B. Johnson and First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson.

Lady Bird Johnson unveiled the dedication plaque and declared that Columbia State represented the "new beat and rhythm of our land..." and that "when a Columbia Community College rises from a once empty field, the country expands not outward, but upward... I am honored to dedicate this college - to dedicate it forever to the service of the people and the progress of our nation."

On Feb. 9, 1968, Warf announced that Dr. Harold Pryor, director of teacher education at Austin Peay State University would become the first president of Columbia State. Later that year, on June 7, 44 students marched into the gymnasium and became graduates of Tennessee's first community college.

For Columbia State, the last 15 years of the 20th century were characterized by continued growth and expansion. As early as the 1970s the college began offering evening courses in high schools and other facilities throughout its service area. However, in 1986, the college opened its first full-time branch campus in the former South Central Bell training building located in the Independence Square Shopping Center in Franklin, Tennessee. The college quickly outgrew that facility, and in 1987, the Williamson County Campus was relocated to the former Yates Vocational Center adjacent to Franklin High School.

In the meantime, community leaders and citizens in Lawrence County were raising funds to erect a Columbia State campus next to Lawrence County High School. The Lawrence County Campus was completed in time for the fall 1988 semester. Ten years later the site was expanded and renamed the Columbia State Community College Chuck Brewer Memorial Center in honor of the man who led the original 1987 fundraising campaign to build the campus in Lawrenceburg.

Having established branch campuses in the northern and southern ends of its service area, Columbia State looked east where the people of Marshall County were working to locate the next campus in Lewisburg. In 1996, the Lewisburg Campus opened on South Ellington Parkway. The building was expanded in 2001.

In the spring of 1996, a committee of community leaders and elected officials, encouraged by the generosity of the Hassell Charitable Foundation, began work on bringing a new educational facility to Clifton to meet the needs for higher education in Wayne County. The community broke ground for the new building in February 1997 and the Columbia State Clifton Campus opened its doors to 89 students for spring semester classes on January 8, 1998.

Due to continued growth in Williamson County, the college submitted a plan to the Tennessee Board of Regents in 2000, requesting funding to build a new campus. In the intervening decade, the college continued to push for consideration among the state's building priorities. Through the continued effort of legislators, community leaders and college officials, in December 2011, Columbia State was able to purchase 36 acres off Liberty Pike in Franklin for the site of the new Williamson Campus. Columbia State broke ground on the new campus in July 2014. The new Williamson Campus officially opened in Summer 2016.

For 50 years, Columbia State has remained committed to providing access to higher education and opening doors to opportunities throughout the region. The college has grown to five campuses and serves nearly 7,000 students annually.


Enrolling in a community college is less expensive than attending a four-year college or university. The 2015-16 in-state tuition rate is $152 per semester hour up to 12 hours and $30 per hour for all additional hours. The out-of-state tuition costs $627 per semester hour up to 12 hours and $125 per hour for all additional hours. In Fall 2015, the college awarded more than $7 million in scholarships and financial aid.

Tennessee high school seniors are eligible to enroll in the Tennessee Promise scholarship program which provides the opportunity for students to continue their education at a community or technical college tuition-free.


Columbia State grants Associate of Art, Associate of Science, Associate of Science in Teaching, Associate of Fine Arts in Music, and Associate of Applied Science degrees, and technical certificates.

The college is organized into the following academic divisions: Health Sciences; Humanities and Social Sciences; and Science, Technology & Mathematics. The college offers more than 50 programs of study. Visit the Columbia State academics webpage to view the complete listing of programs.


  • Dr. James W. Clark (founding president and dean of instruction 1967-1969)
  • Dr. Harold Warf (president 1968-1984)
  • Dr. L. Paul Sands (president 1984-1996)
  • Dr. O. Rebecca Hawkins (president 1996-2008)
  • Dr. Janet Smith (president 2008-present)

Transfer Information

Students entering a community college in Tennessee who select a major within the Tennessee Transfer Pathways, complete required courses and earn an associate degree can transition seamlessly as a junior to any Tennessee public university, or at participating Tennessee independent colleges and universities. All earned credit hours will apply toward a bachelor's degree in the same discipline. Visit the Columbia State transfer webpage to learn more.

Columbia State has partnerships with area universities to offer bachelor's and master's degree programs on a Columbia State campus. The schools and programs offered are:

Students and faculty

The average student age is 22.7 years old. In Fall 2015, 61% of students were female. The number of students enrolled in Fall 2015 is 5,297. The college employs nearly 450 people, consisting of 292 faculty members.[2]


  • 88% Caucasian
  • 7% African-American
  • 2% Hispanic
  • 0.7% Asian American or Pacific Islander
  • 0.4% Native American[1]

Sports, clubs, and traditions

The school is a TCCAA and NJCAA member and fields baseball, softball and men's and women's basketball teams in intercollegiate competition. Scholarships are offered for those sports.

The men's basketball team won the 2015 TCCAA championship and have competed in the 2012, 2014 and 2015 NJCAA Men's National Basketball Tournament. The baseball team was named the 2012 TCCAA champions, 2011 and 2013 NJCAA Region VII champions and has competed in the NJCAA Junior College Baseball World Series 13 times, most recently in 2014.[3]

Columbia State also offers intramural sports in basketball, flag football, ultimate frisbee and more.

Columbia State has a variety of student groups including the Student Government Association, President's Leadership Society, Charger Student Radiographer Organization, North American Veterinary Technician Association, Phi Theta Kappa, Respiratory Care Crew, Sigma Kappa Delta, Student Nursing Association, the STEM Club, Study Abroad, and more.

Academic Programs

Accounting, Advanced Integrated Industrial Technology (AiiT), Agriculture - Agricultural Business, Agriculture - Animal Science, Agriculture - Plant and Soil Science, Art, Biology, Business, Business Administration, Business Technical Certificate, Chemistry, Commercial Entertainment, Computed Tomography, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Economics-business, Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Engineering - Civil, Engineering - Mechanical, English, Exercise Science, Film Crew Technology, Foreign Language, General Technology, General Transfer, Geography, Graphic Design, Health Sciences, History, Humanities, Information Systems, Information Systems Technology, Mass Communication, Mathematics, Medical Informatics, Music, Nursing, Physics, Political Science, Pre-Health (Dentistry, Medicine, Pharmacy, Optometry, Veterinarian Medicine), Pre-Occupational Therapy, Pre-Physical Therapy, Psychology, Public Relations, Radiologic Technology, Respiratory Care, Social Work, Sociology, Speech Communication, Teaching: K-5, Theatre Arts, Veterinary Technology

College Awards and Achievements

Aspen Prize

Campus Life

Columbia State benefits from an attractive tree-lined campus with rose gardens, a modern student center, a wellness center, a gym, tennis courts, and a running track. There are five campuses. the main Columbia campus, and sites in Marshall county, Lawrence county, Williamson county, and Clifton.


  1. ^ a b 2006-07-28. Columbia State Community College - College Overview Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine.. Peterson's.
  2. ^ "Fall 2015 Fact Sheets" (PDF). Columbia State Community College. Retrieved . 
  3. ^ "NJCAA Record Books". NJCAA. Retrieved 2014. 

External links

35°36?59?N 87°05?59?W / 35.616527°N 87.099709°W / 35.616527; -87.099709

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