100 Years, 100 Stories
Celebrating 100 years: 1915-2015
In the spring of 1915, a representative of the University of Missouri was invited to introduce a two year college plan in Kansas City. The Kansas City school board seized the opportunity to experiment with innovations in post-secondary education. The board’s action was in response to a trend that had been growing in the Kansas City school system: Parents were keeping their children in high school for a fifth year. They felt the teens were not mature enough to leave home for complex university and parents couldn’t afford university tuition plus room and board. The community was asking for an opportunity to provide higher education locally. Thus, the Kansas City Polytechnic Institute was born.
The Kansas City Polytechnic Institute was officially established by the Board of Education on May 29, 1915, as the first public institution of higher education in Kansas City. The plan was to provide fifth-year students with college-level work. Classes began on September 7, 1915, with an estimated 200 students. The Institute used the building at 11th and Locust, which had previously been the old Central High School operated by Kansas City School District. The president of the University of Missouri and the chancellor of the University of Kansas were both present at the opening convocation of the Polytechnic Institute.
Tuition was free to students 21 years or younger who lived within the school district. Students who lived outside the district paid $45 per semester. The Institute offered not only classes that prepared students for additional college work, but also courses that could lead to profitable employment. In the beginning, the Institute included a junior college, a teacher training school, a high school, a mechanic arts school, a trade school, and a business training school. A nurse training school was quickly added.
The junior college division became the most popular. The division’s curriculum mirrored course offerings that universities offered. Eventually the high school division split off to join Manual Training High School, and the trade school division joined the Lathrop School of Mechanical Trades.
The college was one of the first two-year colleges in the United States to award the associate degree and became a national model for two-year post-secondary education.
After only three years, the new college was accredited by North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges. The school was only the third two-year institution in the country to be accredited by the NCA. The academic standards were considered highly rigorous.
With the junior college division attracting so many students, the Institute officially changed its name to the Junior College of Kansas City in 1919.
The community was excited. Parents viewed the junior college as a means of furthering education locally, and the Kansas City board of education saw a way to prepare professionals to serve businesses and the community.
From 1915 until 1964, the Kansas City Board of Education was the governing body of the college. In 1964 seven suburban school districts – Belton, Center, Grandview, Hickman Mills, Lee’s Summit, North Kansas City and Raytown -joined forces with the Kansas City School District to create the Metropolitan Community College District. That year the college Board of Trustees was elected and began governing the district.
As Kansas City expanded into the suburbs in the 1960s, so did MCC, opening the Longview, Maple Woods, and Penn Valley campuses in 1969.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the Blue Springs, Park Hill, Independence and Fort Osage school districts joined the MCC district. Blue River Community College was named the fourth campus in 1997 and the Business & Technology campus was added in 2002.
In December of 2005, all five campuses joined together to become one Metropolitan Community College. The goal was to create a more unified district to serve the needs of students all over the Greater Kansas City region.
Today, MCC has transformed into the largest public education provider in the area and is one of the premier community colleges in the nation. With five campuses located across the metropolitan community, MCC serves more than 37,000 students every year. “MCC Works” to prepare students, serve communities and create opportunities. From the beginning, MCC has been a vibrant and ever-changing system that works to create a better community through education.