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WHARTON COUNTY JUNIOR COLLEGE

WHARTON COUNTY JUNIOR COLLEGE. Wharton County Junior College, a state-supported institution governed by an eight-member board of trustees elected by the citizens of the Wharton County Junior College District, is on a ninety-acre campus in Wharton, Texas. The district includes all of Wharton County plus Needville, a town in Fort Bend County. The college was first proposed in 1944 by a postwar planning board of community leaders. Their action led to the organization on August 7, 1945, of a county junior college committee composed of citizens from various sections of the county and in 1946 the establishment of the Wharton County Junior College District. In April 1946 the Wharton County Commissioner's Court was petitioned for the temporary use of the county's buildings on the fairgrounds as classrooms until construction of a permanent campus. The college was housed in five buildings on the Wharton County Fair Grounds near the Wharton city limits and opened for instruction in September 1946 with 200 students, thirteen teachers, one librarian, and one registrar. In 1947 citizens approved a tax bond issue to acquire permanent college facilities. A twenty-acre site was donated by friends of the college, construction began, and the school moved across the street from the fair grounds in 1949. Enrollment increased steadily from 523 students in 1954 to 2,200 in 1976 and 3,361 in 1992. Adult evening classes, vocational training, and an intercollegiate sports program developed. The J. M. Hodges Library, built in 1958–59, had over 31,000 volumes by 1969 and 59,691 volumes and 524 periodical subscriptions by 1992. In 1972 and 1975 additional land was acquired, including the 200-acre Hutchins Research and Experimental Farm, and in 1978 and 1979 additional acreage was acquired on Matagorda Peninsula. The faculty grew to ninety full-time faculty members and eighty part-time teachers by fall 1992.

Wharton County Junior College, which offers the associate in arts degree and an associate in applied science degree, serves students drawn from Wharton, Austin, Matagorda, Fort Bend, Colorado, and Jackson counties. Its expanded enrollment permits broad curriculum offerings, including two years of all preprofessional majors, as well as vocational and technical courses to meet the needs of industry along the Gulf Coast. Its nursing and allied health programs attract a wide range of students from across the state. In the 1980s off-campus day classes in Richmond-Rosenberg were offered, and in 1983 the college established a satellite campus on leased land at Farm Road 3155. In 1985 land for a permanent Richmond campus was purchased from money donated by the George Foundation. Off-campus classes are also offered at centers at Bay City, El Campo, Palacios, and Sugar Land, and at the Fort Bend Technical Center, a partnership between Wharton County Junior College and Texas State Technical College, opened in Richmond in 2001. Wharton County Junior College is recognized by the Texas Education Agency and is a member of the American Association of Junior Colleges, the Southern Association of Junior Colleges, the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities, and Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Enrollment in the fall of 1998 was 4,213, with a faculty of 115. Betty McCrohan became the college's sixth president in 2001.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Annie Lee Williams, A History of Wharton County (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1964).

Diana J. Kleiner

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Diana J. Kleiner, "WHARTON COUNTY JUNIOR COLLEGE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kcw05), accessed July 29, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.