Howard College, in Big Spring, was established in 1945 as Howard County Junior College. E. C. Dodd was chosen the first president, to begin office in the spring of 1946. Negotiation with the federal government resulted in temporary quarters for the coeducational junior college in the hospital area of the former Big Spring Army Air Force Bombardier School, two miles west of town. The first session began in September 1946 with an enrollment of 148. In September 1951 the college moved to new quarters on a 100-acre site in southeast Big Spring. William A. Hunt served as president from 1952 to 1972. Enrollment increased from 337 to 879 between 1951 and 1964. The physical plant consisted of an administration-classroom-library building, a practical-arts building, a greenhouse, a music building, and dormitories, in addition to athletic facilities including a 10,000-seat stadium.
The library had 20,000 books in 1969 and added 800 to 1,000 titles annually. It provided service primarily for students and faculty and secondarily for citizens of the community. The college promoted lecture series, musical and stage productions, athletic events, and other activities. Full accreditation was granted by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools and by the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities. Courses of study designed for academic, preprofessional, and terminal technical or vocational fields were offered for regular, evening, and summer session students. By the 1974–75 regular term the enrollment had increased to 1,373, and the faculty numbered more than fifty. Charles D. Hays was president. By 1974 the school's name had been changed to Howard College at Big Spring. In November 1979 the board of trustees approved a new program, Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf, which began instruction in August 1980. It is located on a fifty-seven-acre campus in Big Spring, the former site of Webb Air Force Base.
Howard College is on a 120-acre campus and owns an additional 276 acres in Martin County devoted to agricultural research. The college also has rodeo facilities on a twenty-acre tract east of Big Spring. Howard College opened a campus in San Angelo in 1981, when it assumed operation of a vocational nursing program affiliated with the San Angelo Independent School District; the college also offers programs in Lamesa and at the Big Spring Federal Correctional Institute and the Eden Detention Center. Enrollment in the fall of 1999 was 1,883. The faculty numbered 139. Cheryl T. Sparks was president.