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VERNON COLLEGE. The voters of Wilbarger County approved the establishment of a county junior college district in an election on January 20, 1970. A board of seven trustees was elected on January 22, and on April 9, 1970, David L. Norton was named president of Vernon Regional Junior College. A campus site, which in 1973 totaled 100 acres, was acquired at the intersection of U.S. highways 70 and 287. The first phase of the building program included the Academic Science Center, the Administration-Fine Arts Building, and the Applied Arts Center. The college opened in the fall of 1972. Designed as a comprehensive community junior college, the curriculum included academic and technical-vocational subjects. There were 608 students in the first class. Following the initial opening of the college, a learning center was developed in Burkburnett during the 1973–74 term. On the main campus 799 students were enrolled in the fall of 1974. On August 1, 1974, the board of trustees appointed Jim M. Williams president of the college. During the 1975–76 school year Vernon Regional Junior College expanded its services again, offering a learning center on Sheppard Air Force Base. The vocational nursing program was enlarged during the 1976–77 school year. In 1976 a sixth major building, the Physical Education Center, was dedicated in honor of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas A. King. With the construction of this building the original master plan for the main campus was complete. In August 1980 a student residence center was opened for occupancy. On March 22, 1982, Joe Mills was appointed president of the college.
During 1984–85 enrollment was 1,863; continuing education enrollment was a record 7,056. In 1986 the college employed its first baseball coach and developed plans to build a facility which would accommodate a concession stand, a coach's office, and space for radio, television, and newspaper coverage of the home games. Plans were also approved to build an indoor heated swimming pool. Vernon College has been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and is a member of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges, the Texas Association of Junior Colleges, and others. In late 1989 instructional locations included the main campus at Vernon; Sheppard Learning Center; Department of Vocational Nursing, Wichita Falls; VRJC Technical Center, Wichita Falls; Career Development Center, Wichita Falls; Seymour Learning Center; Burkburnett Learning Center; Iowa Park Learning Center; and various locations of community service and continuing education classes within a twelve-county area. The Red River Valley Museum is located on the main campus. Vernon Regional Junior College had 96 faculty and 779 students for the 1992–93 regular term, 1,040 students for the 1992 summer session, and 1,928 continuing education students. In 1997 the college opened a center in Wichita Falls to provide training for area industries. In the fall of 1998 enrollment was 1,936 with a faculty of fifty-three. Steve Thomas was named the college's fifth president in 2000. In the spring of 2001 the board of trustees voted unanimously to change the school's name to Vernon College.
BIBLIOGRAPHY:Wilbarger County Historical Commission, Wilbarger County (Lubbock, 1986).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Jeanne F. Lively, "Vernon College," accessed April 30, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kcv01.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.