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RCC 50th Anniversary

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Rogue Community College was born in the fall of 1970 when the voters of Josephine County passed a bond to fund the college. Thanks to their vision, hundreds of thousands of local residents in Josephine and Jackson counties have furthered their skills and realized their dreams for a better life. 

To mark this milestone, RCC will recognize its history in stories and interesting facts about the college and its founders, students, and staff throughout the academic year. 

We welcome RCC alumni and retired staff to share their stories. Please email

“RCC is proud of its history and the people who chose to better their lives at their local community college,” said RCC President Cathy Kemper-Pelle, Ed.D. “Nothing gives us more joy and pride than celebrating the college and its students’ achievements.” 

A Short History of RCC 
(RCC Timeline)

Rogue Community College was established in 1970 by a vote of the electorate of Josephine County after a long campaign effort by many supporters including Midge Renton, a local schoolteacher, and the founders of the College, Marjorie Holzgang, Bill Ford, and Phil Nelson. The new college was started on a campus originally constructed in the mid-1960s as a federal training facility known as the Fort Vannoy Job Corps Training Center. 

In the inaugural year, 1971, over 1,000 students were taught by 13 full-time instructors. Among the first programs were horseshoeing and Emergency Medical Technician, and timber industry jobs were a focus of education. “It was a bare-bones operation,” Phil Nelson recalled to the Grants Pass Daily Courier in 2011. 

RCC provided a friendly, helpful atmosphere to serve a great educational need in the community. Most of those first students were adults looking for a new start on life. They had never set foot on a college campus. Now they had an affordable path to an RCC education and a new career. Hundreds of thousands of students would follow in the footsteps of these RCC pioneers.

The College grew rapidly and, with the decline of the timber industry, it played an increasingly major role in retraining workers and providing students with transfer degrees to four-year colleges. It served this role again, training thousands for new careers after the Great Recession of 2008. 

The Grants Pass campus of wood-framed buildings was remodeled in 1989, along with several more recently constructed buildings, providing additional classrooms and modern laboratory space. 

In 1996, voters in Jackson and Josephine counties approved expansion of the RCC District to include all of Jackson County. This provided a wider range of college access for students throughout the Rogue Valley. At the time, just 33 percent of Jackson County high school graduates went to college. This expansion resulted in two new campuses: Riverside Campus in Medford (1997), and Table Rock Campus in White City (2006). 

Rogue Community College’s reputation continued to grow, and it entered many alliances with health care organizations, government agencies, regional school districts and Southern Oregon University. These alliances resulted in the creation of the Higher Education Center—where students from SOU and RCC attend classes—in downtown Medford in 2008. 

Thanks to a $20 million bond passed by voters in 2016, RCC is expanding Table Rock Campus with a High Tech Center and a Health Professions Center, and revitalizing the Redwood Campus with renovations, including the new Art Center and a new Science Building. 

Since the first student sat in the first classroom and took her first notes, RCC has served over 270,000 unique students who have taken over 3 million classes. Since 1999, RCC has awarded more than 9,500 associate degrees. Today, RCC offers over 80 certificates and degrees and serves over 15,000 students each year.

We can all look forward to celebrating this great history during this academic year!