Celebrating Our 50th Anniversary!

South Seattle College celebrated 50 years of service to our surrounding communities throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.   

Established in 1969, we looked back on our history of providing accessible education to our residents in a vast array of programs over five decades. We look forward to providing excellent education over our next 50 years. 

South’s History: A Snapshot

Established in 1969, South Seattle (Community) College become one of three Seattle Community Colleges serving the greater Seattle region and Robert C. Smith became the first college president. 

In that first year the college held classes at various locations, including the Duwamish site (now known as South’s Georgetown Campus), West Seattle High School, and the Holgate site on 3rd Avenue.  Instructional classes included Aircraft Mechanics, Diesel & Heavy Duty, Landscape Horticulture, Boeing Drafting, Apprenticeship-related, Fire and Police Command, and evening programs were held at various locations.

A 63-acre site on 16th Ave S.W., then serving as a gravel pit, was selected as the future home for South and construction began in January 1970.  South’s first class size was 650 students, and the first graduation held in 1971 had 90 people in attendance with 25 students receiving awards.  Today, we serve around 8,000 students starting every fall quarter with around 900 students graduating and receiving awards annually.

In 1971, South opened its doors to College/Academic Transfer students in addition to an already strong foundation in professional-technical programs, and in the decades to come the college expanded educational offerings to include adult basic education, English language learning, continuing education, many apprenticeship programs and, most recently, Bachelor of Applied Science programs.  To better reflect our reality as an institution that awards four-year bachelor’s degrees in addition to associate degrees and certificates, the college name changed from South Seattle Community College to South Seattle College in 2014.

1972 saw the college open a Veterans Affairs Office and offer Minority Affairs support to students.  South’s student body continued to diversify in the decades to come and helped define the college as a truly open institution that celebrates diversity and strives to make education more accessible and equitable for every student.  Today, South has more than 34 first languages spoken among students, staff and faculty. 

South Seattle College continues to grow and evolve to address the needs of our students, the communities we serve, and today’s workforce. We thank all of you for being part of this story!

Check out the timeline for more history