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Roane State Community College

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Tennessee Reconnect and Promise. Graduating high school seniors can attend tuition-free. Free tuition for adults.Tennessee Reconnect and Promise. Graduating high school seniors can attend tuition-free. Free tuition for adults.
Online degrees available. Online education gives you flexibility to take classes that fit your schedule.Online degrees available. Online education gives you flexibility to take classes that fit your schedule.


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Roane State’s Beginnings

Beginning with the Pierce-Albright Report in 1957, which resulted in a $200,000 appropriation by the Tennessee General Assembly in 1963 to initiate the community college system, the philosophy of community colleges in Tennessee has been to provide higher education for all Tennessee residents. The first three community colleges were established in 1965, with one in each of Tennessee’s three grand divisions—Cleveland State in East Tennessee, Columbia State in Middle Tennessee, and Jackson State in West Tennessee. Additional community colleges opened in Dyersburg and Tullahoma in 1969. The sixth community college opened in Morristown in 1970.

In 1969, the General Assembly, upon the recommendation of Governor Buford Ellington and the state Department of Education, authorized three additional community colleges to be built in Sumner, Roane, and Shelby counties. After visits by Commissioner J. Howard Warf and other officials from the state Department of Education in 1969, a site on Patton Lane was chosen as the permanent location of Roane State Community College.

Facilities Growth

RSCC opened in temporary quarters at the former Fairmont Elementary School in Harriman in the fall of 1971. In the fall of 1973, the college moved into its first permanent building on the main campus in Roane County.

Groundbreaking for the second building on the Roane State campus was held in January 1977. This three-story Technology Building was occupied in December 1978.

Construction on Campus Expansion Phase II began in June 1978. The Maintenance Building was completed in June 1979, and the Library/Learning Resource Center in September 1980. In addition to reference and audio-visual services, the center houses Distance Learning and the Center for Teaching Arts and Technology. A branch campus at Hardin Valley Road and Pellissippi Parkway was occupied in the fall of 1986. This campus was shared with a sister institution in Knox County.

With the establishment of Pellissippi State Technical Community College in the fall of 1988, Roane State moved its Oak Ridge campus to new sites in Oak Ridge.

Phase I of the East Tennessee Agricultural Exhibition Center was completed in 1988 at the Roane County campus. Phase II was completed in 2000. The facility continues to host a variety of agricultural, civic and community events.

In June of 1994, Roane State held a dedication ceremony for its first permanent Higher Education Center at the new facility in Huntsville. The Scott County Center was named after Earl McDonald, a former Scott Countian who generously provided a $1 million gift to help build the new campus. The center’s library was named after Scott County native Howard H. Baker, Jr., former senator and chief-of-staff for President Reagan. Baker’s memorabilia and world-renowned photographs are displayed throughout the facility. The 15,000-square-foot center is situated on 37 wooded acres provided by W.H. Swain.

In August of 1994, the college held its long-awaited groundbreaking for the new $6.3 million Humanities Building. Final approval of funding for the building came after 13 years of support by community and political leaders. The Humanities Building was opened for classes in the spring of 1997.

In December of 1998, Roane State held a dedication ceremony for its second permanent Higher Education Center in Crossville. The Cumberland County Center was named after Roy and Joanne Stone. The Stones donated the 40-acre tract of land for the new center and made significant financial contributions as well. The center’s library was named after the Cumberland Clinic Foundation in honor of this organization’s significant financial contribution.

Roane State occupied a new facility in Knox County to accommodate Health Sciences education that Roane State provides in the expanded service area of Knox and Blount counties. The facility houses classrooms for nursing, respiratory therapy, polysomnography, and EMT/paramedic programs.

Another hard-won dream of the college became a reality when the Oak Ridge Branch Campus celebrated the dedication of its permanent, state-of-the-art, 120,000 square foot facility on August 13, 1999. The building is named in honor of State Senator Randy McNally and former State Representative David Coffey in recognition of their contributions and leadership in the campaign for the permanent Oak Ridge Branch Campus. The campus’s Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building, named for former Roane State President Dr. Gary Goff, was completed in 2014.

In October 2001, dedication ceremonies were held to celebrate the opening of a multi-million dollar facility in which Roane State leases space for the Loudon County Higher Education Center. The college shares this facility with the Loudon County Career Center and the Lenoir City Public Library. City and county officials worked closely with the college to make this valuable community resource a reality after a 1999 fire destroyed the downtown block in Lenoir City where the center now stands.

In November 2004, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of the Fentress County Higher Education Center in Jamestown. The facility is located on property leased from York Institute and consists of five portable units provided by the Fentress County Board of Education. A bronze plaque was presented to Guy and Claudine Pinckley for their effort in providing most of the financial resources necessary to make the center a reality.

In 2005, the Campbell County Higher Education Center was completed. This 18,000 sq. ft. building in Lafollette replaced the college’s leased center in Woodson’s Mall. Thanks to a bequest by Lillian Michaelis and a land gift by Ed Wheeler, Campbell County now enjoys a permanent college campus.

In spring 2008, the Morgan County Higher Education Center opened thanks to the support of Wayne and Margaret Solomon whose significant financial contributions made the campus possible. Lawrence and Eva Hines gave the college the land on which the campus is located.

In July 2011, the $1.28 million Cumberland Business Incubator (CBI) opened on the Cumberland County campus.  Financing for the CBI was supported with federal, state and local resources.  The Cumberland County Commission and Crossville City Council each committed $250,000 for the construction of the CBI.  In addition, Roane State received an $880,000 grant from the U.S. Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration.

In May 2013, Roane State hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Clinton Higher Education and Workforce Training Facility. Roane State had begun offering courses in advanced manufacturing there earlier that year along with courses in continuing healthcare education and industrial safety courses.

Student Population Growth

Roane State was projected to be the second or third smallest two-year state college when it opened its doors in the fall of 1971 – enrolling 323 students in 35 classes taught by 20 faculty. Over the years, the college enjoyed a consistently upward trend in enrollment with two notable student growth areas - off-campus and distance learning. Roane State now serves more than 6,000 students who are enrolled for credit and thousands more who take various non-credit courses or participate in seminars, workshops, cultural activities, exposition events and special educational services offered by the college.

Dual Studies

Dual studies classes allow high school students to earn college credit and high school credit at the same time. Roane State first offered these courses in 1997. The college’s program, called First Class, has experienced tremendous growth. Approximately 1,200 students take dual studies classes at Roane State.

International Education

The college has made tremendous strides in preparing students to live and work in a global society. In 2008, the college brought in its first large group of visiting international students and has since welcomed many more. Roane State has also expanded international travel opportunities for students. Destinations have included Denmark, France, Italy, England, Ecuador and other countries.


In 1992, Roane State became the first Tennessee community college to offer classes through live video teleconferencing, and in 1996, RSCC offered its first Web classes. The college has continued to expand the number of courses offered through live video teleconferencing and online. In 2008, the college received a grant to add video classroom technology into area high schools, allowing students to take RSCC courses in their own high schools. Roane State made wireless Internet available on all campuses in 2011, and the college has expanded its use of mobile technology to enhance student learning. Roane State created its first mobile app in March 2013.

Grant Funding

Roane State, with the help of many partners, has been awarded several grants to support education initiatives in the college’s service area. For example, grants have supported the college's efforts to offer training in advanced manufacturing such as composites and mechatronics. Roane State continues to succeed in winning grants and implementing grant-funded projects.

The Presidents of Roane State

In May of 1970, Dr. Cuyler A. Dunbar was selected as the first president of the college.

With 18 years of service to the college, President Dunbar left Roane State in 1988 to assume the presidency of Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, North Carolina.

Dr. Sherry L. Hoppe was appointed on an interim basis and later named as Roane State’s second president in spring 1989.

In February 2000, Dr. Sherry Hoppe accepted an appointment as interim president at Austin Peay State University and was selected as the university’s permanent president in January 2001. During this period, Vice President for Financial Services William S. Fuqua, III served as interim president of Roane State.

On October 15, 2001, Dr. Wade B. McCamey became Roane State’s third president. In August of 2005, Dr. McCamey accepted the presidency of Walters State Community College in Morristown.

Dr. Gary Goff became Roane State’s fourth president on August 19, 2005 after serving as an academic dean and vice president for business at Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, Florida. He retired on October 31, 2012.

Dr. Chris Whaley became the college's fifth president on November 1, 2012 after serving as the college's vice president of student learning/chief academic officer.


1974 The college was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the associate degree.
1976 77% of all students were taught on-campus.
1979 40% of all enrollment was off-campus.
1980-81   Roane State became the fourth-largest Tennessee community college.
1981 The governor stated that Roane State Oak Ridge and State Technical Institute at Knoxville should share a location on the Technology Corridor.
1981-82 Roane State became the third-largest Tennessee community college, by FTE.
1983-84 Women’s basketball team won the national championship, the first for a two-year Tennessee college.
1985-86 Roane State became the second-largest Tennessee community college with 40% of its enrollment off-campus.
1989 All faculty and staff offices were equipped with a personal computer or terminal.
1989-90 Roane State became the first college in Tennessee to have electronic telephone registration.
1990-91 RSCC has more health science programs than any other two-year college in Tennessee.
1990-91 The college won the AACJC Exemplary Program and Services Award for Excellence of Off-campus Higher Education Centers.
1991-92 Telecourse programming began with two video courses in the fall and three more in the spring. A total of 250 students enrolled.
1992-93 The first distance learning (IDEA) classrooms to be offered by any Tennessee community college were installed. By 1995, with five compressed video classrooms, RSCC became the largest user of this technology among TBR community colleges.
1994 Scott County Higher Education Center opened
1994-95 E-mail access became available to all RSCC students.
1996-97 The Tamke-Allan Observatory was completed in June on the Schweinler property overlooking Watts Bar Lake.
1996-97 RSCC offered its first classes on the World Wide Web.
1997 Roane State first offered dual studies classes.
1998 The Cumberland County Higher Education Center opened.
1998 The Knox County Center for Health Sciences opened.
1999 The Oak Ridge Campus opened.
2001 The Loudon County Higher Education Center opened.
2004 The Fentress County Higher Education Center opened.
2005 The Campbell County Higher Education Center completed.
2005-06 For an unprecedented fourth year, RSCC earned a perfect 100 points on the THEC Performance Funding Program evaluation.
2005-06 Career education programs had a 96% placement rate.
2005-06 RSCC students rated their entire educational experience higher than state or national peers.
2005-06 All former past presidents came “home” to kick off the college’s celebration of 35 years of academic excellence.
2006-07 Over $14 million was awarded in student financial aid.
2007 Bromma Pemberton Linville and Bill Swain, major benefactors of the college's Scott County campus, became the first people to receive honorary degrees from Roane State.
2007-08 Morgan County Center for Higher Education opened.
2008-09 Roane State received $265,000 federal grant to add new interactive classrooms at area high schools and RSCC campuses.
2009 Roane State posted the highest retention rate of all community colleges in Tennessee, according to data from the Tennessee Board of Regents.
2009 Roane State established a college police department and named Matt Foster as its first Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police.
2009 The college received an $880,000 federal grant for the Cumberland Business Incubator (CBI), paving the way for construction to begin.
2009 The Tennessee Board of Regents awarded an Academic Excellence Award to Roane State for the college's annual Academic Festival.
2009-10 Roane State experienced record enrollment with over 6,300 students attending.
2010 The college received a $2.86 million federal grant to support educating workers in advanced materials technician-level training.
2010 Roane State completed its fundraising campaign to support expansion of the college's Oak Ridge campus. 
2010 Roane State broke ground on the Cumberland Business Incubator at the Cumberland County campus.
2010 The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirmed Roane State's accreditation.
2010 The Oak Ridge campus expansion received final approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents.
2011 According to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission 2010-2011 Factbook, Roane State had the top 2009-2010 job placement rate (97 percent) of any community college in the state.
2011 Channel 15 television station, created by Roane State and the City of Harriman, went on the air and became a key component of the college’s new mass communications program.
2011 The Cumberland Business Incubator (CBI) at the Cumberland County campus opened.
2011 Roane State received two grants to help train workers in high-tech fields such as composite materials technology and mechatronics.
2011 Roane State made wireless Internet available on all campuses.
2012 Roane State ranked 27th among the nation's top 500 community colleges and No. 1 in Tennessee, according to
2012 Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis visited with Roane State faculty, staff and students as part of the Community College to Career bus tour.
2012 The renovated Princess Theatre in downtown Harriman, which is operated by Roane State, opened.
2012 The college broke ground for the new Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building at the Oak Ridge campus.
2012 Chris Whaley was named Roane State’s fifth president on Nov. 1, succeeding Dr. Gary Goff, who retired Oct. 31.
2012 Middle Tennessee State University and Roane State Community College signed agreements that created dual admissions, concurrent enrollment and reverse transfer options between the college and the university.
2012 A consortium led by Roane State received a $12.6 million federal grant to offer more training for health care careers and to provide support students need to complete their degrees. The grant program was called Rx-Tennessee.
2013 Roane State began offering courses at the Clinton Higher Education and Workforce Training Facility.
2013 Roane State created its first mobile app in March 2013.
2014 The Goff Health Sciences and Technology Building at the Oak Ridge campus was completed.
2014 Roane State launched Middle College, a program in which high school students could earn their diploma and associate degree at the same time.
2015 Roane State was selected into the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network.

For the first time, Roane State broke the 1,000 mark in graduates for an academic year.

2017 Roane State was eligible for the Aspen Prize, among the nation's most prestigious awards for community colleges.
2018 New science wing completed at Campbell County campus.
2019 Roane State received a $999,950 GIVE grant to extend dual enrollment offerings in Mechatronics and Cyber Defense to students in Morgan, Campbell, Roane, and Loudon counties.

With public health and safety concerns worsening in early spring due to the coronavirus pandemic, Roane State worked to quickly transition courses online and develop protocols to protect students, faculty, staff and our local communities from the spread of COVID-19. Throughout summer and fall, the college continued to innovate new ways to engage students in virtual learning, address their needs and keep them involved with campus activities, despite many being isolated at home. Even with these immense challenges, learning never stopped at Roane State in 2020 and student safety and success continued to be the top priority. Apart from the long list of projects related to the college’s rapid response to the pandemic, this historic year also saw Roane State named Community College of the Year by the College System of Tennessee.

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