Narrative History of Lane Community College

Narrative History of Lane Community College


Lane Community College was founded on October 19, 1964, when the voters of Lane County approved the formation of a comprehensive community college.

The founding of Lane was the culmination of efforts on both the state and local levels to establish community colleges in Oregon. In 1959 the Oregon Legislative Assembly passed a bill outlining the concept of comprehensive community colleges which offered vocational training, college transfer courses and adult education.

In Eugene, a quality technical-vocational school had existed since the 1930s. During the Great Depression, Eugene Vocational School was established to provide manual education and training to high school students and unemployed adults. The new vocational school opened in 1938 in the original Geary School at Fourth and Madison in Eugene.

Eugene Vocational School responded to the needs for skilled workers during World War II and made a successful transition to peacetime after 1945. In the 1950s community-oriented adult education classes were added, and in 1958 the name of the school was changed to Eugene Technical-Vocational School, reflecting the addition of more technologically oriented courses.

Local educational leaders recognized the need to expand ETVS into a regional institution that would better serve the diverse needs of the wider community. Following the October 1964 election, Lane was founded and ETVS was folded into the new community college.

The first Board of Directors (later renamed the Lane Community College Board of Education) met on November 4, 1964, to begin the task of establishing a college: hiring faculty and staff, finding classroom and office space, and developing curriculum, courses and programs. The first president was Dale Parnell, former principal of Springfield High School and superintendent of Lane Intermediate Education District. The first classes were held on September 20, 1965, at facilities at 200 North Monroe in Eugene. During that first year, 1,500 students registered at the college.


The donation of land by Wilfred Gonyea formed the nucleus for the main campus located south of Eugene on East 30th Avenue. A $9.9 million construction bond issue for the construction of the main campus was passed by the voters in 1966. Classes were offered there for the first time in September 1968. Centers were opened in Florence in 1976 and in Cottage Grove and downtown Eugene in 1977.

In 1995 a $42.8 million construction bond measure was passed by the voters which enabled the first major construction on the main campus since the late 1960s, new facilities in Cottage Grove and Florence, as well as the establishment of eight community learning centers at high schools throughout the district.


Lane was mandated to offer instruction in vocational and college transfer programs as well as continuing education. The college offers lower division college transfer courses, professional and technical training, precollege and skill development, cooperative programs with area high schools, student employment, continuing education, workforce development, and services and training for business and industry.

The college provides on-the-job training through the Cooperative Education program, established in 1970. It is one of the largest co-op programs in two-year colleges in the U.S.

Distance Learning provides a variety of course offerings and programs taught online or via television. The first telecourse was offered on cable television in the spring of 1979. In 1995 the associate of arts transfer degree became available via distance learning, and in the summer of 1996 the first online course was offered.

From the beginning the college has placed an emphasis on high-quality teaching and has encouraged and rewarded faculty innovation. Since 1973 the college has been a member of the League for Innovation in the Community College, a consortium of community colleges committed to stimulate experimentation and innovation in all areas of community college development.


Student organizations and publications include the student newspaper, The Torch (1965); student government, Associated Students of Lane Community College (ASLCC) (1965); and the student literary magazine, Denali (1971). Services, programs and offices designed to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body include: Gender Equity Center (formerly Women's Center) (1973); Disability Services (1979); child care services (1988); Native American Student Association (1993); Substance Abuse Prevention Program (1990); and the Veterans Education Benefits Certification Office. International students have been admitted to Lane since 1966 and currently comprise three percent of the student body.

Students are at the center of the college's mission. The Students First! Process Redesign Project was begun in 1996 to review services to students and recommend ways to make them more cost effective, efficient and student oriented. [Students First! Center (Now Enrollment Services)]

The Community

Lane reflects the economic, cultural, and social needs of the community. A continuing education program offering hundreds of noncredit courses to the community has been part of the college since it was founded. Adult Basic and Secondary Education programs such as the Adult Basic Skills Development, Adults with Special Needs, and English as a Second Language serve the needs of adults in the community.

Responding to the changing economy of Lane County, Lane established the Dislocated Worker Program (renamed Workforce Development) in 1983 to provide training and job search assistance to residents who lost their jobs due to changes in the economy. The Transitions to Success (now Women in Transition) program, established in 1987, assists displaced homemakers, single parents and other women in transition to become economically self-sufficient through access to education, training and employment.

Lane reaches out to the business community. Beginning in 1981, the Business Assistance Center provided aid to small businesses. Today, the Business Development Center continues to assist the business community by providing training, counseling and other educational services through a variety of programs. Since 1984, Lane has housed the Oregon Small Business Development Network. Business and Industry Services provides custom training for local businesses. Lane has trained new employees at Symantec (1993), Sony Corporation (1994), Hyundai (1996), and other corporations. In addition, Lane works with other local businesses to provide on-going workplace training for their employees.

Lane also serves the cultural needs of the community. KLCC-FM, a public broadcasting station, began broadcasting in 1967 and has earned a reputation as a major news and jazz radio station. KLCC Milestones lists the accomplishments of the radio station since its founding thirty years ago. Since its creation in 1968, the college's Music, Dance and Theater Department has offered programs in the performing arts and has become an important performing arts center in Eugene.


Board of Education

The Lane Community College Board of Education is composed of seven elected, nonpaid members. The board has primary authority for establishing policies governing the operation of the college and adopting the college's annual budget. They oversee the development of programs and services which best serve the needs of the people of the Lane district. The college district stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascade Mountains and includes most of Lane County and small portions of Benton, Linn, and Douglas Counties. 

More Information

To learn more about the college, refer to History Highlights, a listing of significant events in the history of Lane.