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Southwestern's History

Original Petition

Southwestern Oregon Community College (Southwestern) is located within two miles of the Pacific Ocean in an area of scenic beauty and mild climate.

The college was formed in a tax district election in May 1961. It originally included Coos, northern Curry, and western Douglas and Lane counties, though Curry and Lane counties chose to leave the district a year later. On July 1, 1995, Curry County rejoined the district following a successful annexation vote by its residents.  With the addition of Curry County, the college area nearly doubled in size, extending to the California border. The district now encompasses 3,648 square miles with a population of approximately 90,000. The college is the only public, post-secondary institution in the region.

Students 1960's

Enrollment has grown from 815 total students in 1961 to around 10,000 students annually. We have grown from 15 to about 60 full-time faculty and from 11 to around 200 part-time instructors. Cultural and athletic events at the college attract thousands of men, women and children from our communities each year.

During the early years, Southwestern held classes in surplus U.S. Navy facilities and in Coos Bay and North Bend school district buildings. The current Coos Campus, the biggest collection of land and buildings, is completely within the city of Coos Bay and is bordered on the south and east by commercial and residential areas, the west by Upper Empire Lake, and the north by a natural tract of coastal pine. Classes are also offered at the Curry Campus in Brookings, Gold Beach Center, Port Orford Center, and occasionally at other sites and towns throughout the college district. Southwestern has 158 acres of land in all.

1960 SWOCC Building

Permanent campus construction began in 1963. A majority of the Coos Campus was built between 1965 and 1969. A second phase of construction, beginning in 1979, provided new and remodeled shops and laboratories and expanded facilities for several programs. The expansion included a student center with a cafeteria, student activity space, student government offices, and meeting rooms for school and community activities.

The college entered a third building phase in 1994 with the construction of a new student services and general classroom building. This was followed immediately by a comprehensive One-Stop Career Center, a Family Center, student housing, a new baseball field, an indoor athletic practice facility, and a state-of-the-art performing arts and conference center. Additional facilities that were recently added include the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute (OCCI), an artificial turf soccer field, a new track, and the Recreation Center


The current decade brings with it the planning and construction of a new Curry Campus on the northern end of Brookings. The new facility, scheduled to open in the Fall of 2011, is a 27,000 square foot, two-story building equipped with wireless internet, advanced learning technology and sited/designed to maximize sustainability options. Support areas will include dedicated areas for tutoring, studying, and testing, a resource area for students to link with on-line resources, and a faculty teaching and learning center. The seven classrooms will include an allied health suite, science lab, and computer lab. A community wing, available for college classes, will provide a new and much needed venue for large public and private gatherings in Curry County. Each of its two large rooms can be divided into two smaller rooms.

Throughout the college’s fifty year history, a comprehensive instructional program has evolved to meet the needs of the incoming students. Instructional offerings include two-year transfer programs, one and two-year career/technical programs, short-term training occupational programs, adult education, a high school diploma program, and enrichment courses. 

As a partner in the South Coast’s economic development, Southwestern offers the regions’ employees, employers, and industrial partners educational opportunities to meet their needs. Whether students enroll for a short course, a two-year transfer, or a two-year Associate degree, they are preparing for a rewarding future and lifelong learning.

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