After Walters State Community College was authorized by the 1967 General Assembly, Hamblen County was chosen by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission as a location. The Tennessee State Board of Education then chose a campus site located on the southeastern edge of the city of Morristown, two miles from the Hamblen County Courthouse. This main campus includes 134 acres of beautiful rolling land that faces east with access roads from the Appalachian Highway. This highway is the connecting link between Interstate 75 in Kentucky and Interstates 81 and 40 into North Carolina and Virginia. The college also occupies modern education facilities in Greeneville, Sevierville, and New Tazewell, Tennessee.
In 1957, the Pierce-Albright Report on Higher Education in Tennessee was made to the Tennessee Legislative Council. This report reflected the need for additional higher education opportunities to be provided for the average Tennessean. Upper East Tennessee was one of many places where higher education was not readily available to the citizens.
In 1963, the Tennessee General Assembly appropriated $200,000 for use over a two-year period to implement the Pierce-Albright Report. The State Board of Education, under the direction of Commissioner J. Howard Warf, developed plans for the establishment of a group of community colleges to serve these areas without access to higher education. The goal was to have one of these colleges within a 30-40 mile commuting distance of every Tennessean. Admission to these colleges was not to be restrictive to recent high school graduates, but was to be an “open door” opportunity with colleges serving a whole community from ages 18 to 80. Acting upon the recommendations of Governor Frank G. Clement and the State Department of Education, the 1965 Tennessee General Assembly authorized the establishment of the first three of these colleges, one to be located in each of the state’s three Grand Divisions. Columbia, in 1966, became the first operational community college in Tennessee, Cleveland and Jackson opened in 1967. Dyersburg and Tullahoma provided sites for the next two which opened in 1969. Walters State Community College, located in Morristown, was the sixth such college. Its opening date was September, 1970.
In 1969, the General Assembly authorized three more community colleges: Roane State in Harriman, Volunteer State in Gallatin, and Shelby State in Memphis. The nine community colleges and the regional universities were under jurisdiction of the State Board of Education. Chapter 838 of the Public Acts of 1972 authorized establishment of the State University and Community College System of Tennessee, today known as the Tennessee Board of Regents system. The elements of the system include the state universities and state community colleges which had been under the State Board of Education, the Board of Regents, and the Chancellor. The new system of governance became effective on July 1, 1972. Chattanooga State Technical Community College, the 10th community college, was added to the community college system in 1973. Since that time, the state’s technical institutes have been upgraded to community college status and the addition of 26 area technology centers has made the Tennessee Board of Regents System the sixth largest system of higher education in the nation. The Tennessee Board of Regents and the Board of Trustees of the University of Tennessee System are coordinated by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.
This sixth community college, Walters State Community College, was named for former U.S. Senator Herbert S. Walters who played a key role in the establishment of a community college in Morristown. In 1970 the campus of Walters State was under construction and temporary quarters were used during the first year of operation. The College Center Building was completed in the fall of 1971. It was renamed the Dr. Jack E. Campbell College Center in 2005. The next major addition to the campus was the Career Technology Building which was completed in the winter quarter of 1975. The Career Technology Building was expanded and renovated in 1987 and the new facility was renamed the Technical Education Building. In 2001, this building was renamed the Clifford H. “Bo” Henry Center for Business and Technology. The Life Sciences Building, completed in December 1979, was essential to provide needed classrooms and faculty offices for a rapidly growing student body. This building, which was renamed the Math and Behavioral/Social Sciences Building, was completely renovated during the 2001-02 academic year. It re-opened to students and faculty in the fall of 2002 and was renamed the Doggett Mathematics and Behavioral/Social Sciences Building in 2004. In the summer of 1979 the construction of the Humanities Complex began. The project was completed in the fall of 1980. The Humanities Complex was renamed the Judge William H. Inman Humanities Complex in 2001. In December of 1979, the college added the Plant Operations Building to the physical facilities inventory to handle the functions of maintenance and repair. In 1994 the college began construction of the Campus Development Phase II master plan which includes a new Library, Math and Science Buildings, Public Safety Center, and Administration Building. The new Library opened in May 1997 and was named the R. Jack Fishman Library in 2004. The Natural Science Building was occupied in July 1998 and renamed the McGuffin-Jolley Natural Science Building in 2005. The college’s Great Smoky Mountains Expo Center opened in March 1996 and additional support facilities were added during 1998-99 and 2007.
In addition to expanding its facilities at the Morristown campus, Walters State has established three satellite campuses; the Sevier County Campus, the Greeneville/Greene County Center for Higher Education, and the Claiborne County Center for Higher Education. In 1999, the first building on the new Sevier County Campus was named Maples-Marshall Hall. Two more buildings on the Sevier County Campus, Cates-Cutshaw Hall and the Conner-Short Center, opened in 2008. In 1995, the Walters State Greeneville/Greene County Center for Higher Education moved into the former Laughlin Hospital building in the heart of downtown Greeneville. The college opened the Claiborne County Center for Higher Education in 1995.
Walters State received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1972 and, after completion of an effective institutional Self Study Program, received reaffirmation of accreditation in December 1976. Extensive institutional Self Studies were completed during 1985-87, 1995-97, and 2005-07. Subsequent to the successful Self Studies, Walters State received reaffirmation of accreditation in December 1987, December 1997, and June 2008.
Walters State Community College shall be a regional college of choice with twenty-first century campuses, dedicated to excellence in teaching and service, guided by shared values and principles, and inspired to exceed student and community expectations.
Walters State Community College: An Educationally Purposeful Community
“A place where students, faculty, administrators and staff share academic goals and work together to strengthen teaching and learning on the campus.”
Walters State Community College: An Open Community
“ A place where freedom of expression is uncompromisingly protected and where civility is powerfully affirmed.”
Walters State Community College: A Just Community
“ A place where the sacredness of the person is honored and where diversity is aggressively pursued.”
Walters State Community College: A Disciplined Community
“ A place where individuals accept their obligations to the group and where well-defined governance procedures guide behavior for the common good.”
Walters State Community College: A Caring Community
“ A place where the well-being of each member is sensitively supported and where service to others is encouraged.”
Walters State Community College: A Celebrative Community
“ One in which the heritage of the institution is remembered and where rituals affirming both tradition and change are widely shared.”
Walters State Community College: A Grateful Community
“ One in which we are forever thankful for all of our generous benefactors and supporters.”
Walters State Community College, a public two-year higher education institution, is a component of the State University and Community College System of Tennessee governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents. The mission of Walters State is consistent with the college’s shared vision for guiding the college into the twenty-first century and with the values expressed within the Campus Compact. Walters State is a learning centered, comprehensive community college established to provide affordable and quality higher education opportunities for the residents of upper East Tennessee. The college offers programs of study that lead to the Associate of Science, Associate of Arts, and Associate of Applied Science degrees. The college has built degree programs on a general education foundation that emphasize learning outcomes and provide information technology instruction across the curriculum. Students may receive a certificate of credit for programs of study of one year or less; students may also receive a certificate of recognition for non-credit programs and services.
Walters State provides:
- university parallel programs that prepare students to transfer to senior institutions;
- programs and courses in business, technical education, health, public safety, and arts and sciences that prepare students for immediate employment in support of workforce development or prepare them to transfer to another college or university;
- continuing education and community service programs in support of professional growth, personal enrichment, and lifelong learning;
- cultural enrichment programs and activities that promote the arts and heritage of East Tennessee and celebrate global diversity;
- public service programs in support of economic, workforce, and community development;
- advanced, honors, and learning support programs for academic enrichment;
- programs, services, and activities designed to enhance student opportunities, achievement, personal development, sense of civic responsibility, leadership skills, and general welfare;
- research and development activities for continuous improvement of institutional effectiveness; and
- access that utilizes traditional and non-traditional delivery systems including the institution’s virtual college.
To facilitate student learning and transfer, the college maintains articulation, collaboration, and partnerships with public schools, technology centers, colleges, and universities. Service to business and industry is facilitated through the utilization of partnerships, networks, and customized programs and courses supporting the development of competitive products, services, and operations. The college provides faculty and staff of the highest quality dedicated to excellence in teaching and service.
As a comprehensive community college, Walters State provides leadership to a geographically large and diverse service area. The primary service area includes the counties of Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Sevier, and Union. The college has a TBR approved expanded service area including other East Tennessee counties for Public Safety and Health programs. The college’s strategic planning and continuous improvement system is designed to promote maximum accessibility and accountability and to enhance overall institutional effectiveness. The college assesses and responds to changing community needs and provides opportunities for enhancing the quality of life throughout the service area. Walters State remains committed to the education of a non-racially identifiable student body and promotes diversity and access without regard to race, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, or veteran status.