Bellevue Community College opens on January 3, 1966.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 6/05/2001
  • Essay 3336

On January 3, 1966, Bellevue Community College (BCC) opens with approximately 450 students and 40 faculty members. Classes are held in portable buildings on the campus of Newport High School. By 2010-2011 the school will be enrolling 38,000 students annually. Its main campus will comprise 100 acres and include 12 buildings. On April 13, 2009, the name will change to Bellevue College.

The Rise of Adult Education

The idea of a community college east of Lake Washington came from educators from the Bellevue School District's adult-education program. Nationwide, there was a movement to provide for post-secondary education at the community level. In 1962, area voters approved a $575,000 levy for a junior college. In 1963, land for the new school was purchased. In 1965, the Greater Eastside Community College Advisory Council lobbied the state legislature for $30,000 to plan a community college for the Eastside.

In June 1966, Merle Landerholm (d. 1976) was appointed the college's first president. In the fall of 1969, 2,200 students started classes at BCC's new home on 148th Avenue SE in Bellevue. Welding was a popular vocational course and helped students qualify for jobs in Seattle's shipyards.

New Technologies for Learning

BCC also embraced new technologies to better serve students. Automated registration systems and electronic teaching aids came into use in the 1970s. In the 1980s, telecourses and distance learning programs were offered. In 1995, the National Science Foundation awarded BCC $5 million for the Northwest Center for Emerging Technologies where student educators are prepared for developments in information technology.

In 2001, Bellevue Community College had three campuses -- its main campus, one at Factoria Center, and the North Campus on Northup Way in Bellevue. By 2010-2011 the school was enrolling 38,000 students annually. Its main campus comprised 100 acres and included 12 buildings. On April 13, 2009, the name of the college changed to Bellevue College.


Kristin Graham, "BCC: Then and Now," Bellevue Community College website (; "35 Years of Excellence: Founder's Day Remembered," Ibid., (; Bellevue College webside accessed January 3, 2012 (
Note: This essay was updated on January 3, 2012.

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