History of Allan Hancock College
Allan Hancock College was founded in 1920 when the Santa Maria High School District
established Santa Maria Junior College. Classes were held in high school rooms until
1937, when a bond issue passed and a college wing was built on the northwest corner
of the high school campus. In 1954, because of expanding enrollment, the college moved
from the high school to Hancock Field, which for a number of years had housed the
Hancock College of Aeronautics and, later, the University of Southern California's
School of Aeronautics. Shortly thereafter, the community voted to establish a separate
junior college district. At this time, the name of the college was changed to Allan
Hancock College to honor Captain G. Allan Hancock, a prominent community member who
owned the land and facilities of the airfield. In 1958, the voters approved a bond
issue to purchase the airport site and finance a building program. By the fall of
1962, many classes were held in four new college buildings, the nucleus of a campus
master plan designed for 2,000 students. These buildings included the Student Center,
the Library, the Science Complex and the north wing of the gymnasium. Many classes
continued to be offered in buildings constructed for the original aeronautics college.
On July 1, 1963, the Allan Hancock Joint Community College District was formed by
annexing the areas served by the Santa Ynez Valley High School District and the Lompoc
Unified School District. This move expanded the district to 3,000 square miles, including
the Channel Islands.
As enrollment continued to grow, the college expanded its facilities. The two-story
Business Education building opened in December 1964, and the Fine Arts building opened
in the fall of 1965. Both the gymnasium and the Industrial Technology building were
completed during the fall of 1967. The administration and student services buildings
were ready for fall semester 1967, and the Performing Arts Center, which included
the Marian Theater, followed the next spring. The college bookstore was completed
in May 1971.
In 1974, property and buildings located three blocks from campus were purchased from
the Southern California Gas Company, resulting in the addition of nine acres to the
district's assets. Those buildings, now known as “South Campus,” house the district's
plant services operation, as well as the law enforcement, fire technology and emergency
services instructional programs. In 1977, the Learning Resources Center opened after
the completion of a 16,000 square-foot addition to the library and extensive remodeling
of the existing structure.
The Learning Assistance building opened in 1982 to serve the physically disabled and
students with learning disabilities. The Humanities Complex at the south end of the
campus was completed in 1989.
The Family and Consumer Education facility began full operation for spring 1991 classes,
and the Severson Theater, an addition to the Performing Arts Center, was completed
in fall 1992, along with entry and roadway improvements. The original Student Center
was completely remodeled and expanded in 2002 and now incorporates the campus bookstore
within its walls.
An extensive remodel and expansion of the college's Learning Resources Center, one
of four original campus buildings, was completed in 2007 to include a new, two-story
addition, the Academic Resource Center (ARC), which houses student support operations
such as the tutorial and writing centers. The Ann Foxworthy Gallery is also located
inside the ARC. The gallery is named for Superintendent/President Emeritus Ann Foxworthy,
Ph.D., who retired in 2005.
A $180 million bond, Measure I, passed by voters in June 2006 is paving the way for
additional new facilities and technology enhancements that will be completed over
the next 10 years.
Measure I funds helped to complete two new buildings that opened in 2007. A new Community
Education building opened in summer 2007, and it contains modern computer labs and
classroom and office spaces, along with a professional culinary teaching kitchen.
A two-story Science building opened for fall classes in August 2007, offering modern
lab and classroom space for the life and physical sciences, mathematical sciences
and health sciences departments.
Plans are under way for additional Measure I projects, including a Public Safety Training
Complex, Student Services Center, childcare addition, Fine Arts building, industrial
technology facility upgrade, athletic facility improvements and technology advancements.
Since the first classes taught at the Camp Cooke Army barracks in 1952, the college
has offered extensive courses in the community, and the college remains committed
to serving the Lompoc and Santa Ynez valleys. The college's Vandenberg Air Force Base
Center opened in 1957; classes have been taught in the Santa Ynez Valley since 1971,
and in Lompoc since 1974. The college completed construction of a permanent Lompoc
Valley Center in spring 1999, and opened the Solvang Center in August 2000.
The college's curriculum has also grown to meet the community's needs, from the 1920
curriculum of 12 courses paralleling the University of California's lower division
requirements, to more than 1,000 credit courses today. Programs have kept pace with
changing needs since the very beginning, with such courses as airplane mechanics and
radio code in the 1930s and ‘40s to mechatronics and viticulture and enology today.
To take advantage of rapidly-changing educational technology, the college began offering
instruction on television in1972, and classes via video in 1989. In 1998, online classes
were incorporated into the curriculum. The college also carries a 40-year tradition
of offering extensive evening classes.
Since beginning its law enforcement certificate program in 1965, the college has granted
certificates in such areas as fire technology, dental assisting, licensed vocational
nursing, medical assisting, nursing assistant, emergency medical technician and human
Liberal arts courses have continued their long-standing contributions through hundreds
of courses and programs. In science, such courses as microbiology, anatomy and geology
are taught in exceptional labs. English, foreign languages, history, psychology, political
science, music, drama and art have anchored the curriculum since the college opened
its doors. Since 1980, the college has sponsored a semester abroad program, which
offers students the opportunity to study across the globe.
Starting in the late 1950s, the college began to offer remedial instruction, especially
in mathematics and English. Since 1974, the Tutorial Center has helped students on
an individual and group basis. The resulting search for more effective teaching methods
led to the opening of the Writing Center in 1975. The Math Center was established
Students' financial needs outside the classroom have been met by a growing number
of support programs. Last year, more than $250,000 in scholarships was awarded through
the Allan Hancock College Foundation. In 1974, the college opened its Financial Aid
and Job Placement offices. In addition, the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services
(EOPS) office has helped students with “over and above” support services since the
The Community Education program, active since 1973, offers hundreds of courses including
citizenship preparation and classes for older adults. In an effort to offer programs
for citizens of all ages, the college also sponsors a “College for Kids” dance program
throughout the year. The arts and lectures series has been presenting distinguished
speakers and performers since 1965.
Drama has formed a strong part of the college's relationship with the community. From
its beginning in a converted badminton court in 1964, the Pacific Conservatory of
the Performing Arts (PCPA) has offered more than 500 plays and musicals, maintained
artists in residence and trained approximately 3,000 actors and technicians. Many
PCPA alumni have found employment in professional theater and the entertainment industry.
PCPA has also presented plays in Solvang since 1971, leading to the founding of the
Solvang Theaterfest in 1981.
Allan Hancock College has established itself as a premier educational institution
serving residents from the Central Coast of California and beyond. It also contributes
significantly to the local economy as the one of the largest employers in northern
Santa Barbara County, with approximately 1,300 employees. The history of Allan Hancock
College is rich with accomplishments. Although the board of trustees, administration,
faculty and staff value the college's past, they also have a vision for the future,
as do our students, who choose Allan Hancock College with the goal to “Start here. Go anywhere.”
Top of Page