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History of the College

When Tompkins Cortland Community College first opened its doors in September of 1968, 133 day students and 47 evening students were registered to attend. Classes were held in Groton, in a renovated old high school building. The library’s shelves were freshly stocked with 5,000 volumes, and the College catalog listed 34 courses in business and the liberal arts. Faculty members, drawn together from diverse areas of higher education, were bursting with innovative ideas. Since that first day of classes, Tompkins Cortland Community College has been a place of excitement and promise, committed to serving the growing and changing educational needs of its students and sponsoring communities.

The idea to create an institution for community-centered higher education in this locality came about in the mid-1960s, when Tompkins and Cortland counties were independently exploring the feasibility of establishing a community college. Both counties wanted an educational institution whose primary mission would be to respond to the educational needs of local residents. Because of their similar goals, Tompkins and Cortland counties joined forces, each approving resolutions in September 1966 to establish and jointly operate a two-county community college.

On November 10, 1966, the State University of New York approved the College’s establishment. By 1968, a nine-member board of directors had developed an operating budget, chosen a site for classes, and named the first employee.

In September 1974, Tompkins Cortland Community College opened its new building in Dryden, with 1,092 day students and 977 evening students.

By 1983, the College had grown to serve nearly 5,300 students with day and evening classes at the main campus. The 1990s and forward brought about significant changes. The College has been enriched by extension centers in the cities of Ithaca and Cortland, the Global Initiatives program, online courses and degrees, on-campus housing, several new degree programs, and a new focus on learning. As we entered a new century, the College was honored as a Learning College Champion by the League for Innovation.