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Whatcom Community College

Whatcom Community College
File:Whatcom Community College logo.jpg
Established 1967
Type Community college
President Kathi Hiyane-Brown
Academic staff
20:1 student-faculty ratio, 78 full-time faculty, 232 part-time faculty
Administrative staff
479 employees
Students 10,694 annually, 6,457 quarterly, 4,126 FTEs
Location Bellingham, Washington, USA
Campus 72 acres
Nickname Template:If empty
Mascot Orca whale

Whatcom Community College (WCC), known as Whatcom, is a community college located in Bellingham, Washington, United States, in Whatcom County. Established in 1967, Whatcom has been accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities since 1976.[1]


File:Aerial courtyard.jpg
Aerial view of Whatcom Community College's main courtyard
Whatcom Community College is an accredited two-year college serving 11,000 students annually. Whatcom offers transfer degrees, professional and technical training programs, basic education, job skills, online courses and Community & Continuing Education classes.


File:WCC Kulshan walking.jpg
Interior of Kulshan Hall

Associate Degrees

81% of Whatcom's students are pursuing their academic transfer

  • Associate in arts and sciences (transfer)
  • Associate in science (transfer)
  • Associate in liberal studies (non-transfer degree)


File:WCC Nursing.jpg
Nursing students in the Health Professions Education Center

Professional Technical Degrees & Certifications

  • Accounting and finance
  • Business administration
  • Hospitality & tourism business management
  • Office administration
  • Visual communications
  • Early childhood education
  • Massage practitioner
  • Medical assisting
  • Nursing
  • Nursing assistant
  • Physical therapist assistant
  • Criminal justice
  • Paralegal studies
  • Technology
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Cybersecurity*
  • 19% of Whatcom's students are pursuing professional technical degrees or certifications

Student Demographics

File:WCC Class.jpg
Students in class


  • 55% female; 45% male
  • 66% between the ages of 16-24
  • 75% from Whatcom County (of students 20 and younger)
  • 50% attending full-time (12 credits or more)
  • 20% students of color (of degree/certificate seeking students)
  • 40% first-generation (of degree/certificate seeking students)[5]

Student Profiles

  • 6,861 credit seeking students annually
  • 900+ Running Start students annually (405 FTE)
  • 250 International students from 30 countries
  • 200+ veterans annually
  • 4,496 Community & Continuing Education students annually[6]


File:WCC First Board of Trustees.JPG
WCC's first Board of Trustees, 1967
File:Ambulance Driving.JPG
“Emergency Care and Transportation of the Sick and Injured”
File:First WCC Grad.jpg
WCC's first graduate Richard Arntson
File:Bookstore on Wheels.JPG
WCC's Bookstore on Wheels
File:William Laidlaw.tif
2nd president Dr. William J. Laidlaw
File:Midtown Instruction Center.JPG
Midtown Instruction Center in downtown Bellingham

1967 The Community College Act of 1967 establishes 22 community college districts, each governed by five trustees. Whatcom is District 21. Gov. Dan Evans appoints first Board of Trustees: Sam Kelly, Elizabeth Bay, Lawrence Belka, Duane Reed and Catharine Stimpson. The first board meeting is held May 29 at the Leopold Hotel, Bellingham.

1970 March: Former Ferndale Schools Superintendent Everett Sanders is first employee; his title is coordinator. The first full-time faculty member is hired the next month. Floyd Sandell teaches Farm Management, a program transferred from the Bellingham School District. The College’s first office is on Third Street in Ferndale.

May: The Board of Trustees rules that “Emergency Care and Transportation of the Sick and Injured” (ambulance driving) will be the college’s first class, offered tuition free.

June: The College is formerly named Whatcom Community College. Other names considered are Kulshan, Mt. Baker and Nooksack. Sanders says, “Since capital funds are not available, it seems District 21 will operate without a campus … We can serve people, not buildings.”

September: Tuition for first quarter of courses is set at $6 per credit.

1972 April: Richard A. Arntson receives the first A.A. degree from WCC.

July: Dr. Robert Hamill becomes the first president of WCC.

September: College leases 2 acres on Northwest Road adjacent to the Whatcom County Library. Modular buildings are used for administrative offices and the Learning Resources Center.

1974 June: College leases an abandoned Thriftway grocery store as the Marine Drive Instructional Center.

December: Lynden Instructional Center opens in a remodeled Safeway store at Sixth and Grover streets. The center offers farm management and art for seniors.

1976 WCC earns accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

1977 Ferndale Instructional Center opens on Third Street. Blaine Instructional Center opens on Peace Portal Drive. Dr. William J. Laidlaw is appointed president.

1979 The Midtown Center opens in downtown Bellingham. First commencement ceremony honoring graduates of 1972-1979.

1980 The Pottery Studio is leased from Bellingham Parks and Recreation at Boulevard Park. Programs now include Early Childhood Education, Alternative Learning Experiences and Cooperative Education. These courses are offered at 1919 Broadway in Bellingham.

1983 President Laidlaw recommends the Board authorize administration to take steps to acquire core facility as outlined in the Master Plan. Later that year, The Trillium Corporation donates 5.93 acres of real property for construction in the Cordata area of north Bellingham.

1984 Legislature approves capital dollars for design of Whatcom core facility. Dr. Harold G. Heiner selected as third president.

1985 Enrollment exceeds 1,000 FTE for the first time.

1986 Groundbreaking for new core facility at site of current campus on Kellogg Road in Bellingham. The Laidlaw Center opens in 1987.

1989 Board adopts the Orca whale as the college mascot.

1992 Running Start program starts with 117 high school students enrolled. Today, more than 900 students are enrolled annually in Running Start. The program enables them to receive college credits while still in high school.

1998 Whatcom closes its last satellite buildings. All programs are now offered at the central campus on Kellogg Road in Bellingham.

2007 Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown selected as Whatcom’s fourth president.

2014 Construction began on the College's new Pavilion and Student Recreation Center June 2014. The project will include more than 24,000 sq. ft. of new construction and 6,700 sq. ft. of renovated space.

The expansion of labs and classrooms for Whatcom's Computer Information Systems program took place summer 2014. It included renovation and remodel of approximately 6,000 sq. ft. of the south wing of Baker Hall. The most significant improvements in the approx. $814,000 project are three enlarged labs, two lecture spaces, a new networking/server room, and a new instructional support/testing area.



File:WCC Students.jpg
Students outside Kulshan Hall
WCC's 72-acre campus, located in north Bellingham, is made up of 12 buildings: Auxiliary Services Building, Baker Hall, Cascade Hall, Foundation Building, Health Professions Education Center, Heiner Center, Kelly Hall, Kulshan Hall, Laidlaw Center, Pavilion, Roe Studio, and Syre Student Center.[8]


WCC competes in the Northern Region of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges.[9] WCC has intercollegiate teams in three sports: men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball. Soccer and volleyball seasons begin in September and end in late November. Basketball begins in mid-November and runs through the end of February. All of the Orcas' home games are held in either the Pavilion or the Orca athletic field on campus.[10]


File:WCC CIS program.jpg
WCC's Computer Information Systems (CIS) and Cybersecurity programs
In October 2014, the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security designated Whatcom Community College as a national center of academic excellence in information assurance and cyber defense. WCC is among the first community colleges in the nation to earn this distinction.[11]

Whatcom Community College was one of three schools to receive the Progress and Succeed Award from Hobsons, an education software and services company, in July 2014. The award recognized WCC's for using the company's online student advising and support technology, which replaces manual processes and integrates degree planning, advising, and scheduling.[12]

According to the Aspen Institute, WCC is among the nation’s top 150 community colleges. The non-profit institute selected the colleges from a pool of more than 1,000 public two-year colleges that have demonstrated exceptional levels of student success. As of 2014, of Washington state’s 34 community and technical colleges, Whatcom is one of six to receive this recognition.[13]

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WCC's Auxiliary Services Building
Whatcom Community College President Kathi Hiyane-Brown received the 2014 Chief Executive Officer Award from the Trustees Association of Community and Technical Colleges. The award recognized President Hiyane-Brown’s dedication to student achievement and her focus on offering innovative academic and professional-technical programs that prepare students to successfully transfer to four-year schools and to excel in their careers.[14]

WCC's auxiliary services building earned LEED Silver certification for its sustainable design elements. The building, which opened in spring 2013, is home to the campus facilities department and the copy, print and mail center.[15]


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External links

Coordinates: 48°47′43″N 122°29′38″W / 48.79528°N 122.49389°W / 48.79528; -122.49389{{#coordinates:48|47|43|N|122|29|38|W|type:edu_region:US-WA |primary |name= }}