History of the College
Coastal Alabama Community College is a public two-year institution, a member of the Alabama Community College System and governed by the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees. The Alabama Community College System consists of twenty-three comprehensive community colleges, and technical colleges; Marion Military Institute; and the Alabama Technology Network, an extensive workforce development initiative.
Coastal Alabama Community College, located in Baldwin Choctaw, Clarke, Escambia, Mobile, and Monroe counties in south Alabama, has instructional sites located at the Academy at the Fairhope Airport, Atmore, the Aviation Campus at Brookley Field, Bay Minette, Brewton, Fairhope, Gilbertown, Gulf Shores, Monroeville, Thomasville, Jackson, the Life Tech Center, the North Baldwin Center for Technology, the South Baldwin Center for Technology, Fountain, and Holman. The Bay Minette Campus is the regional administrative campus.
The former Faulkner State Community College was one of the 13 original two-year colleges created by an act of the Alabama Legislature in 1963 and has undergone several transitions and name changes in its lifetime. For the first few months of operation, it was called Bay Minette State Junior College, but in early 1966, the Board of Trustees named the College William Lowndes Yancey State Junior College in honor of a pre-Civil War statesman and educator. In 1970, the name changed to James H. Faulkner Junior College to honor Mr. James H. Faulkner, a prominent citizen of Baldwin County. The College name was changed again by the Board of Trustees in August 1992, to Faulkner State Community College to more accurately reflect its mission and purpose. The College name was changed again by the Board of Trustees on December 14, 2016, and Coastal Alabama was formed through the consolidation of Alabama Southern Community College, Faulkner State Community College and Jefferson Davis Community College effective January 11, 2017.
The former Faulkner State began offering courses at the Fairhope site in 1970, and in 1975, the College added a permanent staff, student services, and expanded offerings of programs and services to the community. The Fairhope Campus has been housed both at the Fairhope High School and at the old Fairhope Library building. In 1987, the present Fairhope site was acquired. Originally the home of the Marietta Johnson School of Organic Education, the Fairhope site was entered in the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior on July 1, 1988. In 1985, the College opened a site in Foley and moved to the present Gulf Shores Campus in 1993. The City of Gulf Shores built the facility for the College on land donated by the Meyer family.
The former Alabama Southern Community College was created in 1991 by the merger of two existing colleges in Monroeville and Thomasville. Patrick Henry State Junior College in Monroeville and Hobson State Technical College in Thomasville were both created through Act No. 93 of the Alabama Legislature in 1963. Patrick Henry was accredited initially by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in December 1970, and Hobson State was accredited initially by the SACS Commission on Occupational Education Institutions in December 1972. The State Board of Education consolidated these two institutions on August 22, 1991, to create Alabama Southern, which was accredited by SACSCOC on June 19, 1992.
The former Jefferson Davis Community College was formed through the consolidation of Jefferson Davis State Junior College and Atmore State Technical College by action of the State Board of Education on December 13, 1990.
Prior to consolidation, the State Legislature’s approval of Act No. 93 on May 3, 1963, served as the genesis of Jefferson Davis State Junior College. The Junior College Committee from the Escambia County area was particularly instrumental in the selection of Brewton as the College’s site. Farmers, industrialists, educators, ministers, laborers, lawyers, doctors, and merchants - all who believed in educating their neighbors’ children - gave their blessings and support to the Junior College’s establishment.
The City of Brewton and the Escambia County Board of Commissioners donated the site of Jefferson Davis State Junior College. The city acquired 35 acres from Mrs. Mabel Leigh in 1955 for $22,500. The Escambia County Board of Commissioners purchased 65 acres from the heirs of John M. Holladay on January 6, 1964, for $45,745.
Atmore State Technical Institute was created by Act No. 2295 on September 30, 1972; however, it was not until May 1, 1974, that classes (formerly conducted in Atmore by the J. F. Ingram State Vocational School in Deatsville, Alabama) were placed under the supervision of Atmore State Technical Institute in Atmore, Alabama. The name was changed to Atmore State Technical College by the Alabama State Board of Education on April 28, 1983.
Today, Coastal Alabama Community College services nearly 9,000 square miles in south Alabama and offers more than 100 programs of study, as featured in the College Catalog.
The Thomasville Campus of Coastal Alabama offers many technical programs and hosts the National Center for Pulp and Paper Technology in partnership with the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Centers, which promote workforce development for the pulp and paper industry. Also located in Thomasville is the LifeTech Institute, an innovative non-credit parolee transition program operated in partnership with the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles and the College. The LifeTech Institute teaches life and technical skills to help ex-offenders make the transition from prison to society.
The Jackson Center of Coastal Alabama was established in 1975 and is located in the north wing of Jackson Middle School. This location is primarily an evening campus, with two classrooms, a computer lab, and administrative offices.
The Gilbertown Campus of Coastal Alabama was established in 1977 and offers a wide range of day and evening classes. The Gilbertown library facility, which is on campus, is available for the public to use as well as students.
Coastal Alabama Community College’s Alabama Center for Literary Arts in Monroeville hosts the annual Alabama Writers Symposium, which awards the Harper Lee Award for Alabama’s Most Distinguished Writer of the Year.
The Bay Minette Campus of Coastal Alabama is home to the Sun Chiefs’ athletic teams, the Monroeville Campus of Coastal Alabama is home to the Eagles’ athletic teams and the Brewton Campus of Coastal Alabama is home to the War Hawks’ athletic teams. Coastal Alabama athletic teams compete in the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) and the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Coastal Alabama Community College serves a current combined enrollment of more than 10,000 students across all fifteen locations.
Dr. Gary L. Branch is the president of Coastal Alabama. Dr. Branch was appointed as president of Faulkner State Community College in 1981. Through his leadership, Faulkner State Community College grew from an enrollment of 1,150 students to more than 5,000 students in 2016. In acknowledgement of this momentous growth, Faulkner State was recognized as one of the fastest growing two-year colleges in the nation and state. Dr. Branch guided the consolidation efforts resulting in the newly formed Coastal Alabama Community College effective January 11, 2017.
Coastal Alabama Community College is a result of the consolidation of Faulkner State Community College, Alabama Southern Community College and Jefferson Davis Community College. On December 6, 2016, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges voted to approve the consolidation and acknowledge the institution’s intent to seek accreditation. Each of the former institutions was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia, 30033, Telephone number 404-679-4501) to award Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, and Associate in Applied Science Degrees and Certificates.