History of Dallas College

​​​​​​​​​Citizens of Dallas County have always supported Dallas College with funding and human resources. Dallas College has become an important asset to students and members of the community, and their investment has paid dividends in economic development, workforce training and undergraduate education.

More than​ 50 years ago, a visionary board of trustees that included such Dallas luminaries as R.L. Thornton II, Mrs. Margaret McDermott and Dr. Bill J. Priest, founding chancellor,​​ set a daunting goal: Create the best community college district in the United States.

They, and numerous other Dallas County civic leaders who supported their efforts, were dedicated to providing citizens with access to quality education that was both convenient and affordable. Thanks to their determination and hard work, Dallas citizens created Dallas County Community College District in 1965. El Centro College, DCCCD’s first, opened in 1966.

Today, the district has become Dallas College, which enrolls a total of​ 85,000 credit and 20,000 continuing education students each semester. More than a half-century​ of growth and progress are a credit to the vision of Dallas-area citizens.

Dallas College Digital Archives Collection

Explore the college's visual history through our Digital Archives Collection, featuring historical photographs, video recor​dings and newspapers. The searchable collection is organized in categories for each of the seven former colleges (now campuses) and the district (now ​Dallas College).

Timeline of Key Events in Dallas College History

1965

  • Dallas County voters created the Dallas County Junior College District and approved a $41.5 million bond issue to finance it.
  • Founding Chancellor Dr. Bill J. Priest was hired.

1966

  • El Centro College began serving students in downtown Dallas.

1970

  • Eastfield College in Mesquite and Mountain View College in southwest Dallas enrolled their first students.

1972

  • Richland College opened in north Dallas.
  • The Dallas County Junior College District changed​ its name to the Dallas County Community College District.

1977

  • An additional $85 million in bonds supported DCCCD’s expansion, and construction began on three more colleges. Cedar Valley College in Lancaster and North Lake College in Irving opened.

1978

  • Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch enrolled its first students.

1989

  • The Bill J. Priest Institute for Economic Development (now Dallas College Bill J. Priest Center​) opened south of downtown Dallas, serving individuals and businesses of all sizes with training programs customized to meet their needs.

1991

  • The R. Jan LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications opened.

1999

  • The colleges of DCCCD welcomed their first class of 693 students into the Rising Star program.

2003

  • DCCCD appointed the district’s first Hispanic chancellor, Dr. Jesus Carreon.

2004

  • Voters overwhelmingly approved a $450 million bond package that provided new facilities for all seven colleges and created five new community education campuses designed to provide higher education opportunities for underserved or fast-growing areas in Dallas County.

2005

  • Richland College became the first community college in the United States to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

2006

  • DCCCD welcomed its first African American chancellor, Dr. Wright Lassiter Jr., who previously had served as president of El Centro College for 20 years.

2009

  • Late in the year, DCCCD’s administrative offices moved from 701 Elm St. to renovated historic facilities at 1601 S. Lamar St. in south Dallas.

2010

  • The completion of 28 new buildings, including five community education campuses, signaled the close of the bond program approved by voters in 2004.

2014

  • DCCCD welcomed Dr. Joe May as its seventh chancellor. Dr. May began his higher education career as an adjunct faculty member at Cedar Valley College.

2015

  • DCCCD celebrated its 50th anniversary.

2016

  • DCCCD and Dallas ISD moved the Collegiate Academies forward. Students who enroll in the academies can earn up to 60 college credit hours through the dual credit program.
  • DCCCD emerged strong after a gunman, who killed five police officers, was found dead inside El Centro College.

2017

  • DCCCD expanded partnerships with the North Texas Food Bank to tackle hunger and with the Barbara Bush Foundation and​ city of Dallas to focus on adult literacy.

2018

  • Dallas County Promise, a partnership involving DCCCD, the Dallas Independent School District and the University of North Texas at Dallas, launched.

2019

  • Voters approved a $1.1 billion bond package.

2020

  • DCCCD received accreditation approval to become Dallas College.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a transition to online learning.