For nine decades, Honolulu Community College has met the education and workforce needs of its community by providing a broad range of career and technical programs and a comprehensive liberal arts program designed to prepare students for transfer to baccalaureate institutions. Honolulu Community College has a rich history tied closely to the community it serves and a history shaped by social and cultural changes of Hawai'i.
Honolulu Community College began on February 2, 1920 when the Territorial Trade School opened its doors to 42 students in the buildings of the Old Chinese Hospital in P?lama. Subjects included auto mechanics, machine shop, and carpentry. By 1925, to take advantage of federal legislation the Territorial Trade School became the Smith-Hughes department of McKinley High School and two years later was renamed Honolulu Vocational School.
Just before the start of the Great Depression in 1929, the Territorial Legislature appropriated $40,000 for improvements in the physical plant of the campus. The campus also looked forward to the 1931 opening of Dillingham Boulevard.
During World War II, students of Honolulu Vocational School helped in making war-related items like machine gun mounts and land mines. In 1946, to meet post-war demands for services and housing, the Cosmetology, Refrigeration, Drafting and Radio programs were added. In 1948 the school developed a Baking program. The Plumbing program was started in 1950, the Masonry program a year later and the Auto Body and Repair program the following year. The growth prompted students and faculty two years later to request a name change from Honolulu Vocational School to Honolulu Technical School.
The post-war growth in the student body resulted in new campus facilities. In 1958, the Foods building opened, housing the school's bake shop and cafeteria. The Automotive Building was completed in 1962 along with Electronics Building. The following year, Honolulu Technical School built a two-story science building. On July 1, 1965, Honolulu Technical School was transferred by statute from the Department of Education to the University of Hawai'i and became part of the Community College System. The Board of Regents approved the name change from Honolulu Technical School to Honolulu Community College a year later. The following year, the Associate of Arts degree was authorized.
During the 1970s, Honolulu Community College experienced a construction boom. The Fashion and Cosmetology building was constructed in 1972. The six-story Liberal Arts and Library and Administrative and Student Services buildings were built two years later. In 1977 the Trade Industry Complex was finished. The six-story classroom/Campus Center was erected two year after that.
In 1975 the apprentices of the Pearl Harbor Shipyard Apprentice School started classroom instruction at Honolulu Community College as part of a four-year program in ship repair and maintenance. During the last two decades of the 20th Century Honolulu Community College established a number of off-campus sites including Automotive Technology (1986) and Diesel Mechanics Facility (1988) on the makai end of Kokea Street, the Airport Training Center (1995) at Honolulu International Airport, the Marine Education & Training Center (1995) on Sand Island, and the Pacific Aerospace Training Center (1998) at Kalaeloa.
In March 2001 the Administrative headquarters of the Pacific Center for Advanced Technology Training, a consortium of the University of Hawai'i Community Colleges, opened at Honolulu Community College. Continuing to look for ways to meet demand for new workers in the construction industry, Honolulu Community College in 2005 established the Construction Academy in partnership with eight Hawai'ihigh schools (now 35 statewide). Two years later, the Music & Entertainment Learning Experience (MELE) program was started.
Honolulu Community College continues to fulfill its mission to meet the educational needs of its community. From 42 students in 1920, the college's enrollment has grown to 4,585 credit students and another 2,991 apprentice students in Fall 2009.
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