In July 1933, a small article appeared in the Palm Beach Post Times titled, “Many High School Graduates Preparing to Enter College.”
“Despite present economic conditions many of this year’s graduates of Palm Beach High are eager to carry on their education and plan to do so in one way or another,” the article stated. “Many of the students are still undecided as to where they will be next fall and what they will be doing.”
The “present economic conditions” referred to in the article later became known as the Great Depression. With nearly one in four Americans unemployed in 1933, a job of any kind was next to impossible to find, and money for tuition and books to attend college scarcer still. The converging forces of a crippled national economy and a local need for an institution of higher learning led to the opportune founding of Florida’s first public junior college.
Later that year, county Superintendent of Public Instruction Joe Youngblood and Howell Watkins, principal of Palm Beach High School, joined together to make plans for a postsecondary education for students financially unable to leave the county to attend college. They enlisted the support of ordinary citizens and local civic and business leaders. Colleagues at the University of Florida and the Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University) helped to develop the college-level curriculum.
In a storage building at the high school on Gardenia Street in West Palm Beach, three rooms were quickly converted into classrooms to accommodate 41 incoming college freshmen. Tuition was free, and seven instructors at Palm Beach High taught part-time at the College, donating their services. The first day of classes at the new Palm Beach Junior College was Nov. 14, 1933. Students could choose from a schedule that included languages, mathematics, history, biology, art and physical education.
The College graduated its first class of three students in 1936, and John I. Leonard succeeded Youngblood as superintendent, later becoming PBJC’s first president. By the end of the decade, over 100 students were taking classes, and the College had expanded to take over the entire building.
In early 1948, the College moved from its cramped quarters next to Palm Beach High to the more spacious confines of Morrison Field, a retired World War II air base (and current site of the Palm Beach International Airport). The library was housed in a vast airplane hangar and the Officers Club became the perfect student union. The military base offered laboratories and classrooms with cutting-edge (for the time) equipment, an administration building, athletic fields, dormitories—even a swimming pool. More than 300 students enrolled for classes that fall, and that number was expected to double in the next year.
The euphoria proved short-lived. On “Black Wednesday,” May 9, 1951, the school board announced Morrison Field was to be reactivated because of the Korean War. The College relocated yet again to the former town hall of Lake Park. The small size of the building forced PBJC to slash its administrative and teaching staff, and enrollment dwindled to fewer than 200 students. Chemistry class was held in the former jail, the courtroom was converted into a library and the student lounge was a space that once housed fire engines. The local press referred to PBJC as “The Little Orphan College,” and that it was for the next five years.
The College’s current main campus in Lake Worth came about through Palm Beach County’s donation of the 114-acre parcel at the intersection of Congress Avenue and Lake Worth Road. The state Legislature allocated more than $1 million for campus construction. In the spring of 1956, work began and later that year, the first of five buildings was completed. At last, Palm Beach Junior College had a permanent home.
With the opening of the new campus, enrollment soared to 475 students, and more faculty and general education classes were added to the curriculum. In 1958, John I. Leonard retired and Dr. Harold C. Manor was named PBJC’s second president. As the College grew in size, more courses were added, including the first full schedule of evening classes. Enrollment topped 1,000 for the first time.
Plans for a technology building, fine arts building, an auditorium and increased parking were announced. That same year Roosevelt Junior College was established for African-American students under President Britton Sayles. Seven years later the two schools would merge, with PBJC absorbing Roosevelt’s students and some of its faculty. The College also underwent a significant governance change; it went from being under the auspices of the county school district to being governed by its own board of trustees appointed by the governor in 1968.
As the population steadily increased and development stretched to all four corners of Palm Beach County, the College expanded right along with it. In quick succession, PBJC opened campuses in Belle Glade (1977), Palm Beach Gardens (1980) and Boca Raton (1983). The driving force for this unprecedented growth was the stewardship of Dr. Edward Eissey, who succeeded Harold Manor as president in 1978. Eissey lobbied local citizens and the Florida Legislature for a property tax increase to raise funds for the school. The measure passed and the College eventually received over $9 million for campus renovations and improvements. Enrollment passed 10,000 students for the first time in 1980. Dr. Eissey was also instrumental in steering through the name change from Palm Beach Junior College to Palm Beach Community College to signify the growth in programs focused specifically on community educational needs.
Dr. Dennis P. Gallon became the College’s fourth president in 1997. Under his leadership the College assumed responsibility for offering more than 40 Postsecondary Adult Vocational (PSAV) certificate programs previously administered by the county school district. In another giant leap forward, PBCC was approved by the state Board of Education in 2008 to offer its first four-year degree. In 2009, upper-level courses began for students pursuing the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Supervision and Management. The B.A.S. degree was the first of its kind to be offered by any institution in Palm Beach County. Bachelor’s degree programs in information management and nursing soon followed.
With the move from a two-year institution to a college that also offered its own bachelor’s degree programs, the push was on to rebrand the College. The new name, Palm Beach State College, was officially implemented Jan. 12, 2010, signifying the start of a new era for the institution, its graduates and the community.
Palm Beach State College named its’ first woman president, Ava L. Parker, J.D., in 2015. President Parker is leading Palm Beach County's largest higher education institution with a strategic approach emphasizing innovation, student success, and business and community collaboration.
Palm Beach State College, founded in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, is a diverse, comprehensive institution dedicated to serving the educational needs of Palm Beach County. Integrally linked to the community through strong partnerships, the College provides associate and baccalaureate degrees, professional certificates, workforce development and lifelong learning.
Palm Beach State College’s mission is to create and sustain a dynamic teaching and learning environment that provides a high-quality, accessible, affordable education, preparing students to contribute and compete ethically and successfully in a diverse global community.
We envision a College of diverse, active learners engaged in intellectual, social and personal growth that enriches and transforms our community.
- Student success is our first priority, and all students can succeed.
- Ethical standards are integral to the educational experience.
- Faculty and instructors should use instructional methods and technology that meet the diverse learning styles of students.
- The College curriculum and its operations should demonstrate a commitment to ecological sustainability.
- The College must anticipate and respond to evolving community needs by reaching out to all potential partners and establishing programs and courses that will meet those needs.
- Quality education is a worthwhile investment.
- An educated workforce has a positive impact on our community and economic health.
- Faculty/staff development is integral to quality education.
- A safe, secure and supportive College climate is essential.
- Diversity reflects society and enhances the educational process.
- Equity and equality of opportunity are essential.
- Lifelong learning enhances the quality of life.
- Collaboration enhances the quality of decision-making.
Palm Beach State College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the associate and baccalaureate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Palm Beach State College. The Commission should be contacted only if there is evidence that appears to support an institution’s non-compliance with an accreditation requirement or standard.
Accreditation also has been granted by professional organizations for certain specific programs. This is noted in this catalog on pages where the program is outlined. The absence of such a notation indicates that professional accreditation has neither been sought nor granted.
The College is an active member of the American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Florida Colleges, as well as other professional organizations.
The Palm Beach State College Foundation was established in 1973 to encourage, solicit, receive and administer gifts and bequests of property for scientific, educational, developmental and charitable purposes, all for the advancement of Palm Beach State College and its objectives. Monies raised by the Foundation allow the College to offer a wider range of scholarships for students, incorporate state-of-the-art technology systems and programs into the curriculum, add new courses to keep career training programs consistent with the local business community and fulfill the College’s mission.
Courses are offered at College locations in Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Lake Worth and Palm Beach Gardens, and beginning in 2016-17, at the College's newest campus location in Loxahatchee Groves. Each location offers general education courses; however, certain programs may not be available at all locations. Detailed maps for each College location can be found here.
Serving residents of the western communities of Palm Beach County, the Belle Glade location opened in 1972. The permanent facility was built in 1977 and occupied in January 1978. With the support and guidance of local educational, community and civic leaders, - the College has expanded general education, occupational training, student services and community outreach to meet the diverse educational needs of the area.
The Belle Glade location offers the Associate in Arts degree for transfer to four-year institutions as well as career and technical programs and continuing education courses. The 470-seat Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center at Belle Glade presents a variety of cultural and entertainment performances and is available for rental by individuals and organizations. High-skills career programs are housed at the Technical Education Center completed in 2010.
Palm Beach State College serves the greater south Palm Beach County area from its campus in Boca Raton, conveniently located adjacent to Florida Atlantic University. Many students take advantage of the close partnership between the two institutions, transferring into FAU baccalaureate programs after completing their associate degrees at PBSC. In addition, all Palm Beach State students enjoy full-use privileges at the FAU library.
The Boca Raton campus provides students with state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratory facilities. Known for addressing the learning needs of the entire local community, the campus offers classes for those seeking a college degree as well as those interested in job training, upgrading of skills and personal enrichment workshops. Extensive courses in architecture and photography are offered for students pursuing those career interests. The campus offers Summer Youth College for ages 8-14, and the success of that program led to the creation of youth leadership and youth entrepreneurship programs. The campus also houses the Small Business Development Center and Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which provide counseling, seminars, workshops and customized training for entrepreneurs and small to mid-sized businesses.
Lake Worth is the College's largest and longest-established campus. Bordered by Lake Osborne and John Prince Park, the 114-acre campus offers bachelor’s degrees as well as numerous programs for those planning to transfer to universities or enter or advance in the workforce. The campus serves more than 30,000 students annually, and its student body is a microcosm of the richly diverse population of the greater Lake Worth area.
The Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College is headquartered at the Lake Worth campus. The Panthers intercollegiate athletic teams play and practice at this campus, which also is home to the Dr. Kathryn W. Davis Global Education Center, an education and information resource center for immigrants residing in Palm Beach County. Outstanding campus features include the spacious Watson B. Duncan III Theatre, which serves as a performing arts instructional facility and presents world-class cultural and entertainment events and visiting artists for the public. The campus also houses the Public Safety Training Center, a comprehensive education and training hub for criminal justice, fire, emergency management and emergency medical services programs.
Palm Beach State College’s newest campus, currently under construction in Loxahatchee Groves, is slated to open in 2016-17. Named in honor of former president Dr. Dennis P. Gallon, the 75-acre campus will provide increased access and convenience for residents of central western Palm Beach County. The new campus initially will focus on innovative technology and health sciences programs. Reflecting the workforce needs of the area, it will house an expanded Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program as well as degree and certificate programs in the health information technology field. The campus also will offer Associate in Arts courses/degrees with focus on creative delivery systems.
PALM BEACH GARDENS
The Palm Beach Gardens campus opened in 1982 as a permanent, full-time facility offering Associate in Arts and Associate in Science degrees and certificate programs. Today, the campus offers credit and noncredit courses, programs and workshops to approximately 15,000 students each year. The campus sits on 123 acres in a lush, natural Florida setting that features many native plants, including a cypress preserve. The Myrna Rubenstein Pavilion at the center of campus features an ecological pond and waterfall. The pavilion and adjacent amphitheater serve as a gathering place for student activities and events.
The Bioscience Technology Complex houses an expanded science curriculum, energy and engineering technology programs, the Math & Science Institute, and the Collegiate High School focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The campus features modern multimedia classrooms and laboratories, a horticultural nursery, community athletic fields and an art gallery. The 750-seat Eissey Campus Theatre is a cultural hub for northern Palm Beach County, presenting community educational programs as well as family entertainment through its popular “Arts in the Gardens” guest artist series. The campus also operates the Center for Early Learning, a state-of-the-art child care center serving children of students and employees as well as families from the community.