From its humble beginnings in 1933 with 41 students in a building next to Palm Beach High School, Palm Beach State College has grown to become the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County. Currently serving 49,000 students annually, the College offers classes at five campuses and online. Over time, the College's mission has become more comprehensive to serve the educational needs of Palm Beach County residents. Palm Beach State College now offers bachelor's and associate degrees, professional certificates, workforce development and lifelong learning.
Establishing Florida's first public two-year college in the depths of the Great Depression may have seemed like folly in 1933. Large government expenditures were out of the question. Still, civic organizations and local citizens lobbied the County Board of Public Instruction to open a two-year public college for the area's high school graduates who were unable to find employment and couldn't afford to leave home to attend a university.
County School Superintendent Joe Youngblood and Howell Watkins, principal of Palm Beach High School, consulted with the University of Florida and the Florida State Women's College (Florida State University) and based Palm Beach Junior College’s curriculum on that of the two universities. Because of the Depression-era budget, teachers at Palm Beach High School volunteered to teach at the College for free.
John I. Leonard became the first president of Palm Beach Junior College in 1936. By 1948, the College had outgrown its original building and moved to Morrison Field, a retired Air Force base used in World War II. Just three years later, though, the Korean Conflict erupted, and Morrison Field was reactivated. The air base later became Palm Beach International Airport.
In 1951 Palm Beach Junior College moved yet again, to Lake Park Town Hall, where the quarters were so cramped students had to be turned away, and enrollment dropped significantly to less than 200. Chemistry class was held in the jail. The local media dubbed it "the little orphan college," but the Lake Park location is remembered fondly by its alumni for the camaraderie that existed there. Master English and Speech Professor Watson B. Duncan taught classes in the nearby church and even in the hallway.
Almost five years later the Board of Public Instruction of Palm Beach County donated 114 acres in Lake Worth to the College, and the state gave PBJC $1 million for buildings. The College finally had a permanent home. Harold C. Manor, Ph.D., became president in 1958 and began directing extraordinary growth in enrollment, services and offerings, including many technical and vocational programs.
In 1965, the state legislature ordered that black and white two-year colleges be merged, and the mostly white Palm Beach Junior College and the all-black Roosevelt Junior College became one. Six professors and staff members from Roosevelt were transferred to PBJC, and other faculty members were transferred to the school district.
In the 1970s and 80s the College established satellite centers, then permanent locations in Belle Glade, Palm Beach Gardens and Boca Raton. Edward M. Eissey, Ph.D., president from 1978 to 1996, was the driving force behind the building boom and the name change to Palm Beach Community College in 1988.
Dennis P. Gallon, Ph.D., served as president for 18 years, beginning in 1997. Dr. Gallon expanded the College’s comprehensive mission with more workforce education programs and expanded business and industry partnerships. In 2008, the College received State Board of Education approval to offer its first baccalaureate degree, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management. Upper-level courses in this degree program began in 2009, and the College was renamed Palm Beach State College in 2010 to reflect its expanded educational offerings.
Ava L. Parker, J.D., became Palm Beach State College’s first woman president 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. Under her leadership, the College has opened a fifth campus,
improved student success rates and increased support for the College from both public
and private sources. PBSC also has set enrollment records, with the highest fall enrollment
in the College’s history achieved in Fall 2018.
PBSC provides student-centered learning experiences that transform lives and strengthen our community.
Palm Beach State College is nationally recognized as an innovative academic leader advancing student success through its unparalleled commitment to excellence, engagement, and dynamic partnerships.
We provide pathways and opportunities that positively and profoundly change the lives of our constituents.
We will serve the College, community and global society as we aspire to always do what is right, just and fair.
We inspire hope and encouragement in our constituents for the achievement of their goals and in the pursuit of lifelong learning.
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 Office of Institutional Advancement provides value by expanding awareness of, engagement in and philanthropic giving to Palm Beach State College. Institutional Advancement is responsible for a broad range of activities that serve as the framework for creating lasting relationships and building support from a variety of constituencies, including alumni, donors and community members. The Institutional Advancement team is committed to delivering responsive, professional and timely service to all stakeholders while pursuing the College’s vision and assisting in fulfilling its mission. For more information, visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/Foundation.
Courses are offered at College campuses in Belle Glade, Boca Raton, Lake Worth, Loxahatchee Groves and Palm Beach Gardens. Each campus offers general education courses; however, certain programs may not be available at all campuses. View detailed campus maps at www.palmbeachstate.edu/Locations.
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. More than 3,300 students are enrolled at the campus currently, attending classes in person or online.
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 modern and fully equipped 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 in receiving industry certifications. Extensive courses in architecture and photography are offered for students pursuing those career interests. The campus serves more than 15,000 students annually.
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 and emergency medical services programs.
Palm Beach State College’s newest campus in Loxahatchee Groves opened its doors in 2017. Named in honor of former president Dr. Dennis P. Gallon, the 75-acre campus provides increased access and convenience for residents of central western Palm Beach County. The new campus’ initial focus is on innovative technology and health sciences programs and features state-of-the-art virtual reality learning technology in its science laboratories.
Reflecting the workforce needs of the area, the campus houses an expanded Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) degree program as well as degree and certificate programs in the health information technology field. The campus also offers the Associate in Arts courses/degrees with a focus on creative delivery systems. More than 4,000 students are enrolled at the campus.
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 more than 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 and the Collegiate High School focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The campus features a 50,000-square-foot Library Learning Resource Center, modern multimedia classrooms and laboratories, a horticultural nursery, Panthers basketball court and 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.