Florida’s public state colleges uniquely support the viability, vitality and robust growth of the Sunshine State. And as one of Florida’s “Great 28,” Broward College is committed to fulfilling this mission.
In 1957, Florida embarked on a program to create a network of two-year colleges where Floridians could complete their undergraduate education, or pursue two-year technical programs leading to the workforce. The state mandated that each of the colleges would be affordable and located within 30 miles of 95 percent of the state’s population.
When the state released its plan, Broward County was not among the highest-priority communities selected for the first wave of construction; however, by 1959, Broward County was placed at the top of the priority list and work on the Junior College of Broward County was quickly underway.
Founding President Dr. Joe B. Rushing was on March 17, 1960, and 17 days after accepting the position, he was assembling his staff. Just over more than four months later, on September 6, 1960, the Junior College of Broward County opened its doors to its first class – 701 students. Classes were held at the former Naval Air Station Junior High on the western edge of what is now the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. A faculty of 28 and staff of 19 welcomed students on opening day.
Work on the Davie campus began in 1960 and in August 1963, the first permanent buildings on the 152-acre campus opened to the college’s 2,500 students.
Dr. Rushing left in 1965 and he was replaced in 1966 by Dr. Myron Blee, who stayed until third president A. Hugh Adams arrived in 1968.
Dr. Adams stayed for 18 years (1968 to 1986) and worked hard to expand programmatic offerings and access to the college. After his retirement, he was replaced by Dr. Willis Holcombe. Dr. Holcombe involved the college in international education and built partnerships between the college and community organizations. Dr. Holcombe retired as president in 2004 and was replaced by Dr. Larry Calderon, then president of Ventura College, in California, an expert in strategic planning. Dr. Calderon served as Broward’s president for two years.
The college’s current president, J. David Armstrong, Jr., started his tenure in 2007. In his first few years, President Armstrong has seen the transformation of Broward Community College to Broward College with the addition of baccalaureate programs to meet specific, targeted needs of the community. On February 19, 2008, the Florida Board of Education approved Broward’s application to offer Bachelor of Science in Education degrees.
On May 28, 2008, Gov. Charlie Crist signed the legislation changing the name of Broward Community College to Broward College.
Broward’s first class of baccalaureate students began attending classes in January 2009 on the Judson A. Samuels South Campus. This first baccalaureate class graduated in December 2010.
As Broward College forges into its second half-century of service to Broward County, it does so as one of the nation’s largest institutions of its type, with a reputation for the pursuit of excellence and service to the diverse communities it serves. From the 701 students, 28 professors and the small staff who opened the college in 1960, Broward now serves more than 68,000 students annually and employs a faculty and staff of more than 2,000.