The OTC System encompasses six locations across southwest Missouri. It also has a robust online education center. More than 200,000 citizens of southwest Missouri have taken advantage of one or more of the college’s educational services since its inception in 1990.
Ozarks Technical Community College celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2015 to commemorate a critical step taken by voters on April 3, 1990. At that time, voters approved the establishment of the Junior College District of Central Southwest Missouri.
As a result of the vote in 1990, the Board of Trustees founded Heart of the Ozarks Community Technical College in Springfield as the region’s first open-admission, two-year community college with a focus on technical education. Students could earn a one-year certificate, a two-year associate of applied science degree (A.A.S.), or an associate of arts degree (A.A.).
In September 1991, with 1,198 credit-seeking college students, OTC opened its doors. It located these facilities at Cox Medical Center North and at 815 N. Sherman, which formerly housed the Graff Area Vocational Technical Center. The re-named Graff Hall and Lincoln Hall, a former African-American serving high school, became the cornerstone of the newly established community college. The following year, the college continued to grow and expanded its offerings to include general education courses at the North Town Mall in Springfield.
In 1994, the college shortened its name to Ozarks Technical Community College. The institution received accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 1996.
Enrollment grew at the annual rate of 11.4 percent between 1991 and 2014. With this accelerated growth rate, the college expanded in Springfield and beyond. The Nelson Center opened in Lebanon in 1996 to offer general education and technical programs. At the OTC Springfield Campus, the Norman K. Myers Technical Education Center opened in the summer of 1997.
In February 2001, OTC was given a 10-year reaccreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The renovation of the historic Lincoln Hall was completed the same year. This building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in May 2000. A plaque recognizing the building’s placement on the National Register― honoring it as the first Julius Rosenwald School in Missouri― was unveiled in August 2004.
In 2003, OTC adopted a policy that prohibited the consumption of tobacco or tobacco products on campus. OTC was the first college in Missouri, and one of the first higher education institutions in the nation, to become a tobacco-free institution.
In 2002, the college expanded to serve the Branson area through an education center located in the Branson Shoppes. The OTC Richwood Valley Campus, located on Highway 14 between the cities of Ozark and Nixa, opened five years later in the spring of 2007. Named for the historic area where the campus now stands, the Richwood Valley campus was created to house both allied health and general education programs.
As the college continued to grow, the fine arts programs moved to the Gillioz Theatre complex in downtown Springfield in 2007. A decade later, fine arts moved back to the Springfield campus and experienced a surge in enrollment. The Center for Workforce Development moved off-campus in 2007, but, thanks to new construction and a partnership with the City of Springfield, the CWD moved classes back to campus and its administration relocated to the Missouri Job Center.
In 2008, OTC began offering courses in Waynesville through a new 10,300 square-foot facility located in the Townfield Plaza Center. In the fall of 2011, the Nelson Center in Lebanon was renamed the OTC Lebanon Center and moved into new facilities donated to the college by Reuben and Mary Lou Casey.
The Higher Learning Commission (formerly the North Central Association) granted OTC another 10-year reaccreditation in February 2011. That summer, OTC became the Ozarks Technical Community College system, a transition that put the institution in a better position for future growth and expansion plans.
In the fall of 2013, the OTC Waynesville Center moved to a larger location along Interstate 44. That same year, the OTC Table Rock Campus celebrated its grand opening in Hollister along Highway 65 to offer general education and nursing courses. In 2018, the Table Rock campus expanded its offerings to include technical education programs.
The OTC Republic Center opened its doors in the fall of 2020. The 30,000-square-foot facility features classrooms, computer and science labs, a student common area, a testing center, and a writing center. Students can pursue a range of general education courses at the center including English, math, and science.
OTC’s comprehensive mission, focus on job-skill training and college transfer preparation has made it a vital part of one of the fastest-growing areas in the state of Missouri. OTC looks to a promising and productive future as faculty, staff, and community members work together to provide high-quality and affordable learning opportunities to the region.
-History of OTC