Western Iowa Tech Community College is a publicly supported comprehensive community college serving the Iowa counties of Cherokee, Crawford, Ida, Monona, Plymouth, and Woodbury, which have a combined population of about 180,000.
A nine-member Board of Directors provides governance for Western Iowa Tech Community College. The board members are elected from the nine districts in the six-county service area. The College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is regulated by the Iowa State Department of Education.
The College was organized in August 1966 and created as an area vocational-technical school as provided in Chapter 280A of the Iowa Code. The first board of directors was chosen at a special school election on November 2, 1966. The Board selected Dr. Robert H. Kiser to serve as chief administrator and named the school Western Iowa Tech.
The first classes began on January 27, 1967, when Western Iowa Tech accepted responsibility for one vocational and two technical postsecondary programs then operated by the Sioux City Community Schools. By fall term of 1967, 17 full-time programs were in operation. At that time, Western Iowa Tech also assumed direction of all adult basic, high school completion, high school equivalency certificate and occupationally oriented adult educational programs. At this point enrollment totaled 230.
During the first years of operation, WITCC offered programs at various temporary locations throughout Sioux City. The first administrative home in 1966 was the former Hobson School building located at 222 South Floyd Boulevard. In 1968, the administrative offices were moved to the former Trinity Prep campus at 3075 Floyd Boulevard.
In 1970, enrollment totaled 510 and a permanent campus was established on a 143 acre site at 4647 Stone Avenue. The first building was completed and occupied during the 1970-71 school year. In November 1972, ground was broken for another, adjacent building. In 1973, when Western Iowa Tech received permission to offer a two-year associate of arts degree, the curriculum became fully comprehensive. The facility for radio station KWIT was completed in 1978. The station provided public, non-commercial radio within an 80-mile radius of the city.
In the fall of 1980, credit enrollment totaled 1,323. During the same year, construction was completed on the then Student Center and the Gaylord Smith Vocational Building. On-campus housing, Sun Ridge Court Apartments, was built in 1982. In 1984, the Transportation Center, located at 5001 East Gordon Drive, was added to the Sioux City campus.
In 1990, credit enrollment totaled 1,687. In 1991, Dr. Robert H. Kiser retired from the presidency of the College after 25 years of service. Dr. Robert E. Dunker, a graduate of the College’s first Mechanical Drafting and Design Technology class, was selected by the Board of Directors as the second president to lead Western Iowa Tech Community College. In 1992, remodeling of the College’s original structure added two lecture halls and an interactive television classroom. Distance learning became a reality. Through community partnerships, the College constructed and opened the Denison Campus in 1993. In 1996, through community partnerships, the College constructed and opened the Cherokee Campus and Conference Center. In 1994, extensive construction joined the College’s first two structures into an instructional, student service administrative facility known as the Dr. Robert H. Kiser Building.
In 2000, fall credit enrollment totaled 4,365. Online classes were first offered in 2002 providing a whole new, convenient platform for learning. KWIT added KOJI in 2002 bringing Iowa public radio programming to the Great Lakes region for the first time. In 2003, the Denison campus was remodeled and expanded adding classroom, library and new high-tech equipment space. During that same year, the first tree was planted on the Sioux City campus’s Loess Hills Arboretum and Nature Trail. The Advanced Sciences Building, which was started in 2003, was dedicated and held its first classes in 2005. It added 78,000 square feet of additional instructional space to the Sioux City campus. In 2008, the Sioux City campus expanded significantly adding 66 acres of undeveloped woodland, prairie, and watershed to its Loess Hills Arboretum and Nature Trail. A new residence hall, The Bur Oak Suites, was also completed adding housing for 185 more students. Likewise, The Security Institute, a 37,000 square foot facility was constructed. The structure is a collaboration of the College, the City and County and provides training in real-life, real-time condition of crisis and a new location for county 911 communications and city/county emergency operations. In 2009 the Beltway Center on Highway 75 North in Sioux City was secured as a site for transportation related training including truck driving and motorcycle handling.
In 2010, credit student enrollment reached 6,421. During 2011, Dr. Robert E. Dunker retired as president and the College’s new student center was named in his honor. This 40,000 square foot center provides fitness and meeting facilities for learners and employees. Dr. Terry A. Murrell, who joined Western Iowa Tech four years earlier, was selected by the Board of Directors after a national search to become the College’s third president. During 2012, renovations of existing facilities upgraded the student learning environments in the Kiser Building and community meeting area in the Corporate College. In 2014, another complex, Prairie Place, was added to the Sioux City campus bringing total housing accommodations to more than 500 students, and a permanent WITCC Le Mars Center was opened. In 2015, the campus and the student experience were infused with technology. Each student was provided a laptop loaded with curriculum-specific software. Students were given internet connectivity 24/7 and the Sioux City, Denison and Cherokee campuses became interconnected with virtual classrooms. In 2016, the College celebrated 50 years of operation and lost its first president, Dr. Robert H. Kiser. In 2017 and 2019, WITCC was recognized as an Apple Distinguished School for its innovative uses of technology.