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History of the College

The Mendocino-Lake Community College District was formed in September 1972 by vote of the citizens of the Anderson Valley, Laytonville, Potter Valley, Round Valley, Ukiah, and Willits Unified School Districts. Planning for the development of the initial offerings of the College occurred in the Spring of 1973, with the first classes offered in July 1973.

Expansion of the District to include the Lake County Districts of Upper Lake, Kelseyville, and Lakeport occurred by vote of the citizens on November 5, 1974. The new District boundaries, established in July 1975, encompass 3,200 square miles of service area. In 1981 the name of the District became Mendocino-Lake Community College District to better reflect the geographical area being served.

Our new Library/Learning Center at the main campus in Ukiah opened its doors to students in time for fall classes in August, 2012. Designed and constructed at a cost of $28 million, the Library/Learning Center was built as a result of community support through Measure W. The building includes a spacious library with an extraordinary view, a learning center, the Math Enginnering Science Achievement (MESA) program, a disabled resource center and a new language lab, all equipped with the latest technology.

The grand opening in spring of 2013 of the $15 million Mendocino College Lake Center located on 31 acres at 2565 Parallel Drive was followed up by the North County Center opening in the fall of 2013 located at 372 East Commercial Street in Willits. Both centers provide new and exceptional facilities and enhanced educational opportunities for the residents of our region.

For more complete details on recent Bond projects, please visit:


  • 1972 - A new college district was formed to serve the Mendocino County areas of Anderson Valley, Round Valley, Ukiah and Willits. Peter DeVries was named first president.
  • 1973 - The Redwood Empire Fairgrounds was selected as the temporary site for the college until a permanent home could be found.
  • 1973 - A name for the new college was chosen -- Gateway Community College. After just a few weeks the college was renamed Mendocino College. The Eagle was chosen as a mascot and blue and gold as the new college's colors.
  • 1973, August - Portable classrooms arrived at the Ukiah County Fair Grounds and the first fall semester began in September with over 1,000 students enrolled.
  • 1974, Spring - Number of students had grown to 2,312. Available space was already stretched to capacity. More temporary buildings were brought in.
  • 1974 - Course offerings expanded each year, with students receiving instruction in the newest technology.
  • 1974 - The Lake County Center began in a modest temporary building.
  • 1977 - The first Willits Center office opened in a temporary location on Main Street in downtown Willits.
  • 1977 - College Trustees purchased 127 acres of the old Yokayo ranch as a permanent campus. Ground was broken on October 21, 1983, the first building, the library, was built, and the old portables were hauled up from the fairgrounds. Classes began on the new campus in the summer of 1985.
  • 1978 - The Willits Center was established at 11 Marin Street with two permanent classrooms and began offering day classes in Willits with evening classes in Willits, Laytonville, Round Valley, Anderson Valley, and Potter Valley.
  • 1979 - The Lake Center moved to a larger building as student enrollment grew ever larger.
  • 1980 - College centers in Willits and Lakeport were established. District-wide course offerings had expanded to more than 550 classes, including 120 day and evening classes in Lake County. Distance learning courses were also offered.
  • 1980, February - Mendocino College received full accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
  • 1981 -Facilities at the Fairgrounds in Ukiah became so impacted that some programs moved to other locations. The library relocated to the corner of State and Gibson streets.
  • 1983, October 21 - Ground was broken on the first Ukiah Campus building, the library, and the old portables were hauled up from the fairgrounds.
  • 1985, Summer - Classes began on the new Ukiah campus.
  • 1985-86 - The Classroom/Administration Building was constructed and provided classrooms and faculty and administrative offices.
  • 1987/88- Vocational/Technical Building and Agricultural Headhouse projects were constructed
  • 1988 - New Child Development Lab built, featuring a round design with a central observation room.
  • 1989 - Physical Education complex was added, giving Lake and Mendocino counties world-class facilities.
  • 1993/94 - Mendocino College's Center for the Visual and Performing Arts was built.
  • 1998-99 - Lake Center moves to a new 10,000 sq. ft. facility at 1005 Parallel Drive, Lakeport, one day before open registration for the Fall semester. New building includes a Learning Lab, a second computer lab and additional classroom space as well as Admin offices, counseling offices, a faculty workroom, bookstore and a parking lot.
  • 2003 - New Science Complex started on Ukiah Campus, 20,000 sq. ft. facility, including faculty offices, will replace 2,400 sq. ft. science classes in portable buildings.
  • 2003, August - The Willits Center adds two new classrooms, including a new home for the center's computer lab and a wireless computer network system, at the Mendocino County Museum, part of the Redwood Empire Railroad History Project in Willits.
  • 2004 - New Science Complex opens August; 20,000 sq. ft. facility.
  • 2006 - Measure W $67.5 million Facilities Bond Passed

Created: February 28, 1997 @ 12:00 AM
Last Modified: February 04, 2014 @ 01:33 PM


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