History of EACC
St. Francis County residents planted the seeds for a local institution of higher learning in 1968 with the formation of a community college committee. In June of 1969, the Crowley Ridge Community College Corporation received its charter. In April of 1971, Mrs. Ed (Betty Jo) Hodges donated $25,000 to the organization. The generous grant allowed the group to purchase 40 acres of land located on Crowley’s Ridge.
In August of 1973, the Arkansas Board of Higher Education announced that St. Francis County had met all the requirements and criteria for the formation of a Community College District and authorized the county to call for an election on the issue. On November 8, voters approved the proposal, which included a 4-mill tax to finance construction of the College. Gov. Dale Bumpers appointed nine members to the Board of Trustees, and the college representatives officially took office on Dec. 13, 1973. On February 7, 1974, the trustees selected Horace E. Hartsell as first President of East Arkansas Community College. Dr. Hartsell began his duties on March 15, 1974. An administrative team and faculty were assembled, and on August 26, 1974, classes opened in a temporary, renovated facility at the corner of Court and Izard Streets in downtown Forrest City. In the first term, 684 students enrolled for credit courses.
In December 1974, the board authorized construction of 11 buildings at a cost of $1.5 million on the Crowley’s Ridge site. Classes began at the new campus in August of 1975. In 1986, the Board approved a $1.5 million expansion and improvement project that increased the physical plant by 50 percent without any additional tax. In addition to energy-saving measures, renovation and improvements to existing buildings, the College added 23,000 square feet of new facilities including a fourth classroom building, a music building, a lecture hall and expansion of the physical education building.
In 1991, EACC purchased land from the Becker family to continue its expansion program. Following relocation of Newcastle Road, the school erected a million-dollar Computer Education Center and two new office buildings. An overall land-use plan has also been developed to lead
the college into the 21st century.
EACC continued its commitment to educational advancement in 1994 with the addition of the Computer Education Center. The 15,000 square foot EACC Learning Resource Center opened in December of 2000 and houses the EACC Library, Continuing Education and Workforce Development. The addition of the Betty Jo Hodges Student Services Complex in the spring of 2002 provided students with a more streamlined experience with Financial Aid, counseling and registration processes, and tutorial services in The Learning Center.
The College has completed the renovation of all three classroom buildings including state-of-the-art technology and classroom furnishings. The EACC Wynne-Site opened to the public in 2005 to serve students in the northern tier of the service area counties. The EACC Technology Center opened in the fall of 2007 and the Fine Arts Center and Gallery officially opened in 2010. In 2011, projects included the completion of the Transportation and Technology Center on Highway 1 in Forrest City and a complete renovation of the Vaccaro Clock Tower. The Allied Health Building is scheduled to open in 2012.