From the 1960s to the present day, Mesa Community College has been part of the fabric of the city of Mesa and the Southeast Valley. We’ve grown up with the city and surrounding areas, now bustling with more than 500,000 residents, the third-largest city in Arizona. MCC has grown from 330 students who enrolled for the first semester in 1963 to more than 40,000 learners. We invite you to explore our history.



Expanding Forward

Phoenix College - Mesa Extension

Mesa operated as an extension campus of Phoenix College and was located at 809 W. Main Street in Mesa.  This building, built in 1911, was used by MCC until 1965. The main room was the library and classrooms were in the basement. Today this site is wedding venue.

809 W. Main Street in Mesa


The First President

Start of a legacy

John Riggs was appointed Executive Dean of the Mesa Extension. Once Mesa became a full college, he served as President until 1974.

John Riggs, Executive Dean of the Mesa Extension


The First Semester

Registering for the future

330 students registered for classes the first semester at the Mesa Extension on Sept. 11. The full time teachers that first semester were: Bob Reid, Division Chair of Science and Math; Joe Shirley, Division Chair, Social Science; Leon Kearney, Business Division Chair; Margaret Allison Watkins, Language Arts Division Chair; Jeanette DePriest, Library Division Chair; Lot Christensen, Division of Health and P.E. Chair; John Morris, Social Science; Sherry Little, English and Business; Bill Kendall, German and English; Lee Wallis, French and English; Marsha Head, Women's Physical Education.

First semester at MCC


Welcome the Hokams

MCC athletics begins

Mesa students voted Hokams as the nickname for their athletic teams. The name originated from the ancient Indian tribe, the Hohokam, who lived in the Salt River Valley.


A New Home

Planting roots in Mesa

Capital funds from the bond election enabled Mesa Community College to purchase 120 acres with an option to purchase an adjoining 40 acres for the new campus at Dobson and Southern Roads in Mesa.

Southeast Campus


The First Yearbook

Publishing history

Mesa Extension published its first yearbook called Jacali. The name is the Spanish word for the Hohokam Indian dwelling. This tied the yearbook to the MCC mascot, the Hokam. Jacali was published 1965 – 1979.


The Great Divide

Mesa Community College finds its identity

On April 12th the Maricopa Junior College District Board named Mesa Community College and Glendale Community College as separate institutions from Phoenix College.  Dr. John D. Riggs, Dean of the Mesa Extension, became Executive Dean of Mesa Community College. Other MCC administrators were: Keith Breon, Dean of Admissions; Jinnett Kirk, Dean of Students; and Theo Heap, Associate Dean of Students.

Southern & Dobson


The Governing Board Officially Changed the Name

On July 1, 1965, the Governing Board officially changed the name to Mesa Community College.


Breaking Ground

It's official

Mesa Community College's ground breaking ceremony on October 15th was conducted by Student Body President “Jeep” Anderson.

Student Body President "Jeep" Anderson.


Rainy Day Orientation

Delayed - but not deterred

Student orientation day on the new MCC campus was held on September 14th. It rained hard all day. The parking lots had not yet been paved. The area where the math science (MS) building now stands was under water. The huge puddle was named “Lake Hokam” and a jeep was needed to tow cars to solid ground. Classes were delayed another 3 days, but began with a record enrollment of 2,053 students.

Orientation 1966


A Grand Opening

Southern & Dobson Campus opens

Mesa Community College opened at its new site on the corner of Dobson and Southern. The buildings: the student center, the science building, the maintenance building and 26 portable classrooms - giving MCC the nickname “portable university.”

Mesa Community College opens at Southern & Dobson


Horlbeck, Hickman & Associates was the architectural firm for the new campus.

Did you know

Horlbeck, Hickman & Associates was the architectural firm for the new campus.


Campus Dedication Day

Registration in record numbers

Mesa Community College campus dedication day was held October 30. The program was held in the area north of the student union and west of the flagpole. Fall registration was 3,850.

Campus Dedication Day


The First Graduation on Campus

Leading the way for future generations

Mesa Community College graduated its first class on its new campus in ceremonies May 29, at 8 p.m. 253 students graduated. The 1966 and 1967 Commencement Ceremonies were held at Rendezvous Park in Mesa.

The First Graduation Day


Preparing for Gold

MCC takes its athletics to the next level

MCC became a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), enabling our athletic programs to compete on the national level. Eighteen National Championships and more than 83 Conference Titles won since 1968.

MCC became a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)


Going the Distance

Track and field shine

MCC men's outdoor track and field won the national championship in 1968 and 1969. Ernie Bullard was their first head coach, followed in 1969 by Coach Carvel Jackson, who won 5 national titles. MCC track and field has produced more than 127 All-Americans including Mark Murro, who competed in the 1968 Olympics for javelin throw.  

Men's Track & Field


Touchdown HoKams

A cornerstone for MCC Athletics

Dedication of the football stadium

Dedication of the football stadium


National Championships

Racing towards the future

Men's Outdoor Track & Field brought home 4 national championships: 1970, 1973, 1974, 1975. All-American Ron Semkiw earned a shotput record. MCC track and field has produced more than 127 All-Americans.

Men's Outdoor Track & Field brought home 4 national championships


Hitting a Home Run

MCC's baseball team finds success

The Hokams win the National Baseball Championship for three successive years (1970, 1971 and 1972). Jim Brock becomes MCC’s first baseball coach, followed by Jim Frye with a 334–172 record in eleven seasons. Frye was inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996 for his work in community college baseball.

The Hokams win the National Baseball Championship for three successive years


Professional Baseball Contracts

Did you know

More than 70 former MCC stars signed professional baseball contracts, including 1988 World Series hero Mickey Hatcher, 1986 American League play-off MVP Marty Barrett, Mike Devereaux, Dave Collins, Hubie Brooks, Paul Single, and Brett Merriman.


The Golden Slam

MCC's tennis team has the perfect serve

MCC won the National Tennis Championship. Coach Lot Christensen is considered the “Father of Tennis.” In his 21 years as coach, MCC scored an unbelievable 409 wins to only 50 losses.

MCC's tennis team



MCC climbs the ranks

Football won national championships in 1973 and 1975. The 1973 team played in the Sunkist Bowl in Yuma, Arizona. Football Coach Paul Widmer took the team to 2 National Championships and 5 Conference Titles during his decade of leadership with an 83-14-1 record. MCC's football team has produced more than 50 All-Americans, 30 Academic All-Americans and 29 professional football players including: Bobby Thomas (1968) LA Rams; T.C. Wright, San Diego Chargers; Mike Johnson, British Columbia Lions; Trevor Cavanaugh, Edmonton Eskimos; and Jerold Jeffcoat, NY Giants.

MCC Football - 1973 ACCAC & NJCAA Champions


Switching it Up

A change in identity

MCC’s mascot changes from Hokam to Thunderbird.

MCC's new mascot


MCC won the national championship in men’s indoor track and field

In ‘74, MCC was the men’s indoor track and field national champs


Howe for President

The successor to John Riggs

Helena Howe was appointed MCC President and remained in the position until 1978.

Helena Howe, MCC President


Career Fair

Did you know

In 1976, MCC began hosting Career Fairs to assist students in seeking employment.


Bump, Set, Spike

Volleyball brings home the National Championship

In seven years the volleyball team compiled a 199–11 record, a national championship, and six conference titles under the leadership of coach Lynn Bedford.


A Proper Venue

MCC's performers get their stage

Theatre Outback opened in 1978. Previous performances had been held in a portable that was “outback” on the south side of campus.

Theatre Outback

Theatre Outback


Soaring High

A monumental occasion

Erected in 1978, the stained glass Thunderbird monument at the corner of Southern and Dobson was presented to the college as a gift from the Evening College Student Government Association.

Evening College Student Government Association


A Change in Leadership

Preparing for a new decade

Theo J. Heap was appointed MCC President.

Theo J. Heap


On the Run

Women's Track and Field beats the competition

Women’s Outdoor Track and Field races to success and earns the National Championship.

Women’s Outdoor Track and Field race to success and earn the National Cham


Stellar Strides

Champions once more

Men's Outdoor Track and Field Champions

Men's Outdoor Track and Field won the national championship.


A Healthy Addition

Teamwork proves vital

Completed construction of the Health Improvement Center. A weight room was added in 1983. Dedication ceremonies and an Open House were held Oct. 12. The Health Improvement Center was built by MCC coaches and employees on evenings and weekends; it was built without tax or government dollars.

Construction of the Health Improvement Center

Construction of the Health Improvement Center


MCC Led All of the Maricopa Community Colleges

On January 1st, 1982, MCC led all of the Maricopa Community Colleges in enrollment with a head count of 14,674.


The Simpson Era

Propelling MCC onward & upward

Wallace A. Simpson was appointed MCC President.

Wallace A. Simpson


Rotary Registration

The beginning of something special

MCC offered telephone registration for the first time, limited to one course that did not require advising or testing.

Rotary Telephone


Full Steam Ahead

MCC's education in demand

Chandler-Gilbert Education Center began its first year of operation as an extension of Mesa Community College.

Chandler-GIlbert Community Education Center

Chandler Gilbert Community College Center


The Legacy of Theo Heap

In honor of MCC's past

The MCC east gymnasium was named after Theo Heap, former President, Athletic Director, and Coach, during Dedication Ceremonies on December 19.

Theo Heap, former President, Athletic Director, and Coach


A Dean's Proud Moment

Recognizing one of MCC's greatest

Jinnett B. Kirk, MCC’s first Dean of Students, was honored with the Don Carlos Humanitarian Award on February 20.

Jinnett B. Kirk, MCC's first Dean of Students


Biblio Barcoding

Innovation at MCC

Bar code technology came to the library as part of a new automation system. Bar codes were assigned to every item in the library’s collection, and appeared on student ID cards for the first time.

The Mesa Community College Library


MCC's Telephone Number Changed

MCC’s telephone number changed with the advent of an upgraded telephone system that encompassed all of the Maricopa Community Colleges. The older (827)-3000 number was changed to (461)-7000, which remains to the present day. The Red Mountain campus brought a new prefix of (654)-7000.


A Presidential Introduction

Ushering Mesa Community College into the 1990s

Larry K. Christiansen served as Mesa Community College's President for nineteen years - leaving in 2007.

Larry Christiansen


A Silver Jubilee

MCC celebrates 25th anniversary

T-Bird Corner at Southern and Dobson received a facelift for the 25th anniversary. Erected in 1978, the Thunderbird monument was presented to the college as a gift from the Evening College Student Government Association.

Thunderbird monument


Big Time

Celebrating the Alumni Clock Tower dedication

MCC’s Clock Tower, designed to be a focal point on campus, received conceptual approval from the district's governing board. At the time, the 60-foot high structure was valued at $90,000. The Alumni Clock Tower dedication was held on October 18th.

MCC's Clock Tower under construction


Open for Business

The Commission on Excellence in Education

President Christiansen created the Commission on Excellence in Education which included 530 business leaders, government officials and Arizona residents.

David Udall, Commission Chair from 1990-1993
David Udall, Commission Chair from 1990-1993


The First InterSession

Classes offered in a one-month mini-session

MCC offered its first InterSession on Dec. 26. 32 classes were offered and 379 students enrolled.



1st Annual Assessment Week

Faculty members assess student performance

Numeracy, problem solving, critical thinking, scientific inquiry, information literacy, cultural diversity and workplace skills were analyzed by the Office of Research and Planning and an annual report was prepared.


Coming Up Roses

Public rose garden opens

Dedication of the MCC and Mesa-East Valley Rose Society Rose Garden was held on April 30th. The garden is still the largest public rose garden in the southwest.

Mesa-East Valley Rose Society Rose Garden


MCC East Campus

New opportunity at McKellips and Power Roads

700 students began their journeys to success in temporary facilities.



The Alumni Clock Tower gets an upgrade

The word “MESA” was added to the Alumni Clock tower.

Upgraded MCC Clock Tower


Supporting Our Future

MCC sponsors its 1st High School Model UN Conference

The high school students posed as UN delegates and discussed issues such as terrorism, AIDS/HIV, and human rights. Distinguished delegates received a $1,000 MCC scholarship.

High School Model UN Conference


Honoring Weston Letter

MCC hosts its 1st Annual Water Safety Day

This community event educates the public about water safety issues and honors the memory of Weston Letter, who drowned in the family swimming pool on May 31, 1998.

1st Annual Water Safety Day


A Groundbreaking Event

The beginning of the Red Mountain Campus

Phase I construction began for Red Mountain Campus, which included four buildings: the Desert Willow Bldg. (library & commons), Mesquite Bldg. (student & administrative services), Palo Verde Bldg. (classrooms & laboratories), and the Ironwood Bldg. (central plant). A groundbreaking ceremony was held in April.

Phase I construction began for Red Mountain Campus


Going Wireless

Red Mountain campus advances with a webcam

The MCC Southern and Dobson campus Social Cultural Building, Physical Science Building and the Diesel/Welding and Physical Education portables all install wireless technology to support classroom laptops.


Providing Tools for Teaching

Dedication of the MCC Center for Teaching and Learning

The Center for Teaching and Learning leads and inspires the advancement of innovative teaching and learning for student success. The dedication was held on October 5th.

The Center for Teaching and Learning leads and inspires the advancement of innov


MCC reached an enrollment of 44,000 students

2001-02 MCC reached an enrollment of 44,000 students with classes offered in facilities across the East Valley


Fun With Science

First MCC Science Day was held on April 9th

Local schools were invited to participate in science activities on campus.

Science Day 2002


MCC became an authorized center for Microsoft Office User Specialist Certification

Did you know

In 2002, MCC became an authorized center for Microsoft Office User Specialist Certification.


National Recognition

Presidential visit prompts governor's applause

President George W. Bush visited Mesa Community College to discuss his proposal for a $250 million federal grant for job training programs in community colleges across the nation. The next day, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano recognized MCC for achieving national recognition at the East Valley Breakfast with the Governor.

President George W. Bush
Photo courtesy of Michael Cooper


Helping Hands

Sculptor begins production outside the Theatre Outback

Chinese artist Xiaoping Luo’s The Hands sculpture is 12 feet long and symbolizes the nurturing of the student body. It also offers a unique and inspiring seating area.

Chinese artist Xiaoping Luo


Maricopa County Votes

$951 million bond approved and issued

A more than 2-to-1 margin by Maricopa County voters secures the new bond. MCC's portion of the proceeds was set at $111 million: $60 million to Southern and Dobson, $20 million for Red Mountain, $21 million for technology, and $10 million for the Downtown Center.

Southern & Dobson Campus

Red Mountain Campus


Highest Honors

MCC named to U.S. President's Higher Education Honor Roll

The U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll highlights the role colleges play in solving community problems and placing more students on a lifelong path of civic engagement.

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll


Hall of Fame

MCC's Inaugural Sports Hall of Fame inductees

MCC celebrates twenty athletes, coaches, administrators, and community leaders who have contributed significantly to the success of MCC athletics over the past 40 years with induction into its inaugural Sports Hall of Fame.

Sports Hall of Fame


Recognition of Progress

Award designed to highlight institutional efforts

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a leading Washington-based, private, nonprofit organization, awarded the 2007 CHEA Award for Institutional Progress in Student Learning Outcomes to Mesa Community College.


MCC Alumnus Mark Millron Received 2007

Did you know

MCC alumnus Mark Milliron received the 2007 National Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).


The Next Chapter

MCC welcomes a new president

Dr. Shouan Pan became the sixth president of MCC.

Dr. Shouan Pan


Rise of the Thunderbird

Football team debuts new Thunderbird logo

The football team was first to don a newly redesigned Thunderbird athletic mascot logo on their helmets for their homecoming game against Scottsdale CC. The new bird, designed by Shachi Kale, is represented in Mesa's colors: scarlet, white, and southwest blue.

Homecoming 2008

Mesa Thunderbird logo


Soleris Bells

Refurbished and reinstalled

Soleris Bells

The Paolo Soleri Bell sculpture was reinstalled in the new Elsner Library after employee donations paid for a refurbishing. The original sculpture was a gift of the class of 1968 and was installed in MCC's original library.


Central Courtyard Cienega

Red Mountain campus dedicates native wetland

Used as a demonstration project that illustrates how reclaimed water can be used to create a riparian habitat for native species – as well as mitigate storm water runoff to protect Arizona's natural riparian areas. The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured the release of the initial stock of Arizona-native Longfin Dace minnows into the cienega.

Red Mountain Campus Central Courtyard Cienega


Chapter of the Year

MCC's Upsilon chapter of Sigma Chi Eta recognized

MCC's Upsilon chapter of Sigma Chi Eta was recognized as the National Chapter of the Year 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14. Sigma Chi Eta (SCH) is the official community college honor society of the National Communication Association (NCA).

MCC's Upsilon chapter of Sigma Chi Eta


Coming Up Roses

Grant bestowed for garden updates

The Rose Garden at MCC received a grant from the Stanley Smith Horticulture Trust resulting in up to $40,000 for a variety of garden projects including bridges so students can safely cross the retention area near the corner of Southern & Dobson, rose arbors, benches, a trellis, and other artistically designed enhancements.

Bridge at the Mesa Community College Rose Garden


Mesa Counts on College

Grant draws to a close with impressive results

The Mesa Counts on College grant, funded through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, drew to a close. Along with partners Mesa Public Schools and the City of Mesa, MCC implemented several new initiatives, such as the Pathways to Completion Project, GED to MCC, the Mesa Community Outreach Center, and Explore What's In Store.

Mesa Counts on College


PTK Chapter Wins International Award

Ranks Second Worldwide

Did you know

MCC’s Phi Theta Kappa Omicron Beta Chapter was named First Finalist for Most Distinguished Chapter at the 2013 Phi Theta Kappa Conference. The international award ranks MCC as second out of 1,280 chapters worldwide.


National Recognition

A spotlight on success

Bob Samson of MCC's Network Academy was recognized as one of the top 20 Cisco Trainers in the U.S.

Bob Samson


Slam Dunk

Women's basketball team shoots and scores

The Mesa women's basketball team captured the NJCAA Division II national championship with an 82-72 win in overtime over second-seeded Highland (Kan.). The victory capped a fantastic career for the MCC sophomores, who posted a 55-12 record over their two years, won two Region I titles, took second place nationally in 2013, and capped it all with a national title in 2014.

The Mesa women's basketball team


Thrilling Victory

A home run for men's baseball

Men’s baseball claims the national championship with a thrilling 9–7 win in 11 innings over Hinds (Miss.). The championship caps a season with a 52–13 record and adds a fourth baseball championship in school history. The 1970–72 teams all won NJCAA crowns.

Mesa men's baseball team


Performing Arts Pledge

A gift for the musicians

Dr. Ruth Tan Lim pledged $1 million for the naming rights of the Performance Hall in the new Performing Arts Center (PAC) at MCC. The gift will be deposited with the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation (MCCF) for exclusive use of the Music Program at MCC. Income from the interest will be used for scholarship awards and to support the music program.

Dr. Ruth Tan Lim


Community Engagement

Students serve 530,088 hours

MCC is one of only 16 community colleges nationwide to receive the Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Since 2002, MCC’s Center for Community & Civic Engagement has formally tracked service-learning students and their hours. To date, 17,346 students have served a total of 530,088 hours.

Carnegie Foundation - Elective Community Engagement Classification

Next decade