General Information

Mission Statement

Highland Community College, the first college in Kansas, provides lifelong learning opportunities and contributes to economic development to enhance the quality of life in the communities we serve.

The College also exists to serve each student. It provides educational leadership to help each individual become a well-informed, responsible citizen and a productive member of society.


Highland Community College began as Highland University in 1858, making it the first college in Kansas. Through seven name changes (see below), the College has been providing higher education opportunities to the people of Northeast Kansas for over 155 years.  The College has traditionally prepared students to continue their studies at baccalaureate institutions.  Studies conducted at the Regents universities in Kansas show that students who begin their college careers at HCC and then transfer do as well or better academically as all other students who transfer to those universities and those who start there.

Approximately 3,200 students are enrolled on the main campus or at our 33 regional locations in our nine county service area. The 33 locations are coordinated by regional centers in Atchison, Baileyville, Holton, Perry, and Wamego.  HCC offers Associate degrees in 50 concentration areas and has 15 programs that are technical education degrees. The main campus is located in a small, rural Northeast Kansas community surrounded by agricultural land, and has 39 buildings, including 18 apartment-style residence halls, one being a living/learning center for Fine Arts students.  The Technical College in Atchison merged with Highland in July of 2008, allowing HCC to enhance its technical education opportunities in its service area.

The history and mission of the College can be described best as providing opportunities for higher education that citizens in the region would not have otherwise. Whether as a conduit to a four-year degree, entry to a technical trade, for professional enhancement, or personal development, the College has provided affordable access to higher education for thousands of proud alumni from Northeast Kansas.

Today, the College is financially sound and serving more students than any time in its history. The College is governed by a six member Board of Trustees elected from Doniphan County and is coordinated by the Kansas Board of Regents.

A Historical Snapshot

1857 - Highland Presbyterian Academy – Founded as part of the Presbyterian mission to area Indian tribes, the Academy was to prepare students for university work.

1858 - Highland University -- Chartered as the first college in Kansas, Highland University did not have the money, qualified teachers, or students with an adequate educational background to offer college level courses, so preparatory courses continued to be offered.  College level courses were offered beginning in 1870.

1910 - Highland College – There was not enough enrollment to be a true university.  The Presbyterians dropped their support in 1913 due to financial pressures.

1921 - Highland Junior College – Continuing financial and enrollment challenges made a full four-year curriculum unaffordable, so the institution became a private junior college offering associate degrees.

1929 - Northeast Kansas Junior College – As part of an effort to help recruit more students and financial support from other communities in northeast Kansas, the name was changed to reflect the regional appeal. 

1937 - Highland Public Junior College – Through a special law passed in 1936, the Highland High School district was allowed to establish a public junior college.  The College’s athletic teams were first called the Scotties.

1959 - Doniphan County Junior College – The local school district’s resources were not large enough to support a growing junior college.  The people of Doniphan County voted to assess themselves a mil levy to support the College.  The number of students more than doubled between 1955 and 1964.

1965 - Highland Community Junior College – State legislation reorganized the community college system under Kansas State Board of Education, with local Boards of Trustees elected from within the counties where the colleges were located.  Funding provided from state credit hour support and local county mill levy. 

1980 - Highland Community College – Reflecting the growing role of community colleges in the state, the Legislature dropped the word “junior” from the name of all nineteen Kansas community colleges. 


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