History of Chemeketa
Before it was a community college, the land on which the Chemeketa Salem Campus sits was a gathering place for native peoples to come together and exchange news, knowledge and goods.
Years of History at Chemeketa
We're approaching 50 and going strong. Our legacy inspires our work today. Open the sections below to walk down our memory lane.
Chemeketa in the 1960s
Even before there was a Chemeketa, there was Salem Technical-Vocational School, operated by Salem Public Schools. Salem Tech's first full-time classes were held in an old elementary school. Practical Nursing and Electronics Engineering Technician programs were developed in 1957, 70 full-time students were enrolled, and staff included five full-time instructors.
In the early '60s, a group of citizen leaders from throughout the mid-Willamette Valley spearheaded a movement to transform Salem Tech into a comprehensive community college which would serve the area. Chemeketa is the result of that effort.
In 1964, Salem Tech moved to its present site on Lancaster Drive, where a one-story brick building, a machine and welding shop, and a number of temporary buildings soon made up the campus. In 1965, the school's name was changed to Salem Technical Vocational Community College.
September 23, 1969 – Mid-Willamette area residents vote to establish a community college. This means that the former "Salem Tech" will become a community college serving Marion, Polk, most of Yamhill and part of Linn counties. The first Board of Education is elected.
December 1969 – After a contest conducted among the students of Salem Tech and all of the district high schools, the Board of Education approves the name Chemeketa Community College.
Chemeketa in the 1970s
July 1, 1970 – Chemeketa begins operation as a district-wide comprehensive community college.
1970-71 – The college grows to more than 1,100 full-time students.
December 1972 – Chemeketa receives accreditation by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (now Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities).
1974-79 – The Salem campus major buildings are constructed. Community locations are established in Dallas, McMinnville, Stayton and Woodburn. Because of enrollment growth, the college continues to use the "temporary buildings" in addition to the permanent facilities on campus.
Chemeketa in the 1980s
1980-82 – The Salem campus major buildings are constructed. Community locations are established in Dallas, McMinnville, Stayton and Woodburn. Because of enrollment growth, the college continues to use the "temporary buildings" in addition to the permanent facilities on campus.
January 1986 – The Training and Economic Development (TED) Center—now known as the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry—opens in downtown Salem, with a focus on business training.
Chemeketa in the 1990s
1993 – Building 1 opens, offering an expanded bookstore as well as increased staff office space.
March 1996 – Voters approve a $35.2 million bond measure, allowing the college to build new classrooms, repair existing facilities and update training equipment for students in technical programs.
May 1998 – The newly remodeled Santiam centers, formerly the Stayton center, celebrates its opening. The new location provides the additional training opportunities for Marion and Linn County residents.
March 1999 - The 72,000-square-foot Learning Resource Center opens on the Salem Campus. The building offers twice the seating of the old library, and also houses nine high-tech classrooms.
Chemeketa in the 2000s
January 2000 – The Technology Classroom Building is dedicated on the Salem Campus. The building has 14 computer labs and a 465-seat auditorium equipped for high-tech presentations and a variety of performances.
June 2000 – Chemeketa served more than 50,000 students during the 1999-2000 academics year. Chemeketa is the second-largest community college in Oregon.
February 2002 – The Student Life Center is dedicated. This attachment to Building 2 provides meeting space, multicultural center, a lounge and convenience store for students. It includes office space for Student Life and Student Support Services.
September 2002 – The Peace Garden is dedicated in a September 11 ceremony as a place for remembrance and reflection. At the same dedication ceremony, the college rededicated its name, "Chemeketa," which means "a place of peace."
May 2008 – Voters approve a $92 million bond levy to create additional classroom space and pay for deferred maintenance projects.
September 2008 – First Chemeketa Scholars, who receive free tuition for high academic achievement, begin attending.
September 2009 – Chemeketa initiates celebrating its 40th anniversary with the implementation of a new logo and brand identity system.
2010 to present
Chemeketa from 2010 to Present
February 2010 – Chemeketa celebrates the opening of its new Center for Business and Industry in downtown Salem.
September 2011 – Chemeketa Yamhill Valley receives accreditation as a college campus and Chemeketa becomes the second multi-campus community college system in Oregon.
September 2011 – Chemeketa opens three new buildings funded from the 2008 bond.
November 2011 – Dr. Patrick Lanning named president of the Yamhill Valley campus.
February 2012 – Yamhill Valley campus formally dedicated.
June 2014 – President Cheryl Roberts departs to become president of Shoreline Community College. Julie Huckestein becomes interim president.
March 2015 – Jim Eustrom appointed president of the Yamhill Valley campus.
February 2015 – Presidential search process concludes with board determining none of the 21 candidates were a complete fit. They appoint Julie Huckestein district president.
October 2015 – Major construction funded from the 2008 bond levy completed with the dedication of Building 20.
Spring 2015 – Chemeketa Press is launched to provide students with low-cost textbooks.
June 2016 – Board of Education approves renaming Chemeketa Dallas Chemeketa Polk.
September 2016 – Chemeketa restores Building Inspection program.
October 2016 – Chemeketa welcomes the first cohort of 1,089 Oregon Promise grant recipients.
October 2017 – Chemeketa identified as one of the 150 community colleges in the U.S. eligible for the $1 million Aspen Prize.