Established in 1949, George C. Wallace Community College, with campuses in Dothan and Eufaula, is one of the largest and oldest community colleges in Alabama. In 2008 it was ranked among the nation's top 50 fastest-growing public two-year colleges by Community College Week.
In 1947, George C. Wallace, then a freshman member of the Alabama House of Representatives, introduced legislation that was signed into law as the Alabama Regional Trade School Act of 1947. One of the first trade schools was established in Dothan, Houston County. Wallace requested that the school be named George C. Wallace State Technical Trade School, in honor of his father, George Corley Wallace Sr., whom Wallace admired for keeping his family together during the Great Depression and for insisting that his children continue their education. Governor Jim Folsom agreed and named the institution in honor of the elder Wallace.
The first 29 acres of the campus were acquired from Napier Air Field through the War Assets Administration in January 1949, and 13 students enrolled in the school's sheet metal program. In 1952, the school introduced a practical nursing program and has since produced more than 3,200 practical nurses. In 1955, the name of the institution was changed to George C. Wallace State Vocational Trade School. On May 3, 1963, the Alabama State Legislature authorized the creation of a junior college on the technical school site, and the institution became George C. Wallace State Technical Junior College, with Phillip J. Hamm as the first president. In response to a recommendation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the technical school and junior college were officially merged in 1969 to form southern Alabama's first comprehensive community college. That year, the college also introduced its associate degree nursing program, which remains one of Wallace's most popular programs, with an average yearly enrollment of approximately 450. The name of the college was changed to George C. Wallace State Community College in September 1973; "state" was later dropped from the name.
Wallace expanded further in October 1999 when the State Board of Education (BoE) merged Wallace Community College and Chauncey Sparks State Technical College in Eufaula, Barbour County. Sparks, named for the former Alabama governor, had opened with nine programs of study on July 6, 1966; it is now known as the Wallace Community College Sparks Campus. Alabama Aviation and Technical College in Ozark, Dale County, briefly became part of Wallace Community College in 1997 in another merger, but it shifted to Enterprise State Junior College in 2003 to create Enterprise-Ozark Community College (now Enterprise State Community College in Coffee County).
Today, Wallace offers myriad educational opportunities and works closely with local partners to provide hands-on training for its students. Wallace provides more than 80 percent of the local medical support workforce and helps fill jobs in local businesses and industries. Among its many career technical programs are air conditioning, automotive, auto-body, child development, industrial automation, computer information science, electrical, nuclear maintenance, and welding. Wallace also offers a university parallel/academic-transfer program. More than 100,000 students have attended Wallace since its founding; its current student body is 4,700. The college serves another 2,000 students per year in noncredit programs, such as adult education, at the Center for Economic and Workforce Development Center in Dothan, and at the Sparks Campus Workforce Development Center in Eufaula. Wallace is also known for its Governors baseball and Lady Governors softball teams.
Wallace is part of the Alabama Community College System, which is headed by a chancellor and governed by the Alabama State Board of Education.