The Wyoming Community College Commission history starts in 1951 when it was first established as an advisory council that had significant membership and decision-making authority from the University of Wyoming. WCCC autonomy continued to develop over the next 34 years through legislative mandates that gave the WCCC responsibilities for distributing state aid and establishing standards. In 1967, the legislature gave the WCCC limited authority, and in 1971, restructured the WCCC to that of a lay board appointed by the governor. It was in 1985 that the WCCC gained additional responsibilities for the community colleges through final approval of college capital construction, promulgating audit requirements, approving and terminating college programs, and reviewing existing college districts.
In 1991, the legislature statutorily aligned to the WCCC, both in reporting and budget funding, the following programs: Adult Basic Education, now known as Adult Education (AE), English as a Second Language (ESL), and GED®, now known as the High School Equivalency Certification (HSEC) program.1 Including these three areas expanded the WCCC’s functions and scope of responsibility beyond the community colleges. Also added in 1991 was the legislative provision for the WCCC to develop a statewide computer network to provide comparable college data, as well as meet national post-secondary reporting requirements.
Over the next twenty years, extensive work was done in developing the statewide administrative computing system and various aspects associated with the new technology. To assist in this endeavor, a policy analyst position was established to work alongside the WCCC’s Information Technology division, and to interface with the seven community colleges’ institutional researchers. The legislature continued to impact the programs and functions for which the WCCC is responsible through the addition of the Wyoming Investment in Nursing program, the Teacher Shortage Loan Repayment program (sunset in 2016), the Overseas Combat Veterans and Surviving Spouses/Dependent Tuition Benefit program, the Wyoming Family Literacy program (discontinued in 2016) and the Wyoming Adjunct Professor Loan Repayment program. Also added during this time was the responsibility to audit enrollment data, ensuring the accuracy of data used in the state’s funding allocation model to distribute monies to the colleges. This period also saw the further development of rules and regulations, statutes and policy/prodecures manuals to define the interconnecting functions of the WCCC, the seven colleges and the community college system as a whole.
In 2013, the agency redefined its organization by establishing five sections to better serve those entities which rely on the WCCC for funding, management, reports and direction, as well as to meet the 34 objectives and goals specified in W.S. 21-18-202. These sections were defined as follows: Administration and Budget, Business Analytics and Support, College and Career Readiness, State Tuition Assistance Program Management, and Research and Policy (later absorbed by the Business Analytics and Support Section). Also in 2013, the legislature revised the process for capital construction requests giving the State Construction Department responsibility for reviewing the WCCC prioritized project list and recommending action to the State Building Commission.
The most recent change to the commission duties and staff occurred with the 2016 legislative session’s vote to eliminate funding for the state’s seven Family Literacy Centers. This in turn, reduced the need for a full time staff member to cover the duties associated with these centers.