Through the Decades
Piedmont Technical College has undergone a significant transformation over the past 50 years. For instance, a college that was once hosted on a single campus in Greenwood, South Carolina, now offers eight locations in seven counties. Programs housed at those locations have impacted the lives of area residents for decades. The following section highlights many of the accomplishments that paved the way for the college’s successes.
Choose a Decade to Explore
In the early 1960s, the formation of the South Carolina Advisory Committee for Technical Training was the spark that ignited a statewide push to create new programs that would meet the training needs of new and expanding industries in the region. This step quickly led to the creation of the Piedmont Area Commission for Technical Education and Training in 1963. Charged with developing, maintaining and operating a technical education center in the Piedmont district, the group worked quickly to construct the first Piedmont Technical Education Center (TEC) which opened in the fall of 1966 with nearly 300 students enrolled.
By 1970, the college’s overall enrollment had surpassed 1,000 students. To accommodate the training needs of a growing student body, Piedmont Tech continued to add new programs and facilities. Other counties in the region also started to pledge their support. By the end of the decade, the college had bridged strong partnerships with Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda counties. These communities started to see further benefits of Piedmont Tech in the region. For instance, in cooperation with the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, the college was instrumental in attracting six new businesses to the area, including Cincinnati-Milacron, Inc., the Grimes division of Midlands-Ross Corporation, Reliance Electric Corporation, Union Carbide Corporation, Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Velux-America. Over the years the college has had a similar impact in all seven counties of the service region.
The 1980s at Piedmont Technical College saw a continued expansion of training facilities. In fact, the college completed six new additions, including a health science facility, conference center, continuing education complex, student center, multipurpose building and an automotive center. The facilities brought new life to the campus, with more room for student activities, assemblies and training opportunities. The college also became one of nine in the state to be approved by the S.C. Commission on Higher Education to add the associate in arts and associate in science degrees to their curriculum. These programs continue to offer a quality, affordable pathway for students to work toward a bachelor’s degree.
Piedmont Tech opened up a new decade by expanding college facilities and programs into other counties in the region. The first of these facilities was the Laurens County campus, which opened in 1991. Centers opened in Abbeville and Newberry in 1996. And in 1998, centers opened in Edgefield, McCormick and Saluda. The addition of these campuses has continued to provide easier access to education for all students in the seven county area. In the 90s, educational access was also extended through the use of new technology. The PEN (Piedmont Education Network) was established in 1995 to link the college’s 3,500 square mile service area with educational opportunities at the Greenwood campus, county centers, Lander University, area high schools and SCETV. This step set the stage for a range of distance learning opportunities that still exist to this day.
In the spring of 2007, more than 400 students received certificates, diplomas and degrees to mark the largest graduating class in college history. In July, long-time president, Dr. Lex Walters, announced he would retire at the end of the year. Honoring his 39 years of service to the technical college system, Dr. Walters was the commencement speaker at the summer graduation. To round out the 2000s, the Piedmont Technical College Foundation received its largest grant ever, $1.5 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). The award was matched with funding from Saluda County to construct a new county center. On the heels of such good news, Dr. L. Rayburn Brooks was announced as the new leader of the college. He took the reins in March 2008.
Piedmont Tech has continued to build on its successes in the current decade with new facilities, such as the Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Laurens County, and new campuses for Abbeville and Newberry counties. PTC has established new, and strengthened existing transfer partnerships with colleges and universities throughout the state and beyond. Faculty and staff have also maintained strong relationships with business and industry to ensure that programs are designed to serve the workforce needs of the region. Most importantly, the college has continued to transform lives by providing students with the best foundation for achieving a lifetime of success.