In 1988, businesses and citizens of Lawrence County raised funds for what would become the first community-owned extended campus of a community college in the state of Tennessee. The 12,000 square foot building would house Columbia State Community College and was constructed on Springer Road adjacent to Lawrence County High School. Hundreds of students passed through the Lawrenceburg Campus’s doors in the first 12 years. In 2000, the private sector partnered with Lawrence County Government to expand the existing building to 22,000 square feet and, as a community, provide the capacity for more than 8,000 students from southern middle Tennessee and north Alabama that would utilize the local campus since its opening.
The origins of STHEC
In 2014, Lawrence County began dreaming of providing an opportunity for students to earn a four-year, Bachelor’s Degree locally. A partnership was quickly formed with Tennessee Technological University and plans were drawn up to create a new campus. Another innovation for rural Tennessee, Lawrence County began constructing the Southern Tennessee Higher Education Center—the first community-owned, collaborative college campus in Tennessee.