ACC History1962 Graduation Ceremony behind Van Lare Hall

Alpena Community College offers educational programs, technical training, and cultural opportunities to all of Northeast Lower Michigan. Its student population — numbering approximately 3,414 credit and non-credit students during 2007-08 — is marked by diverse ages, backgrounds, and goals. Small classes and the opportunity for individual attention enhance the quality instruction delivered at Alpena Community College and benefit both the traditional and non-traditional student.

Founded in 1952

Situated on 700 acres of land bordered by the Thunder Bay River, ACC is located within the city limits of Alpena and is just a short distance from Lake Huron. It was founded in 1952 as part of the Alpena K-14 system until 1979, when district voters approved separation of the College from the public school district. Voters also granted a 1.5 charter mill levy for operations and established the Alpena Community College Board of Trustees to govern the institution. The College district encompasses the same geographic voting district as Alpena Public Schools.

A home of its own

The first Alpena Community College classes began in September 1952 at Alpena High School, then located at 400 S. Second Avenue. The first class of 23 students graduated in June 1954. The current Alpena campus was established in 1957 when 23 acres of land were granted to ACC by philanthropist Jesse H. Besser. An additional 14 acres came from the City of Alpena and the Michigan Department of Conservation. Central Hall (now Van Lare Hall) opened in 1958. Additional donations from Besser have provided a total of 700 acres that now constitute the Alpena Campus.


By 1959, Alpena Community College was accredited by the Michigan Commission on College Accreditation, and it awarded associate in arts, associate in commerce, and associate in science degrees. Full accreditation came in March 1963 from the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (30 North LaSalle Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, Illinois 60602-2504; phone 1.800.621.7440). It has remained continuously accredited, with the latest 10-year reaccreditation granted in 1998.

Expanding the campus

Besser Technical Center, a 50,000-square-foot facility, opened in September 1963. Space was added in 1967, and in 1979 the Besser Tech Annex opened to provide an additional 9,600 square feet for technical programs. In 2007 the old Concrete Tech lab space was renovated to house seven computer classrooms, four faculty offices, and a 3,000 square foot student commons area.

The Natural Resources Center opened in 1972, and in 1977 the former Alpena Catholic Central High School became Alpena Community College East Campus and housed the fine arts programs.

Almost 20 years later a new series of projects brought a new look and feel to ACC, beginning with the August 1996 completion of an $8.2 million construction and renovation project on the north side of Johnson Street. Called the Center Building, it became “a center of activity” as both the College and community found its multiple spaces perfect for a myriad of uses. In 2005 it was renamed the Donald L. Newport Center.

In 1997, College Park Apartments opened, providing on-campus student housing in 16 four-bedroom townhouse units. They were privately built and are privately owned and operated.

The next addition to campus was the World Center for Concrete Technology, which opened in August 2000. The Concrete Technology and Blockmakers Workshop® programs relocated there from Besser Technical Center, and expanded workforce development, testing and research services are available to the concrete and concrete products industries.

In January 2008 the 12,000 square foot Fine Arts Center was constructed on the site of the old Graphic Arts Building and became the new home of the fine arts programs. 

An Oscoda extension center

In 1969, an extension center was established in partnership with the U.S. Air Force at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Oscoda. Now known as the Huron Shores Campus, it continues to serve Iosco County residents following the 1993 closure of the air base. The facilities include eight classrooms, computer and science labs, a two-way interactive room, administrative offices and a developmental instruction lab. Library resources for ACC students are available through a partnership with the nearby Robert J. Parks Library.