Nestled in the Rocky Mountains in beautiful Northwest Montana, just 30 miles from Glacier National Park and 60 miles from the U.S.-Canada border, is where you will find Flathead Valley Community College. With two campuses located in Kalispell and Libby, we serve nearly 100,000 residents over a two-county region covering more than 5.6 million acres, an area greater than the state of Massachusetts.
FVCC provides high-quality academic programs taught by some of the nation’s brightest faculty. Our students go on to lead successful lives whether they transfer on to four-year colleges and universities throughout Montana and the nation or take advantage of over 50 career and technical programs that prepare them to enter into today’s workforce. We also offer the Running Start program for eligible area high school students who want to get a jump start on their college education while saving a significant amount of money on tuition; online classes so our students can learn anywhere at anytime; classes taught through interactive television reaching students living in rural communities; select undergraduate and graduate degrees through our partnerships with various Montana colleges and universities so students do not have to leave the Flathead Valley; customized workforce training for area businesses; and a wide variety of fun, enriching and affordable non-credit classes for all ages.
Our small class sizes, excellent student support services, diverse financial aid packages and scholarship opportunities along with the value of education we provide are just a few of the many reasons why students choose to attend FVCC. Not only do students have the opportunity to learn in a state-of-the-art learning environment, they thrive in our friendly community. Our students are known by their names, not by numbers, by faculty and staff who truly care about helping every student succeed.
Flathead Valley Community College promotes excellence in lifelong learning, focused on student success and community needs.
It all began with a kitchen table, a typewriter, a few folding chairs and three dreamers who knew they could make a difference. Forty years ago, Flathead Valley Community College was born in a donated room in the Kalispell School District 5 building with those simple items and the college’s first three employees—President Larry Blake, Dean of Students William “Bill” McClaren and Business Manager Leo Shepherd.
The dream of bringing higher learning to the Flathead Valley began a few years earlier when Owen Sowerwine, chairman of School District 5 Board at that time, developed a concern for the lack of higher education and employable skilled young workers. His concern was affirmed when he teamed up with McClaren, high school counselor and chairman of the guidance department at Flathead High School. McClaren had conducted a study of Flathead High School graduates from 1952 to 1962 and found less than 20 percent had applied for any type of higher education, and less than seven percent of those had completed their course work. Comparing the findings to those of graduates in Missoula County in which over half the students went on to college and 40 percent graduated, the contrast was too significant to be ignored.
McClaren and Sowerwine united with three other dreamers—Norm Beyer, director of the local state employment agency; Thelma Hetland of the Federated Women’s Club and Les Sterling, one of the owners of KOFI Radio. All felt the impact of the absence of a college in Northwest Montana and all believed there needed to be a change. In the fall of 1965, the five, who shared the same vision of helping and expanding educational opportunities for the young citizens of the Flathead Valley, convened and decided a community college was what the Valley needed.
A successful election passed by Flathead County voters established a community college on April 1, 1967, and elected a Board of Trustees. On September 25, 1967, with 611 students, FVCC held its first classes.
The college has seen constant growth and change over its lifetime. With the first year of classes being held during the evening hours at Flathead High School, the college acquired its own facilities in 1968, and the class schedule was broadened to offer classes in the daytime. The facilities consisted of the old Elks Building, which no longer stands, and the old train depot building, now the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce. The college also relied on church basements scattered throughout the downtown Kalispell area, an abandoned garage and the VFW bar to hold morning classes while vacant before its noon opening.
Over the next years, FVCC continued to grow. It acquired usage of three abandoned car dealerships all within the downtown Kalispell area as well as the building now known as the Central School Museum. The college library was located inside Flathead County Library on 1st Ave. East. Enrollment grew. Faculty grew. Programs of study grew. Opportunities for students grew. The college’s philosophy that anyone who wanted to come to college can afford to get an education was implemented. Every attainable federal grant was applied for, and scholarship assistance became available to students.
Today, FVCC’s award-winning campus sits on 216 acres on Highway 93 in Kalispell. The college continues to rely on partnerships with area businesses and organizations throughout the community. Its outreach has expanded beyond Flathead County to Lincoln County through its satellite campus in Libby and distance learning opportunities through interactive television and online classes.
The college’s mission, however, has not changed. FVCC continues to promote excellence in lifelong learning, focused on student success and community needs. The college prides itself on its high quality faculty, affordability and small class sizes that provide students with individualized attention. Under the leadership of Dr. Jane Karas and a seven-member Board of Trustees, the college continues to stay closely connected with the community and focused on its students with the goal of helping every student succeed.
Mountains. Valleys. Rivers, trails, and forests. These are the things that will surround you every day as a student at Flathead Valley Community College. Nestled between the Rocky Mountains and Flathead Lake—America’s largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi—our setting provides a learning environment unlike any college in America.
Just 30 minutes from Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and two of Montana’s finest ski and summer resorts, you will find more than 1,000 miles of trails and endless outlets for:
- Water and downhill skiing
- Cross-country skiing
- Canoeing & kayaking
- Horseback riding
- Paddle boarding
- Rock climbing
Flathead Valley Community College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. FVCC’s Comprehensive Self Evaluation Report under the revised standards was submitted March 1, 2012.
The College is an institutional member of various organizations including:
- American Association of Community Colleges
- Association of Community College Trustees
- Montana Association of Community College Trustees
- Mountain States Association of Community Colleges
- Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
- Kalispell Chamber of Commerce
- Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce
- Columbia Falls Chamber of Commerce
- Bigfork Chamber of Commerce
- Whitefish Chamber of Commerce
- Montana State Chamber of Commerce.
The Paramedicine AAS program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (www.caahep.org) upon the recommendation of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP).
The Surveying program has been approved by the State Board of Professional Land Surveyors as meeting the educational requirements for state approval for Professional Surveyors.
The Surgical Technology program is accredited through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP), in cooperation with the Accreditation Review Committee on Education in Surgical Technology.
The Medical Assistant program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs upon the recommendation of the Curriculum Review Board of the American Association of Medical Assistants Endowment (AAMAE). The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs is located at 1361 Park Avenue, Clearwater, FL 33756
The Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Flathead Valley Community College is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association (1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA, 2314; phone: (703) 706-3245; email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Graduates of this program will be eligible and prepared to take the National Physical Therapist Assistant Licensing Exam.
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Last modified: October 12, 2015