Flathead Valley Community College promotes excellence in lifelong learning, focused on student success and community needs.
The dream of bringing higher learning to the Flathead Valley began in 1960 when Owen Sowerwine, chairman of the local school board, voiced his concerns regarding the lack of post-secondary education opportunities for young people in the valley. A study in 1959 showed that only 20 percent of Flathead High School graduates were pursuing higher education. Owen and four other visionary community members – Bill McClaren, Thelma Hetland, Les Sterling and Norm Beyer – were determined to do better by the Flathead Valley’s youth.
Owen volunteered to travel around the country to observe different models of higher education. By 1963, after studying several junior colleges, vocational colleges, four-year universities and community colleges, he concluded that a community college was the best fit for the Flathead Valley.
It was time for action. From 1964 to 1967, college advocates worked diligently to inform citizens about the purpose of a community college and what it could offer in the way of vocational education, college transfer preparation and more. On April 1, 1967, thanks to the generous support of the citizens, the ballot election passed by more than 1,000 votes and Flathead Valley Community College was established.