Note from the Editors: In January 2013 Waycross College merged with South Georgia College to form South Georgia State College. This article chronicles the history of Waycross College from its founding until the time of the merger.
Located on a wooded 155-acre campus in Waycross, the seat of Ware County, Waycross College serves as the center of higher education for rural southeast Georgia. A two-year college in the University System of Georgia, Waycross College provides higher education for the citizens of a ten-county area, with off-campus classes offered in neighboring Jesup.
The Board of Regents originally approved the establishment of a university system junior college in the Waycross area in late 1970. The board approved a site for the college and a bond issue in 1973, and construction began in 1974. Waycross Junior College opened for classes in the fall of 1976 and was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools two years later. In 1987 the school’s name was changed to Waycross College, when the university system eliminated the classification “Junior” from its institutions.
The education building was completed in 1984, and a physics/electronics classroom and laboratory were added to that building in 1996. A state-of-the-art student services center, named after the college’s first president, James M. Dye, and a $4.6 million addition to the physical education building were completed in the spring of 2000.
Four presidents have led the college: James M. Dye (1976-95), interim president Ted C. Harris (1995-96), Barbara P. Losty (1996-2006), and David A. Palmer (2006-2011). Mary Ellen Wilson was appointed interim president in 2011.
The college’s mission is to provide accessible, affordable educational opportunities through a comprehensive range of programs and services that include associate degrees, which prepare students for careers and/or the opportunity to transfer to four-year colleges; partnerships and collaborative programs with other institutions; certificate and career preparation programs; educational support services; lifelong-learning educational programs; and public service.
Waycross College offers thirty associate degree programs in a variety of fields, including agricultural/environmental sciences, business education, child development, computer information systems, cosmetology, criminal justice, drafting, forest technology, health information management, history, medical technology, physical therapy, physics, pre-engineering technology, pre-nursing, psychology, respiratory therapy, and teacher education.
Waycross College is a nonresidential college. Enrollment in fall 2005 was 882 students; the average student age is 26.4 years, and 73.6 percent are female. African Americans comprise 20.4 percent of students, with other minorities accounting for an additional 3 to 3.5 percent of the student body. Nontraditional students can apply for the Adults Start College grants, which are offered by the Waycross College Foundation.