Our History

SPSCC has grown through several names and phases over sixty years, each time striving to meet the educational needs of our community.

Olympia Vocational Technical Institute (OVTI)

In September 1962, the Olympia School District founded the current college as Olympia Vocational Technical Institute (OVTI). With roots in adult education at Olympia High School, OVTI was housed in downtown Olympia’s Montgomery Ward Building.

OVTI in downtown Olympia Ward's Building

OVTI thrived in its downtown home, adding programs and meeting the community’s adult vocational education needs. In 1967, the passage of the Community College Act presented a decision for OVTI: stay with the Olympia School District or join the state community college system. That choice led to the institute merging into District 12 with the long-established Centralia College.

Olympia Technical Community College (OTCC)

Groundbreaking for the current Mottman Road campus occurred on July 8, 1970. In 1976, OVTI became Olympia Technical Community College (OTCC) and had the unique distinction of being the only community college in the state devoted entirely to technical education.

OTC entrance

South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC)

The early 1980s brought growth to the college’s mission, scope, and physical setting. It offered its first Associate of Arts degree to several hundred students in 1982. More programs were added. Thirty-one additional acres were added to the Mottman campus in 1982. The college selected its new mascot, the “Clipper,” replacing the previous turtle mascot “Ovie” (OV).

In 1984, recognizing the college’s broadened mission, the name changed once again, this time to South Puget Sound Community College. A few years later, in 1988, the college split from District 12 in 1988 to form its own autonomous district, District 24.

SPSCC Building 22

SPSCC Expansion: Hawks Prairie Center, Mottman Campus and Lacey Campus

To better meet the needs of growing north Thurston County, the college opened a branch center in Lacey at the Hawks Prairie Village Mall in fall 1995, known as the Hawks Prairie Center.

The 2000s marked a new era of growth for the Mottman (Olympia) Campus. Close to a dozen new buildings were built, including the new Center for Student Success (Building 22), the Automotive, Welding and Central Services Building (16), the Anthropology, CAD & Geomatics Building (23), the Natural Sciences Building (35), and the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for Performing Arts (21).

In 2014, the College purchased property for its Lacey Campus in the heart of Lacey on Sixth Avenue and began renovating over 100,000-square-feet of existing office space. In early 2015, SPSCC’s advanced manufacturing program set up shop in building 3 of the Lacey Campus, followed closely by the opening of building 1 in September 2015. Building one boasts a classrooms for credit and non-credit classes, event space, a testing center, a complete complement of student services, and the Center for Business & Innovation, a co-located partnership with the Thurston Economic Development Council.

Present day

Today, approximately 6,000 students each quarter seek education at the campuses of South Puget Sound Community College. The college remains responsive to the changing educational needs of the district’s residents, and plays a prominent role in a county that is fortunately rich in higher education opportunities.

* For more information, see A History of South Puget Sound Community College (1957-2006), by Lois Fenske, SPSCC faculty member.