The Florida Legislature of 1957 authorized North Florida Junior College and five other community colleges in the state. The counties of Hamilton, Madison, Lafayette, Suwannee, and Taylor were proposed as an area with need for a community college. In the establishment of the college area, Jefferson County replaced Suwannee County. Suwannee County became a participating county in 1974.
In March, 1958, Dr. Marshall W. Hamilton was appointed President of the new institution, and temporary academic and administrative quarters were secured in Madison. In September, the first North Florida Junior College classes were organized. Ground was broken in January, 1959 for the first permanent buildings: the Library and Science Building. North Florida Junior College and Suwannee River Junior College merged in 1966.
Dr. Stephen T. McMahon served as president from 1970-1978; Dr. Gary P. Sims, 1978-1984; and Dr. Robert W. Ramsay, 1984-1987. Dr. William H. McCoy assumed the presidency on August 1, 1987. A major tornado damaged many campus buildings and destroyed the Van. H. Priest Auditorium and the Hardee Chapel on April 17, 1988.
In July 1995, the District Board of Trustees changed the name of the College from North Florida Junior College to North Florida Community College in order to better define the purpose of the institution.
Dr. McCoy retired in 1995. On January 2, 1996, Dr. Beverly M. Grissom became president. Dr. Grissom retired in 2001. Morris G. Steen, Jr. was named president of North Florida Community College on March 1, 2002; he served as interim president from July 2001 through February 2002 before being named NFCC’s seventh president. In 2008 the college celebrated its 50th year anniversary. Mr. Steen retired in 2008.
John Grosskopf was named the eighth president of North Florida Community College on Jan. 20, 2009.
Suwannee River JC
Jenyethel Merritt, SRJC President
In 1958 when the Florida Division of Community Colleges established North Florida Community College, it also established twelve black community colleges, one of which was Suwannee River Junior College located in Madison. Florida. The college existed from 1959 until 1966 when it merged with North Florida Junior College.
The founding president was James J. Gardener, then principal of Williston Vocational High School in Williston, Florida. Dr. Gardener reported to work in June 1959 with only two months to prepare for the College’s first classes in August 1959. The institution was established on the campus of Madison’s Black senior high school. Inaugural classes were held in the evening. Like NFJC, Suwannee River Junior College initially served five surrounding counties including Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, and Taylor.
When Dr. Gardener resigned in 1961, Jenyethel Merritt was appointed president. She was the first female president in Florida’s community college system. She remained as president of the institution until Suwannee River merged with NFJC in 1966 at which time she assumed the position of vice president of guided studies.
The curriculum was structured entirely for college transfer students, primarily to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. Except for the development of a secretarial science program, the curriculum showed little change between 1960 and 1965. The first year’s enrollment was 90 students; the second year 170 students enrolled. At one point, during the 1964-65 school year, records show 402 students were enrolled.
Extra-curricular activities included a varsity basketball team, the May Day festival, Miss SRJC, homecoming, benefit recitals, art exhibits, musical performances, The Alligator yearbook, and THE SWANECHO college newspaper.
NFJC and SRJC Merge: After the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in Congress, the Florida Department of Education pressed for consolidation of Suwannee River Junior College and North Florida Junior College. SRJC classes were held for the last time in 1966.