A Brief History
The Georgia General Assembly approved the establishment of Ogeechee Technical Institute as a public, two-year technical institute under the supervision of the Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE) in 1986. Groundbreaking for the campus occurred two years later, and during the following year, Ogeechee Technical Institute began offering its first credit program, Practical Nursing, with 25 students enrolled.
Ogeechee Technical Institute assumed the responsibility for offering Adult Literacy programs and administering the General Equivalency Diploma (GED) examination in 1989. Faculty and staff moved into the new 75,000 square foot, $6 million state-of-the-art facility Fall of 1990, and additional program offerings began Spring Quarter 1991. Ogeechee Technical Institute graduated its first class of nine Practical Nursing students in December of 1990.
The opening of Ogeechee Technical Institute coincided with the expansive growth of Georgia Southern University and the Statesboro area. In addition, the establishment of the Georgia State Lottery funded Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) financial aid program in 1993 was a contributing factor in the unprecedented growth of Ogeechee Technical Institute.
In 1998, DTAE renamed the Commissioner's Award of Excellence the Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction in memory and honor of the 1996 Commissioner's Award of Excellence winner, Thomas Rick Perkins, from Carroll Technical Institute. The award recognizes instructors who make significant contributions to technical education through instructional excellence, outstanding leadership qualities, and dedication to DTAE's mission. In 1999, John Groover represented Ogeechee Tech as the winner of the Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction for the state of Georgia.
Ogeechee Technical Institute experienced a $5.5 million expansion by adding three buildings—a Health Sciences Building, a Child Enrichment Center, and a Horticulture Building in 1999. During this time, Ogeechee Tech also increased its services through the opening of the Screven County Learning Center in Sylvania.
Ogeechee Technical Institute offered its first Associate of Applied Technology (AAT) degree program in Industrial Manufacturing Technology Winter Quarter 2000, with eight students enrolled, and in the following academic year offered AAT degrees in Accounting, Computer Information Systems, Early Childhood Care and Education, Funeral Service Education, Health Information Technology, Healthcare Management Technology, Marketing Management, Opticianry, and Secretarial Science.
House Bill 1187, known as the A + Education Reform Act, enacted in 2000, changed the names of technical institutes in Georgia to technical colleges. On July 6th of that year, Ogeechee Technical Institute officially became Ogeechee Technical College. Ogeechee Technical College awarded its first AAT degree in December 2000 in Early Childhood Care and Education. During the summer of 2002, Ogeechee Tech opened the Evans County Learning Center.
Student growth continued at Ogeechee Technical College due largely to the addition of new programs, many of which are unique to DTAE, the state, and the region. These distinctive programs included certificate, diploma, and degrees in technical areas such as Funeral Service Education, Forensic Science Technology, and Opticianry. With the opening of the Occupational Studies Building in Fall 2003, a wider variety of programs, such as Agribusiness, Wildlife and Plantation Management, Geographical Information Systems Technology, Veterinary Technology, Culinary Arts, and Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management, enabled the college to further expand its offerings.
In 2004, Ogeechee Technical College paid tribute to the late Senator Joseph E. Kennedy for his role in the establishment of Ogeechee Technical Institute by dedicating the main building on campus as the Joseph E. Kennedy Building. During the summer of 2007, Ogeechee Tech moved the Adult Education program to the Bulloch County Workforce Development Center in downtown Statesboro.
On May 13, 2008, Governor Perdue signed legislation that officially changed the name of the Department of Technical and Adult Education. Effective July 1, 2008, the system became known as the Technical College System of Georgia. Governor Perdue also served as the keynote speaker for the 2008 Spring Commencement at Ogeechee Technical College. Shortly thereafter, Laura “Molly” Bickerton, a student in the College’s Radiologic Technology program, was selected as Georgia’s technical college Student of the Year in the 37th annual Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership (GOAL) competition.
In July of 2008, Ogeechee Technical College was awarded a Regional Law Enforcement Academy in Claxton, Georgia. The project, which involved five other technical colleges, allowed new law enforcement officers to receive their basic law enforcement training at a state technical college and obtain college credit at the same time. Nearby in Hagan, Ogeechee Technical College began construction of the Evans Technical Education Complex. The new complex included the Logistics and Public Safety Building, the Commercial Trucking Preventive Maintenance facility, and driving track for the Commercial Trucking program and emergency vehicle operators track for the Regional Law Enforcement Academy.
Towards the end of 2008, amid a downturn in the economy, a reduction in state funds, and rising gas prices, Ogeechee Technical College joined other technical colleges in the state to institute a four day work week. The move reduced the cost of utilities without reducing any services to students. Another big change came at the beginning of 2009 when an Emergency Mass Notification System for faculty, staff, and students was implemented. The new OTC-Alert system provided a way to send emergency warnings via cell phone and email messages.
Despite a challenging economy, good things continued to happen at Ogeechee Tech. Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel was the keynote speaker at the 2009 commencement exercises and in an effort to offer better services to the students, Ogeechee Tech moved the Adult Education program to a new location adjacent to the main campus. In the fall of 2010, Governor Sonny Perdue returned to campus to speak at a ceremonial ground breaking for the new Health Science Building-North.
In 2011, amid changes to the HOPE scholarship, transitioning from quarters to semesters, moving to a tobacco-free campus, and challenging economic times, Ogeechee Technical once again celebrated having the Technical College System of Georgia’s star student as local Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership winner, Alvie Coes, III, a Funeral Service Education student, was named state GOAL winner. Another accolade for the College was announced when Ogeechee Technical College was named the 2011 Technical College of the Year for the State of Georgia. Determined by meeting benchmarks in a variety of critical areas, Ogeechee Tech earned the top spot over all the other Colleges in the State system.
In May 2012, the College consolidated its facilities in Evans County. In an effort to reduce the cost of operating two separate facilities, the College ceased operations at the Evans County Workforce Development Center in Claxton. Adult Education classes and the Basic Law Enforcement program were transferred to the Evans Technical Education Complex joining the Commercial Truck Driving program.
A continuing effort to provide new and needed programs of study keeps Ogeechee Tech in the forefront of meeting the educational demands of citizens in this region of Georgia. Enrollment growth of 10.3 percent from 2010 to 2011, and 4,470 students attending classes have proved repeatedly that the demand for Ogeechee Tech’s services is stronger than ever. With credit programs, continuing education, GED® and literacy programs, and various other services, the College’s commitment to meet the needs of the region continues.