Allan Hancock College was founded in 1920 when the Santa Maria High School District
established Santa Maria Junior College. Classes were held in high school rooms until
1937, when a bond issue passed and a college wing was built on the northwest corner
of the high school campus.
In 1954, because of expanding enrollment, the college moved from the high school to
Hancock Field, which for a number of years had housed the original Santa Maria Airport,
Hancock College of Aeronautics and, later, the University of Southern California’s
School of Aeronautics.
In July 1954, the name of the college was changed to Allan Hancock College to honor
Captain G. Allan Hancock, a prominent state and local community leader who owned the
land and facilities of the airfield.
In September 1954, the community voted to establish the Santa Maria Joint Junior College
District. In 1963, the Lompoc Unified School District and Santa Ynez Union High School
District were annexed to the community college district, and the district was renamed
the Allan Hancock Joint Community College District.
Today the district includes all of northern Santa Barbara County and small parts of
San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, including the cities of Santa Maria, Lompoc,
Cuyama, Guadalupe, Solvang, and Buellton and Vandenberg Air Force Base.
Academics and Career Training
The college's curriculum has grown to meet the community's needs, from 12 courses
in 1920 paralleling the University of California's lower division requirements, to
more than 1,000 credit courses today. Programs have kept pace with changing needs
since the very beginning, with such courses as airplane mechanics and radio code in
the 1930s and ‘40s to entrepreneurship and viticulture and enology today.
To take advantage of rapidly-changing educational technology, the college began offering
instruction on television in 1972, and classes via video in 1989. In 1998, online
classes were incorporated into the curriculum, with more than 150 now offered each
semester. The college also carries a 40-year tradition of offering extensive evening
The Community Education program, active since 1973, offers hundreds of noncredit and
fee-based classes. Program areas include English as a second language, basic skills,
citizenship, short-term vocational and other curriculum areas.
Student Success and Community Commitment
Starting in the late 1950s, the college began to offer remedial instruction, especially
in mathematics and English. Since 1974, the Tutorial Center has helped students on
an individual and group basis. The resulting search for more effective teaching methods
led to the opening of the Writing Center in 1975. The Math Center was established
in 1996. The Small Business Entrepreneurship Center opened in spring 2012.
Students' financial needs outside the classroom have been met over the years by a
growing number of support programs. Each year, approximately $350,000 in scholarships
is awarded through the Allan Hancock College Foundation. In 1974, the college opened
its Financial Aid and Job Placement offices. In addition, the Extended Opportunity
Programs and Services (EOPS) office has helped students with “over and above” support
services since the 1970s. College Achievement Now (CAN), a TRIO program, was launched
Theater has formed a strong part of the college's relationship with the community.
From its beginning in 1964, the Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA) has offered more
than 500 plays and musicals, maintained a resident company of artists, and trained
more than 10,000 actors and technicians. PCPA has also presented plays in Solvang
since 1971, leading to the building of the Solvang Festival Theater in 1974. The
2013-14 season marked PCPA’s 50th anniversary.
Alumni success runs the gamut from Academy Award winners to superior court judges
and thousands of successful community leaders and citizens.
Since the first classes taught in 1952 at the Camp Cooke Army barracks (now Vandenberg
Air Force Base), the college has offered extensive courses in the community and remains
committed to serving the Lompoc and Santa Ynez valleys. The college opened its Vandenberg
Air Force Base Center in 1957. Classes have been taught in the Santa Ynez Valley
since 1971 and in Lompoc since 1974. The college completed construction of a permanent
Lompoc Valley Center in spring 1999 and opened the Solvang Center in August 2000.
In 2006, district voters passed a $180 million bond Measure I to upgrade facilities
and technology. See the timeline for results.
Voters approved a bond issue to purchase the airfield site and finance a building
Opened four new buildings - Student Center, Library, Science building and north wing of the gymnasium - to form the nucleus of a campus designed for 2,000 students.
Continued classes in buildings built for the original aeronautics college.
Opened Business Education building
Opened Fine Arts building
Completed the Gymnasium and Industrial Technology buildings
Opened Administration and Student Services buildings
Opened Performing Arts Center, including Marian Theatre
Completed the Bookstore
Purchased nine acres of property and buildings from Southern California Gas Company
Opened Learning Resources Center with 16,000 square-foot library addition and remodel
of existing structure
Opened Learning Assistance building for physically disabled students and those with
Completed the Humanities complex
Built Family & Consumer Sciences facility
Completed the Severson Theatre, an addition to the Performing Arts Center
Improved entry and roadways
Opened the Lompoc Valley Center
Opened the remodeled and expanded Student Center to include the Bookstore, café,
coffee bar, and more (partial funding from Measure I)
Voters passed Measure I, a $180 million general obligation bond focused on facility
and technology improvements over a 10-year period.
Expanded the library building to include the Academic Resource Center (ARC), and
remodeled the library (partial funding from Measure I)
Opened the Community Education and Science buildings (Measure I)
Opened the new Early Childhood Studies building, including the Children’s Center
Completed new athletic facilities for baseball, track and field, football, and soccer
Renovated the Performing Arts Center, building D
Opened the new Student Services and Administration buildings (Measure I)
Since 2006, technology improvements have included a complete overhaul of the college’s
mainframe, resulting in the installation of an integrated campus system that includes
student and employee databases, registration, financial aid, purchasing, payroll,
Remaining Measure I facilities projects include a new fine arts facility and continuing
Allan Hancock College has established itself as a premier educational institution
serving residents from the Central Coast of California and beyond. It also contributes
significantly to the local economy as the one of the largest employers in northern
Santa Barbara County, with approximately 1,300 employees.
The history of Allan Hancock College is rich with accomplishment. Although the board
of trustees, administration, faculty and staff value the college's past, they also
have a vision for the future, as do our nearly 17,000 students each semester, who
choose Allan Hancock College with the goal to “Start here. Go anywhere.”
"I came from Mexico at age17, which meant I not only had to learn English at a High School level, but had to prepare for college-level courses. During my first semesters at AHC I enrolled in ESL, and made extensive use of their writing lab, which I believe was critical in my transition to transfer level classes. Engineering is a difficult major on its own, but learning all those concepts and terminology while just getting out of ESL classes was a challenge. AHC professors, counselors and programs were key to my success." Submit a Testimonial »