Arizona Western College

Our History

Since AWC was founded in 1963, the public community college has become a vital asset and resource to the communities it serves. Guided by its Strategic Plan, the college seeks to eliminate cultural, financial, time, and place barriers to education; cultivate an agile culture and institutional model that strengthens the future of the region; improve student success by leveraging technology that personalizes the student experience; and grow and sustain academic programs that fuel economic growth and position graduates for prosperity.


The Yuma County Junior College District was approved.


Dr. John Barnes was hired as AWC’s inaugural president.


Arizona Western College (AWC) opened its doors in August of this year. At the time, enrollment was projected to reach 600 students in five years, but the initial prediction underestimated the community’s desire for higher education for in the spring semester well over 900 students enrolled. By 1998, enrollment approached 8,000; and, as of spring semester 2008, enrollment stood at 12,051


The AWC Library was constructed.


Arizona Western College became accredited through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

From the AWC TV Vault (Early 1980s)


Former AWC President Dr. James “Jim” Carruthers signed an agreement with then Northern Arizona University (NAU) President Eugene Hughes to create NAU-Yuma.


The TRIO KEYS Program was first implemented at Arizona Western College. The federally grant-funded program assists students in earning their associate degrees by providing a range of financial, academic, and personal supports including comprehensive and personalized advisement, financial aid and scholarship assistance, financial literacy, cultural enrichment, grant aid awards, and transfer services – all in one location.


The Dr. Kathryn A. Watson Child Development Learning Lab became accredited through the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The CDLL provides a state-of-the-art laboratory setting where students observe and learn to work with young children as part of their college program.


The Academic Complex Computer Lab, or ACCL, first opened. The central, open-access computer lab on the Arizona Western College and Northern Arizona University in Yuma campus was an integral component of the ongoing partnership between Arizona Western College and Northern Arizona University in Yuma serving the computing technology needs of students from both institutions, as well as the general community.


AWC began its TRIO Talent Search Program. Talent Search identifies and assists middle and high school students who have the potential to succeed in higher education. At least two-thirds of the students in each local Talent Search program are from low-income economic backgrounds and families in which neither parent has a bachelor's degree. Talent Search provides these students with counseling as well as information about college admissions requirements, scholarships, and various student financial aid programs so that they can better understand their educational opportunities and options.


In South Yuma County, AWC’s San Luis Learning Center opened a new facility of 20,000 square feet.

In La Paz County, new construction of 20,000 square feet was being added to the Parker Center, and approximately 6,000 square feet in Quartzsite.


The Dr. James R. Carruthers Research and Education building, located on the AWC Yuma Campus, is dedicated to the former AWC President for his support in adding NAU as one of the recipients of funding from 2003 legislation for university research infrastructure projects.


A strong collaboration between the Arizona Western College Foundation and the Consulate of Mexico in Yuma, Arizona was established during a ceremony when a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed through the IME Becas program. The program of the Government of Mexico seeks to expand educational opportunities for Mexican students and those of Mexican origin living in the U.S. The fellowship program specifically aims to help low-income students earn their college degree.


AWC President Dr. Daniel Corr and the District Governing Board launched the inaugural Innovation Fund to support the development of AWC initiatives aligned with Strategic Planning. This limited-time funding is designed to encourage innovative thinking outside the parameters of the annual fiscal year budget. In the first year, nearly $184,000 was allotted for the Innovation Fund. The screening committee reviewed over 20 proposals submitted by faculty, staff, and students that included a written statement explaining how their idea tied to the strategic plan and how it would serve students along with a short elevator pitch video. Ultimately, 12 selected projects made up the 2018 cohort.


In January, AWC completed its Strategic Plan.

Arizona Western College’s spring commencement ceremony marked a historical milestone featuring graduating students from AWC as well as Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and University of Arizona. This was the first-ever combined commencement celebration with representation from all three universities at a community college.

In August, AWC receives a $400K National Endowment for the Humanities grant for AWC/NAU-Yuma Academic Library.

In September, AWC and Arizona State University launch American Dream Academy to help families navigate college.


The Arizona Western College Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program returned to La Paz County. Students interested in a career in the nursing field can earn their certified or licensed nursing assistant certificate through the program.

In February, KAWC Public Media launches a new FM Service: KOFA Border Radio.

In March, AWC & NAU Yuma co-host Start Up Weekend for regional entrepreneurs.

In April, AWC starts a new full-time Law Enforcement Training Academy at the Ray Croc Sports Complex. The new local academy was made possible through a partnership between Arizona Western College, the City of Yuma, and Yuma County.

In May, AWC launched debt-free education in Parker with the La Paz Promise. Starting with the class of 2019, high school graduates who enroll at AWC as full-time students and complete their associate degree within five consecutive semesters can be reimbursed for the entire cost of tuition and program fees as part of the new La Paz Promise.

In August, AWC graduates 10 students from its first full-time Law Enforcement Training Academy. The program was formed over the course of a four-month period in response to area agencies requesting a local, more affordable training option. Yuma agencies were previously paying around $25,000 to have their cadets trained at out-of-town academies.

In September, debt-free education comes to 2020 high school grads in Yuma County with the Yuma Promise.

In December, AWC holds a ribbon cutting for Arnold’s Lounge which is a gathering spot for students located at the San Luis Learning Center in honor of retired student advisor Arnold Trujillo.