As early as 1946, a group of area citizens sought to establish a two-year college in northeastern Connecticut to meet educational needs of returning World War II veterans. Their vision finally became a reality in 1965 when the state organized the community college system. In 1969, Connecticut legislators authorized the establishment of a community college in Danielson.
Under the leadership of President Robert E. Miller, the College began offering classes on September 27, 1971, at Harvard H. Ellis Technical School and Killingly High School with 215 students, eight full-time professional employees, and a few office support personnel. Within a few years, the state acquired 68 acres of land on Upper Maple Street, and Quinebaug Valley Community College welcomed students to its new campus in 1983. ("Quinebaug", a native American word meaning "crazy river", refers to the meandering river that flows through northeastern Connecticut.) Three years later, QVCC opened a center in Willimantic to better serve residents in southern Windham County.
Following the retirement of Dr. Miller, in May 1992 Dianne E. Williams became the College’s second president. Dr. Ross Tomlin succeeded her and served from 2010 until 2012. Dr. Miller returned as an interim president from 2012 to 2013, and Dr. Carmen Cid, dean of arts and sciences at Eastern Connecticut State University, served as interim president during 2013 and 2014. Dr. Carlee Drummer became the fourth president in July 2014.
Today QVCC enrolls some 2,000 credit and 3,000 non-credit students and offers a wide range of degree and certificate programs for people of all ages and backgrounds.