As early as 1946 a group of area citizens sought to establish a two year college in northeastern Connecticut, primarily to meet educational needs of returning World War II veterans. When the formal organization of the state community college system took place in 1965, the Northeast Regional Community College Committee was established and worked diligently during the next few years.
In 1969 legislation was passed that authorized the establishment of QVCC. Soon after, strong pressure to postpone the opening of further colleges for an indefinite period of time built up at the state level. However, the efforts of the local Citizens Planning Committee and the support of thousands of local citizens who wrote letters to Hartford had an impact on the state legislature. In January 1971 the state announced that funds would be budgeted so that classes could start in the fall.
Under the leadership of President Robert E. Miller, the College opened on September 27, 1971, with 215 students, eight full-time professional employees, and a few office support personnel. Classes were held at Harvard H. Ellis Technical School as well as Killingly High School, while college offices were housed in trailers on the Ellis Tech grounds. Construction of the College’s own campus, while nearly derailed in 1978 because of budget cuts, proceeded, and the new facility was dedicated in June 1983.
The College opened a satellite location in Willimantic in 1986. The Willimantic Center moved to its current location in downtown Willimantic in 1999. Following the retirement of Dr. Miller, in May 1992 Dianne E. Williams was appointed as the College’s second president. Dr. Ross Tomlin was appointed president in January 2010.
The College’s first commencement was held in June 1973 when 19 degrees were conferred. Twenty-five years later, 203 graduates received degrees and certificates in May 2008. Over the ensuing years enrollment has steadily grown, with a 24% increase since 2003. In the 2007-2008 academic year, 2,903 students enrolled in credit courses, while 2,672 others enrolled in credit-free programs.
The College’s name is derived from the major river in northeastern Connecticut. The name Quinebaug comes from a small tribe of Indians that inhabited the region. According to some sources, Quinebaug mean “crazy river” – signifying the meandering course of the river that now bears the name.