The process to establish a community college in Pinal County began July 1, 1961, when the Arizona Legislature passed a bill permitting counties with the necessary assessed valuation and potential numbers of students to form junior college districts. Pinal County voted in favor of organizing a district on Dec. 17, 1961.
Groundbreaking ceremonies were held at Signal Peak on Nov. 8, 1968 and Central Arizona College opened its doors in the fall of 1969 near the base of Signal Peak Mountain. Approximately 1,000 full-and part-time students registered for classes at the new campus.
The first graduates of CAC were recognized during commencement exercises on May 31, 1970. Twenty-five associate degrees were conferred. Just three years later, CAC saw its largest graduating class to date, with the college conferring 194 associate degrees.
During the 2013-14 academic year the college enrolled 11,746 students. More than 800 graduates were recognized from all five campuses during the 2015 district wide graduation ceremony. Since the first graduation conducted by the college over four decades ago, CAC has awarded 30,294 certificates and degrees to 21,760 students.
In addition to providing educational opportunities, CAC continues to play a significant role in Pinal County’s economy. According to a 2014 study conducted by Economic Modeling Specialist International (EMSI), CAC contributed $212.7 million to the county during fiscal year 2013-2014. Investments made by local taxpayers create a wide range of benefits to society. For every dollar of support, taxpayers see a return of $1.30 in the form of higher tax revenues and avoided costs.
During the 2018-19 academic year 768 graduates were recognized from all five campuses for a total of 807 degrees and certificates being awarded. The total number of degrees and certificates awarded by Central Arizona College since its establishment is 26,173 given to 18,768 individuals.
Central Arizona College has been serving and educating the diverse communities of Pinal County. With a total of five campuses and three centers located strategically throughout the county, CAC provides accessible, educational, economic, cultural, and personal growth opportunities for those of all ages.
This upcoming Fall semester will be CAC’s 50th! We are proud to have served Pinal County these 50 years!