After 13 months of preparation, a plan to consolidate Alabama Southern Community College, Faulkner State Community College and Jefferson Davis Community College has come to fruition on the Gulf Coast.

The Coastal Alabama Community College opened its doors on Thursday, marking the end to a lengthy effort by the administration and staff of all three of the former institutions it comprises.

One of the final hurdles for the new college was cleared last month when the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission On Colleges (SACSCOC) voted to approve the consolidation of the three institutions along with the blessing of the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees.

Coastal Alabama Community College.

“Each of the colleges has been proudly serving their communities for more than 50 years,” said Dr. Gary Branch, president of the newly opened CACC. “This is not a new mission for our colleges; however, it is a new beginning for Coastal Alabama Community College.”

Serving more than 10,000 students, Coastal Alabama will provide more than 100 programs of study across 15 campuses and instructional sites, with the Bay Minette Campus serving as a regional main campus.

According to the Branch, CACC was the result of a careful and deliberate decision to expand program offerings, student leadership opportunities and course availability to students in multiple surrounding counties. Continuing he said the new institution is aiming to “serve communities from the Mississippi line to the Florida line.”

Committees with representation from all three of the previous colleges have convened over the past year to develop policies and procedures for the new institution including ones devoted specifically to student services, instruction and academic affairs and technology services.

Last week, nearly 400 full-time employees participated in the first professional development meeting for CACC, which was held on the Bay Minette campus. During the meeting, employees heard updates from various departments at the college but also collaborated in smaller groups to become more familiar with their colleagues.

“Together, we will continue providing students across south Alabama with an affordable and accessible higher education experience like none other while expanding workforce development opportunities for our students and our communities,” Branch said. “We are ready.”