Central Florida Junior College was established in 1957 when community leaders and citizens envisioned an educational resource that would help Marion, Citrus and Levy counties to grow and prosper. With foresight and determination those community leaders planted the seed that has become the educational hub of the tricounty area.
In 1958, Hampton Junior College opened as one of the first black, two-year colleges in the state, and in 1966 the colleges merged. The name was changed to Central Florida Community College in 1971 to reflect more accurately the character and purpose of the college serving a larger community. In 2010, the college changed its name to College of Central Florida.
The Ocala Campus was established on a 60-acre tract donated by Atlantic Realty and Investment Company and the city of Ocala and over time has grown to include 140 acres. The attractive campus is at a crossroads of the growing community, between downtown Ocala and Interstate 75 on State Road 200. The campus has been recognized by Marion County for its beautiful grounds.
In 1982, the Bronson Center opened on a 20-acre site east of Bronson. In 1993, the campus was relocated to the Levy Center in Chiefland, where services and enrollment continue to climb. Construction is underway at the Jack Wilkinson Levy Campus north of Chiefland, thanks to the Florida Legislature and private donors. Existing buildings at the Levy Campus house the Applied Welding Technologies program.
The college also offered classes in Citrus County for many years before partnering with the Citrus County School Board to establish an educational complex in Lecanto in 1984. To accommodate a growing need, a free-standing campus opened in 1996 on 88 acres in Lecanto. Ten acres have been added to the Citrus Campus and the Citrus Learning and Conference Center opened in fall 2009.
CF’s Hampton Center opened in 1996 on the site of the former Florida State Fire College in West Ocala. The facility was completely rebuilt and reopened in 2004. The Hampton Center is an important presence in the west Ocala area, offering health occupations courses and community outreach programs.
The college maintained a partnership interest in the Appleton Museum of Art for more than a decade before accepting full responsibility for operations in 2004. The museum has become even more of a teaching and learning institution, offering classes and tours, and helping to serve the cultural needs of the community.
In the last decade, the college has renovated several key buildings and added others that have changed the face of the Ocala Campus. The University Center, Ewers Century Center and Webber Center Gallery serve students and the community. Renovations to the C. Farris Bryant Student Union and the Fine Arts Center have provided state-of-the-art technology and student-friendly facilities. The oldest building at the college was renamed Founders Hall in 2007 and re-opened in 2009 after extensive remodeling.