RCC is a realization of Thomas Jefferson’s vision of Virginia’s future, which included a system of colleges that would put the opportunity for higher education “within a day’s ride” of every citizen of the Commonwealth. Nearly 200 years later, in September of 1969, Jefferson’s dream began to come true for residents of the Middle Peninsula and the Northern Neck. At this time representatives of 13 counties met in Urbanna to create a local board for a new educational institution: a community college.
With two campuses planned—one in Glenns and the other in Warsaw—the new college would serve both sides of the Rappahannock River. It seemed fitting that the college should therefore be named after the river. As a symbol of the cooperation that made the building of the college possible, soil from all 13 counties was mixed at the groundbreaking ceremony held in Glenns on September 11, 1970.
A year later, students enrolled for classes at the Glenns Campus. Although the groundbreaking ceremony for the Warsaw Campus did not take place until 1972, classes were held in the Chinn House (now the Justice Joseph W. Chinn Community Center) in Warsaw until the main building opened in 1973.
RCC held its first graduation in June 1973; 40 degrees and 11 certificates were conferred. Today, RCC continues to serve the region with an enrollment exceeding 5,000 students in 2012-13. Over 600 degrees and certificates were awarded in 2013; graduates are prepared for transfer or to enter the workforce. RCC has guaranteed admissions agreements with over 30 public and private colleges and universities, providing a wide variety of opportunities for transfer.