History of Panola College

Like many similar institutions, Panola College was founded during the post-World War II period when returning veterans and the G.I. Bill fostered the founding of junior colleges across Texas. Its original name was Panola County Junior College.

Economic conditions in Panola County were favorable because of the recent development of a vast natural gas field. Q. M. Martin, innovative superintendent of schools in Carthage, became the driving force behind the establishment of the college. Organization began in 1947. A thirty-five-acre tract was secured at the western edge of Carthage, the county seat, and registration was first held during a snowstorm on January 19, 1948. Shortly thereafter, opening classes were conducted in a structure pieced together from two buildings obtained from Camp Majors in Greenville at a cost of $205. Moving expenses considerably exceeded the purchase price. The original dormitory was purchased from Camp Fannin in Tyler for $107.50, and a quonset hut served as the first fieldhouse.

In 1948, after voters approved a $400,000 bond, the first permanent structures soon began to be erected on the campus. The first president of Panola County Junior College was B. W. Musgraves (1947-1950). He was succeeded by Floyd Boze (1950-1951), M. P. Baker (1951-1967), Q. M. Martin (1967-1973), Dr. Charles Hays (1973-1974), Arthur Johnson (1974-1981), Dr. Gary McDaniel (1981-1992), Charles Hughes (1992-1993), Dr. William Edmonson (1993-2000), and current President Dr. Gregory S. Powell (2000-present).

The original faculty included President Musgraves and five teachers who taught five demanding class days each week and then met in conference for half a day on Saturdays.

In the spring of 1948, fifty-five charter students enrolled in the initial courses. By the next fall, the student body numbered 185. For several years, enrollment varied and even declined to 116 in 1953. In 1958 the student body exceeded 300, and the college began to grow steadily, especially after the establishment of an occupational-technical center in 1971.

Panola College confers associate degrees in the arts and sciences, associate of applied science degrees, and certificates. Panola College is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). SACSCOC is the regional body for the accreditation of degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states. It serves as the common denominator of shared values and practices among the diverse institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Latin America, and other international sites approved by the Commission on Colleges that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s, or doctoral degrees. The Commission also accepts applications from other international institutions of higher education.

Since 2000 enrollment at Panola College has grown by more than 89 percent. Today, more than 2,700 credit students and 1,400 Workforce and Continuing Education students are enrolled in one of 56 programs of study offered through Panola College.

During the regular meeting of the Panola College Board, the trustees, in a unanimous vote, approved calling for a bond election to be held May 11, 2013. The bond passed with an overwhelming 84 percent of voters’ support.

The College’s original 35-acre campus has expanded to 45 acres through the purchase of property east and contiguous to the original campus.

Completed and ongoing construction and renovation projects include the following:

  • M.P. Baker Library renovation and expansion
  • New residence halls constructed
  • Arthur Johnson Gymnasium renovated
  • Roy Monk Building renovated
  • Health and Natural Sciences Building constructed
  • Charles C. Matthews Foundation Student Center constructed
  • Frances B. Ross Music Building constructed
  • Demolished the Phoebe Sue Perlman Building, Rhea Fine Arts, and the Fitness Center
  • Added additional parking, lighting, and directional signage
  • Matthews Foundation Energy Building construction in progress
  • Artificial turf added at Baseball field
  • Improvements made to Rodeo Grounds