Wilkes Community College, located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Brushy Mountains, was founded in October 1964 by the North Carolina Board of Education. The first board of trustees was sworn into office on January 15, 1965, and classes began in August 1965 with an enrollment of 68 students. The campus originally covered 75 acres and included three buildings, Thompson, Hayes, and Lovette halls. The first president was Dr. Howard Thompson, who served from March 5, 1965, to June 30, 1977. Today, Wilkes Community Colleges service area, comprising Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany counties, covers 1,423 square miles with a population of approximately 108,000 residents. It has multiple locations and an 1,100-seat cultural arts facility. Wilkes Community College enhances the quality of life through quality education and workforce development, including basic skills, occupational, technical, and pre-baccalaureate programs, economic development services to business and industry, both public and private, and community development through a variety of services, cultural activities, and recreational opportunities. At Wilkes Community College highly specialized career training and employment skills. Wilkes has two campus locations for maximum accessibility and even offers some courses free of charge. The student enrollment is typically around 3,500 students for curriculum, 900 for continuing education, and 1,600 for basic skills. The college also has satellite campuses in nearby Ashe and Alleghany counties. Wilkes Community College has one campus in Ashe, North Carolina, and one in nearby Alleghany. Both centers offer an equal number of academic and professional opportunities. Examples of professional associate’s degree programs include Baking and Pastry Arts, Dental Assisting, Graphic Design, Nursing. Another career pathway available at Wilkes is continuing education. Non-credit continuing education courses train students for such occupations as Arborist, Emergency Medical Technician, Massage Therapist, Pharmacy Technician, Real Estate. Wilkes students may also receive an Associate of Arts degree, which fulfills all of the general education requirements for a four-year degree. Students on this track usually transfer to a four-year college or university like the University of North Carolina. Like most of North Carolinas community colleges, WCC has an "open-door" admissions policy, which means that any adult with a high-school diploma can be admitted. The college pledges itself to "quality education, training and retraining for the workforce, including basic skills education, occupational, technical and pre-baccalaureate programs.