Bessemer State Technical College
Bessemer State Technical College was a state-chartered technical college located at 1100 9th Avenue in Bessemer. By 2005, it was the largest technical college in Alabama. To save operating costs, Bessemer Tech merged with nearby Lawson State Community College in fall 2005. It now operates as Lawson State's Bessemer Campus.
During the 1963 session of the Alabama Legislature, a tax was approved that created a comprehensive system of technical colleges and institutes. Bessemer business and industrial leaders and city officials proposed a resolution to the State Department of Education requesting that Bessemer be selected as the site for one of the technical institutes. The resolution was approved in the fall of 1963.
After a 34-acre site on U. S. Highway 11 was selected, the city of Bessemer purchased the property and deeded the property to the Alabama Trade School and Junior College Authority. On April 4, 1966, the college, known then as the State Vocational-Technical School, accepted its first 47 day and 30 night students, in six programs of study. Although its first official name was the John R. Pelham Technical-Trade School, named for Civil War hero John R. Pelham, on August 16, 1966, the name was changed by legislative action to Bessemer State Technical Institute. Bessemer Tech was accredited by the Commission on Occupational Education Institutions of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1972 and in August, 1973, achieved college status. Accreditation enabled Bessemer State Technical College to award an Associate in Applied Technology degree. In 1995, COEI separated from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to form the Council on Occupational Education.
The city of Bessemer acquired and donated an additional 23 acres of property in 1973 to allow for future expansion of the college. Construction on the new property began in 1975. Additions were completed in 1975, 1977, 1978, 1993, and 1998.
In 2004, Alabama College Systems (ACS) recommended the merger as part of an effort by the state department of education to end much of the duplication within the state's two-year post-secondary institutions. The decision was made to merge Bessemer Tech into Lawson State effective July 1, 2005. Mike Bailey was Bessemer Tech's last president. After the merger, he moved to the Alabama Technology Network. The merger was projected to save the state between $150,000 and $1 million a year with no job losses.
- Jones, Pam (January 7, 2005) "Lawson State, Bessemer Tech colleges merge; Six-figure savings are anticipated." Birmingham Business Journal
- Lawson State website