It wasn’t until the early 2000s that the city of Hereford approached AC into expanding and offering a greater variety of classes. Hereford residents passed the 5 percent Branch Campus Maintenance Tax May 15, 2004, which was used to aid in the startup costs.
Officials say the idea of building a branch campus was popular among the community. “The citizens went out to vote and over 90 percent of the vote was in favor to have a branch maintenance tax to establish a campus, so that was the catalyst to get everything started,” Daniel Esquivel, executive director of the Hereford campus, said.
Located in the northern section of Shirley Elementary School, the first classes were given in 2005. College and city officials were hoping to enroll 75 to 100 students, but it ended up being closer to 200 students. With just eight classrooms, students were only able to take very basic courses.
Everything changed in 2011 when a private donor gave $3 million to help build a new facility. There was something, however, that he wanted in return. “He wanted to memorialize his best friend and his wife. They’re both gone so he wanted to do a memorial,” Esquivel said. The new facility was named the Everett and Mabel McDougal Hinkson Memorial Campus of Amarillo College, after William “Everett” Hinkson and Mabel McDougal Hinkson. The campus opened in the spring of 2014 with assistance from a $1 million Economic Development grant and an Amarillo Area Foundation grant.
Esquivel said the campus owns 20 acres of land, and some students say they should make use of it. “They have a lot of space. They should build more classrooms and offer more classes,” Laura Sosa, a respiratory care major, said. According to Sosa, the campus lacks some of the basic features. “It’s hard to find a tutor. They’re only there at certain times,” she said.
Other students, however, say that although a bigger campus would be nice, it works fine for now. “The facility is good for the amount of students, but it would be nice if it was bigger,” Efrain Lara, a nursing major, said. Current enrollment stands at about 500 students.
Besides offering more classes, the $7 million campus offers complete programs like the truck driving academy, certified nurse aide program and clinical medical assistant program. Esquivel said he listens to what his students have to say, which is why he’s looking into expanding the campus and offer more full programs. In the next few years, he would like to establish a Career and Technical Education building like the Moore County campus has.
The city of Hereford is looking into buying 6 acres from Amarillo College to build a new community center right next to the campus. Students would be able to use the center’s classrooms and parking lots, which would be cost beneficial.The campus also has clubs in place and a food pantry that is expected to open in the spring.