Black Hawk College began as Moline Community College in 1946 in the Moline High School to accommodate World War II veterans seeking higher education. Moline Community College was organized into three divisions – Moline Cooperative Extension of the University of Illinois, Terminal Course Division for career training and Adult Education Division for personal enrichment. The college continued to offer transfer, career, and adult education classes, and in 1961 it became Black Hawk College – the first county-wide junior college in Illinois. The College expanded as neighboring school districts petitioned to join the College district. In 1965, with the passage of “The Illinois Public Junior College Act,” Black Hawk College became part of the state’s system of higher education, committed to offering traditional liberal arts courses, occupational courses, and adult education courses at its campus in Moline.
At the request of citizens from Kewanee, IL, the college expanded operations to communities in the southeastern portion of the district. Instruction was delivered at the Kewanee National Guard Armory and at Kewanee High School beginning in 1967. Instruction began at the present site of the East Campus in 1971. Black Hawk College East was operationally separate from the Quad-Cities Campus from 1971-89. At the request of the College, the North Central Association (NCA) approved unification of the campuses in 1986, and the Illinois Community College Board approved the College as one college with two campuses in 1989. The two campuses continue to be united, with each offering a full complement of courses and curricula.
Black Hawk College operates within Illinois Community College District #503, an area encompassing 2,200 square miles in nine counties of northwestern Illinois (Bureau, Henderson, Henry, Stark, Whiteside, Knox, Marshall, Mercer, Rock Island). In addition to full-service campuses in Moline and near Kewanee, the college operates the Adult Learning Center in Rock Island, the Community Education Center in Kewanee, the Industrial Training Lab Extension Center in Moline, the Outreach Center in East Moline, and the Welding and Skilled Trades Center in Kewanee. The college offers a variety of career and transfer programs and serves more people than any other institution of higher education in the Quad-Cities area.