Throughout the community college movement, no formal organizations existed at the national level for Community Services (CS) and Continuing Education (CE) directors. With phenomenal growth in community colleges during the 1960s, CS/CE directors belonged to various organizations such as:
- Adult Education Association,
- National University Extension Association,
- Association of University Evening Colleges, and
- National Association for Public School Adult Educators.
In 1967, a formal COMMUNITY SERVICES/CONTINUING EDUCATION interest group was formed during an NEA conference held in Philadelphia.
In May 1968, with the blessing and financial support of NEA, the special interest group met in Southfield, Michigan. Walter Fightmaster, Executive Director of Continuing Education at Oakmont Community College, was chair. One hundred participants representing 18 states and 3 Canadian Provinces attended. At that meeting, William Shannon, Associate Executive Director of American Association of Junior Colleges, encouraged the continuation of the group and asked them to examine the business of CS/CE.
In November 1968, the American Association for Community and Junior Colleges (AACJC) established the Community Services Project supported by the Kellogg Foundation and directed by Dr. Kenneth Cummisky.
As a part of the project, and as a direct outgrowth of an earlier report by Ervin L. Harlacher, the Community Dimension of the Community College, the first issue of the Community Services Forum monthly newsletter, began in January 1969.
This newsletter focused special attention on the community services mission of community and junior colleges and was one of several publications on the topic to appear that year.
- Establishing a national advisory committee.
- Establishing a consultant service to assist colleges in community services program development.
- Sponsoring regional and national conferences and workshops for community services personnel.
- Participation in cooperative activities with universities and other community services leadership training programs.
- Provision of an information clearinghouse function.
- Publication of a newsletter and other materials of use in junior colleges.
Meeting in Seattle at NAPSAE and at AEA in Des Moines, members of the special interest group surveyed the field, examined the other organizations to insure against competition and developed a committee who met with AACJC in Atlanta in March of 1969 to recommend that AACJC establish a commission on Community Services.
The organization voted to formally request council status with AACJC at a meeting in Washington in May 1969. A special issue of the forum in May 1969 announced the formation of the National Council on Community Services. The Council began with 224 charter members.
It was also in 1969 that Gunder Myran published a monograph, "Community Services in the Community College.”
The official organization had its first meeting later in 1969 at a meeting in Washington with 40 participants from 16 states, where it approved a constitution, elected interim officers, and developed further plans for membership.
When the Galaxy Conference met in December 1969, this organization met as a part of it and had over 240 members, who paid $15.00 to join.
The Council assumed the funding and publication of its own journal, THE COMMUNITY SERVICES CATALYST in 1971.
In 1972, AACJC reorganized its structure and the National Council on Community Services became one of its operating councils.
The Council changed its name to the National Council on Community Services and Continuing Education to more adequately reflect its role in adult education, lifelong learning, and the rapidly expanding role of continuing education in 1972.
In the 1996 national conference in Mesa, Arizona, the Council membership unanimously voted to change its name to the National Council for Continuing Education and Training to reflect its role in continuing education, workforce development, and community service.
In 1997 at the national conference in Boston the membership unanimously voted to reorganize the board to decrease the number of regional directors to six and add functional directors. Titles and job descriptions of the executive committees were also changed to include president, president elect, immediate past president, vice president of membership services, vice president for marketing and development, and vice president for finance and administration.
In 1998, the board voted to include distance learning as the fourth functional area to which NCCET would commit its support, joining community services, continuing education, and workforce development.
In 1999, the board voted to take over management of the annual conference. For the 1999 conference in Milwaukee, WI, the board contracted with a national conference director instead of assigning that responsibility to a local conference committee. It proved to be a good decision.
In 2001, the board voted to contract with an individual to act as NCCET managing director, to handle administrative services such as membership and meetings, conference services, and publications services. In April, 2001, the Board accepted a proposal from William Flynn to serve as the first NCCET Managing Director for one year beginning July 1, 2001, renewable annually. The association was successful, and his contract was renewed.
In 2003, the bylaws were revised and approved by the membership. The regions were redefined and expanded from six to eight. Several new board positions were added including Vice President for Communications, Special Liaison Directors, and At-Large Directors.
In 2008, William Flynn retired as NCCET managing director and was recognized as managing director emeritus. NCCET contracted with Sandra Gaskin to become NCCET’s executive director.
In 2009, NCCET celebrated its 40th anniversary. The by-laws were reviewed and updated. A Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Disclosure and Confidentiality Statement was adopted. The NCCET website was updated and NCCET sponsored its first webinar.
In 2010, the bylaws were revised and approved by the membership. Regional directors became national directors and the number of national directors was established as eight.
In 2012, the Board of Directors decided to move from having a single executive director to contracting with an association management company to act as the Executive Director and Executive Office.
In 2013, the bylaws were revised and approved by the membership, simplifying the structure and titles for board members and aligning with the use of an association management company for the Executive Director and Executive Office.