Lone Star College System

Aerial photo

Aerial photo of the Houston North location

Photo from LSC Houston North website, Fair Use

In 1972 voters in the Aldine, Spring, and Humble independent school districts in the north central reaches of Harris County established North Harris County College, the forerunner of the North Harris Montgomery Community College District, a two-year community college system. The college changed its name in 1991, when the district expanded into Montgomery County to the north. The district currently receives tax support from eleven local school districts: Aldine, Spring, Humble, Tomball, New Caney, Conroe, Willis, Splendora, Klein, Cypress-Fairbanks, and Magnolia. State money from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Education Agency, student tuition and fees, and some federal and county funds supplement local school-district funding. Four colleges compose the system: North Harris College near Houston Intercontinental Airport, Kingwood College off Highway 59 near Kingwood, Tomball College on state highway 249 in Tomball, and Montgomery College off Interstate 45 and State Highway 242 north of the Woodlands. A fifth, Cy-Fair College, is scheduled to open in the fall of 2003 on a 200-acre site at Barker-Cypress and West Road. Over 19,000 students enroll in credit courses district-wide, and another 30,000 participate annually in noncredit community education courses and programs. The college's growth has been phenomenal considering its humble beginnings in the early 1970s.

The establishment of the original 254-square-mile college district in October 1972 corresponded with the transformation of north Harris County from a largely rural dairy and vegetable farming area to one of the fastest growing commercial centers and residential suburbs in the country. Concerned about the paucity of higher educational facilities north of Buffalo Bayou, residents of north Harris County, such as Spring school district superintendent John A. Winship, began a grassroots movement in the early 1960s to establish a college there. Feasibility studies, petition drives, and the securing of Texas Coordinating Board approval for the project paved the way for the 1972 election and subsequent setting of a tax rate, passage of an initial $6.5 million in construction bonds, and selection of a seven-member board of trustees to oversee the college's operation. Charter trustee members Lawrence K. Adams, Floyd Hoffman, H. J. Doering, E. M. Wells, Charles W. Philipp, W. E. Crozier, and Hugh E. Dugan appointed William W. Thorne, Aldine school superintendent and an active supporter of the college project from its beginnings, as the institution's first president. The following fall, Thorne and his fifteen-member instructional and administrative staff welcomed 613 students to classes meeting in the evening at Aldine High School. Ten years later, Chancellor Joe A. Airola, selected after Thorne's retirement to preside over the development of a multicampus system, reported a faculty numbering nearly 200 and a student enrollment of more than 10,000 in credit courses and 9,000 in noncredit continuing-education courses. In that same time period, the college tax base had grown at least 500 percent, as urban sprawl brought commercial and residential development as well as a population growth of half a million to the college service area.

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Marilyn D. Rhinehart | © TSHA

Handbook of Texas Logo

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Date of Founding Notes

Classes first held in 1973; formerly North Harris Montgomery Community College District.


  • Chancellor, Dr. Stephen C. Head 2014–Present

Currently Exists


Place type

Lone Star College System is classified as a College or University

External Websites

Fall Faculty Count, 2019 View more »


Fall Enrollment Count, 2022 View more »


Place Type Population (Year/Source) Currently Exists
College or University Yes
College or University Yes
College or University Yes
College or University Yes
College or University Yes
College or University Yes
College or University Yes

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