Though the Dr. King Adult Education Center opened in 1968, KCC began its affiliation in 1980. The partnership continued for more than 30 years. At one time, there was a King Center North at 720 N. Greenwood and a King Center South at 1065 S. Washington Ave. They delivered developmental educational services to Kankakee area residents through many classes and programs, such as adult basic education, General Educational Development (GED), job skills, English as a Second Language and parenting skills. One program, begun in 1987, was called Young Moms, and it was funded through the Illinois Department of Public Health Families With a Future. Volunteer parent group facilitators were at the core of the program.
In 1994, for the 25th anniversary of the King Centers’ founding, a 24 inch by 36 inch stained glass window depicting Dr. Martin Luther King was created. The King Centers had an original staff of five, which served 40 students. By the 25th anniversary, there was a staff of 18, at two locations, plus 15 volunteer tutors.
The Dr. Martin Luther King Bench is a permanent memorial to the work that its staff and volunteers carried out in conjunction with KCC. It is located at the front of the college’s Workforce Development Center. The bench, dedicated on April 17, 2012, has a plaque which states "The Dr. King Center opened in 1968 and stressed the value of all people regardless of race or culture." At the time of the bench dedication, Dr. King Adult Education Center board and volunteers still assisted the community through charitable works, and the group donated the bench.
“The Dr. King Center is still involved in the community,” said Judy Thomas, business manager for the Dr. King Adult Education Center. “Thousands of adults and children have benefited from the efforts of staff and volunteers who gave unselfishly to honor the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
A flagpole was donated to the college by the KCC Veteran's Club to honor all those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. A plaque at the flagpole remains with this inscription: “Dedicated by the KCC Veterans Club to honor all persons who served in the Armed Forces of the United States.” Serving veterans is a college strong suit. The KCC Veterans Association is an approved chapter of Student Veterans of America. The college offers a number of services, benefits and resources to veterans.
Since 2011, the college has been listed each year in the Guide to Military Friendly Schools, published in conjunction with G.I. Jobs magazine. The list represents the “top 15 percent of schools that do the most to embrace the military community and ensure student success on campus,” the magazine stated. Typically, KCC has about 200 veterans who enroll each year, according to the college’s Office of Financial Aid.
In one of the strangest moments in the college’s history, a steer escaped while being unloaded at KCC, prior to a livestock judging contest for area high school students. The steer, which weighed about 1,000 pounds, hoofed it to downtown Kankakee, where it was shot and killed by local police. A tranquilizer was not used for various reasons.
"What can be done is pretty much what we did today," said the county animal control supervisor. "I don’t think police could have done anything else." The event was immortalized by Larry Lujack and Tommy Edwards on the popular WLS radio program, Animal Stories.
Upon the retirement of Dr. Lilburn Horton, Dr. Larry Huffman became the college’s fourth president. He served for 13 years, until retiring on March 31, 2001. Overall, Huffman worked at KCC for 23 years. Huffman returned to KCC as interim president in 2009, after Dr. Jerry Weber accepted the job as president at the College of Lake County.
KCC’s Agricultural Bowl team became KCC’s first national championship team with a win at the National College Ag-Bowl competition, sponsored by the Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization in Green Bay, Wis. It remains as the highest academic award ever won by a KCC team. The team qualified by beating seven other colleges at the Illinois competition in Peoria.
Nationals were a three-day, single elimination competition, with 23 teams. The Cavs defeated teams from South Dakota, North Carolina, Missouri and New York to win it all. For each match, KCC needed to answer quickly – and correctly – questions on crops and soils, ag business and farm management, horticulture and natural resources, ag mechanics, and animal science. In the end, they won every time by 100 or more points, while their opponents scored less than 100 points total.
KCC’s team was Arlin DePatis, Jim Kerrins, Dan Mau, Mark O’Connor and Michelle Paraday. The team’s advisors were Dennis Sorensen and Jack Hacker. Hacker was one of the college’s original faculty members in 1968. He retired from the college in 2000. Sorensen, who retired from KCC in 2014, holds the distinction of being one of the few—if not only—people to be a graduate, faculty member and administrator for KCC.
Over the years, KCC’s Ag Bowl team traveled far and wide for livestock and meat judging, and ag bowl competitions. Destinations included Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Colorado and New York.
The 1990 college guide in "U.S. News & World Report" recognized KCC as a college "with outstanding programs in one or more of six crucial areas:" technical education, college-employer partnerships, recruitment and retention, transfer programs, education for special populations, and adult basic education. Only 13 community colleges are listed.