Northwest Florida State College
MottoEducatio Optima
TypePublic college
Established1963; 59 years ago (1963)
Parent institution
Florida College System
PresidentDevin Stephenson [1]
Academic staff
Campus264 acres (107 ha)
Colors      Red, white, black
Sporting affiliations
NJCAA Region 8, Panhandle Conference

Northwest Florida State College is a public college in Niceville, Florida. It is part of the Florida College System and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associate and baccalaureate degrees. Northwest Florida State College has multiple campuses but has operated continuously on its Niceville campus since 1963. The college also operates a charter high school, the Collegiate High School at Northwest Florida State College, which opened in 2000.[4]


Early history

Northwest Florida State College was founded in 1963 as Okaloosa-Walton Junior College, with its campus in Valparaiso, Florida; students started class the next year. A permanent campus in Niceville was dedicated in April 1969.[5]

The school voted to change its name to Okaloosa-Walton Community College in 1988,[6] and gained four-year status in 2003, thus changing its name to Okaloosa-Walton College. In June 2008, Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill that allowed several community colleges, including OWC, to offer four-year degrees and be considered part of Florida's upper education under the newly formed Florida College Pilot Project,[7] making OWC one of the state colleges in Florida. Due to the change, school officials elected to once again change the name, this time to Northwest Florida State College.

2009 campus shooting

On April 11, 2009, a lone gunman shot a vending machine maintenance worker at the center in DeFuniak Springs. The victim was shot twice in the chest and died from his injuries.[8] The suspect, a former co-worker of the victim, was apprehended and charged and found guilty of first degree murder.[9]

2012 data breach

Between May 21, 2012, and September 24, 2012, a large-scale security breach occurred at the college. The personal information of nearly 300,000 people, including 200,000 who had no connection to the institution, was stolen. Leaked information included names, Social Security numbers, birthdates, gender, and ethnicity as well as payroll and direct deposit information. No one was ever charged in the attack.[10]

Campus locations

As of the 2020-2021 year, Northwest Florida State College operates at six locations.[11]

Collegiate High School at Northwest Florida State College

Collegiate High School at Northwest Florida State College
100 College Boulevard


United States
Funding typeCharter
CEEB code101608
PrincipalAnthony Boyer
Number of students275[13]
Team nameRaiders

The Collegiate High School at Northwest Florida State College (CHS) is a charter school in Niceville, Florida, established in 2000, that enables 9th-, 10th-, 11th-, and 12th-grade students to simultaneously earn both a standard high school diploma and a transferable two-year college degree or transferable college credits. The CHS is a public school and is free of charge to students. College-credit classes, college and high school textbooks, provision for transportation, use of a personal laptop computer, tutoring, and more are all provided at no cost. Students are also allowed to participate in college activities including sports, the Raider Rhythms dance team, and the college's Student Government Association.[14] In 2005, Lyndsi Thomas, a CHS senior, was one of thirty students in Florida selected to the First Team All-State of the All Florida Academic Team. Elected as president of the college's Student Government Association in 2004, Lyndsi was also the only SGA president at a Florida college who was a high school student.[15]

The Collegiate High School at Northwest Florida State College has been named a "2006 No Child Left Behind - Blue Ribbon School", among 250 nationwide and 12 from Florida.[16]

CHS was named #1 school in Florida for the 2010–2011 school year[17] and a U.S. Department of Education National Blue Ribbon School in 2013.[18]

Mattie Kelly Arts Center

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center is a $25 million performing arts and educational complex that hosts Broadway touring shows, visiting artists, dance and opera companies. The complex encompasses a 1,650-seat main stage theater which accommodates touring Broadway shows, the 195-seat, flexible Sprint Theater, an art wing with two galleries, a music wing, a visual arts building and the NWFSC amphitheater.[19] The Arts Center is located on the Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida, and it has been in operation of world-class productions for more than 25 years. It is a non-profit entity operated by the public college. Situated on the Southeast part of campus in a wooded area, it is located in close proximity to other buildings with plenty of parking for students, staff, and visitors. The Arts Center is home to the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra (NFSO) and NWFSC Department of Humanities, Fine & Performing Arts. In addition to Broadway shows, the Arts Center hosts many student run-shows. The Arts Center features a variety of theaters, galleries, and also an outdoor amphitheater for performances. Events hosted by the complex range from national Broadway tours to local college productions. The mission of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center is to present a variety of quality exhibitions and related programs that enhance the learning experience of NWFSC. Furthermore, the Mattie Kelly Art Galleries serve as a teaching adjunct for the Department of Fine & Performing Arts. They are also instructive cultural assets for both the campus and community. They state on their website, “At the Arts Center, we believe in the power of music, theater and art to transform lives in the community."[20] Published by the Arts Center and funded by the college, the Blackwater Review exclusively features NWFSC students’ art and writing. The literary and arts publication showcases submitted works and is published on an annual basis.

Mattie Kelly Art Galleries

The Mattie Kelly Art Galleries are part of the Mattie Kelly Arts Center on the 265-acre campus of NWFSC in Niceville, Florida.[21] The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) verifies that the Mattie Kelly Arts Center Galleries at NWFSC is currently an accredited museum.[22] The Mattie Kelly Art Galleries consist of two adjoining galleries: the McIlroy Gallery and Holzhauer Gallery. They change art exhibitions every four to six weeks. Together, the Galleries “showcase about six to 12 different international, national and regional exhibitions each year."[23] The Galleries are always free and open to the public. They also host gallery talks, workshops, and other related events. In addition to exhibiting works by visiting artists, the Galleries host two annual exhibitions–the Arnie Art Juried Student Exhibition and the Emerald Coast National Juried Fine Arts Exhibition. The Galleries also feature the NWFSC Permanent Collection in annual winter and summer exhibitions. On campus, the Galleries operate closely with the Arts Center and the NWFSC Department of Humanities, Fine & Performing Arts. In addition, the Galleries partner annually with various international, national, and local artists along with students for exhibitions and related programs on campus. With the NFSO Guild’s fundraising, the Arts Center supports the needs of children in the community through art and music programs. Since 1987, the organization has provided music education outreach to local youth, reaching over 100,000 children in the area. The Arts Center states on the website, “As a partner of Northwest Florida State College, we proudly host the institution’s Fine & Performing Arts Division."[24] The website offers more information on sponsorship opportunities and membership benefits.


The school's athletic teams compete in the Panhandle Conference of the Florida State College Activities Association, a body of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 8.[25]

Notable alumni

Alumni Notability
Chris Duarte Current professional basketball player for the Indiana Pacers
Kedrick Brown Former professional basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers
Robert Coello Former Major League Baseball pitcher
Andres Feliz College basketball player for the University of Illinois
Jason Michaels Former Major League Baseball outfielder
Alan Ritchson Actor, singer-songwriter, model
Ray Sansom Former Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives
Donell Taylor Former professional basketball player for the Washington Wizards


  1. ^ "Leadership". Northwest Florida State College.
  2. ^ "IPEDS Data Center".
  3. ^[bare URL]
  4. ^ "The 2000's". Retrieved 2021-03-02.
  5. ^ "The 1960's". Retrieved 2021-03-02.
  6. ^ "The 1980's". Retrieved 2021-03-02.
  7. ^ "Florida College Pilot Project, June 2008". Archived from the original on 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2019-05-03.
  8. ^ Retrieved 2021-03-03. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ McLaughlin, Tom. "Thomas McCoy death sentence upheld". Northwest Florida Daily News. Retrieved 2021-03-03.
  10. ^ Bolkan, Joshua; 10/17/12. "Northwest Florida State College Data Breach Compromises 300,000 Students and Employees -". Campus Technology. Retrieved 2021-03-03.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ "College Campuses and Centers - Northwest Florida State College - Acalog ACMS™". Retrieved 2021-03-02.
  12. ^ "School Profile".
  13. ^ 2009 CHS Press Release
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-07-25.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "About".
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-07-25.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Venue". Mattie Kelly Arts Center. 2022. Retrieved 2022-01-30.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ "Home". Mattie Kelly Arts Center. 2022. Retrieved 2022-01-30.
  22. ^ "Accredited Museums". Retrieved 2022-04-18.
  23. ^ "Art Galleries". Mattie Kelly Arts Center. 2022. Retrieved 2022-01-30.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  24. ^ "Venue". Mattie Kelly Arts Center. 2022. Retrieved 2022-01-30.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ "Organization of NJCAA Regions". NJCAA. Retrieved 2021-03-02.

Coordinates: 30°32′22″N 86°28′32″W / 30.5394163°N 86.475644°W / 30.5394163; -86.475644