On Sept. 17, 1957, the State Board of Education established Manatee Junior College as an approved college with the primary mission of providing college training for young people and adults. On Nov. 5, 1957, Dr. Samuel R. Neel, Jr. became the first president. The College began its first classes on Sept. 2, 1958, in a former senior high school with 502 students. In 1959 the first classes were held on the current southwest Manatee County campus with a full-fledged sophomore class and a large freshman class enrolled in university-parallel courses.
In 1973 classes were offered at Venice High School to provide higher education opportunities for the residents of south Sarasota County. The College's Venice Center, supported with contributions from citizens of the communities of North Port, Englewood and Venice, was established in 1977. In 1983 the College received an appropriation from the Florida Legislature to build the current full-service campus in Venice, which was dedicated on March 30, 1985.
The College's name was changed to Manatee Community College in 1985.
In January 2003, SCF opened the Center for Innovation and Technology at Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park on 5 acres of land donated by Schroeder-Manatee Ranch. This location offers both credit classes and a wide variety of noncredit, personal and professional development and workforce training classes. In 2007 Schroeder-Manatee Ranch donated an additional 5 acres and the Medical Technology and Simulation Center opened in 2010.
In March 2009, the State Board of Education approved the College's proposal to deliver a complete Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. In July 2009, the College changed its name to State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota to reflect the institution's new status as a four-year degree-granting state college. Presently, six bachelor's degree programs are available with more being planned.
State College of Florida Collegiate School (SCFCS) opened in fall 2010. The school will include sixth through twelfth grades. SCF’s tuition-free public charter school provides students with the opportunity to graduate simultaneously with a high school diploma and associate college degree.
Dr. Carol Probstfeld became the college's sixth president on January 22, 2013, after serving as the college's interim president and vice president of business and administrative services.
Credit enrollment is 27,000 students annually and about 40,000 have graduated from the College. SCF consistently provides high-quality instruction as demonstrated by SCF graduates' proven success in careers and performance at the university level. As the College looks forward, SCF remains committed to being flexible and responsible to the needs of our community.