Chemeketa Community College was named in 1969 by the Salem, Oregon, Board of Education. The name Chemeketa means “a place of peace.”
Before there was a college, the institute was Salem Technical-Vocational School, operated by Salem Public Schools. Salem Tech's first full-time classes were held in an old elementary school. The Practical Nursing and Electronics Engineering Technician programs were developed in 1957.
In 1964, Salem Tech moved to its present site on Lancaster Drive, where a one-story brick building, a machine and welding shop, and a number of temporary buildings comprised the campus. The name of the school was changed to Salem Technical Vocational Community College in 1965.
In the early 60s, a group of citizens from throughout the mid-Willamette Valley spearheaded a movement to transform Salem Tech into a comprehensive community college that would serve the area. Chemeketa Community College is the result of that effort. Chemeketa is the second largest community college in Oregon.