The Cambria County Commissioners voted unanimously in June 1993 to become the local sponsors for Cambria County Area Community College (CCACC). In September 1993 the State Board of Education approved the establishment of a community college in Cambria County.
In October 1993 the Commissioners approved the appointment of a 15 member Board of Trustees representing the geographic service area of the institution and including leading members of the professional community. The Board of Trustees was inducted and held its initial meeting October 26, 1993.
By March 1994 the County Commissioners approved the Articles of Agreement with Cambria County Area Community College and a month later the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. John O. Hunter as founding President effective June 1, 1994. The first classes were held September 5, 1994. The College was approved as a candidate for accreditation by the Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association in November 1996. In 1999 Dr. Hunter retired. The Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Kathleen V. Davis as the second President of the College effective July 1, 1999. Under Dr. Davis’ leadership the College began the accreditation process by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Dr. Davis resigned as President in December 2001. In February 2002 the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. John Kingsmore as Interim President and the College began the search for its third President. In June of the same year the College received notification that full accreditation from the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools had been granted. On July 8, 2002, Dr. Anna D. Weitz began her tenure as the third President of Cambria County Area Community College.
During its ten years of operation the College has expanded its academic offerings in liberal arts and career programs to include on-line courses and advanced technology offerings. In addition to providing area residents with credit courses, the College has increased non-credit, continuing education programs to meet the workforce development needs of the region. The vision of President Dr. Anna Weitz was to grow enrollment and expand outreach of the College to surrounding counties that are underserved or not served by a community college. In order to achieve this goal, the College petitioned the Department of Education to change the name of CCACC to reflect a more regional approach. The College’s name was officially changed to Pennsylvania Highlands Community College effective July 1, 2004.
In May of 2007 Dr. Weitz pursued another employment opportunity and on August 13, 2007, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Walter Asonevich as the College's fourth President.
Since the arrival of Dr. Asonevich in August 2007, the College has moved to its current location on Community College Way in Richland, revamped its offerings at the Ebensburg Center, added expansion sites in Somerset and Huntingdon counties, and opened the Blair Center in August 2013. The College has added new career-technical programs in welding, culinary arts, radiology technology, and histotechnology, and also offers a pilot training course. Expanded offerings in liberal arts fields provide students with many options for starting bachelor degrees at Penn Highlands. Enrollment has grown tremendously with nearly a 40 percent increase in enrollment over six years, and the College is entering its fourth season with the NJCAA for men’s basketball and women’s volleyball.