The secret of success is consistency of purpose. Benjamin Disraeli
College of the Canyons has been a story of success since its beginnings more than 39 years ago. The community at that time recognized the need for a quality community college that would provide education and training in the arts, technology and academic areas. With that in mind and with a very focused "consistency of purpose," faculty was hired, facilities were built, programs were developed, students achieved their goals and the College's legacy of outstanding performance was formed.
College of the Canyons is truly a one-of-a-kind resource for the Santa Clarita Valley. It has distinguished itself as one of the premier community colleges in California, was recently named the fastest-growing community college in the nation, and is recognized for its leadership in correlating education with economic development, job retention and job creation. The college is appreciated and admired by the communities it serves for its high quality academics, excellent facilities, forward thinking faculty and staff, outstanding support systems and effective management of resources.
Innovative programs involving partnerships with businesses and local government, alliances with community members and other educational institutions combined with a high-energy, on-campus environment have positioned the college as the model that other colleges emulate.
From the very beginning, the college and the community knew they would both grow - a symbiotic relationship that required matching steps forward. Projections for the future are that community growth will continue along with requirements for the college to serve a wider range of purposes. Current realities are that the student population surpassed the 18,000 mark in 2006, several years earlier than population projections predicted. This unprecedented growth resulted in community support for a $82.1 million general obligation bond measure (Measure C) being passed in 2001 and another $160 million measure (Measure M) receiving overwhelming support from local voters in 2006. Funds from these bonds have been matched by millions of dollars in state resources. Together they will be used for capital improvements within the Santa Clarita Community College District which includes the College of the Canyons – Valencia campus and, now thanks to these bonds, its new Canyon Country campus. The aim is simply to have enough classrooms, labs and other facilities to meet the educational needs of Santa Clarita Valley communities, now and in the future to provide exciting places for students to learn and pursue their dreams.
As we embrace our future, we will continue to intensify the resolve that has placed us in such good stead for the last 39 years. Peter Drucker said, "Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans." As a premier educational institution, we have committed ourselves to moving forward by:
Many of COC's students will already have advanced degrees. Others will attend classes to learn, for the first time, about technology that will enhance their careers and their lives! Others will decide that "now is the time, and this is the college" to get serious about a college education. Still others will enroll because they want and need the quality teaching, the extra care that COC instructors and staff provide, and the chance to prove themselves.
We'll see more high school students interested in getting a "jump start" on their college educations by taking advantage of enrollment fee waivers or signing up for the on-campus Middle College, Academy of the Canyons. We'll find more students who realize that the cost of a bachelor's degree can be significantly reduced by completing the first two years at a community college. The reasons to attend College of the Canyons will be as varied as the students themselves which range across a huge spectrum of educational interests and cultural backgrounds.
With more companies locating in the area, the college will welcome them and ask, "what we can do to help?" Through the Employee Training Institute and the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies, the college has provided indispensable workforce development and technical assistance to manufacturers in the region. The recent additions of the Small Business Development Center and High Technology Business Incubator have already had a huge impact locally by helping existing businesses and providing assistance to entrepreneurs who wish to start new businesses locally.
When new technologies are developed, the college will master them and offer training to whoever needs those skills. In addition to programs such as computer networking; graphics and multi-media design and computer information technology; the college has added a biotechnology program and is working on providing training in nanotechnology fields. Other programs recently added due to public demand include automotive technology, land surveying, construction technology, paralegal studies, culinary arts, and security technologies. Community members are signing up to attend these classes as fast and as often as we can offer them. That trend is unlikely to change in the future.
So, what will College of the Canyons' future look like? It will be a higher education resource built on the best of the past and the promise of the future - where students of every description will learn the skills to chart individual courses to achieve their goals.
Each day we are planning to accommodate the needs and wants of current and future students. As we build out the Valencia campus and expand the new Canyon Country campus, we are constantly verifying the focus on our mission. Preparation for the future means planning and acting today.
We recently completed expansions in Valencia to our science lab building, added a brand new high technology classroom building and a major expansion to our physical education facility – including a complex of six tennis courts – is under way. The Canyon Country Campus opened for the fall 2007 semester, with more than 3,000 students taking classes there. The long-awaited University Center – a facility where 4-year universities will offer bachelor's, masters' and doctoral degrees on the COC campus – is under construction, and will open in 2009.
On the drawing board are:
Of course, all of this expansion means more opportunities to provide the training and classes that the community tells us it wants.
My vision and my hope is that this college, businesses, governments, private groups - virtually anyone and everyone who cares about our collective future - will continue to work together and guarantee that this exciting and nurturing "learning environment" will thrive. I know - all of us at COC know - that what we provide the community is priceless. We are providing our future leaders with the very best tools to be successful and we are providing them with a solid example of how to succeed. As Anatole France said, "To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe."
With "consistency of purpose," those who pass through these doors and take advantage of this wonderful community resource will succeed and College of the Canyons will continue to be the college of "first choice" for the people of Santa Clarita.
Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook