College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook has been named the National Pacesetter of the Year by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR). The award recognizes a two-year community or technical college CEO who has demonstrated leadership and support in the area of college communications and public relations.
“I am honored to receive the National Pacesetter of the Year Award,” said Dr. Van Hook. “Public relations and marketing are essential components of our college’s ability to create quality and results-driven messaging that positively impacts our students and defines their experience at College of the Canyons.”
Dr. Van Hook was announced as the recipient of the award during the NCMPR National Conference in Charleston, S.C. on Wednesday, March 29.
She has served as CEO of the Santa Clarita Community College District since 1988, making her the longest-serving community college CEO in California. Her longevity in that role and emphasis on effective marketing have been instrumental in creating and maintaining the college’s brand and ensuring consistent messaging across mediums.
To accommodate its growing student population, the college has increased facilities square footage five-fold under Dr. Van Hook’s leadership, from 199,000 square feet on one campus to 950,000 on campuses in Valencia and Canyon Country.
“We at College of the Canyons are very fortunate to have Dr. Van Hook as a visionary and inspirational leader,” said Steve Zimmer, president of the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees. “She has been able to oversee the long-term growth of our college and widely communicate our student success story to our local community and throughout the entire state through the effective use of public relations and marketing.”
College of the Canyons was recently ranked among the top-15 community and career colleges by graduates' salary potential. PayScale’s 2016-17 College Salary Report examined the earnings of graduates from 381 two-year colleges across the nation.
In a continuing effort to reduce costs for students, College of the Canyons will soon launch First-Year Promise, a pathway to increased opportunities for new, full-time college students. The program, seeded with a $750,000 grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, will help students achieve their educational goals by waiving tuition and fees for their first year. College of the Canyons was one of just 14 California community colleges to receive the grant; fifty-one college districts applied.
The addition of the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, named in her honor, in 2009 and the College of the Canyons Institute for Culinary Education in 2015 have helped students in the Santa Clarita Valley reach their academic and career goals.
“Dr. Van Hook has always supported effective communication on her campus and has been a leader at the state and national levels to further the mission of California’s community colleges,” said Juan Gutierrez, director of NCMPR's District 6. “I cannot think of a more deserving person to receive this prestigious award.”
Headquartered in New Mexico, NCMPR is a national organization governed by volunteer community college professionals that exclusively represents marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges. NCMPR has more than 1,550 members from more than 650 colleges across the country, including Canada and other countries.
The National Pacesetter Award is presented annually to one of the seven winners of regional district awards. Dr. Van Hook was named Pacesetter of the Year for Region 6 in September.
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