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Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook (with bouquet of flowers) stands with, from left, Board of Trustees members Michele Jenkins, Joan MacGregor, Ernie Tichenor, Bruce Fortine and Scott Wilk. Download High-Resolution Image (4.1 MB)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2008
Dr. Van Hook Named Chancellor of College District
Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook has a new title: Chancellor, Santa Clarita Community College District, and President, College of the Canyons. The new title was unveiled to a very appreciative and admiring crowd during a joint meeting of the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees and the College of the Canyons Foundation Board on Wednesday night.
This is Van Hook’s 20th year as superintendent-president of College of the Canyons, which, along with the Santa Clarita Valley as a whole, has experienced incredible growth.
“Developing new programs, new partnerships, new facilities and new ideas doesn’t just happen,” said Board of Trustees member Joan MacGregor. “It must be done intelligently, with vision, with cost-effective and innovative plans, and with a fair amount of tenacity. In Dr. Dianne Van Hook,” stressed MacGregor, “we have all of those attributes, and more. I know I speak for the rest of the board when I say we are very happy to confer these new titles on this most deserving leader.”
Board member Michele Jenkins, who was on Van Hook’s original hiring committee in 1988, recalls the decision that brought the then 37-year-old to College of the Canyons. "The moment we met Dianne on a site visit to Feather River College, we knew we were looking at a high-impact executive with boundless energy, strength and a sense of vision who would set a new course for College of the Canyons. I am proud and so glad,” stressed Jenkins, “that our board had the courage to hire Dianne and am thrilled about the leadership she has provided over the years. Her many strengths in fundraising, creating and maintaining partnerships, her clear vision of the future as well as her uncanny ability to hire outstanding people, have helped make COC what it is today.”
The term “chancellor” dates back to Roman times and evolved through the middle ages. In the 13th century, few people besides priests, clerks and monks were literate, and the chancellor was an ecclesiastic. As keeper of the great seal used to authenticate royal documents, the chancellor became, in most medieval kingdoms, the most powerful official. The term has evolved further and today is widely used for the person who is the functional chief executive officer of a college or university.
The board praised Van Hook particularly for her many accomplishments over the last year, including overseeing the major tasks of developing and opening a new campus on Sierra Highway in Canyon Country, and overseeing the construction and opening of several new buildings on the Valencia campus.
Currently there is a significant amount of construction activity on the Valencia campus. These current projects signify the highest level of construction and preparation for the future since the original campus was built in the early 1970s. Most of the college’s square-footage has been added during the tenure of Van Hook, who has served as superintendent-president since 1988.
“She has radically changed this campus not only to keep up with the community’s demands,” said Sue Bozman, vice president of district communication, marketing and external relations, “but to anticipate the educational and training programs that will be in demand in the future.”
When Van Hook arrived in 1988, she spearheaded a major update of the college’s master plan. The result was a seemingly non-stop series of construction projects that continues today -- and that has dramatically changed the college’s face and character. The college was housed in eight major buildings in 1988, including Cougar Stadium; by 2008, another 10 major structures had been built or were nearing completion, among them the 926-seat Performing Arts Center, the Library, Mentry Hall, the Family Studies & Early Childhood Education Center, Aliso Hall, Aliso Lab, Pico Canyon Hall, Hasley Hall and an entirely new campus in Canyon Country.
During this period, academic and occupational offerings also have been vastly expanded. The college offers associate in arts and science degrees in 61 academic programs, as well as credentials in 69 certificate programs. Academic programs range from Animation to Television, Film and Video Production; from Audio/Radio Production to Video Game Animation; from Biotechnology to Theatre Arts; from Child Development to Paralegal Studies, and from Dance to Industrial Manufacturing. And the list goes on.
Construction of the addition to the Physical Education Building and the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center on the Valencia campus are well under way, as are plans to expand Mentry Hall, the Library, and the Student Services and Administration Building.
The unique and innovativer University Center allows students to earn bachelor, master or doctoral degrees from a collection of public and private universities that offer their programs here. The idea is to improve access to education by eliminating the need for residents to commute long distances to obtain advanced degrees.
The College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus opened in August of 2007 with nearly 3,400 students in new, modular facilities. When the permanent buildings, funded by a combination of Measure M and state funds, are completed, this campus will accommodate as many as 10,000 students.
Van Hook has taken the lead on several innovative partnerships that have redefined the traditional role of community colleges. Academy of the Canyons, operated by the William S. Hart Union High School District, opened at College of the Canyons in 2002 and allows promising high school students to attend high school and college concurrently. In addition, an Early College High School funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and operated by the Hart District, opened on the Canyon Country campus in August 2007.
Also operating at the college are the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies and Employee Training Institute, both of which have helped local businesses become more efficient and train employees in the latest emerging fields. In partnership with Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, the college operates the Clinical Education Center at the hospital. And, the College of the Canyons Biotechnology Center provides a 2,000-square-foot clean room in partnership with the Mann Biomedical Park.
To Van Hook, the hard work of obtaining funds, designing buildings with capabilities to accommodate current and future technologies, and following each detail of construction through to completion is important but not her ultimate goal. She pointed out that her sights are always set on making sure the college has the physical and financial resources to meet the training and educational needs of the community, from businesses that require state-of-the-art training to individual students who rely on the college to achieve their educational goals.
Van Hook is noted for her philosophy, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” She says she wants the college to always be ready to help every student fulfill their dreams.