An assortment of Santa Clarita Valley legislators, educators and community leaders gathered at the College of the Canyons Canyon Country Campus Tuesday to take part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially mark the opening of the college's second campus.
Though classes at the Canyon Country Campus (CCC) started Monday, the ribbon-cutting event provided an opportunity for the college to show off the new facility, and reflect upon how the opening of the new campus will allow the college to better serve the surrounding community.
"This Canyon Country Campus and our drive to develop it is an obvious demonstration of this college's commitment to the community," said COC Superintendent-President Dr. Dianne Van Hook. "It's a testament to the ingenuity, passion, dedication and can-do spirit that marks everything we under take at College of the Canyons.
"At COC we do not hesitate to leap into the dream, to try new things. After all, we know that dream will never come true if you only keep it in your mind and don't move into the driver's seat to move it forward," she said. "Today is an amazing example of what you can do when you give it your best shot."
Located on Sierra Highway, less than two miles north of Soledad Canyon Road, the college's $51.6 million CCC is terraced into the rolling hills of the 70-acre site, which provides a sweeping view of the surrounding terrain.
Opening with 24,000 square feet of instructional space -- including two science labs, two computer labs, a library, a book store, food services, a PE building, an Early Childhood Education facility and 23 classrooms complete with wireless Internet connectivity -- the CCC will serve more than 3,000 students and offer more than 300 classes in the inaugural semester alone.
"But more than just a collection of classrooms and labs, this new Canyon Country Campus is a place where student dreams, community vision and the college's commitment have joined to create a very special place for student learning and community development," said Dena Maloney, founding dean of the CCC.
"The same dedicated and talented faculty and staff who've made College of the Canyons the number one transfer college in Los Angeles County, and who've created the statewide model for economic and workforce development, are working together with you, our community, to define the types of unique programs that will allow this campus to fulfill its mission, meet our students needs and create that special place," Maloney said.
Maloney went on to tout the housing of the William S. Hart Union High School District's Early College High School on the CCC, in which students take both high school and college level classes with a goal to graduate with both a high school diploma and associate's degree, while also previewing some of the program plans college officials have for the new campus -- including the introduction of degree programs in recreation leadership, landscape architecture, construction trades training and other advanced technology programs and classes.
"These specialized programs speak to the unique and innovative culture here at the Canyon Country Campus," said Maloney. "Faculty, staff, community and students will all play a key role in shaping the new campus' programs and buildings of the future.
"Most importantly our students will be challenged and inspired through their experiences here," she said.
Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean and Council Member Bob Kellar both took part in the ceremony, with each taking time to congratulate the college on its latest accomplishment.
"This is fantastic, it's amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it," said McLean in addressing the crowd. "What you are doing for this side of the valley is just tremendous. Having 3,000 students come to this campus instead of getting on Soledad Canyon and the other roads going across town is just wonderful."
"There are so many good things going on in this community," said Kellar. "This is another building block of excellence for this community, and I can not thank the college enough for continuing to be such a great partner in so many ways."
Also included in the ceremony was a presentation to Jim Schrage, the college's dean of facilities, who, while being applauded for his work in leading the CCC construction project was quick to recognize the combined efforts of the project's construction team, the college's staff and the city of Santa Clarita in getting the campus operational in time for the fall semester.
"This campus is a miracle and it's not because of me, it's because of the people who actually did the work," said Schrage about the project's collaboration with the city for plan approval and the collection of contractors and hundreds of workers included on the project. "I've been in construction for a little over 30 years, and I've worked on all sorts of projects. But I've never ever, until this project, had a team of contractors that worked together like they did here."
At build-out, currently scheduled for 2015, the CCC is expected to service nearly 10,000 students and contain six permanent buildings -- the first of which is scheduled to begin construction during the 2008-09 school year.
"This campus represents many things. For our students it represents opportunity, access, an open door and a future," Van Hook said. "But for me it represents what can be done when you look where you want to go long term versus just where you're going with your next step. It represents the power of belief, and it is a visible representation of the spirit and context with which College of the Canyons operates.
"We're proud of what we've accomplished here in Canyon Country, but it is only the beginning. Education is not an once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Instead it is a life-long endeavor."