In the span of 40 years, College of the Canyons has been transformed from a small community college serving several hundred students into one of the nation’s fastest-growing, large community colleges (those with 10,000-plus students).
Change and significant progress have occurred throughout the Santa Clarita Valley over the years, and College of the Canyons has been propelled forward by a combination of the community’s growth and an unwavering vision to transform this place into the best community college in the country.
Projections indicate enrollment will continue to rise. Nearly 25,000 students enrolled for classes this past year, surpassing enrollment projections well ahead of schedule. This sort of growth has demanded flexibility and innovation. It also has created demands for new academic, occupational and athletic programs, training partnerships with business and industry -- and the facilities to house them.
If one looks around the campus today, he or she will see a significant amount of construction activity. These projects, as well as the ongoing construction of the new Canyon Country campus, signify the highest level of construction and preparation for the future since the original campus was built in the early 1970s. In fact, most of the college’s square footage has been added during the tenure of Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook, who has led the college since 1988. She has radically changed this campus not only to keep up with the community’s demands, but to anticipate the educational and training programs that will be in demand in the future.
When Dr. Van Hook arrived in 1988, she quickly got down to business and 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, 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 were vastly expanded. The college offered associate in arts and science degrees in 61 academic programs, as well as credentials in 69 certificate programs. Academic programs ranged 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.
College of the Canyons’ institutional philosophy is to educate both the body and the mind. Sixteen intercollegiate athletic programs -- divided equally between men’s and women’s sports -- provide outstanding opportunities. Notable achievements include the football team’s state and national championships in 2004, the men’s golf team’s four state championships since 2000, and women’s golf’s state championships in 2001 and 2007.
Helping meet students’ needs has been a historically supportive and generous community, which has always approved requests for bond funding for capital construction projects. The most recent bond measure, Measure M, was approved by voters in 2006, providing $160 million in general-obligation bond funding to pay for the next big wave of expansion and modernization projects. The measure -- the fourth in the college’s history -- allows the Santa Clarita Community College District to add more classrooms and labs, build permanent facilities and equip classrooms at the new Canyon Country campus, upgrade technology to expand instruction in public-safety and other high-demand professions, and improve earthquake, security and fire safety. The locally generated funds also will help the district secure as much as $80 million in additional state matching funds.