Fortine to Receive 'Silver Spur' Award

In recognition of his unwavering support to College of the Canyons throughout its five-decade history, the college’s Foundation has named Bruce Fortine as the 2020 recipient of the prestigious “Silver Spur” Community Service Award.

The award takes on particular significance this year as the college celebrates its 50th anniversary year of service to the Santa Clarita Valley.  Fortine, a Santa Clarita native, was a member of the college’s original Board of Trustees, which was elected in 1967 when local voters approved the formation of the valley’s community college district.

“Bruce Fortine has been a part of College of the Canyons since before its inception,” said COC Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “And his support over the ensuing 50-plus years has been marked by singular dedication and relentless enthusiasm.”

After an election that saw 72 candidates run for five available seats Fortine was sworn in on December 11, 1967, as a member of the original Board of Trustees along with William Bonelli Jr., Sheila Dyer, Edward Muhl, and Peter Huntsinger.  That initial Board of Trustees named College of the Canyons (formerly referred to as Valencia Valley’s junior college district) on May 19, 1969.

Fortine served on the Board until July 1973 when he was hired as a COC employee and was required to resign from the Board of Trustees. During his time as a COC employee, Fortine created the Community Services/Non-Credit Department and also served as the Public Information Officer. He worked at COC until August 1978.  In 1991, Fortine returned to the District when he was elected to fill a seat on the Board of Trustees, a seat he held until 2016.

Given his involvement with the college that stretches from its earliest days to its latest accomplishments, Fortine played a significant role in establishing the college as an innovative learning institution marked by ongoing excellence. He worked behind the scenes of on each of the college’s five local bond measures, the first of which was passed by local voters in 1970 and provided the funding to buy the land on which the Valencia Campus is located.

“Without his support and that of other community members, the Santa Clarita Community College District/College of the Canyons might not even exist today,” Chancellor Van Hook said. “It certainly would not be what it is today—a great asset which provides substantial, creative, innovative, important, and lasting contributions to the community and has altered the quality of life in our neighborhoods, our businesses, and the students who chose us to help them achieve their goals.”

Fortine, who is affectionately referred to by many as “Mr. COC,” is well known for sharing his passion about the college, and connecting the college to resources and partnerships in almost every segment of the community.

“He is the best volunteer fundraiser we have had in the history of our Foundation,” said Chancellor Van Hook. Indeed, his relationships within the community have enabled him to facilitate hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts to the college’s Foundation.

Among the college’s key initiatives on which he worked are the capital campaigns for the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center and the College of the Canyons Institute for Culinary Education.  He was also instrumental in rallying support for mid-1990s expansion of the college’s athletics programs, which included the revival of the college’s football team, as well as the addition of the women’s soccer team and the women’s golf team.

Fortine’s fundraising efforts on behalf of the college also include raising funds for the Dare to Dream Scholarship, the Re-entry program, the Legacy Giving Program, the Osher Scholarship challenge, and the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.

In addition, Fortine made a tremendous impact on the college’s Foundation as the District Trustee’s liaison to the Foundation Board of Directors and recommended many new members for the Foundation Board.

Previous Silver Spur recipients include: Don and Cheri Fleming; U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (Ret.); Jack and Doreen Shine; Jill Mellady; The Newhall Family; Remo and Ami Belli, Barry and Pati Gump, Richard and Marian Sandnes, Diana Cusumano, Myrna and Gary Condie, Harold and Jacquie Petersen, Wayne Crawford, Rita Garasi, Tom Veloz, Charlotte and Frank Kleeman, Gary Cusumano, Jay and Joyce Rodgers, Tom Lee, Lou Garasi, Michael Berger, Roberta Veloz, Dick Luechtefeld, Robert Ormsby, LaVerne Harris, John Hoskinson, Tom Dierckman, Scott and Ruth Newhall, Elisha “Aggie” Agajanian, and Cliffie Stone.

The annual College of the Canyons Silver Spur Celebration is traditionally held at a historic museum, club or well-known Los Angeles landmark each spring — and is considered to be one of the community’s most popular and elegant evening events. 

A date a location for the 2020 Silver Spur Celebration has not yet been finalized.

For more information about the 2020 Silver Spur, to purchase tickets, or to become an event sponsor, please contact the College of the Canyons Foundation at (661) 362-3737 or email james.kneblik@canyons.edu.