Cel­e­brat­ing 10 years of ser­vice to SCV

The Signal - - OPINION - Diane VAN HOOK

Iwant you to re­mem­ber three num­bers im­por­tant to the Col­lege of the Canyons Canyon Coun­try cam­pus: 10, 5,000 and 55,000.

We’ll start with 10. It was 10 years ago this fall se­mes­ter the Canyon Coun­try cam­pus opened on Sierra High­way, and we are cel­e­brat­ing a decade of aca­demic ex­cel­lence and com­mu­nity impact. What a dif­fer­ence a decade makes!

En­vi­sioned to pro­vide high-qual­ity in­struc­tional pro­grams, sup­port­ive stu­dent ser­vices, and ro­bust com­mu­nity part­ner­ships in the eastern Santa Clarita Val­ley, the cam­pus has ex­celled in ful­fill­ing that vi­sion.

Our ef­forts in Canyon Coun­try go back more than 25 years. In the early 1990s, the state Chan­cel­lor’s Of­fice con­cluded an­other cam­pus would be needed to en­sure ac­cess to higher ed­u­ca­tion for the val­ley’s grow­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Our com­mit­ment to meet­ing that need took a ma­jor step for­ward when we opened the AC­CESS Cen­ter in the Jo Anne Darcy Li­brary in 2001. Classes filled quickly, so in 2002 we be­gan look­ing for a per­ma­nent cam­pus site. It took an­other three years to lo­cate and pur­chase the land, de­sign the cam­pus and se­cure state ap­proval of our plans.

Through­out 2006 and 2007, we trans­formed 70 acres of raw land into a wel­com­ing cam­pus that opened for the fall 2007 se­mes­ter. Ini­tial en­roll­ment ex­ceeded our five-year pre­dic­tions and con­tin­ued to grow in sub­se­quent years. In fact, en­roll­ment at the cam­pus has ex­ceeded that of 12 stand­alone com­mu­nity col­leges in Cal­i­for­nia.

And that num­ber I asked you to re­mem­ber – 5,000? Here’s where that comes into play. We have of­fered more than 5,000 classes at the Canyon Coun­try cam­pus in the past decade. And cam­pus en­roll­ment av­er­ages around 5,000 stu­dents per se­mes­ter.

The key to build­ing this cam­pus was the sup­port we re­ceived from the com­mu­nity through the pas­sage of lo­cal bond mea­sures in 2001 and 2006. Be­cause the state does not fund land pur­chases or con­struc­tion for new com­mu­nity col­lege cam­puses, it is up to lo­cal col­leges and their com­mu­ni­ties to fund such ef­forts.

The com­mu­nity also played an im­por­tant role in help­ing us shape the cam­pus. A ded­i­cated group of Canyon Coun­try res­i­dents joined the site se­lec­tion com­mit­tee that be­gan meet­ing in 2002, eval­u­at­ing pos­si­ble lo­ca­tions and pro­vid­ing in­sight­ful feed­back. Many of those orig­i­nal mem­bers still serve on our Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee to­day, con­tin­u­ing to guide the growth and devel­op­ment of the cam­pus.

Build­ing on the vi­sion of col­lege lead­ers and the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee, we have wel­comed the com­mu­nity to the cam­pus. Whether through our Star Par­ties, Bat­tle of the Bands mu­si­cal ex­hi­bi­tions, or Gar­den Walks, we have thrown open the doors to the cam­pus and wel­comed our neigh­bors to visit.

A decade after open­ing, the cam­pus is poised for a ma­jor fa­cil­i­ties ex­pan­sion. And here’s where that last num­ber – 55,000 – comes into play. With de­signs com­pleted, we are in the fi­nal stages of ap­proval for a state-of-the-art 55,000-square-foot Sci­ence Cen­ter. The ground­break­ing is planned be­fore the end of the year.

By pro­vid­ing more sci­ence labs for high-de­mand anatomy and phys­i­ol­ogy, chem­istry and bi­ol­ogy courses, the Sci­ence Cen­ter will ad­dress an ur­gent aca­demic need. Hun­dreds of stu­dents are on waait­ing lists wait­listed for these courses each year, slow­ing their ef­forts to earn a de­gree or trans­fer. With more classes avail­able in the new labs, stu­dents will com­plete their aca­demic goals much more quickly.

The Sci­ence Cen­ter is the first step in our plans to build out the cam­pus to its full ca­pac­ity. With the pas­sage of Mea­sure E by lo­cal vot­ers in 2016, we have the re­sources needed to build three more sim­i­larly sized build­ings. And, if we re­ceive state fund­ing to help off­set the costs of those build­ings, we may be able to build two ad­di­tional build­ings on the site.

The Canyon Coun­try cam­pus is filled with stu­dents, staff, and fac­ulty who ex­em­plify the pi­o­neer­ing spirit that makes this amaz­ing site thrive. With their pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion, we cel­e­brate the progress made and ea­gerly an­tic­i­pate the op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead.

The pu­bic is in­vited to an open house at the COC Canyon Coun­try cam­pus 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Satur­day, Oct. 14. Fam­ily friendly ex­hibits, en­ter­tain­ment and food trucks will be avail­able. De­tails can be found at http://www. canyons.edu/Of­fices/CCC/ Pages/10years.aspx. Dr. Dianne Van Hook serves as chan­cel­lor of Col­lege of the Canyons.

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