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COD Milestones

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COD Milestones & History

For 50 years, College of the Desert has served as the Coachella Valley’s center for higher education, occupational and technical training and lifelong learning. 

Quick Facts:

  • In 1958, voters approved formation of a college district in the Coachella Valley in a landslide vote that created a local two-year college. College of the Desert was founded that year, when the initial five-member Board of Trustees was seated and the new District began to function. 
  • COD got its name from a Palm Springs teenager, Douglas Crocker, who won a contest sponsored by the district and local newspapers. After three years of study and planning, contracts were awarded in 1961 for the construction of nine buildings on 160 acres at Monterey Avenue and Avenue 44 (now Fred Waring Drive) in Palm Desert. The buildings had been funded in 1959 by a bond issue of $3.5 million.
  • COD's first students arrived in the Fall of 1962. ]
  • COD received its first accreditation on Oct. 14, 1963.
  • In 1964, voters in the Coachella Valley approved a new $2 million bond issue to complete the first phase of COD construction. Within four years, construction was completed on the library (now the Hilb Student Center ), the Gymnasium, and the Agricultural Science, Agricultural Technology, Nursing and Engineering buildings.
  • In 1966, residents of the high desert voted to join the College district and the Copper Mountain Campus got its start. Copper Mountain would become a separate district in 1999.

Other significant years in COD's history include:

  • 1973: Dr. Fern Stout succeeded Dr. Roy McCall and became the second Superintendent/President of the community college district.
  • 1984: COD's agreement permitting the McCallum Theatre to build on the College campus on the corner of Monterey Avenue and Fred Waring Drive came to fruition when the showcase civic theater opened. The long-range agreement provided the College with use of the facility for campus musical productions and events such as commencement exercises
  • 1986: COD began to offer programs related to golf course management and maintenance. The Coachella Valley Campus of California State University, San Bernardino, opened on the COD campus, allowing students to complete upper division courses in the Coachella Valley. The district appointed its third Superintendent/President, Dr. David George.
  • 1988: The Board of Trustees changed the name of the Coachella Valley Community College District to Desert Community College District. At Indio High School, the College began offering classes as part of a planned Eastern Valley Center.
  • 1991: The Child Development Resource and Training Center opened, offering affordable child care to students, staff, faculty and the public, and training in child care careers. In 2002, it was renamed the McCarthy Family Child Development and Training Center.
  • 1994: Construction began on a new library, a unique city-county-college facility in which the new building would house Palm Desert City and Riverside County public libraries as well as the College library.
  • 1996: The Multi-Agency Library opened. The Dining Hall was renovated. Dr. William R. Kroonen became COD's fourth Superintendent/President.
  • 1998: The former college library was remodeled as a student center and renamed the Hilb Center in honor of its benefactors, Jeane and Justin Hilb. The original Lecture Hall was renovated and renamed the Carol L. Meier Lecture Hall. The Faculty Resource Center opened.
  • 1999: Theater One, the campus theater, was rededicated in honor of Bob and wife "Mike" Pollock. The Pollock Theater's first performance was an original play by the Hollywood screenwriting couple. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held to begin construction of Math and Social Sciences buildings on the Palm Desert campus.
  • 2001: Trustees selected Dr. Maria Sheehan to be COD's fifth Superintendent/President. Dedication ceremonies were held for the new Math and Social Sciences buildings, the first new classrooms in three decades. The satellite Eastern Valley Center opened in Indio with some 1,800 students.
  • 2003: The Marks Center for the Arts opened with galleries named for its benefactors, Don and Peggy Cravens, Bob and Barbara Leberman, and the COD Alumni Association. The old foundry, closed for a decade, was rebuilt with private donations. A new academic calendar went into effect shortening semesters from 18 to 16 weeks while class times were expanded.
  • 2004: In March, voters in the Desert Community College District voted overwhelmingly to authorize the sale of bonds, enabling the College to renovate its 40-year-old campus and expand for future growth. The bond issue totaled $346.5 million.
  • 2006: Artist's renderings were released show two proposed new buildings, Nursing and Health Sciences and the Public Safety Academy. Planning continued on other projects, a Multi-Purpose Classroom Building, an Alumni Center, and the Learning Commons. All three will be built concurrently, with groundbreakings tentatively scheduled during 2008.
  • 2007: Jerry R. Patton was named the sixth president of College of the Desert. In the Fall, ground was broken on new construction projects including the Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation Nursing Complex and the Public Safety Academy at Palm Desert.
  • 2008: Construction began on another in a series of buildings funded by Measure B when a groundbreaking in April launched the future Peggy and Donald Cravens Student Services Center. COD celebrated its 50th anniversary as a California Community College District.
  • 2009: In February, the College opened its temporary campus in Mecca/Thermal. In March the College held an official grand opening celebration for the Public Safety Academy at Palm Desert. May 1st marked the ribbon cutting for the newly completed Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation Nursing Complex and the new Alumni Centre opened Nov. 19.
  • 2010: On Jan. 20th the Desert Energy Enterprise Center opened in Palm Springs. April brought the grand opening of the Donald and Peggy Cravens Student Services Center. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Classroom Building was held in June and students enjoyed the grand opening of the newly renovated COD Cafe, BEEPS, in September. The College's Educational Master Plan was significantly updated in the spring which will guide campus-wide decision making for the coming years.