College of the Desert (COD) is a public two-year community college located in Palm Desert in the Coachella Valley of Riverside County, California. The current COD enrollment is about 10,200 students, of which about one third attend college full-time.
COD is distinguished as the home of the Energy Technology Training Center, a nationally recognized leader in alternative fuel training, and a model for nine other community college alternative-fuel training programs throughout California. The college was also recognized as a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) in 2000, for which it received a $1.8 million federal grant to enable it to continue serving the Coachella Valley's 51% Hispanic population.
Courses at the college address a local need for employees in the hospitality, medical and agriculture industries, and COD offers A.A. degrees and certificate programs in culinary management, nursing, turf management, public safety and agriculture as well as in unique vocations such as transportation technology and digital design. Students planning to complete an undergraduate degree are also prepared at COD for transfer to other institutions, and admission to the branch campuses of the University of California Riverside in Indian Wells and Cal State San Bernardino in Palm Desert is facilitated for COD students.
College of the Desert was established in 1958 after a decade of planning for a junior college district in the Coachella Valley. Voters approved the formation of the district and funded the building of the COD campus with a bond issue. In 1962 the new college opened on its 160-acre (65 ha) site in Palm Desert, and in 1966 it gained accreditation.
Since then, generous local benefactors have enabled the growth of the campus, with the Jeane and Justin Hilb student center and the Carol L. Meier Lecture Hall opening in 1998, and Bob and his wife "Mike" Pollock funding the creation of the COD campus's Theatre One in 1999. The Marks Center for the Arts was built from the generosity of Don and Peggy Cravens, Bob and Barbara Leberman, and the COD Alumni Association in 2003. Their substantial support has permitted COD to further upgrade and expand its arts facilities into 2006 and beyond. College of the Desert's library building, opened in 1996, is unique in California as the only one that is shared by a college with both a city (Palm Desert) and a county (Riverside) library.
From 1966 to 1999, residents in the high desert to the north of the Coachella Valley were also part of the community college district. Their affiliated Copper Mountain Campus in Twentynine Palms was opened in 1984 and remained with the district until 1999, when it was renamed Copper Mountain College and became an independent district.
In 2001 the Eastern Valley Center opened to address a need for more English and ethnic studies classes, such as Mexican American Culture and Intro to African American Literature, as well as for a campus located in the eastern Coachella Valley's agricultural and casino gaming corridor. More than 1,400 students are enrolled in the Eastern Valley Center located in Indio.
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