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College of the Desert Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Serving Valley Students

Submitted by: College of the Desert

College of the Desert is enjoying a very exciting time during its 60th anniversary this year.
COD is now the fastest-growing community college in California. From Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs in the west to Indio and Mecca/Thermal in the east, with our Palm Desert Campus in the middle, the College is committed to helping students attain their education- and career-oriented goals throughout the Coachella Valley. 
That commitment hasn’t changed since 1958, when the College started on 160 acres that once produced dates and grapes in Palm Desert.
Today, the College serves more than 15,000 students, with thousands more expected in the coming years through the tuition-free plEDGE program that launched in 2017. 
The program commits to providing free tuition for two years to local high school students who graduated in 2017 and 2018 and enroll at College of the Desert full-time. Generous community members have donated to the College to provide for the program’s ongoing success. 
In 2017, the College was one of 150 community colleges named eligible to compete for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among community colleges. 
And in January 2018, the College won the very prestigious, national Bellwether Award in recognition of our EDGE academic boot camp. EDGE prepare students for college-level coursework in English and math.
Just four years after it opened, College of the Desert’s Indio Campus gained “Center” status, which is given to colleges that achieve certain levels of full-time equivalent students. The status provides the campus with additional operational funding. Demand has been so great for the campus since its February 2014 opening that the College plans to double its size in the next few years.
The College continues to provide additional courses in the eastern Coachella Valley, including not only at the Indio Campus but also at the Mecca/Thermal Campus.
In Fall 2017, the College unveiled its newly donated Mary Reagan Observatory at the Mecca/Thermal Campus. Named in honor of donor Ivoj Kudrnac’s late partner of 30 years, the Observatory will benefit COD students in astronomy and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines for years to come. With its technology, professors will be able to show what is seen at the Observatory in any of the College’s classrooms across the Coachella Valley. While the main function of the Observatory will be teaching and learning, the College will also extend access to the community.
College of the Desert has accomplished much over its rich history and has plans for much more, but the most important success in its 60 years has been that of its 125,000 Roadrunner alumni – most of whom stay to live and work in the Coachella Valley, helping to improve our desert paradise.