by Diann Marsh, from Santa Ana, An Illustrated History,
©1994 Heritage Publishing. Excerpt used with permission.
Santa Ana College opened in the fall of 1915 as Santa Ana Junior
College, an upward branch of Santa Ana High School, with 22 students
enrolled. Since that time, the college has evolved into one of
the most dynamic and fastest-growing comprehensive community colleges
in the nation, annually serving more than 47,000 students.
The growth in Orange County has also been responsible for the
college district (Rancho Santiago Community College District)
expanding well beyond the borders of its campus on 17th and Bristol
Streets in Santa Ana, where classes were first held in 1947.
A second campus serves the rapidly growing Orange Hills area,
while the Centennial Education Center located at Centennial Regional
Park in Santa Ana and the Orange Adult Learning Center house the
college's Continuing Education program, which provides high school
diploma, English as a Second Language and other adult courses.
Growing pains are nothing new in the history of the college. There
was much debate about a bond measure in 1945 that would allow
the development of 55 acres on its current site at 17th and Bristol.
At that time, it was felt the college would be located too far
away from the bustling downtown district.
A member of the Santa Ana School District board, Lutheran pastor
George Busdiecker, made an impassioned plea on a radio broadcast
prior to the ballot being taken in 1945.
"Your investment in education will pay dividends in the
enriched lives of the boys and girls of Santa Ana. Go to the polls
and cast your vote in favor of our children," the pastor
said in concluding his remarks. Shortly thereafter, the bond issue
passed by a decisive 3-to-1 margin. Santa Ana College has continued
to fulfill the promise in Busdiecker's speech. More than 500,000
students have attended classes since 1915, and in the last four
years, student enrollment has increased by almost 15,000. For
a short time, the college was known as Rancho Santiago College,
but the name was changed back to Santa Ana College in the later
The college community celebrated 75 successful years of providing
quality community college education during the 1990-91 school
year, and the residents of Orange County can be assured the progress
of past and present will lead to an exciting future.