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Santa Ana College

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 1990s.


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.

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