Similar to a number of California Community Colleges, Santiago Canyon College also grew out of humble beginnings. Santiago Canyon College's journey began in 1971 after the Orange Unified School District joined with the Santa Ana Unified School District to create the Rancho Santiago Community College District. Later in that year, supporting their vision for higher education in their community, residents of the City of Orange voted to levy a self-imposed tax to purchase the original 30 acres of land in East Orange that would ultimately become the foundation for Santiago Canyon College.
By 1985, the Rancho Santiago Community College District (RSCCD) developed the land in East Orange to create the Orange Campus. As the second campus in the Rancho Santiago Community College District, the Orange Campus' first semester saw more than 2,500 eager students take a variety of general education, transfer, and vocational courses. Then, from 1985 to 1996, the Orange Campus experienced tremendous growth as the student population more than doubled. As a result of this veritable growth, the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board of Trustees unanimously voted to change the name of the Orange Campus to Santiago Canyon College and, therefore, created a multi-college structure for the Rancho Santiago Community College District.
After Santiago Canyon College officially came into being, the College became independently accredited in 2000. Since that time, Santiago Canyon College has continued to evolve so as to effectively and innovatively provide an array of educational opportunities to the over 195,000 residents who comprise the eclectic community that encompasses the College.
In addition to Santiago Canyon College's multiple offerings, the campus' landscape has also evolved so as to better meet the changing needs of students and community members. In order to provide students and the surrounding community with the space to embrace their life-long educational pursuits, Santiago Canyon College's grounds have grown from its earlier 30 acres to 82 acres. In November, 2002, voters in the college district voted to approve Measure E, a $337 million bond measure to provide for renovation and new construction at both Santiago Canyon and Santa Ana colleges.
The campus has undergone a dramatic physical transformation, for Santiago Canyon College has developed its building inventory to 271,138 gross square feet and continues to grow with the recent completion of the Science Center, Humanities Building, Gymnasium, Swimming Pool, and Maintenance and Operations facility. Furthermore, for enhanced usability, the College site has been improved with regard to parking, circulation, and athletic facilities. Finally, in keeping with the College priorities of sustainability and the teaching of environmental awareness, Santiago Canyon College houses the Coastkeeper Garden on its grounds.
Despite its humble beginnings and relative youth, Santiago Canyon College has taken root in its community and, over the years, will undoubtedly be an even more integral contributor to the community's health and history. As such, Santiago Canyon College will continue to respond to and celebrate the changing demographics of its vibrant student body as well as of its diverse community. Indeed, Santiago Canyon College will seek to provide a place of learning where future generations have the opportunity to explore varied educational opportunities that enhance their professional and personal lives.