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IVC Celebrates Its 60th Anniversary with a Dinner Gala


Imperial Valley College has many things to celebrate these days, not only was named a co-winner of the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence on April 20 in Washington D.C., sharing that honor with Amarillo College in Texas but also celebrated its diamond jubilee on April 29 surrounded by local leaders.

Imperial Valley College has given many people a second chance in education but also it is the first stop after graduation from High School. Today, IVC is experiencing growth like never before and is guiding students to a brighter future.

The celebration also welcomed Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro and Jim Skipper, a former NFL Football Coach to the Hall of Fame during a dinner gala. 

“It was a successful event with about 300 people. That’s more than last year here in our new building. Everyone did a good job,” said Rob Smart, Executive Director of the Imperial Valley College Foundation.

60 years ago, a small group of students gathered for the first day of classes on a 160-acre plot of land at the Intersection of Highway 111 and Aten Road. It was the culmination of years of hard work by the citizens of this county to finance and build a freestanding Imperial Valley College.

Construction of the campus had been approved two years before when community college district residents set an all-time state, voting thirteen to one in favor of bonds to finance the new IVC campus.

But even though the grand opening of the main campus in 1962 signaled a new era for higher education in the Imperial Valley, IVC’s roots run even deeper into the county’s heritage.

Exactly 40 years before the opening of the new campus, classes of Central Junior College began on the grounds of Central Union High School in El Centro—in September 1922. Two years later, in the fall of 1924, instruction began at the Brawley Junior College, located at Brawley Union High School.

Central Junior College first conferred the Associate in Arts degree in 1934. Enrollments increased in both schools until World War II when attendance dropped sharply. Brawley Junior College was forced, by lack of attendance, to discontinue classes at the close of the 1947 school year.

In the fall of 1951, students, in cooperation with the administration and faculty, petitioned the Board of Trustees for a more representative name for the college. It was now serving students from all over the Imperial Valley. By action of the Board, the name was officially changed to Imperial Valley College.

The school, under the administration of the Central Union High School District, gained recognition as an accredited institution of higher education. As the institution grew with the community, this growth was reflected in the steady rise in enrollment and in the diversity of courses and curricula that was offered.

The extended-day program, which offered regular college classes at night, was initiated on a limited basis in 1952. Its rapid growth served to enlarge the service of the college to the community 

A recommendation that a countywide community college district be established in Imperial County was submitted to the State Department of Education and was approved on July 10, 1959. The Imperial County Superintendent of Schools then set a date for an election at which all qualified voters residing within the boundaries of the seven high school and unified school districts were eligible to vote. The election was held on October 6, 1959; and by an overwhelming vote, the Imperial Valley Junior College District was established. This was followed by the election of the members of the Junior College District Board of Trustees, one of whom comes from each of the seven high schools or unified school districts represented in the area served by the Imperial Junior College District.

This District includes all of Imperial County except a small area in the northwest corner of the County, which is a part of the Desert Community College District.

Because of the increase in enrollment at both Central Union High School and Imperial Valley College, and because of the lack of space on the Central Union High School Campus, Imperial Valley College moved to temporary quarters erected on the campus of the Imperial Valley Union High School in Imperial, California.

On October 4, 1960, the people of Imperial County set an all-time state record when they voted thirteen to one in favor of bonds to finance the building of a new campus.

The Board of Trustees selected a nationally known architectural firm to plan the new buildings, and a 160-acre site, which met the criteria, recommended by the Citizens’ Committee was selected for the new campus.

On January 13, 1971, the Board of Trustees changed the name of the District to Imperial Community College District to further emphasize the close relationship the college has with its service area.

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