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Founded in 1958, College of the Desert is one of 112 community colleges in California, a vital part of the world's largest system of higher education. The college's annual student population is approximately 15,000 and the operating budget is approximately $41 million per year. The governing Board of the Desert Community College District is comprised of five elected Trustees and a Student Trustee elected by the student body.
As a comprehensive California community college, COD offers transfer students the opportunity to complete lower division course requirements prior to transfer to four-year institutions. COD also offers a number of vocational and technical programs including nursing, digital design and production, turf grass management, advanced transportation technologies, culinary arts, and a full range of administration of justice courses at the Public Safety Academy training facility. As a result, the College plays a significant role in the overall economy of the Coachella Valley region, contributing over $30 million annually.
The main campus is located in Palm Desert, California, in the beautiful and diverse Coachella Valley, a thriving year-round community of approximately 450,000 residents with the natural beauty and recreational amenities typical of a resort destination. Recreational opportunities, such as world-class golf and superb hiking, abound thanks to an average of over 350 days of sunshine per year. The Coachella Valley is also home to a rich and varied agricultural production featuring citrus groves, table grape vineyards, and dates. Irrigation for the valley's agriculture industry comes from both the All American Canal and underground aquifers. In addition to the original campus in Palm Desert, COD has campuses in both the Eastern Valley with sites in Indio and Mecca and the Western Valley located in Palm Springs.
COD is a federally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and has been a recipient of several recent Title V grants from the U.S. Department of Education. With the goal of strengthening COD as an HSI, the grants have provided millions of dollars in increasing transfer rates and improving academic support services focusing on Hispanic and first generation college students.
The College is also a nationally recognized leader in renewable energy and alternative fuel training. COD is the administrative home of the Advanced Transportation Technology and Energy (ATTE) statewide initiative and operates one of seven centers established by the California Community College System to develop curriculum and conduct training for workforce development in emerging transportation and energy industries.
COD's McCarthy Family Child Development and Training Center at the College earned national accreditation in August 2011 from the National Association for the Education of Young Children. This is a distinction held by only 8% of the childcare centers in the nation. The Center not only provides child care to students, employees, and the public, but also serves as a training facility for students interested in becoming early childhood education professionals. The College enjoys strong community support as evidenced by the 2004 passage of a $346.5 million bond measure to upgrade the infrastructure, renovate buildings, and construct new buildings to accommodate the college's growth. The construction phase is well under way with the completion of an infrastructure upgrade, a new Alumni Center, Public Safety Academy, Student Services building, Nursing Complex, renovated classrooms, and athletic field lighting.
With its upcoming new facilities and an excellent faculty and staff (107 full-time faculty, 350 adjunct faculty, 200 support staff, and 37 administrators), the College's future is very bright. The College enjoys strong financial support from both the COD Alumni Association and the COD Foundation.