Fact Book - Section 1

History of the College

College of the Desert is located in Palm Desert, California, the geographic center of the beautiful Coachella Valley. Nestled among the backdrop of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains in eastern Riverside County, the Coachella Valley is a resort community that offers over 100 golf courses and a wide array of outdoor activities such as tennis, hiking, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, polo, bicycling, rock climbing and swimming.


Founded in 1958, this two-year public college serves over 400,000 residents of eight local cities and the students of the Palm Springs, Desert Sands and Coachella Valley school districts. College of the Desert offers certificates and two-year Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees.


The College first opened its doors in 1962 with nine buildings on 160 acres. In 2004, the voters in the Desert Community College District overwhelmingly approved the sale of bonds to enable the College to renovate its 40-year old Palm Desert campus and build campuses in Palm Springs, Mecca-Thermal and Indio. The bond issue totaled $346.5 million and the College has already completed several building renovations such as the nursing building, the business building, and the dining hall. New structures have already been completed including Alumni Centre, Barker Foundation Nursing Complex, Burn Tower training facility, Central Plant, Public Safety Academy, Cravens Student Services Center, the Mecca/Thermal campus, and the Math Science Technology Center building. Projects close to completion or in the design phase include the Communication and Humanities building, the new Indio campus building, the West Valley sustainable campus, central campus redevelopment, the new Monterey Avenue entrance, and buildings and/or renovations for Career Technical Education, Child Development Center, Athletic facilities, Visual Arts, and Stagecraft.


The College is under the leadership of Joel L. Kinnamon, the College’s seventh president. The College served over 16,000 students in the 2017-18 academic year. COD is a federally recognized Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), with 71% of the student body identifying as Hispanic.