Local History of the Victor Valley
Long before the valley became homesteaded, clean water pools along the Mojave River offered all sorts of weary travelersa life sustaining opportunity to halt their journey and set up camps at a place that would later become known as the VictorValley (named after railroad engineer, Jacob Nash Victor in the late 1800’s). Lush green vegetation, access to water, and indigenous wildlife attracted Native Americans, Spanish missionaries, settlers in wagon trains coming from Utah and other points of departure, miners seeking their fortunes in the gold fields to the north, early explorers, cowboys herding cattle, and later railroad workers.
The next natural step was the arrival of merchants who set up shop out of their wagons to feed, supply and outfit these way-farers. As the stream of travelers increased, the first trading post was established in a place that later became known as Oro Grande. In time, the railroad completed laying track through the mountains and over the desert and people began to settle in the region. It didn’t take long before enterprising land developers and businessmen and women saw the opportunity to profit from this influx of people and the region began to grow.
Eventually, the cities of Victorville, Hesperia, and the Town of Apple Valley incorporated between 1962 and 1988. With the commerce, came a need for schools. The first high school (Victor Valley High School) was established in 1915 and served as the only high school for the next 65 years. Since the mid-80s, more than 20 diploma granting institutions were chartered to facilitate the needs of an ever expanding population. The next logical step for the people of the High Desert was to establish a college to serve the needs of the region. It was on the campus of Victor Valley High School that Victor Valley College began its Tradition of Excellence 56 years ago.
The College was originally chartered in 1960 and began operations in 1961. Classes were held in a small building that sat on an upper tier of classrooms at the rear of the high school campus. Only 15 staff, faculty and administrators were employed to meet the needs of approximately 500 students. In 1963, it became evident that the college needed its own space. Valley officials secured the funding through a local bond to purchase land and begin the construction of a new campus that, at the time, would be located at the far reaches of the surrounding communities. Today it is centrally located to the three major cities in the region. The site contained 260 acres of land, formerly known as the Kalin Ranch, and featured river valley bottom land and a mesa rising above the bluff and running parallel to the river. It is on the mesa that the former cattle ranchers maintained a large stock pond that would become the focal point of the campus as it exists today.
The original five buildings still serve students and can be identified by their signature block design and burnt red roofs. The campus opened to students in 1965. Since that time, the campus expanded to include nine new facilities and a vocational technical complex.
A wider transformation has taken place at Victor Valley College because of the passage of the first local bond measure to be approved by the voters since an initial capital bond was passed in the early 60s. In November 2008, the voters approved a bond measure (Measure JJ) dedicated to the elimination of past debt, the upgrade of college infrastructure, the purchase of land for a future campus site in Hesperia, and funding for the construction of the Victor Valley College Regional Public Safety Training Center. Additionally, Victor Valley College completed a one megawatt solar power generating plant that supplies more than a third of the campus’ energy needs , and expanded our vocational complex to include new Automotive/Diesel and Welding labs.
In the development and planning stages are the new Student Services ‘One Stop’ Building’ sufficient to provide greater efficiency between related functions in serving our students and the outline for a future stadium and conference center.
Today, the College is a major institution of higher learning offering a complex schedule of educational opportunities to meet the changing needs of this growing region. The college serves between 13,000 and 17,000 students per year. This translates into an annual FTEs between 9,000 - 10,000. Current curriculum includes all the basics for transfer, degrees, certificates and job training. New areas of study include innovative programs in solar panel installation, maintenance and repair; hybrid car maintenance and repair; GIS studies; land restoration; digital animation and much more. Nursing still remains one of the most sought after areas of study offered by the College.
In 1975, the Victor Valley College Foundation was established to help the College develop additional resources and build partnerships to strengthen the education our students receive. The Foundation has been instrumental in helping the College to expand facilities and educational programs even as the State of California reduced appropriations. While the Foundation regularly receives charitable contributions from generous individuals and grateful alumni to support the College mission, it has also been at the forefront of many of the College’s most innovative strategic partnerships. Partnerships facilitated by the Foundation include working with local hospitals to increase the capacity the College nursing program, with representatives of regional mining concerns to develop natural resource management programs; and with a consortium of local governments and employers to establish a new training program for certified aviation technicians in response to an industry need for workforce development. The Foundation worked with the County of San Bernardino Workforce Investment Board to implement training programs that allowed the College to launch programs in hybrid vehicle maintenance, geographic information systems, wastewater reclamation and solar photovoltaic installation. The Foundation also led the community effort to advocate for the passage of Measure JJ in 2008. The Foundation is led by community and college leaders who serve on its board of directors. It accepts donations from thousands of individuals and corporations each year.
Charitable gifts to support Victor Valley College may be made to the Victor Valley College Foundation. For more information visit the Foundation’s website at www.vvcfoundation.com.
In 2014, Victor Valley College was awarded a grant to facilitate career pathways pipelines throughout the region in five key industries: Automotive, Aviation, Energy / Utilities Healthcare and Manufacturing. One goal of what has become known as the RAMP UP project is to maximize the input of employers by establishing advisory councils that include all local schools and Victor Valley College together rather than the previous practice of multiple independent meetings at individual institutions. This work was initiated in 2015 and today nearly all targeted advisory councils have been identified or are in active development for the local area. This strategy is expected to help streamline curriculum allowing local students to complete training that meets employer needs faster. Another goal of the RAMP UP project Is to link schools and colleges together through technology allowing them to share classes and learning experiences with one another. In 2016, the installation of these classrooms was completed, system tests successfully conducted and the first multi-site connection allowed students at eight high schools to participate in a healthcare industry lecture last month. RAMP UP also includes linkages to the Antelope Valley, Barstow and San Bernardino where similar activities are in development.
A History of Success
For more than 56 years, thousands of High Desert residents have made the journey to Victor Valley College and gone on to become contributing members of society. From their ranks are civic leaders, business people, service industry personnel, medical providers, first responders, and people of all walks of life who contribute to the health and welfare of our community.