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LAVC History


Los Angeles Valley College Logo


Los Angeles Valley College was founded on September 12, 1949 to meet the tremendous growth of the San Fernando Valley during the 1940’s and early 1950’s. The college was officially chartered by the Los Angeles Board of Education in June 1949, and was located on the campus of Van Nuys High School.

Image of LAVC Name Change 1956

On Opening Day, Valley College had 439 students, which comprised of 254 men and 185 women. The pioneer class was taught by 23 faculty members in five bungalows that served as the original campus. The college library possessed only 150 volumes. The first director of the Valley College was Vierling Kersey.

As the San Fernando Valley grew, the college also grew. In 1950, the college opened its evening division offering only 12 classes. Valley College moved to its permanent 105-acre site on Fulton Avenue in Valley Glen in 1951.

The student body was housed in 33 temporary bungalow structures, which increased to 45 bungalows between 1951 and 1956.

By 1952, the fall enrollment exceeded 2,300 students. Within the next two years, it developed a fully functioning counseling and community service programs, as well as excellent transfer and vocational programs.

In 1954, members of the faculty founded the Athenaeum which began to offer community programs that brought the Los Angeles Philharmonic to the campus. The campus also had internationally known speakers including Eleanor Roosevelt, Clement Atlee, Margaret Mead, and Louis Leakey.

The year 1959 marked the completion of Phase I of the Master Building Plan. In this phase, the following buildings were built Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Foreign Language, Administration, and the Library.

Image of Eleanor Roosevelt 1959

In 1961, Phase II was completed, which included the Music, Theater Arts, Life Science, and Cafeteria buildings. Phase III was completed in 1963. This phase included the Business-Journalism, Math-Science, Art, and Planetarium buildings. Phase IV would not be completed until the 1970's and included the Gymnasiums, Behavioral Science, Humanities, and Campus Center buildings.

In 1969, the Los Angeles Community College District was formed and its nine colleges were separated from the Los Angeles Unified School District. The first independent Board of Trustees was also elected that same year.

Group of Cheerleaders

On the 25th anniversary of the college in 1974, the Valley College Historical Museum was founded. The museum is the only museum totally dedicated to the history of the San Fernando Valley. LAVC celebrated its 50th birthday in 1999 with a variety of events. To commorate its 60th anniversary, the college held an array of activities and special events throughout the 2009-2010 academic year.

Today, Valley College continues to serve the community by offering pathways for certificates, degrees, transfer, and continuing education. Currently, there are about 18,000 students enrolled with 203 full-time faculty and 374 part-time instructors.

As major focal point in the San Fernando Valley, Valley College hosts a number of cultural, recreational and community events throughout the year. The campus has an remodeled Art Gallery that hosts a variety of outstanding student, faculty and other art exhibitions each year. The Music Department presents a number of concerts every year, including choral, symphonic and jazz music, and the Theater Department produces several plays each year.

Aquatics Center

The college’s planetarium, which is maintained by the Earth Science Department, is used for classroom instruction as well as for public astronomy programs.

The Journalism Department publishes an award-winning student newspaper called the Valley Star. In addition, many local organizations in the San Fernando Valley and around Southern California also hold functions and events at the college.

The campus has outstanding recreational facilities, which are used by the community, include two gymnasiums, tennis courts, a swimming pool area, and a Fitness Center. Valley College is also home to the Monarch Stadium, which has the only 10-lane Mondo Track in California.

With the passage of Proposition A in 2001, Proposition AA in 2003 and Measure J in 2008, Valley College has embarked on a $626 million building and renovation project. Existing classroom buildings are being updated with new paint, new furniture and smart-classroom equipment, remodeled restrooms, and energy efficient windows. All new campus structures are being built as LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings.

Student Services Center Building

In 2006 the campus opened its first LEED-certified building, the Maintenance and Operations/Sheriff’s Station, which was the first new building in over 30 years. The award-winning Allied Health and Sciences Center opened in 2008, and has 131 new rooms, tutorial labs, and faculty offices for the departments of Life Science, Physical Science, Earth Science, Anthropology, and Health Science.

Other newly opened buildings include a new Student Services Complex, the Child Development and Family Complex, the Belle and Harry Krupnick Media Arts Center, the Library and Academic Resource Center, Community Services Center, and a parking structure.

The college is continuing to grow in the coming years with the addition of several new buildings such as the Valley Academic & Cultural Center (performing/media arts), Athletic Training Facility, Administration & Career Advancement (community workforce development) building, and a Student Union.

These building and renovation projects will keep Valley College in the forefront of the San Fernando Valley community colleges.