1958: Voters approved formation of a college district in the Coachella Valley in a landslide vote that created a local two-year college. College of the Desert was founded that year and the initial five-member Board of Trustees was seated. COD got its name from a Palm Springs teenager, Douglas Crocker, who won a contest sponsored by the district and local newspapers.
1961: After three years of study and planning, contracts were let for the construction of nine buildings on 160 acres at Monterey Avenue and Avenue 44 (now Fred Waring Drive) in Palm Desert. The buildings had been funded in 1959 by a bond issue of $3.5 million. COD’s first students arrived in the fall of 1962.
1963: COD received its first accreditation on Oct. 14.
1964: Voters in the Coachella Valley approved a new $2 million bond issue to complete the first phase of COD construction. Within four years, construction was completed on the library (now the Hilb Center), the Gymnasium, and the Agricultural Science, Agricultural Technology, Nursing and Engineering buildings.
1966: Residents of the high desert voted to join the college district and the Copper Mountain Campus got its start. Copper Mountain would become a separate district in 1999.
1973: Dr. Fern Stout succeeded Dr. Roy McCall and became the second Superintendent/President of the community college district.
1976: The guest speaker at commencement was famed comedian and actor Bob Hope. Both he and music leader Fred Waring received honorary degrees, Human Letters and Music, respectively.
1983: The College of the Desert Alumni Association was established in the spring of 1983. In 1985, the Alumni Association was chartered by the State of California as a non-profit, tax-exempt, charitable organization. The COD Foundation was incorporated on July 20, 1983. The first president of the Board was Robert Spiegel.
1984: COD’s agreement permitting the McCallum Theatre to build on the college campus on the corner of Monterey Avenue and Fred Waring Drive came to fruition when the showcase civic theater opened. The long-range agreement provided the College with use of the facility for campus musical productions and events such as commencement exercises. Billy Idol performed in Wright Gymnasium on March 13.
1985: The Foundation Auxiliary was founded and is made up of 350 members whose stated purpose is to serve as goodwill ambassadors of the college.
1986: COD began to offer programs related to golf course management and maintenance. The Coachella Valley Campus of California State University, San Bernardino, opened on the COD campus, allowing students to complete upper division courses in the Coachella Valley. The district appointed its third Superintendent/President, Dr. David George.
1988: The Board of Trustees changed the name of the Coachella Valley Community College District to Desert Community College District. At Indio High School, the college began offering classes as part of a planned Eastern Valley Center.
1991: The Child Development Resource and Training Center opened, offering affordable child care to students, staff, faculty and the public, and training in child care careers. In 2002, it was renamed the McCarthy Family Child Development and Training Center.
1993: COD's Boone Football Field was the site for a local concert by the Beach Boys on May 1.
1994: Construction began on a new library, a unique city-county-college facility in which the new building would house Palm Desert City and Riverside County public libraries as well as the College library.
1996: The Multi-Agency Library opened. The Dining Hall was renovated. Dr. William R. Kroonen became COD’s fourth Superintendent/President.
1997: In February, Lori and Harvey Sarner donated 1,000 volumes on, about and by Winston S. Churchill. This library collection is one of the most complete in the United States. Over two hundred volumes have since been added to the collection.
1998: The former college library was remodeled as a student center and renamed the Hilb Center in honor of its benefactors, Jeane and Justin Hilb. The original Lecture Hall was renovated and renamed the Carol L. Meier Lecture Hall. The Faculty Resource Center opened.
1999: Theater One, the campus theater, was rededicated in honor of Bob and wife “Mike” Pollock. The Pollock Theater’s first performance was an original play by the Hollywood screenwriting couple. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held to begin construction of Math and Social Sciences buildings on the Palm Desert campus.
2000: In March, Harold Kress, known for his outstanding achievement in film editing, donated two Oscars to the College of the Desert library. They were awarded for his work on the films How the West Was Won and The Towering Inferno. Kress was also a former COD film and mass communications instructor.
2001: Trustees selected Dr. Maria Sheehan to be COD’s fifth Superintendent/President. Dedication ceremonies were held for the new Math and Social Sciences buildings, the first new classrooms in three decades. The satellite Eastern Valley Center opened in Indio with some 1,800 students.
2003: The Marks Center for the Arts opened with galleries named for its benefactors, Don and Peggy Cravens, Bob and Barbara Leberman, and the COD Alumni Association. The old foundry, closed for a decade, was rebuilt with private donations. The 40-year old science building was completely renovated inside with all new laboratory equipment and furnishings. The dedication ceremony held in January unveiled the new name, the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Science Building. The $2 million renovation was made possible by private donations. Also, a new academic calendar went into effect shortening semesters from 18 to 16 weeks while class times were expanded.
2004: In March, voters in the Desert Community College District voted overwhelmingly to authorize the sale of bonds, enabling the college to renovate its 40-year-old campus and expand for future growth. The bond issue totaled $346.5 million.
2006: Artist’s renderings were released showing two proposed new buildings, Nursing and Health Sciences and the City of Palm Desert Public Safety Academy at College of the Desert. Planning continued on other projects, a Multi-Purpose Classroom Building, an Alumni Centre, and the Learning Commons. All three will be built concurrently, with groundbreakings tentatively scheduled during 2008.
2007: Jerry R. Patton was named the sixth president of College of the Desert. In the fall, ground was broken on new construction projects including the Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation Nursing Complex and the Public Safety Academy.
2008: Construction began on another in a series of buildings funded by Measure B when a groundbreaking in April launched the future Donald and Peggy Cravens Student Services Center. In October, the college obtained its own chapter of the national community college honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, naming it Beta Rho Iota. COD celebrated its 50th anniversary as a California Community College District.
2009: In February, the college opened its temporary campus in Mecca/Thermal. In March the college held an official grand opening celebration for the Public Safety Academy. May 1st marked the ribbon cutting for the newly completed Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation Nursing Complex and the new Alumni Centre opened Nov. 19.
2010: On Jan. 20th the Desert Energy Enterprise Center opened in Palm Springs. April brought the grand opening of the Donald and Peggy Cravens Student Services Center. The groundbreaking ceremony for the new Classroom Building was held in June and students enjoyed the grand opening of the newly renovated COD Café called Beeps, in September. The college’s Educational Master Plan was significantly updated in the spring which will guide campus-wide decision making for the coming years.
2011: In February, the Coeta and Donald Barker Foundation Nursing Complex was awarded the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver designation, followed by the Public Safety Academy LEED Silver in June. The college’s new radio station KCOD 620 AM went live in March, completely run by students. The McCarthy Family Child Development and Training Center received accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in August. The same month, the college received reaffirmation of its own full accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Communication and Humanities building in December.
2012: Desert Energy Enterprise Center (DEEC) celebrated in March the significant donation of a solar trough to its solar thermal technology training program which is a partnership among college, industry and government entities. The Donald and Peggy Cravens Student Services Center was awarded LEED Gold certification in April. In May, the Board of Trustees named Dr. Joel Kinnamon the college’s seventh president, starting in July.