- The best road to progress is freedom's road. John F. Kennedy
Graduate from the Chaffey College
On March 17, 1883 George and William Chaffey laid the cornerstone for the Chaffey College School of Agriculture. This date, March 17, has been identified as Founders' Day at Chaffey College.
In 1883 George and William Chaffey had a vision of opening a college in the Model Colony of Ontario. This college would provide education to the land owners and workers. The Chaffey brothers were pioneers offering agricultural and general education to the local residents.
As part of their model colony, the Chaffey brothers envisioned a local college that would provide a quality education to the citrus growing families in the expanding Upland/Ontario area. The first campus in downtown Ontario provided a physical atmosphere and setting that were conducive to learning. As the school name reflected; academics and agriculture were the focus of the college during the early years. The first graduating class (1890) consisted of two female students. The commencement ceremonies took place in the Methodist Church in Ontario.
Even in its early days, Chaffey was well known for its athletics programs, with track and field and football competing in the early 1890s. On a memorable day in December 1893, the Chaffey College football team took on USC in a game that determined the champion of intercollegiate football of Southern California. Chaffey College defeated USC 32-6 to win the first Southern California football title.
Financial reasons brought the closure of the college in 1901 and the buildings were then occupied by the new high school. On August 11, 1916 the Chaffey Union High School District approved the funding of the Junior College Department. The college department opened with 100 students and in 1919 the Chaffey Junior College District was organized. The curriculum centered on academics and agriculture.
In 1930, the first separate junior college building was constructed on the corner of 5th and Euclid in Ontario. Shortly thereafter, a major earthquake centered in Long Beach damaged buildings on the high school campus causing them to be condemned and to be rebuilt. During this time, as new buildings were constructed, the college continued to share a campus with the high school.
On February 1, 1957, the voters approved a bond supporting a complete separation of the high school and college facilities. Three years later, the Chaffey College campus in Alta Loma (now Rancho Cucamonga) opened. On July 1, 1968, the voters of the Chino Valley School District voted to join the Chaffey College District, bringing the total service area to 310 miles encompassing Chino, Chino Hills. Ontario, Montclair, Upland, Fontana, and Rancho Cucamonga.
In keeping with the establishment of the California Community Colleges' Board of Government and State Legislative action designating the junior college as a community college, the Board of Trustees on July 14, 1970 formally adopted the name Chaffey Community College District.
Chaffey is a college for the community and provides an educational service to the residents of the district. In 1990, the first educational center was opened in Ontario which remained open until June 2007. The second center opened in Fontana on Merrill Avenue in 1999. Enrollment increases allowed the college to open a second 10,000 sq. ft. building, the Ralph M. Lewis Center, in January 2007.
The Chaffey College Chino Center opened in January 2000 and through a partnership with the city of Chino, the fourth center - Chino Information Technology Center, was dedicated in June 2002. This center is the first community college facility in the state dedicated solely to information technology.
Again, voters in the district supported the college and on March 5, 2002 Measure L, a general obligation bond, passed providing the college with $230 million in funding. The facilities master plan includes construction and renovation of buildings on all three campuses. In May 2007 six new buildings were dedicated: four science buildings totaling 34,000 sq. ft, the Don Berz Excellence Building, and the 26,000 sq. ft. Marie Kane Center for Student Services and Administration.
In 2008 college officials opened the Chaffey College Chino Campus. The campus includes a main instructional building, health science center and a community center. In 2011 the Fontana Campus dedicated a 30,000 square feet academic center, making it the third building on the Fontana Campus.
Today, Chaffey College serves over 18,000 students offering academic and career technical education programs to the local residents at the three campuses and online. The college's superior general education courses provide a basis for students to transfer to four-year colleges and universities or to acquire job skills necessary for the changing marketplace. Chaffey College is also recognized for its outstanding career technical education (CTE) programs. A student whose objective is to gain technical skills, change careers, or improve their existing skills can choose from over 60 CTE programs including accounting, nursing, automotive technology, fashion design and merchandising, fire technology or hotel and food service management.
Like the Inland Empire the college has a diverse population with a broad range of ages, cultures, and viewpoints represented. Students, faculty, staff, and the community, enjoy cultural opportunities on campus at athletic events, live theatrical and musical performances, and art exhibitions at the college's Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art.
Chaffey College has a rich history as one of the earliest colleges founded in California. George and William's vision for a college to serve the Ontario area has grown into a thriving nationally recognized center for learning. 130 years later the college and all that it stands for continuing to make a significant impact on the community, economy, and each individual who has stepped onto the college grounds.