College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook has been named the 2018 Community College Public Relations Organization PROmoter of the Year in recognition of her longstanding support of community colleges and the coordinated efforts of the College of the Canyons District Communications Office.
Van Hook’s love for community colleges can be traced back to 1968 when she was a Long Beach City College freshman student with an undeclared major. Fortunately, her lack of clear focus was short-lived thanks to the genuine interest shown to her by a counselor who helped her gain a sense of direction and challenged her to develop self-confidence.
“That’s when I became a community college convert and that is why I chose the California Community College system to pursue my career,” said Van Hook, who has served as CEO of the Santa Clarita Community College District since 1988 and is California’s longest-serving community college CEO. “I am convinced that community colleges are a game changer, a vehicle for social justice and a place where endless opportunities are created and achieved if you dare to dream.”
Van Hook received the award during CCPRO’s annual conference in San Diego on April 11.
“I am very honored to accept the CCPRO PROmoter of the Year award,” Van Hook said. “To be a community college means that we must be in constant communication with those we serve, both to ensure that students and businesses know about the opportunities we provide, and more importantly, to listen and ensure we understand what the community needs.”
Van Hook received similar recognition in 2017 when she was named National Pacesetter of the Year by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR). The award recognizes CEOs at two-year community or technical colleges who have demonstrated leadership and support in the area of college communications and marketing.
Passionate about eliminating barriers to student success, Van Hook has spurred three bond measure campaigns to construct new classrooms and add innovative programs to accommodate the needs of students.
Under her leadership, the college has increased facilities square footage five-fold, from 199,000 square feet on one campus to 950,000 on campuses in Valencia and Canyon Country.
Measure E, the $230 million general obligation bond approved by voters in June 2016, provided the funding to build the 1,659-space parking structure at the Valencia campus and the current construction of the Science Center at the Canyon Country campus.
Van Hook has also enhanced access and opportunity for students by being a staunch advocate for Associate Degree for Transfer programs and Open Educational Resource materials, workforce training and access to upper division pathways on the COC campus.
Known as “a degree with a guarantee,” ADTs provide students with guaranteed admission to a CSU if they earn an associate in arts transfer (AA-T) or associate in science transfer (AS-T) degree. Between 2013, when the first ADTs were awarded, and 2017, the number of degrees awarded by the college grew 703 percent. The college currently offers 27 ADT programs and the list continues to grow.
Van Hook has also been instrumental in the college’s OER program, which has saved students more than $3,000,000 in textbook costs. More than 200 COC courses are taught with OER materials instead of commercial textbooks. During the 2018 summer session, more than 70 OER courses were offered online and at the college’s Valencia campus.
CCPRO is a Sacramento-based nonprofit organization whose voluntary membership consists of California’s 72 public community college districts. The organization’s mission is to strengthen the state’s community colleges through leadership development, advocacy and district services.
College of the Canyons is proud to share this achievement during California Community College Month, which celebrates the civic contributions and academic achievements of the state’s community colleges during the month of April.