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History of Santa Ana College


Santa Ana College held its first classes in the fall of 1915 as Santa Ana Junior College, located on the campus of Santa Ana High School, during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson.

With the country on the precipice of involvement in WWI, the “Department Junior College” opened its doors to twenty-four students and eleven teaching faculty.   It was the second junior college founded in Orange County and the fourth oldest in all of California.


The earthquake of 1933 forced the college to relocate to a site on North Main Street, where it served 803 students with thirty-four teaching faculty.

Growing pains are nothing new in the history of the college. There was much debate about a bond measure in 1945 that would allow the development of 55 acres on its current site at 17th and Bristol. At that time, it was felt the college would be located too far away from the bustling downtown district.

Santa Ana School District board member, Lutheran pastor George Busdiecker, rallied support for the measure via radio broadcast in 1945.

"Your investment in education will pay dividends in the enriched lives of the boys and girls of Santa Ana. Go to the polls and cast your vote in favor of our children,"

The bond measure passed by a 3-to-1 margin and in 1947 Santa Ana College moved to a permanent campus at 17th and Bristol.  In 1971, Santa Ana College formally separated from the Santa Ana Unified School District to form the Rancho Santiago Community College District.

In 2002 voters approved Measure E, a $337 million renovation and new construction bond to alleviate overcrowding and expand the educational and training programs. Measure E completed projects include;

  • New Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy
  • New Maintenance/Operations Building
  • New Classroom (I) Building
  • New Exercise Science Locker Room Complex
  • New Digital Media Center
  • New Early Childhood Education Center
  • Building upgrades, improvements and repairs
  • Centennial Education Center expansion and renovation
  • Athletics - Baseball field, Softball field, Soccer field and Tennis court renovations
  • Nealley Library renovations
  • New Electronic marquee - Bristol and 17th Streets
  • Grew the campus from 55 to 65 acres with the College Avenue property acquisition.

Bond Measure Q was approved in November of 2012, authorizing up to $198 million to finance further renovations, repairs and new construction at Santa Ana College.


The mission of Santa Ana College is to be a leader and partner in meeting the intellectual, cultural, technological, and workforce development needs of our diverse community.

Located at the corner of West 17th Street and Bristol in Santa Ana on about 65 acres, Santa Ana College provides access and equity in a dynamic learning environment that prepares students for transfer, careers and lifelong intellectual pursuits in a global community.

Santa Ana College boasts one of the most successful athletic programs in the California Community College Athletic Association. The Dons have won six national titles, 25 state championships and 101 conference championships. Countless student-athletes have gone on to professional playing careers with several others competing for the United States in the Olympics.

Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel.

The college has evolved into one of the most energetic and fastest-growing comprehensive community colleges in the nation, currently serving 29,318 credit and non-credit students per semester.  Santa Ana College will turn 100 years old in 2015. 

Santa Ana College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 10 Commercial Blvd., Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949, (415) 506-0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. Additional information about accreditation, including the filing of complaints against member institutions, can be found at: