2023 — A Year of Hope and Progress for College of the Desert

As 2023 comes to a close, College of the Desert (COD) reflects on a year of transformation, advancement and expansion. Change starts with strong leadership, and COD was proud to welcome Interim Superintendent/President Laura Hope in July. Her razor-sharp focus on increased transparency and accessibility at the college has made a real impact in 2023, and we look forward to what she accomplishes in 2024.

Starting in August, President Hope embarked on a Listening Tour with nine stops, including all five COD campuses. The tour amplified the diverse voices of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding public, touching on academics, industry workforce needs, career advancement programs, and barriers to educational success. Through personalized engagement, Interim Superintendent/President Hope made one message clear: COD is “Your community. Your College.”

President Hope carried that message into COD’s next big endeavor — the Strategic Educational Master Plan (SEMP). In September, COD began hosting community town hall meetings to solicit public input on the SEMP, which will guide COD in its implementation of institutional goals in future years. With the community’s help, the SEMP will be a comprehensive blueprint for student success and education access, aligning with the needs of students and regional economic trends.

In 2024, President Hope has clear goals for COD. Recently, she oversaw the reduction of the COD application cycle from five days to one hour. Capitalizing on that success, the College plans to add 30 new slots to the renowned nursing program, streamline the four-year college transfer process, and reduce student commute times with inter-campus transportation. In the new year, President Hope will focus on enhancing enrollment and completion at COD, aiming to reduce the cost of textbooks and expand the Early Edge high school enrollment program.

With these objectives in mind, COD is expanding to better meet the growing needs of the Coachella Valley. At the beginning of 2023, the College of the Desert revealed design updates for the new Palm Springs campus and Roadrunner Motors, a new Automotive Technology Training Center in Cathedral City. The Palm Springs campus is slated to break ground in 2024 featuring classrooms, culinary offices, a computer lab, architecture studios and more.

A campus expansion in Indio is also underway. The three-story instruction building, slated to open as early as Summer 2025. Across the street, COD will open a new Child Development Center in the new year, a complement to the McCarthy Center at the Palm Desert campus. The new Child Development Center is a vital resource, offering Child Development and Education students hands-on training, children quality care, and parents an accessible childcare option.

COD celebrates the remarkable academic achievements of its student body in 2023, especially in the STEM field. Students will benefit from an incredible $900,000 award from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of STEM Engagement, which the college received this summer to further develop science, technology, engineering and math curricula. In another interaction with NASA, COD students participated in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) program in the summer of 2023, where they competed in a live robotics competition, interacted with NASA personnel, and visited Cal Poly Pomona and the Google Headquarters at Playa Vista. In August, COD announced a new CubeSat Technology partnership between the STEM program and Exquadrum. Students and faculty are working with the aerospace experts to simulate CubeSat on-orbit thermal performance. CubeSats are miniaturized satellites used to gather data in low Earth orbit or other regions of space.

To conclude this end-of-year update, COD highlights those students who embody service. In August, nearly three dozen College Corps volunteers — who collectively dedicated 16,000 hours fighting hunger in the Coachella Valley — were recognized for their efforts at the same time as a new cohort of volunteers was ushered in. The College Corps Program provides $10,000 in paid fellowships and scholarships to COD students who volunteer at least 450 hours over the course of a year at FIND (Food In Need of Distribution) Food Bank, headquartered in Indio. Their commitment is a reminder that one of COD’s greatest aims is to strengthen the quality of life in the Coachella Valley and surrounding communities.

Image Sources

  • Hilb computer room: COD