A Brief History of Pasadena City College

In 1924, in response to this community’s need for higher education facilities, one year of college work was added to the program offered by Pasadena High School. Soon after, another year was added. In 1928, Pasadena High School and Pasadena Junior College merged into a four-year junior college with grades 11 to 14 inclusive.  

By 1946, increased enrollment justified the establishment of a second four-year junior college—John Muir. In 1947 the official names of the two schools became Pasadena City College and John Muir College.

During the school year 1953-54, the Board of Education modified the school system organization from the 6-4-4 plan to the 6-3-2-2 plan and combined the two junior colleges into a single college, Pasadena City College, to serve freshmen and sophomores. Thus, the present college is heir to the development of junior college-level work in Pasadena since 1924.

In 1966, local voters in affected communities approved a greater Pasadena Area Junior College District, effective July 1, 1967. The name was changed to the Pasadena Area Community College District on Sept. 10, 1970.

Embracing Change

PCC continues to offer state-of-the-art resources for its students and the greater Pasadena-area community. With voter-approved Measure P bonds totaling $150 million, PCC constructed a two-story Bookstore, Industrial Technologies Building and parking structure, as well as renovated the two-story Campus Center to add a WiFi Lounge and new dining areas. PCC also constructed a 69,000 square-foot Center for the Arts facility, which houses an art gallery, recital hall, and theater. It also serves as the home of the Divisions of Performing and Communication Arts and Visual Arts and Media Studies.

PCC has made unique contributions to its community over the years. Albert Einstein dedicated the Observatory on campus. PCC’s Registered Nursing program, founded in 1953 as one of only five pilot programs in the nation, continues to address the need for qualified nurses in California. The Artist-in-Residence program, which brings prominent professionals to work with and teach PCC students is offered regularly.

Career education and academic programs have evolved with the times, supporting the development of radio and television, filmmaking, dentistry, computer science, journalism, business, industrial and consumer-product design, manufacturing, home inspection, military and aviation science, music, fashion technology, laser technology, and much more.

The Community Education Center showcases the College’s commitment to career education and basic skills education. Similarly, the PCC Child Development Center has strengthened PCC’s involvement in early childhood education.

A Gateway to Education

PCC actively fosters partnerships with other institutions of higher learning. The Hixon Teacher Preparation Program at PCC creates educational pathways to California State University, Los Angeles; University of California, Riverside; Mount St. Mary’s; and Pacific Oaks. This program helps students earn both a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential within four years. The Transfer Center at PCC now welcomes more than 100 public and private colleges to campus each year. The Center’s FAST TRACK program also helps high school students enroll in PCC classes in order to accelerate their transfer to four-year institutions.

The College is a recognized national leader in education and innovation. PCC has been honored three times in a row as a finalist for the prestigious Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, given to the top ten two-year institutions in the nation. Other honors include the National Bellwether Award for Innovation from the Community College Futures Assembly, the Dr. John W. Rice Award for Student Success, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Student Success Award for the First Year Pathways program, and the National Tutoring Association Award of Excellence.

For more information about the history and evolution of Pasadena City College, visit the college website at www.pasadena.edu.