College of the Canyons honored its longstanding chancellor with a ceremony in the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, where the Board of Trustees announced that the main road of the Canyon Country campus will don the chancellor’s name.
During Wednesday’s celebration that commemorated Dianne G. Van Hook’s three decades as head of the college, elected representatives, students, faculty, administrators and community members gathered to present their congratulations as they enjoyed food, live music and each other’s company.
Nearly every speaker who took the podium on Wednesday shared a story that exemplified Van Hook’s perseverance, passion and energy over the years and described the longtime leader as a pioneer and icon.
As one of the longest-serving community college chancellors in the state of California, Van Hook has had many opportunities to leave her mark on the SCV and COC.
In the three decades since she assumed control of College of the Canyons, the square footage has more than quadrupled — if you include the Canyon Country campus — the number of certificated degrees and programs has risen from 27 and 17 to 92 and 90, respectively, and three bond measures have been passed — measures M, C and E.
Van Hook said that she has been lucky to work in an area with residents who want to help their community grow and cited teamwork as the driving force for her and the college’s success since the 1980s.
“I am inspired as I look around the room because I know how many people care about the College of the Canyons,” Van Hook said. ”College of the Canyons would not be what it is if it were not for the people in this community who — number one — expected us to do great things and who supported us to do those things even though they weren’t easy.”
When former colleagues, current students, elected officials and her husband expressed their gratitude in the form of gifts, which included a donation to the First-Year Promise fund, multiple plaques and two American flags that hung at the state and national capitol buildings, some members of the audience were brought to tears as they reflected on the journey from the “little college on the hill” to the powerhouse community college that COC is today.
The chancellor was described as the mind, heart and spirit that drives the engine of the college by faculty members, and that engine is firing on all cylinders, Van Hook said.
“I do believe that places become what they do because of the people who are involved, because of the relationships that are formed, because of the dreams that are shared and because of the spirit that turns hope and vision into action,” she said. “When you give yourself permission to become what you want to become and you’re willing to be persistent, you can do anything.”