After five decades of service and working with the institution since its inception, College of the Canyons’ Foundation is honoring Bruce Fortine with its highest community service award, the Silver Spur award.
The award, according to officials, takes on a particular significance as the school is celebrating its 50th year of service to the Santa Clarita Valley, and Fortine was a founding member of the college’s original board of trustees.
On Wednesday night, Fortine said he was honored to be receiving this award from a college to which he’s dedicated much of his life.
“Well, this is the top award that the college gives, and I’m deeply honored to have been involved with the college for the 50 years that it’s been in existence,” said Fortine. “We have come so far in 50 years, and we’ve far surpassed other colleges of other 117 community colleges in the state of California.”
“That’s just an amazing thing for this community and we should be very proud of that,” he added.
Fortine won his seat on the board of trustees, being sworn in on Dec. 11, 1967 after the Santa Clarita native and Hart graduate beat out 71 other candidates running for five available seats.
Fortine served on the board until July 1973, after which time was hired as a COC employee and was required to step down from his position as a trustee. During his time as an employee, Fortine created the Community Services/Non-Credit Department and also served as the schools public information officer.
Fortine returned to the board in 1991 to fill a vacancy and held the position until 2016.
“Given his involvement with the college that stretches from its earliest days to its latest accomplishments, Fortine played a significant role in establishing the college as an innovative learning institution marked by ongoing excellence,” read a press release from COC about the award announcement. “He worked behind the scenes of on each of the college’s five local bond measures, the first of which was passed by local voters in 1970 and provided the funding to buy the land on which the Valencia Campus is located.”
Due to his time and work at the college over the decades, Fortine was given the name “Mr. COC,” according to officials. He was also an instrumental figure in supporting the school’s foundation and expansion over the years.
“Without his support and that of other community members, the Santa Clarita Community College District/College of the Canyons might not even exist today,” COC Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook said.
A date and location for the 2020 Silver Spur Celebration has not yet been finalized.