College of the Canyons held its ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for the new Takeda science building at the Canyon Country campus, named after former biology professor Don Takeda.
The event was attended by Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook, board of trustees President Edel Alonso, Vice President of Instruction Omar Torres, Biology Chair Miriam Golbert and many colleagues positively impacted by Takeda.
Additionally, Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, and representatives from the offices of Sen. Scott Wilk, Rep. Mike Garcia, and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors were in attendance to honor Takeda with certificates for his work as a biology professor at COC.
Valladares said she was an alumna of COC 20 years ago and thanked the college for giving her a well-rounded education that helped contribute to her current success in government.
Van Hook spoke at the event and said the Canyon Country campus was constructed to better serve residents of the eastern part of the Santa Clarita Valley. A study done more than 30 years ago found that the growing population in Canyon Country would require a campus.
She said the Canyon Country campus began with offering courses at Canyon High School and the Jo Anne Darcy Library. Still, the needs of classes exceeded the course offerings at the satellite classrooms. Van Hook said the Takeda science building is perfect for faculty to inspire and meet the community’s educational needs.
“It’s a lot more than a building, It’s a student engagement place for people to pursue their wildest dreams, to experiment and to learn what they’re capable of doing,” Van Hook said.
The facility is a 55,000-square-foot building featuring a two-story laboratory, three floors of classrooms and a student resource center. The facility will hold four biology labs, three chemistry labs and a physics lab..
The facilities cost $32 million to construct and were funded through Measure E, a voter-approved bond measure that generated $240 million for the college.
Takeda began his journey at COC on Jan. 1, 1972, under the tutelage of Jim Boykin and continued the tradition of promoting science at COC.
Takeda said he applied on a whim but quickly found his place at COC. He would eventually go on to become department chair of biology for over 25 years.
Van Hook and Alonso, during their speeches, elaborated on how Takeda expanded the biology department with the creation of biotechnology, molecular and botany programs at COC.
Additionally, Takeda was an advisory committee member for the Canyon Country campus constructed in 2007; Takeda would retire in December 2017.
In 2020, Takeda heard rumors that faculty members were interested in dedicating the building in his honor, but COVID-19 disruptions halted any talks of the name.
In August, the board of trustees voted unanimously to approve the name dedication to Takeda, who stated he experienced “pure joy” in finding out it was going to be named in his honor.
“Well, I never dreamed that this would happen and it’s just amazing,” Takeda said about finding out they chose to name the science building after him.
Takeda said he hopes students gain their STEM education at the building and become better-informed individuals who can better decipher misinformation and have a better trust for science.
Science courses are essential for the non-science majors in learning about the discipline, who otherwise wouldn’t. In addition, the facility will help encourage students to understand and appreciate all sciences, according to Takeda.
Alonso was “thrilled” to see the building finally constructed after requiring dedication and support from the community and faculty at COC.
“We’re very grateful for the community’s support and it’s a particularly special day, because Don Takeda is one of our own,” Alonso said. “He’s a faculty member who’s been here for so very long and has touched so many student lives.”
Takeda is leaving a lasting legacy, and the name dedication in front of the building is an excellent tribute to his work, according to Alonso.
The building will provide opportunities for students to pursue an education to help them gain opportunities for employment in the STEM fields.
“We have so many students who are moving in that direction and our country needs people who are well prepared in the sciences,” Alonso said. “We’re absolutely thrilled and honored that Don accepted this dedication in his honor. I can’t wait to see his name up at the top of the building.”
More than 65,000 students have earned course credit at the Canyon Country campus, with more than 4,000 students attending every semester. The hope, according to Alonso, is to see that number dramatically increase with the new facilities being built around campus.