In recognition of his unwavering support to College of the Canyons throughout its five-decade history, the college’s foundation will present Bruce Fortine with the prestigious “Silver Spur” Community Service Award.
The 30th annual Silver Spur Celebration will take place Saturday, May 14, at the Santa Clarita Studios in Valencia.
Fortine was a member of the college’s original board of trustees, which was elected in 1967 when local voters approved the formation of the valley’s community college district.
He was slated to receive the award in March 2020, but the event was canceled at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After two years of postponement, it is with great joy and renewed enthusiasm that we look forward to celebrating Bruce Fortine for his legacy and lasting contributions to College of the Canyons,” said COC Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook. “He has been a part of College of the Canyons since the very beginning. His character, commitment to the college, care for students and connections to the community have been instrumental in shaping the development of our college. The Santa Clarita Community College District is deeply indebted to his tireless support, which spans more than 50 years.”
After an election that saw 72 candidates run for five available seats, Fortine was sworn in on Dec. 11, 1967, as a member of the original board of trustees along with William Bonelli Jr., Sheila Dyer, Edward Muhl and Peter Huntsinger. That initial board of trustees named College of the Canyons (formerly referred to as Valencia Valley’s junior college district) on May 19, 1969.
Fortine served on the board until July 1973 when he was hired as a COC employee and was required to resign from the board of trustees. During his time as a COC employee, Fortine created the Community Services/Non-Credit Department and also served as the public information officer. He worked at COC until August 1978. In 1991, Fortine returned to the district when he was elected to fill a seat on the board of trustees, a seat he held 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,” said a news release from the COC Foundation. “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.”
Fortine, who is affectionately referred to by many as “Mr. COC,” is well known for sharing his passion about the college, and connecting the college to resources and partnerships in almost every segment of the community.
Among the college’s key initiatives on which he worked are the capital campaigns for the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center and the College of the Canyons Institute for Culinary Education. He was also instrumental in rallying support for the mid-1990s expansion of the college’s athletics programs, which included the revival of the college’s football team, as well as the addition of the women’s soccer team and the women’s golf team.
Fortine’s fundraising efforts on behalf of the college also include raising funds for the Dare to Dream Scholarship, the Re-entry program, the Legacy Giving Program, the Osher Scholarship challenge, and the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.
Previous Silver Spur recipients include: Don and Cheri Fleming, U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (Ret.), Jack and Doreen Shine, Jill Mellady, The Newhall Family, Remo and Ami Belli, Barry and Pati Gump, Richard and Marian Sandnes, Diana Cusumano, Myrna and Gary Condie, Harold and Jacquie Petersen, Wayne Crawford, Rita Garasi, Tom Veloz, Charlotte and Frank Kleeman, Gary Cusumano, Jay and Joyce Rodgers, Tom Lee, Lou Garasi, Michael Berger, Roberta Veloz, Dick Luechtefeld, Robert Ormsby, LaVerne Harris, John Hoskinson, Tom Dierckman, Scott and Ruth Newhall, Elisha “Aggie” Agajanian, and Cliffie Stone.
The annual College of the Canyons Silver Spur Celebration is held each spring. It is traditionally held at a distinctive landmark location, one that reflects the unique characteristics of the honoree and allows guests to celebrate their accomplishments in style.
For more information about the 2022 Silver Spur, to purchase tickets, or to become an event sponsor, contact the COC Foundation at 661-362-3434 or email [email protected].