Editor’s Note: Dr. Lisa Aguilera Lawrenson is the 12th superintendent/president of San Joaquin Delta College. The opinions in this article do not reflect the views of the Stocktonia News Service.
Just before the Fourth of July in 1963, the institution then known as Stockton College celebrated an independence of its own, separating from another public district to become the newest community college in California.
Student journalists heralded the news in The Collegian with an all-caps headline across the front page:
“SAN JOAQUIN DELTA COLLEGE.”
Saturday, July 1 marks 60 years since the birth of the Delta College name, a momentous event in the history of our College.
Rather than reminisce about the past, however, I’d like to take this opportunity to share where we are today and where we’re going in the future.
Over the last six decades, many thousands of residents from San Joaquin County and beyond have benefited from a Delta College education, including entire families spanning multiple generations. The College and its alumni have injected billions of dollars into the local economy and have established enduring relationships with many local employers.
Still, at Delta College we have a shared understanding that in the future we must evolve to truly serve all of our communities, especially students from historically marginalized and underserved backgrounds. We believe in all of our students and want them to achieve their full potential and to fill the workforce needs in our community.
As the first Latina to serve as superintendent/president of Delta, I’m proud that our new strategic plan boldly calls for improving success rates for these underserved populations so that all students have a fair chance to achieve their dreams. This means reexamining the entire experience that students have at Delta. Our Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, and administrators are working hard on this, and I thank them for their commitment to equity.
Delta College must also evolve to support students both inside and outside of the classroom. In a survey, 60 percent of Delta students shared that they had difficulty meeting one or more basic needs such as access to food or housing. In recent years Delta has opened a student food pantry and a health center where students can get a checkup, talk with a mental health counselor, or even get their teeth cleaned. Most recently, the College began offering free on-campus laundry service with our partners at the nonprofit Loads of Hope. Helping students with physical, mental, and emotional needs will surely help them academically as well.
Finally, Delta College must evolve to meet students’ expectations in a post-pandemic world. It’s important to know that Delta College never really closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our career education programs have continued to produce nurses, police officers, electricians, and thousands of other workers in dozens of critical employment sectors. However, we did see a substantial shift to online education during COVID-19, and that shift continues today. While we encourage students to attend in person for the fullest and richest college experience, we offer high quality online education, which allows many working adults and parents to pursue their education at home, on their own time.
And so, this weekend, while we reflect on a name that is now 60 years old and give thanks for all those who brought Delta College to this point, we also share our excitement to move forward with the work that lies ahead.
After all, Delta College is the community’s college. And you, our community, deserve the very best.
To view a gallery of photographs of Delta College in 1963, visit deltacollege.edu/news.