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De Anza College is an institution dedicated at its core to equity, diversity and a multicultural learning environment. Students can choose from 77 associate degrees, 103 certificates and more than 1,800 courses.
De Anza was established in Cupertino on Sept. 11, 1967, as the Foothill Junior College District worked to meet local community demand for a second campus. Planning for De Anza began soon after the district’s first campus, Foothill College, launched in temporary quarters in 1958 and filled to capacity after moving in 1961 to its permanent location in Los Altos Hills. Just four years after approving a $10.4 million bond measure for Foothill, community members readily voted in favor of a second bond measure, in the amount of $14 million, to build De Anza College.
De Anza was constructed on 112 acres of what was once a turn-of-the-century wine- producing estate that the district purchased for $1.1 million. Guiding principles for the new college called for creating an “open door” institution to serve students with a wide variety of abilities, aptitudes and interests; an atmosphere of “friendly informality between faculty members and students”; and a campus that conveyed a sense of “quiet dignity” and “higher learning.”
De Anza’s enrollment has grown from 3,000 students in its first year to almost 19,000 today.
Since its earliest days, De Anza has embodied a set of fundamental values that remain embedded in its culture. A deep concern for equity and social justice took root during the college’s formative years, influenced by the sweeping social and political changes of the 1960s and 1970s. In intentionally cultivating a new educational
community, the founders of what became the Foothill-De Anza Community College District placed a premium on excellence and innovation, and searched out faculty with a passion for teaching.
These foundational values continue to shape De Anza’s institutional character today. They are evident in De Anza’s deep commitment to providing a learning environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all students, and the college’s concerted effort over the past decade to achieve educational equity across racial and ethnic groups.
All De Anza students can find support through the Student Success Center, which can help them connect with a supportive community of instructors, counselors, advisers, tutors, peer mentors and study groups. The center can also direct students to study skills classes, and workshops on critical thinking and time management. In addition, Learning Communities provide many students with a network of support as they take classes and participate in other activities as a group.
Since 2014, the college has used funding from the state’s Student Success and Support Program (SSSP) to provide counselors within instructional divisions and Learning Communities, where they can work closely with students and offer assistance tailored to their circumstances and their educational goals. De Anza also has expanded its Office of Outreach and Relations with Schools to provide core services in high schools and work with new students on campus to assist them in completing their comprehensive educational plan and provide counseling and advising, peer support, follow-up and connection to campus resources for increased student retention and success.
These support systems are among the reasons De Anza has one of the highest university transfer rates among community colleges in California. A 2008 case study by the California Community Colleges Research and Planning (RP) Group concluded that De Anza’s high transfer rate is attributable to its strategic approach to institutional development; its encouragement and support of academic excellence and achievement; its tradition of innovation; and its experimentation with ways to integrate student services with
instruction. The college consistently ranks at or near the top statewide in transfer to four-year institutions, according to the state Chancellor’s Office Velocity Data Mart.
De Anza’s commitment to historically underserved students also is seen in its long history of programs for students with disabilities, which date to 1973. In 2020- 21, the college served 1,253 students with disabilities.
Just as the civil rights movement shaped De Anza in its early days, the environmental movement has galvanized a wide range of activities on the campus among students, faculty and staff. De Anza’s commitment to sustainability as a core value is evident in daily improvements ranging from 100% biodegradable containers and utensils in the cafeteria to drought-tolerant landscaping and weather-responsive irrigation on the grounds.
In 2016, De Anza became the first community college to be certified as a Bay Area Green Business. The program distinguishes organizations that protect, sustain and preserve the environment. The city of Cupertino also awarded the college with a GreenBiz certification, an offshoot of the Bay Area Green Business program.
Through the work of its College Environmental Advisory Group (CEAG), De Anza in 2007 became the first community college in the nation to develop its own Sustainability Management Plan to guide continual improvement. The college’s Environmental Studies Department, housed in the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies, has provided inspiration for the campus as the first “green” demonstration building in the California community colleges. The department has developed an extensive sustainability curriculum leading to certificates and degrees in three program areas. The Cheeseman Environmental Study Area contains several diversified ecosystems and is located next to the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies.
De Anza College is committed to using sustainable building methods and materials. Nine of its buildings have been certified as meeting national LEED standards for environmental sustainability: the Kirsch Center for Environmental Studies and the Media & Learning Center – both rated

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