This year, we celebrate 40 years of serving our students and the community. It is exciting to consider that over the past four decades, the college has served more than 665,000 students in Arizona and across the nation and awarded nearly 100,500 degrees and certificates.
In 1978, Chancellor Emeritus Paul Elsner and the Maricopa County Community Colleges Governing Board had a vision of what was possible when they challenged the limits of tradition and created Rio Salado College (RSC), a “college without walls.” Rio Salado’s mission from the start was to serve non-traditional students and remove the barriers of time and distance for those who would not otherwise have access to a college education – we remain true to that mission today.
In the early years, classes were held at convenient locations close to where students lived; in neighborhood schools, churches, malls, and storefronts across Maricopa County. Later, RSC led the way in creating customized pathways for adult basic education students, employees in the workplace, high school students, active military, veterans, and incarcerated students.
In 1996, RSC took distance learning to the next level and became a pioneer in online learning when the college took classes online. Since that time, the college has emerged as a national leader in this format and has served more than 270,000 students online.
Rio Salado College also serves the community through programming at KJZZ, K-BACH, Sun Sounds of Arizona and SPOT 127. The college serves senior citizens through special interest classes offered at our Lifelong Learning Center in Surprise as well.
Our work at Rio Salado is focused on the needs of our students and our community and I look forward to the innovative work that will continue over the next 40 years as we strive to meet those needs. As we celebrate and reflect on the positive impact education has had for our students, their families and the community, I am grateful for the vision of early leaders and for the dedication of faculty and staff who reinvent the learning experience to change lives.
I invite you to celebrate with us this year as we honor our past and look to the future!
Kate Smith, M.S.