- History & Fact Sheet
Palomar College - Today and Tomorrow
Palomar College is a comprehensive community college that was established in 1946 in the wake of the GI Bill to serve Escondido, Fallbrook, and Vista. Today its service area has grown to thirteen communities and six American Indian reservations and encompasses 2,555 square miles with an estimated population of nearly one million people. The College’s main campus is in San Marcos with an additional eight off-campus centers in Fallbrook, Camp Pendleton, Escondido, Pauma Valley, Borrego Springs, Ramona, Poway, and Rancho Penasquitos.
The college is governed by a five-member, locally elected board and a student trustee. Enrollment reached a peak in fall 2002 with a combined credit and non-credit program headcount of more than 32,000. Palomar College has maintained this 30,000+-student population stablished. The College projects that expanded classrooms on the main campus, the addition of a Fallbrook campus and renovation of the Escondido Center will increase the student population to nearly 50,000 in the next ten years.
Through the years Palomar College has maintained a reputation of excellence in community college education. One of the oldest community colleges in the California State Community College System, Palomar has excelled in the arts, humanities, liberal arts, mathematics, sciences, communications and transfer education. The College also plays a dynamic roll in workforce development with a comprehensive curriculum in vocational education, which sends hundreds of skilled employees into the community each semester.
In the past fifteen years, the college’s student population has begun to mirror the demographic changes of its surrounding service areas. For instance there has been a dramatic increase in Hispanic enrollments from 10% in 1985 to over 25% of the total student enrollment today.
It is estimated that as many as 50% of the population in
Palomar’s service area have some connection with the military.
As a continued reflection of the demographics in our territory we
anticipate a dramatic increase in veterans returning to college as
military personnel return from their Middle East deployment.
Veterans returning from the Vietnam conflict grew to 28% of the
student body during the mid 1970s.
Palomar's Military Connection
- The year was 1946. World War II had ended. The College’s founding President, Dr. Daniel McNaughton had just months before his appointment, separate from the US Army holding the rank of Major while serving as an instructor at the Bombardier Navigator School at the Army Air Base in Santa Ana, California.
- The first student enrolled at the College did so shortly after returning home from his service flying B-17s for the Air Force. Daniel Hoff was standing in line with friends to register for classes at the newly established Palomar College. At the time Palomar was awaiting accreditation from the state. Mr. Hoff reported that an administrator came from the back office with a telegram in his hand and said, “We have our accreditation approval, sign those boys up for classes”.
- By 1950 the WWII surplus buildings, which the college had been using for the past four years were not enough to house the increase in students. The US Navy from Camp Elliott donated eight additional buildings just prior to a freeze of contributions due to the Korean War. The additional buildings were sent to the new San Marcos campus.
- From 1946 to1952, 635 veterans attended the College, which was a lion’s share of the student population in those early years.
- By 1952 the campus started receiving veterans from the Korean War.
- Palomar’s sixth President Dr. Omar Scheidt served in WW II and was captured and spent significant time in a German prisoner of war camp.
- During the Vietnam era Palomar College hosted a national program that allowed active duty Navy and Marine personnel from all over the world to complete a two-year program. These enlisted men projected such a professional and respectful persona that the Palomar College campus did not experience the negative war demonstrations that were predominant on other campuses around the country.
- The first Veterans Memorial at the College was dedicated in December 1965 for Jimmy Mitchell
- During the 1970s the campus experienced a peek in veterans returning from the Vietnam conflict with 3,600 students representing approximately 28% of the student body.
- The Palomar College campus has offered veteran services since the campus opened with an official Office for Veterans Service established in 1966. As the number of returning veterans increases and declines the office remains open and supportive. These services are critical to the campus in 2008 as the number of returning veterans continue to grow with each semester.
Because so many men and women enlist directly after high school, or soon thereafter, ninety percent of enlisted personnel do not have a bachelor’s degree or higher. 375,000 troops are separating from the military each year to resume their civilian lives. While many potential employers value their service, we are simply not equipping our veterans with the education they need to fairly compete in today’s competitive job-placement environment.
While the G.I. Bill still provides some financial assistance, and stands as a landmark pledge to those who serve our nation, it falls short of its promise because of the rising cost of higher education.
- 1.6 million Americans have served in Iraq or Afghanistan
- More than 540,000 troops have deployed more than once
- 375,000 troops separate from the military each year to resume their civilian lives
- 90% of enlisted soldiers do not have a college degree
- Active duty soldiers are required to pay a $1,200 “user fee” in order to receive education benefits.
- Combat veterans of the Reserve and National Guard are eligible for only 40% of active duty benefits.
- Combat veterans of the Reserve and National Guard lose all their education benefits if they leave the military.