The history of Palomar College is rich in tradition and educational achievements. On January 15, 1946, registered voters in the Vista Unified School District, the Fallbrook Union School District, and the Escondido Union High School District voted 714 to 417 in favor of establishing a “junior college” in the North San Diego County area. Under state law, the San Diego County Superintendent of Schools appointed five persons as members of the first Governing Board for the new college. The Governing Board hired the first college president in 1946, Dr. Daniel C. McNaughton, supported by a director, a dean of students, and nine faculty members. Located on the Vista High School campus, Palomar College opened its classroom doors on September 23, 1946, with exactly 100 persons enrolled in classes in science, mathematics, music, art, social sciences, commerce, English, physical education, and foreign languages.
Today, Palomar College is a public, two-year community college in San Diego County with its San Marcos campus located approximately 30 miles north of San Diego at 1140 West Mission Road, San Marcos, CA 92069. The 200-acre campus, the education center in Escondido, and five sites serve a district covering 2,555 square miles in North San Diego County. The five education sites are located in Camp Pendleton, Fallbrook, Mt. Carmel, Pauma Valley, and Ramona. The Escondido Center is located on eight acres owned by the district, and the proposed North Education Center in Fallbrook will be located on a newly acquired 82 acre property. Palomar College constitutes a single-college district, and it is the largest community college in San Diego County.
Palomar College borders seven other community college districts: South Orange County, Mount San Jacinto, Desert, Imperial Valley, Grossmont-Cuyamaca, San Diego, and Mira Costa. However, only Mount San Jacinto, Grossmont-Cuyamaca, San Diego, and Mira Costa have significant service overlap with the Palomar Community College District. The others adjoin the most lightly populated areas of the district, and their campuses are distant from any of the Palomar permanent facilities.
Palomar College has five academic divisions: (1) Arts, Media, Business, and Computing Services; (2) Career, Technical, and Extended Education; (3) Languages and Literature; (4) Mathematics and the Natural and Health Sciences; and (5) Social and Behavioral Sciences. The college offers more than 300 credit degree and certificate programs within those five divisions and noncredit courses.
In the November 2006 General Election, voters approved an educational facilities improvement measure (Proposition M), which provides the majority of the funding for the college’s $1 billion construction and remodel plan. The first major step in the implementation of this plan was realized with the completion of the Natural Sciences Building, which opened for the Fall 2007 semester. This is an exciting time for students, faculty, staff, and administration at Palomar College. The vision in the Master Plan 2022 has moved to reality as the planning, design, and construction of several instructional and support facilities take shape. Master Plan 2022 is transitioning Palomar College into its next generation as an outstanding institution in higher education committed to the learning success of its students and responsive to the changing needs of its diverse community.