college of the desert

Explore Palm Springs: College of the Desert

October 1958 judging produces name for Palm Desert campus.

Renee Brown History

college of the desert
College of the Desert was named in October 1958 following a naming contest.

On Oct. 28, 1958, The Desert Sun, in conjunction with the Coachella Valley Junior College District, announced that judges had selected the name “College of the Desert” from over 95 submissions from residents of Palm Springs Unified School District and Coachella Valley Union High School District, which together comprised the Coachella Valley Junior College District.

The winner of the contest, Douglas Crocker, was awarded a $100 scholarship.

College of the Desert was established in 1958 after a decade of planning for a junior college district in the Coachella Valley. Voters approved the formation of the district and approved $3.5 million to fund the building of the College of the Desert campus with a bond issue.

After three years of study and planning, contracts were signed in 1961 for the construction of nine buildings on 160 acres at Monterey Avenue and Avenue 44 (now Fred Waring Drive) in Palm Desert. The buildings were designed by local architect, John Porter Clark. College of the Desert’s first students arrived in the fall of 1962.

College of the Desert received its first accreditation on Oct. 14, 1963. In 1964, voters in the Coachella Valley approved a new $2 million bond issue to complete the first phase of COD construction. Within four years, construction was completed on the library (now the Hilb Center), the gymnasium, and the agricultural science, agricultural technology, nursing and engineering buildings.

There is a multitude of ways to Explore Palm Springs, which turned 75 in 2013. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring Palm Springs history. The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place corresponds with today.

The Palm Springs Historical Society is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive.

Visit for more information.