Cerro Coso Community College

Cerro Coso College Sign

The College

Cerro Coso Community College has been changing lives and building futures for the residents in its vast 18,500 square mile service area for more than 46 years. The College responds to the educational and workforce needs of its diverse communities by offering high quality instruction supporting basic skills, career development, university transfer, and personal enrichment, and by awarding degrees and certificates to eligible students. Cerro Coso is a safe, innovative, multicultural, and inclusive environment where successful learning and achievement are highly valued, supported, and continually assessed. Classes are offered during 16-week semesters, with opportunities for non-traditional scheduling options such as evening, weekend, and online classes and short-term vocational programs. Non-credit community education courses provide vocational training, professional development, and recreational enjoyment to members of the communities they serve.

The History of Cerro Coso Community College

Institutional Strengths & Challenges

Cerro Coso Community College seeks a new president who will leverage and build upon the following strengths and address the challenges to move the College forward.


  • The College has recently earned a reaffirmation of its ACCJC accreditation, without a single recommendation to address non-compliance with a Commission standard.  The Commission issued five commendations that recognized exemplary performance, ranging from use of technology, student engagement and leadership, addressing the diverse needs of students and communities in a unique and challenging geographical setting, and fiscal stability.
  • As the primary provider of post-secondary education in a geographically expansive service area, the College has a strong reputation for high quality transfer and career technical education programs.
  • Community partnerships support student engagement and success, including a strong dual enrollment program with local secondary education providers and educational opportunities for nearby military and aerospace installation service members, contractors, and their families.
  • The College was a nationally recognized and early leader in distance education; professional and technological approaches provide a high-quality distance education student experience.
  • The College is nationally recognized for its education of incarcerated populations.
  • Students enjoy a well-rounded campus life experience, including Phi Theta Kappa, an Honors Program, and an active student government and clubs.
  • Students and the community benefit from the work of strong and dedicated employees, committed to providing an environment that enhances achievement of educational goals.


  • The College area is unique, with numerous rural and sparsely populated communities across 18,000 square miles, all served by a Ridgecrest main campus as well as centers and educational sites at distant locations such as Lake Isabella, Tehachapi, Bishop and Mammoth Lakes.  This calls for:
    • attending to diverse educational needs of current and prospective student populations;
    • managing enrollment in an effective and efficient manner;
    • developing and maintaining programs and facilities as diverse as the populations served by them;
    • cultivating and sustaining active participation in student government and other co-curricular activities; and
    • striving to maintain a unifying culture, given the number and variety of program and service settings.
  • While many relationships exist with local educational, business, trades, industry and government partners, there is much room for expansion of these initiatives to support students and future college development. For example, the Cerro Coso Community College Foundation and a Promise Program present opportunities for growth.
  • Innovation, marketing and promotion must be a presidential and college-wide commitment to seize numerous and varied opportunities for future college growth and development.
  • Similar to higher education across the country, food, housing, transportation, and other financial insecurities challenge the success of Cerro Coso Community College students.

Points of Interest

Child Development Center—The Child Development Center offers part-day preschool and full-time childcare to qualifying families. Cerro Coso Community College students are given first priority. Each class is taught by credentialed teaching staff and follows the regulations set forth by the California Department of Education. Child Development Centers are located in Ridgecrest (IWV campus) and California City (East Kern campus).

Dr. Alex Shlanta Astronomical Observatory—Located on the IWV campus, the Dr. Alex Shlanta Astronomical Observatory offers students and community members a unique learning experience. Currently the Observatory boasts 19 telescopes and 8 pairs of binoculars that are housed in four domes and three storage sheds. The observatory is a community and educational asset, offering a “hands-on” learning environment for students rather than the typical computerized experience, as well as a perfect “star party” location to teach younger students and adults alike about the fascinating universe in which we live.

Luis Miro de Acevedo Sculpture Garden—The Sculpture Garden was dedicated in 1997. It features not only student and instructor works, but also the works of guest artists from around the nation. The garden makes for an inspirational environment in which to spend time studying, socializing, or to have a relaxing lunch on sunny days at one of the picnic tables located in the park. Several pieces are on loan to the college temporarily, so if you are in the area stop by and see this unique artistic environment at the IWV campus.

Athletics—Cerro Coso Community College fields teams for five different sports throughout the academic school year, providing student-athletes the opportunity to expand their academic experience with competitive endeavors in their sport. Playing at facilities on the Indian Wells Valley campus, the Cerro Coso Community College campus community as well as the larger Ridgecrest community can encourage their teams and players as well as support the school in general at Cerro Coso Coyote sporting events.

Cerro Coso Community College Foundation—The Cerro Coso Community College (CCCC) Foundation’s purpose is to promote the educational needs and accomplishments, support the financial needs through fundraising efforts, and educate the public regarding CCCC’s role in the well-being of the communities it serves. Supporters are encouraged to financially contribute to helping a student’s academic dream come true by donating to the annual fund, joining the President’s Circle,  supporting through a planned gift, or establishing a scholarship. The Promise Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship designed to help hard-working students complete their educational goals in a timely and affordable manner.

The Kern Community College District

Kern Community College District (KCCD) serves communities over 24,800 square miles in parts of Kern, Tulare, Inyo, Mono, and San Bernardino counties through the educational programs at Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, Cerro Coso Community College in Ridgecrest, and Porterville College in Porterville.

Governed by a locally elected Board of Trustees, the district’s colleges offer programs and services that develop student potential and create opportunities for our citizens. All three colleges are proud members of the California Community College System and are accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

The mission of the Kern Community College District is to provide outstanding educational programs and services that are responsive to its diverse students and communities.

Indian Wells Valley Campus (Ridgecrest)

The Ridgecrest Campus serves a community of approximately 28,000 people located in the Indian Wells Valley in Kern County, California, adjacent to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. It is surrounded by four mountain ranges (Sierra Nevada, Coso, Argus Range, and El Paso Mountains). Ridgecrest is known for its beautiful sunsets and its warm, sunny days. Situated between the Sierra Nevada range and the deep desert of Death Valley, Ridgecrest is within an hour’s drive to popular fishing, hiking, hunting, sailing, and skiing locations. Ridgecrest is close to Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons which feature Coso People rock art, Red Rock Canyon, and the Maturango Museum. Ridgecrest is approximately 110 miles from Bakersfield and 120 miles from San Bernadino.

East Kern Campus (Lake Isabella)

The East Kern Campus at Lake Isabella is located 35 miles northeast of Bakersfield, California, and has a population of approximately 3,500. Lake Isabella is the “heart of the Kern River Valley” and offers many outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, camping, and windsurfing. The town hosts a wild west celebration, Whiskey Flat Days, and is home of one of the nation’s largest trout fishing derbies, Isabella Lake Fishing Derby.

East Kern Campus (Edwards Air Force Base)

The East Kern Campus at Edwards Air Force Base offers classes that are accessible to the general public. The other towns served by this location include Mojave, Boron, and California City and other communities in San Bernadino and Kern Counties in California.

East Kern Campus (Tehachapi)

The East Kern Campus at Tehachapi serves the community of Tehachapi as well as surrounding communities. Tehachapi is located outside of Southern California’s congested highly populated areas and outside of the drier hotter deserts and valleys of East Kern surrounding it. The higher elevation and mountain locale epitomizes outdoor living at its best. People, whether resident or visitor relish their time spent outside enjoying the scenic beauty and all the recreational opportunities, extreme sports and wildlife the area has to offer. The community is anchored by the City of Tehachapi, comprised of over 13,000 residents and the epicenter of shopping, retail, arts and culture. It is surrounded by the unincorporated Kern County communities of Golden Hills, Cummings Valley, Bear Valley Springs, Stallion Springs, Mountain Meadows and Sand Canyon.

Eastern Sierra Campus (Bishop)

The ESCC Bishop Campus is located on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada along the banks of the creek that is its namesake. Bishop sits at an elevation of about 4,100 feet while just a few miles away in either direction peaks tower to 14,000 feet, giving Bishop a truly spectacular setting. Bishop’s setting is an irresistible draw to outdoor enthusiasts, artists, and businesses alike.  World famous for its scenery, hiking, fishing, climbing, hunting, bakeries, and for its mules, Bishop is a small city, but the campus serves the unincorporated areas of Big Pine, Lone Pine, Independence, and Death Valley. Primary industries include tourism and recreation, government, and related support services. On a busy day, the City of Bishop will attract in excess of 30,000 visitors for various events and recreation. Mining, agriculture, and Native American heritage have made Bishop a great place to visit, to live, and to work.

Eastern Sierra Campus (Mammoth Lakes)

At an elevation of 7,880 feet, Mammoth Lakes lies at the edge of a geologically active area that includes hot springs and rhyolite domes. There is a ski area, mountain hiking, and forest hiking—camping and fishing are popular summer activities. Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort is the top ski destination in California and is one of the largest ski resorts in North America!

Incarcerated Student Education Program

Cerro Coso Community College is proud to offer the Incarcerated Student Education Program (ISEP) at two locations: the California City Correctional Facility and Tehachapi California Correctional Institution. This program has serve more than 2,100 students since its beginning in 2015 and is a unique approach to promoting rehabilitation and safer communities. The program offers seven transferable degree pathways.

CC Online

CC Online is a virtual campus at Cerro Coso Community College. The campus provides students the opportunity to take courses from a distance. Through the Internet and Canvas, students can interact with faculty in a virtual classroom setting, allowing for flexibility and convenience in the student's schedule. CC Online offers 19 accredited online associate degrees, 18 online certificates, and more than 160 courses per year.

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