60th anniversary join us



Join us as we celebrate our 60th Anniversary here at Río Hondo College. We've planned a day of festivities that you won't want to miss. There will be live performances, food to satisfy your appetite, and exhilarating atmosphere of fun-filled games and activities. And the best part it's all free!

9:30 AM

Kicking off with big group photo forming the number “60” on the soccer field.

11:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Celebration with music, international cuisine, live cultural performances, games and activities on the lower/mid quad.

3:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Games, activities and entertainment continued on the lower quad.

5:00 PM - 8:00PM

Evening festivities with cake, Mariachi and Ballet Folklórico on the upper quad.



NORMS Restaurant, Camila's Tacos, Cortina's Italian, Golden Sun Mediterranean Kabobs & Desserts, RJ's Southern Homecooking, Herach and Ara, Gelato Go, and Moonwood Coffee.



Japanese Drummers Taiko Project, West African Performer Ame Kora Music, Native American Dancers Red Boy Production, Mariachi Tierra Mia, Ballet Folklórico Sol de Fuego, RHC Choir, Theater, and Music Tech Students,

and DJ Justin Chu.

  • Letter From The President
  • 60 Rio Facts
Letter From The President
Dr. Flores

Dear Members of the Río Hondo Community,

It is with great joy and pride that I extend a warm invitation to you all to join us as we mark a momentous occasion in our institution's history - the 60th Anniversary Celebration of Río Hondo College. This significant milestone, which we will commemorate on Friday, September 15, 2023, provides us an opportunity to reflect on our journey and celebrate the exceptional achievements that have shaped our legacy.

Our story began nearly a century ago, with the visionary idea of establishing a junior college for the Whittier area. This seed of an idea, planted on January 5, 1928, grew into the remarkable institution we are today. From its roots on the 110-acre former dairy farm, the Pellissier Ranch, to our current vibrant campus, Río Hondo College has been a testament to dedication and progress.

As we prepare to celebrate, let's take a look back at some of the spectacular achievements that have defined our journey:

  • In 1963, the name "Río Hondo" was chosen to honor the nearby river, reflecting the spirit of growth and connectivity that our college fosters within the community.
  • Our first classes, offered in September 1963 at Sierra and El Rancho High Schools, marked the beginning of an educational journey that now touches countless lives.
  • The opening of our present campus in the fall of 1966 marked a new era, welcoming 3,363 day and 2,682 evening students and setting the stage for our growth and expansion.
  • The passage of Measure A in 2004 brought forth a new era of construction, innovation, and enhanced facilities across our campus and off-site educational centers.
  • Throughout the years, our remarkable students, including names like Evan Longoria and Norma Torres, have emerged as leaders in various fields, embodying the spirit of Río Hondo's commitment to excellence.

From these achievements and many more, the journey of Río Hondo College has been shaped by the dedication and perseverance of our students, faculty, staff, and community partners. Each success story, each milestone reached, contributes to the rich tapestry that defines our institution.

As we look ahead to our 60th Anniversary Celebration, let us come together to celebrate not only the accomplishments of the past but also the promise of the future. It is with deep gratitude that we recognize the support and commitment of our community in nurturing a place of learning, growth, success, and transformation.

We invite you to join us on September 15, 2023, as we celebrate six decades of excellence, resilience, and community spirit. Together, let's honor our shared journey and embrace the endless possibilities that lie ahead.

Warm regards,

Marilyn Flores, Ph.D.


60 Rio Facts
  1. The idea for a junior college for the Whittier area was first mentioned in the board minutes of the Whittier Union High School District nearly a century ago, on January 5, 1928.
  2. Río Hondo College is located on 110 acres of a former dairy farm called the Pellissier Ranch, which was established in 1888, and which is also the namesake of Pellissier Road, between the College and the 605 Freeway.
  3. In 2018 before starting at Río, the Dean of Library and Learning Support Services purchased an antique, porcelain-and-metal Pellissier Dairy Farms milk truck sign (circa 1940). It hangs in his office in the Learning Resource Center building, and eventually will be relocated to the College Archives.
  4. Originally temporarily named Whittier Junior College District, a new name was sought as part of the agreement for the October 1960 election in order to avoid confusion with nearby Whittier College.
  5. In addition to Río Hondo, in the early 1960s several names were considered for the College, including Greenleaf, Pacific Coast, Rolling Hills, Westlake, Junipero, Valencia, Bartolo, Hacienda, Santa Gertrudes, Don Pio Pico, and even Richard M. Nixon College.
  6. The College was very nearly Bartolo Community College until someone pointed out "Bartolo" sounds like an obscenity in Italian.
  7. The Rio Hondo Community College District was established by election on October 25, 1960.
  8. The Board of Trustees for the Rio Hondo Community College District was established in an election held on April 3, 1962.
  9. Rio Hondo, meaning “deep river” in Spanish, was chosen as the name for the college in May 1963 after the area surrounding the nearby Rio Hondo River.
  10. Rio Hondo College’s first classes were offered in September 1963 at Sierra and El Rancho High Schools in the late afternoon and evenings.
  11. Following the selection of the present campus site, district voters approved a $12 million construction bond by 80.1 percent in October 1963.
  12. During 1964–65, Rio Hondo College conducted classes with limited enrollment at the former Little Lake School in Santa Fe Springs.
  13. The present campus opened in the fall of 1966 with an enrollment of 3,363 day and 2,682 evening students.
  14. Measure A, a $245 million construction and renovation bond passed by voters in 2004, resulted in new buildings and facility upgrades campus-wide as well as new off-site educational centers.
  15. In October 1975, the student body population and diversity of Rio Hondo College District was broadened when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted an order to incorporate territory from the El Monte Union High School District.
  16. The "L" in the L Tower building is an abbreviation, and so called because originally Río Hondo College Library was located on the [x] floors of the building. L Tower = Library Tower. In 2009, the Library moved to the second floor of the Learning Resource Center (LRC), when the building was first opened.
  17. In addition to its main campus, Rio Hondo has three off-site educational centers: South Whittier Educational Center (SWEC), El Monte Educational Center (EMEC), and Rio Hondo Educational Center at Pico Rivera.
  18. Rio Hondo's Santa Fe Springs Regional Training Center (SFSRTC), which was acquired in 1997, is the primary site of instruction for the academies and programs in fire technology, wildland fire, and emergency medical technician.
  19. Professional baseball player Evan Longoria attended Rio Hondo College.
  20. Norma Torres, U.S. House of Representatives member for California's 35th Congressional District, attended Rio Hondo College.
  21. The palm trees to the west of the LRC (and previously the Putnam Center) are all that remain of the original Pellissier Dairy. The palms lining the road to the Pellissier home and yard are already a good size when photographed in 1935.
  22. Before the LRC building was built, there was the Putnam Memorial Student Center which was named after the first RHC President Dr. Phil H. Putnam.
  23. The first issue (Vol. 1, No. 1) of the campus newspaper, El Paisano, was published on October 8, 1964.
  24. History buffs take note: You can examine (and search in) all issues of El Paisano from 1964 through 2016 online via the El Paisano Digital Archive, hosted by the California Digital Newspaper Collection: https://bit.ly/elpaisano. And plans are now underway to digitize the remaining issues up to the present.
  25. First-year RHC student, Eric Grimm, rode his bike across the US, over 31 days, to visit the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City.
  26. Before the main campus was built on 3600 Workman Mill Road, Rio Hondo College temporarily operated out of Little Lake School District.
  27. In 1964, when classes were held at Little Lake Elementary, volleyball students would hit the ball over the fence into the neighboring cemetery and call “Dead ball!”
  28. The hill above the Rio Hondo Police Academy was formerly the Nike Missile Base fire control center.
  29. Rio Hondo College does not currently nor ever has published a yearbook or annual.
  30. The Roadrunner was selected as the mascot through a student body election, beating out Bobcats, Toros (Bulls), and ultimately Los Dorados (Golden Ones) in a run-off election. Haslam, Dick. "“Notsotros somos paisanos”: desert runner brings luck." El Paisano, vol 1, no 1, 8 Oct 1964, p 2.
  31. The Warner Brothers’ Roadrunner was used as a fill-in for the school’s mascot until a student contest to create a unique design in 1964. "How did the roadrunner get its name?" El Paisano, vol 11, no 26, 30 May 1975, p 4.
  32. In Mexico, the roadrunner is known as el paisano, countryman, and friend; thus the name of the school’s newspaper is an homage to the school’s mascot. "With a beep beep! Road runner defies traditions." El Paisano, vol 2 no 7, 24 Jan 1966, p 3.
  33. After a few issues of a school newsletter with the approved title of Tailfeathers and inexplicably, a published title of Talefeathers, the first edition of the campus paper was published with the more dignified title El Paisano.
  34. On April 21, 1960, the Whittier Union High School District Board of Trustees passed a resolution calling for a vote on the formation of what was to become the Rio Hondo Junior College District. In 1968, April 21 officially became Founders’ Day.
  35. The Wray Theatre was named after Merton G. Wray, one of the Founding Fathers of Rio Hondo College.
  36. RHC entered intercollegiate athletics in 1966, when its first-season football team joined the Metropolitan Conference.
  37. River’s Voice, a journal of art and literature created by RHC students, faculty, staff, and alumni, began its annual publication in 2000.
  38. In the 1970-71 academic year, Rio Hondo College Football took its first conference title and made it to the second round of the state playoffs. The team repeated that double feat in 1971-72 and won a third conference in 1972-73.
  39. In 1982, Michelle Godfrey, the first female student to graduate from Rio Hondo’s Fire Academy, became the first woman hired by the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
  40. On October 9, 1987, the 6.1-magnitude “Whittier Narrows Earthquake” did very little damage to the Rio Hondo College campus, due to sound building design and its placement on a rocky promontory.
  41. The Learning Resource Center and Library building was completed in 2009, and it was the first LEED certified building on campus.
  42. Yoshio “Yosh” Nakamura, one of the first instructors to receive a contract at RHC in 1963, and the college’s founding Department of Fine Arts chair, received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2011 and was awarded the Bronze Star for his brave service in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War 2.
  43. Dr. Rose Marie Joyce was the first female Superintendent/President, and 7th overall, of Rio Hondo College. Her service was from 2002-2006.
  44. Dr. Marilyn Flores is the 11th Superintendent/President of Rio Hondo College.
  45. When it opened, Río Hondo College offered x degrees and certificates. In 2023, Río Hondo College offers x.
  46. According to the Appearance section in the 1964-65 catalog, “Bermudas for men and any type of shorts or slacks for women are not appropriate attire…. Clean, neat, tasteful dress is an important characteristic of the successful young man or woman.”
  47. The campus now offers a course in microbrewing: Fermentation Technology.
  48. Among the first majors offered were Airline Stewardess, International Service, Mortuary Science, and Podiatry (which transferred to the California College of Chiropody in San Francisco).
  49. Merton G. Wray was a Board of Trustee member until he resigned in 1965 when he was appointed to the judgeship for the Whittier Municipal Court.
  50. The Wray Theatre (formerly called Little Theater) first opened in January of 1966. Its first production was a performance of Joseph Stein’s “Enter Laughing.”
  51. In the Fall of 1968, the Theatre Arts Department produced Rashomon, which won one of the American College Theatre Festival Regional Finalist Awards for the department and the college.
  52. In 1971 after a committee screening of the Theatre Department’s production of Funny Girl, RHC was selected to perform under the banner of the USO. The tour consisted of a 10-week trip to Korea, Okinawa, Guam, The Philippines, and Hawaii.
  53. RHC resides within Tovaangar, the ancestral homelands of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples.
  54. RHC has an astrophysical observatory on campus currently featuring a Meade LX200GPS, 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, one of the largest telescopes open to the public on a regular basis, free of charge. The observatory opened in 1971 and offers free public viewings every other Friday.
  55. The term “flex calendar” was first mentioned in 1989 when the Academic Senate considered changing the academic calendar. In the current calendar at the time, the fall semester ended in late January. The proposed “flex calendar” consisted of 160 days of instruction with a 0-15 day flex. The start date of the semester would be flexible so that it would conclude before Christmas and align more closely with four-year institutions’ calendars.
  56. Rio Hondo College has provided a program for children since the 1960s. The program was originally located off-campus and supported mostly from funding provided by the Associated Student Body (ASB). In 1996 the program moved to its current on-campus location at the Child Development Center. [TSG this is a direct quotation from the webpage]
  57. Rio Hondo’s original Fire Academy first opened in 1968. In 1971, the college established an office for the academy on the Santa Fe Springs Fire Department property. In 2007, the academy re-opened at the Santa Fe Springs Regional Training Center. The 17,000-foot facility had been refurbished and expanded with more usable space and equipped with new irrigation systems.
  58. RHC’s Fitness Center first opened in the fall semester of 1989. The center was heavily equipped with state-of-the-art aerobic machines and weights.
  59. RHC once had a radio station called KRHC and was built directly adjacent to the Campus Inn.
  60. The RHC campus is a wildlife habitat. Signs are posted upon entering campus to alert to this fact.

Thank you to our Library team for putting these facts together. Contributing members: Trish Stumpf Garcia, Young Lee, Rudy Martinez, Irene Truong, Brian Young, Laurie Yount, and Mike Garabedian.



Please RSVP by Monday, September 11, 2023.



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