Foothill College

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Foothill College
Foothill College seal.svg
MottoUpgrade. Advance.
TypePublic community college
EstablishedJanuary 15, 1957
Parent institution
Foothill–De Anza Community College District
Academic affiliations
De Anza College
PresidentBernadine Chuck Fong (interim)
Academic staff
Administrative staff

37°21′41″N 122°07′44″W / 37.3613°N 122.1289°W / 37.3613; -122.1289Coordinates: 37°21′41″N 122°07′44″W / 37.3613°N 122.1289°W / 37.3613; -122.1289
CampusSuburban, 122 acres (49 ha)
ColorsScarlet, black & white
MascotFootsie the Owl
Foothill College logo.svg

Foothill College is a public community college in Los Altos Hills, California. It is part of the Foothill–De Anza Community College District. It was founded on January 15, 1957, and offers 79 Associate degree programs, 1 Bachelor's degree program, and 107 certificate programs.


In July 1956, Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Henry M. Gunn called a meeting of local school superintendents that led to the creation of Foothill College.[2] Calvin Flint, then President of Monterey Peninsula College, was hired as the first District Superintendent and President; he started work on March 1, 1958.[3]

Candidates for the new college's name, besides Foothill, were Peninsula, Junipero Serra, Mid-Peninsula, Earl Warren, Herbert Hoover, North Santa Clara, Altos, Valley, Skyline, Highland, and Intercity.[4] At first the name was Foothill Junior College, but because Flint insisted that his new college would be "not junior to anyone", the Board dropped the "Junior" in September 1958.[3]

Foothill held its first classes in the old Highway School campus on El Camino Real in Mountain View on September 15, 1958.[4] It was accredited by March of the next year and was the first school in the state to ever reach full accreditation in less than six months.[4] The owl mascot originated from a concrete owl that was a decoration on the Highway School's bell tower; it was later moved to the new campus.[5]

Example of Foothill's campus architecture

The campus was designed by architect Ernest Kump and landscape architects Hideo Sasaki and Peter Walker,[6] to resemble a neo-Japanese garden.[7] The Foothill College was intended as a junior college for 3,500 full-time students, within the 122-acre campus, the first of many junior colleges built after World War II in California. Soon after its completion, Foothill was widely recognized as a pioneer, setting high standards for new campus design.[8]

Traditionally, Foothill serves the communities of Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, Mountain View, and Palo Alto; together these communities form the northwest corner of Silicon Valley. The college sits next to Interstate 280, at the interchange with El Monte Road.

In 1993, Foothill and its sister school De Anza College became the first California Community Colleges to offer Domestic Partner benefits.[9] The colleges were among a very small number of institutions of higher education to do so, with Pitzer College and the University of Iowa in 1991 and Stanford and the University of Chicago in 1992.[10]

On December 10, 2001, Foothill College abruptly canceled its men's basketball season after completing just six games.[11] Questions arose over how housing and tuition for six international players were being paid by Tariq Abdul-Wahad, then with the NBA's Denver Nuggets and alumnus of San Jose State University.

In 2002, a second campus was opened on the site of the former Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, in facilities leased from the Palo Alto School District. In September 2016, this was replaced by the Sunnyvale Center, which the college built on part of the site of the now closed Onizuka Air Force Station, preserving artefacts from the "Blue Cube" and embedding shards of its skin in walkways. The new center can accommodate more than 1,600 students.[12][13]

The campus serves a very large number of international students who are attempting to acquire associate degrees as the basis for transferring into prestigious American universities; according to a Community College Week survey in 2001, Foothill had the 12th highest population of international students out of all community colleges in the United States.[14] The school was harshly criticized in 2002 by The Wall Street Journal for its aggressive recruitment of such students, since they are a lucrative revenue source who pay a much higher tuition.[15][16]

In 2003, to accommodate nearly 14,000 students on a campus designed for 3,500, the college began renovating almost the entire campus, including demolition and replacement of unsafe buildings. Two of the new buildings in the lower campus complex have green roofs topped with grass.[17][18]

Foothill Electronics Museum[edit]

Between 1973 and 1991, an electronics museum stood on the Foothill College campus. The museum was established with the help of the Douglas Perham Electronic Foundation, which wanted a permanent home for its extensive electronics collection, including papers of the inventor of the vacuum tube amplifier, Lee de Forest. The foundation raised money to construct a museum building on the Foothill campus and donated its collection to the college. The museum opened in 1973, and was initially operated by employees of Foothill College for six years until 1979, just after the passage of Proposition 13 rolled back property taxes and reduced funds to run the college. In response to the funding shortage, volunteers began staffing the museum.

However, in 1988, the college board of trustees decided to close the museum, sell or donate the assets, and use the space for classrooms. A newly appointed Perham board member, Bart Lee, took on the case and sued Foothill, claiming the college violated an agreement with the Perham Foundation. The foundation was eventually awarded $775,000, which they used to document, pack up, and place the collection in storage before a 1991 deadline.[19] The collection stayed in storage for twelve years, before being acquired in 2003 by History San José and put on display as The Perham Collection of Early Electronics.[20]


Foothill College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Foothill is also accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association, American Dental Association Commission on Dental Accreditation, American Medical Association Council on Medical Education, and Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.


Foothill College entrance


  • Dr. Calvin C. Flint (1957–1973)[21]
  • Dr. Hubert H. Semans (1967–1973)
  • Dr. James S. Fitzgerald (1973–1982)
  • Dr. Thomas H. Clements (1982–1994)
  • Dr. Bernadine Chuck Fong (1994–2006)
  • Dr. Penny Patz (interim President) (2006–2007)
  • Dr. Judy Miner (2007–2015)
  • Dr. Kimberlee Messina (interim President) (2015–2016)
  • Thuy Thi Nguyen, J.D. (2016–2021)
  • Dr. Bernadine Chuck Fong (interim President) (2021–)


  • Business & Social Sciences
  • Counseling & Student Services
  • Fine Arts & Communication
  • Instructional Services & Libraries
  • Language Arts
  • Kinesiology & Athletics
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics


The community college district's headquarters are located in one corner of the Foothill campus. The district also administers De Anza College in nearby Cupertino.


Foothill is a member of the Coast Conference of the California Community College Commission on Athletics and NorCal Football Conference. The school mascot is an owl. The Los Altos Hills campus has a track and field that is open to the public.[22]

Intercollegiate teams[edit]

  • Football
  • Men's & Women's Basketball
  • Men's & Women's Soccer
  • Men's & Women's Swimming
  • Men's & Women's Tennis
  • Women's Softball
  • Women's Volleyball
  • Women's Water Polo
  • Women's Beach Volleyball

Student government[edit]

Foothill's student government is the Associated Students of Foothill College (ASFC). Student government provides its student body the opportunity to self-govern and participate with faculty, staff, and administration.


Outside classroom 8401 at Foothill College

Five Foothill professors have won the Hayward Award of the Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges, given each year to a faculty member who has a "track record of excellence in both teaching and professional activities". Foothill's winners include Jay Manley, Mike McHargue, Elizabeth Barkley, Andrew Fraknoi, and Scott Lankford. In addition, Frank Cascarano and David Marasco are Fellows of the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Foothill College's Physics Show, started in 2007 by physics professors Frank Cascarano and David Marasco on the model of The Wonders of Physics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is one of the largest popular physics presentations in the US, with an annual audience of more than 25,000, with a total attendance of over 150,000. Proceeds from The Physics Show are used to bus students from local Title 1 schools to Foothill for special performances of the show.[23]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office – Data Mart. Retrieved on July 21, 2013.
  2. ^ Roberta Couch, Tom Jamison, Doug Stine, Susan Johnston, Rene Lynch, and Judy Sisk, Foothill College: 25 Years (Los Altos Hills: Foothill College, 1981), 10.
  3. ^ a b Couch, 10.
  4. ^ a b c Couch, 11.
  5. ^ Couch, 130.
  6. ^ Raver, Anne. "Hideo Sasaki, 80, Influential Landscape Architect, Dies." The New York Times, September 25, 2000, sec. Arts, p. 9.
  7. ^ Downey, Kirstin. "A Discerning Look At The Valley: Architects Assess Our Area's Aesthetics." San Jose Mercury News, May 29, 1986, sec. E, p. 1.
  8. ^ Peter Walker: landscape as art. No. 85. Process Architecture, 1989.
  9. ^ "Foothill-De Anza 2004-7 Faculty Agreement" (PDF).
  10. ^ Depalma, Anthony (December 24, 1992). "Benefits Granted to Gay Partners". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 9, 2019.
  11. ^ Recruiting violations kill Foothill men's hoops – SFGate. (December 11, 2001). Retrieved on July 21, 2013.
  12. ^ Kezra, Victoria (September 2, 2016). "New Foothill campus opening this month at Onizku [sic] Station". Sunnyvale Sun. Bay Area News Group. p. 6.
  13. ^ Kezra, Victoria (September 23, 2016). "New college at Onizuka Station pays homage to the 'Blue Cube'". Sunnyvale Sun. Bay Area News Group. p. 8.
  14. ^ Lane, Kristin. "World-Class Export." Community College Week, August 20, 2001, 6.
  15. ^ Bartindale, Becky. "Foothill Denies Report Of Inaccuracy: College Accused Of Exaggerating Transfer Stats." San Jose Mercury News, April 3, 2002, sec. B, p. 6.
  16. ^ Golden, Daniel (April 2, 2002). "Foreign Students' High Tuition Spurs Eager Junior Colleges to Fudge Facts". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  17. ^ "50th Anniversary Festivities Include Tours of New Campus Center & Lower Campus Complex: See New Lohman Theatre, Life Sciences & Student Services Buildings & Campus Center". Foothill College. September 25, 2007.
  18. ^ "Foothill College, Lower Campus Complex". Perkins & Will. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  19. ^ Millard, Max (October 1993). "Lee de Forest, Class of 1893: Father of the Electronics Age". Northfield Mount Hermon Alumni Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  20. ^ "The Perham Collection". History San José. 2011. Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  21. ^ Los Altos Town Crier – Home. Retrieved on July 21, 2013.
  22. ^ "Best Tracks For Exercise In The Peninsula". October 20, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  23. ^ Sarwari, Khalida (December 9, 2016). "Popular Science". Sunnyvale Sun. Bay Area News Group. pp. 16–17.
  24. ^ Patrick, Ruth (June 23, 2000). "Pianist Jon Nakamatsu: From Mountain View to Carnegie Hall". Mountain View Voice. Retrieved April 19, 2018.
  25. ^ Tiegel, Eliot (July 20, 1981). "It Took a 10-Year Squeeze for Juice Newton to Make Her Big Splash". People Magazine. Time Inc. Retrieved April 19, 2018.

External links[edit]