Foothill College

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Foothill College
Outside classroom 8401 at Foothill College
Motto Upgrade. Advance.
Type Community college
Established January 15, 1957
President Dr. Kimberlee Messina
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Students 13,630[1]
Location Los Altos Hills, California, United States
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
Campus Suburban, 122 acres (0.49 km2)
Colors Scarlet, black & white
Nickname Owls
Mascot Footsie the Owl
Affiliations De Anza College
Foothill College logo.jpg

Foothill College is a community college located in Los Altos Hills, California and is part of the Foothill–De Anza Community College District. It was founded on January 15, 1957 by Founding Superintendent and President Dr. Calvin C. Flint. The college offers 79 Associate degree programs and 107 certificate programs. It is named one of California's "best community colleges."[2]


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.[3] Calvin Flint, then President of Monterey Peninsula College was hired as the first District Superintendent and President; he started work on March 1, 1958.[4]

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.[5] 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.[4]

Foothill held its first classes in the old Highway School campus on El Camino Real in Mountain View on September 15, 1958.[5] 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.[5] 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.[6]

Example of Foothill's campus architecture

The campus was designed by architect Ernest Kump and landscape architects Hideo Sasaki and Peter Walker,[7] to resemble a neo-Japanese garden.[8] 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 Wall II in California. Soon after its completion, Foothill was widely recognized as a pioneer, setting high standards for new campus design.[9]

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 2002, a second campus was opened on the site of the former Cubberley High School at 4000 Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. The Middlefield Campus is leased from the Palo Alto School District, and currently serves approximately 1,000 students.

In 2003, the college began the most dramatic construction project since its founding, to accommodate the fact that a campus designed for 3,500 is now serving nearly 14,000. It is renovating nearly all buildings, tearing up and rebuilding its potholed parking lots, demolishing several unsafe buildings, including the campus center, and constructing several replacement buildings. Two of the new buildings in the lower campus complex feature sod roofs.


Foothill College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. This organization is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education. 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)[10]
  • 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–present)


  • Biological & Health Sciences
  • Business & Social Sciences
  • Counseling & Student Services
  • Fine Arts & Communication
  • Instructional Services & Libraries
  • Language Arts
  • Kinesiology & Athletics
  • Physical Sciences, Mathematics & Engineering


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.

Intercollegiate teams[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Student government[edit]

Foothill's student government is known as 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.

Noteworthy accomplishments[edit]

  • Completed a $120-million campus enhancement and facilities expansion funded by the community through the 1999 Measure E Bond Initiative. With the district passage of Measure C in 2006, Foothill College will use $168 million for additional capital pays current with technology and equipment.
  • 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 is a Fellow of the American Association of Physics Teachers.


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.[11] The school was harshly criticized in 2002 by the Wall Street Journal for its aggressive recruitment of such students over California residents, since they are a lucrative revenue source who pay a much higher tuition.[12][13]

On December 10, 2001, Foothill College abruptly canceled its men's basketball season after completing just six games.[14] Questions arose over how housing and tuition for six foreign players were being paid by Tariq Abdul-Wahad, then with the NBA's Denver Nuggets and alumnus of San Jose State University.

Foothills Electronics Museum[edit]

For the eighteen years between 1973 and 1991, an electronics museum stood on the Foothill College campus. The museum had been 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, nine years later, 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 of 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.[15] 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.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office – Data Mart. Retrieved on July 21, 2013.
  2. ^ Top 15 Community Colleges in Caifornia. (April 22, 2015). Retrieved on April 30, 2015.
  3. ^ Roberta Couch, Tom Jamison, Doug Stine, Susan Johnston, Rene Lynch, and Judy Sisk, Foothill College: 25 Years (Los Altos Hills: Foothill College, 1981), 10.
  4. ^ a b Couch, 10.
  5. ^ a b c Couch, 11.
  6. ^ Couch, 130.
  7. ^ Raver, Anne. "Hideo Sasaki, 80, Influential Landscape Architect, Dies." New York Times, September 25, 2000, sec. Arts, p. 9.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Peter Walker: landscape as art. No. 85. Process Architecture, 1989.
  10. ^ Los Altos Town Crier – Home. Retrieved on July 21, 2013.
  11. ^ Lane, Kristin. "World-Class Export." Community College Week, August 20, 2001, 6.
  12. ^ Bartindale, Becky. "Foothill Denies Report Of Inaccuracy: College Accused Of Exaggerating Transfer Stats." San Jose Mercury News, April 3, 2002, sec. B, p. 6.
  13. ^ Daniel Golden (April 2, 2002). "Foreign Students' High Tuition Spurs Eager Junior Colleges to Fudge Facts". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2016. 
  14. ^ Recruiting violations kill Foothill men's hoops – SFGate. (December 11, 2001). Retrieved on July 21, 2013.
  15. ^ Millard, Max (October 1993). "Lee de Forest, Class of 1893:Father of the Electronics Age". Northfield Mount Hermon Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 2011-01-20. 
  16. ^ "The Perham Collection". History San José. 2011. Retrieved March 22, 2016. 

External links[edit]