Merritt College

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This article is about the community college in Oakland. For the private nursing school also located in Oakland, see Samuel Merritt College.

Coordinates: 37°47′19.72″N 122°9′59.01″W / 37.7888111°N 122.1663917°W / 37.7888111; -122.1663917

Merritt College
Type Community college
Established 1954
President Dr. Norma Ambriz-Galaviz
Students 6,000
Location Oakland, California, USA
Campus Suburban: 125 acres (0.5 km²)
Colors Royal Blue, Gold and White
Nickname Thunderbirds
Affiliations California Community Colleges and Peralta Community College District

Merritt College is a two-year community college located in the Oakland Hills section of Oakland in Alameda County, California. Merritt, like the other three campuses of the Peralta Community College District, is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The school's enrollment is approximately 6,000 students.


Merritt College (named for physician Dr. Samuel Merritt) was opened as a general campus in 1954. Merritt College was originally located on Grove Street in north Oakland, but was removed and sited on Campus Drive in the hills of East Oakland.

Grove Street[edit]

The original Merritt College was located at what is now 5714 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (then called Grove Street) in the flatlands of North Oakland. In 1923, the campus of University High School was built for children of faculty of the University of California in Berkeley. The campus closed during World War II, but was reopened as the Merritt School of Business in 1946. In 1954, the Oakland Unified School District, then operating the Merritt campus and the Laney Trade and Technical School, formed Oakland Junior College (later renamed Oakland City College).[1] In 1960, the same year as the opening of Skyline High School, OUSD decided to relocated Merritt College from Grove Street to the hills of East Oakland.[2]

Although the demographics of North Oakland changed throughout the 1950s and 1960s, it was not until the mid- to late-1960s that the student and faculty population began to change. After the 1960 California Master Plan for Public Higher Education, more Black students began to attend Merritt. In the early 1960s, the African American Association began recruiting Merritt students. By 1964, students formed the Soul Students Advisory Council, predecessors to the Black Student Union (BSU). In 1966, two former Merritt College students, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party. Against numerous protests by students and community members, Merritt was relocated from Grove Street to the hills of East Oakland in 1971. Merritt was renamed North Peralta Community College, but was commonly known as Grove Street College. In 1975, a judge ordered the physical plant closed for seismic issues.[3] The Grove Street campus was used as the primary filming location for the 1987 film, "The Principal."[citation needed]

This site, now rehabilitated and serving as the north campus of the Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.[4][5][6][7]

Campus Drive[edit]

The present campus was opened in 1971. Funding came primarily as a result of a 1965 bond issue which also established a new downtown Oakland ("Civic Center") campus building for Laney College and the founding of the College of Alameda.

Occupational programs[edit]

Merritt College's occupational programs include nursing and health professions, community social services/substance abuse counseling, environmental management and technology, cybersecurity, computer information systems, landscape horticulture and environmental management, paralegal studies, real estate and restoration technology. A one-year Microscopy Certificate is also offered.[8]

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Donna Murch, "Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California," University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  2. ^ Rasheed El Shabazz, "'Mau Mau Tech': The Making of a Black University in Oakland, California, 1960-1970," UC Berkeley McNair Scholars Journal, Spring 2014
  3. ^ Shabazz, "'Mau Mau Tech'"
  4. ^ ArchiPlanet, University High School, accessed May 24, 2007
  5. ^ Merritt College and Peralta District History Archive, accessed May 24, 2007
  6. ^ City of Oakland, Oakland History Timeline, accessed May 24, 2007
  7. ^ NRHP, CALIFORNIA - Alameda County - Vacant / Not In Use, accessed May 24, 2007
  8. ^ [1], accessed January 13, 2017
  9. ^ "Glenn Burke Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved December 10, 2012. 
  10. ^ "Wendell Hayes". Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
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