Mike Brown and his wife, Nancy, have literally helped build a new university with their generosity.
Educator and La Verne alumna Dianne Van Hook adds another honor to her long list of accomplishments.
Dianne G. Van Hook ’75 knows first-hand how career aspirations can be enhanced by accessible educational opportunities.
Van Hook, Chancellor of Santa Clarita Community College District and President of College of the Canyons, earned her masters and doctoral degrees through the University of La Verne’s extension sites. At that time, she was already a successful administrator and had to find a way to juggle her education and her career.
Van Hook said the doctoral program opened doors for her and gave her confidence in her abilities by requiring her to do things, rather than just study theory. She earned her Ed.D. from La Verne in 1981.
“The program was the best single thing I’ve done in my career,” she said.
Years later, when Van Hook was College of the Canyons’ superintendent/president, she was struck by a lack of higher education options in the Santa Clarita Valley and vowed to find a workable and viable way to fill that void.
In 2010, the University Center she dreamed of and brought to fruition was formally dedicated in her honor.
The Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center allows students to earn bachelor, master or doctoral degrees from a collection of public and private universities – including La Verne – that offer their programs on site. Educators hope the center will improve access to higher education by eliminating the need for residents to make long drives to obtain advanced degrees. The first tenant, Academy of the Canyons, moved in during August of 2009.
Van Hook said there is a direct link between that achievement and the La Verne doctoral program, where she was required to identify areas that could be improved and write proposals on how to achieve those goals. Doing that gave her crucial experience and the accompanying confidence, she said.
“The University Center is the single biggest thing I’ve done that comes from that confidence,” she said. “It’s a symbol of what I learned in the program. It’s very significant for me.”
In 2002, Van Hook was one of 75 La Verne alumni presented with a Distinguished Educator Award during La Verne’s Teacher Education Program Diamond Anniversary Jubilee. Most recently, she added another honor when she was selected by her four-year alma mater, California State University, Long Beach, as a Distinguished Alumnus.
Van Hook, the longest serving superintendent-president of the College of the Canyons, became chancellor of the Santa Clarita Community College District in 2008. She reshaped her college’s Valencia campus and established a new campus in Canyon Country. College of the Canyons is one of the country’s fastest-growing large community colleges and has a combined enrollment of nearly 25,000 students.
The college is also home to the Academy of the Canyons, operated by the William S. Hart School District, which allows outstanding students to attend high school and college concurrently. The Center for Applied Competitive Technologies and the Employee Training Institute both help local businesses become more efficient.
The University Center is gaining attention, Van Hook said, and others are looking at it as a model to emulate. She is quick to credit her preparation at La Verne for her many successes.
“I went from being a full-time faculty member to a superintendent/chancellor in four years,” she said. “What got me ready was the La Verne doctoral program.”