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Historical Timeline

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1978

  • Dr. Paul Elsner leads the way as Rio Salado College is established by the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), becoming one of seven “colleges without walls” in the nation
  • Walter Morrison named provost
  • RSC creates the first distance learning program in the MCCCD
  • Nearly 8,000 credit students register for fall, utilizing 78 classroom locations across Maricopa County
  • Acquires KJZZ (originally known as KMCR), a regional National Public Radio (NPR) affiliate offering news and jazz
  • Serves nearly 750 Adult Basic Education students

1979

  • Offers classes at Luke Air Force Base
  • Launches Sun Sounds of Arizona, a statewide radio reading service for those who cannot read print due to a disability
  • Receives accreditation candidacy status from North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

1980

  • Creates first telephone registration system in Arizona, first mail registration in District, and first information processing center in District
  • Myrna Harrison appointed president

1981

  • Receives five-year accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

1983

  • Establishes chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) international honor society
  • Opens center at Paradise Valley Mall
  • Incarcerated re-entry program established

1985

  • Dr. Charles Green is appointed President
  • Adult Basic Education program is recognized with Award of Excellence from U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett

1986

  • RSC Headquarters moves to 640 North First Avenue, Phoenix
  • Accreditation is reaffirmed for six years by the North Central Association

1987

  • First in Arizona to offer Dual Enrollment classes to high school students

1990

  • Dr. Linda Thor is named president
  • Total Quality Management (TQM) principles introduced to the college
  • Provides customized corporate and government partnership programs for employers such as American Express and the Phoenix Police Department

1992

  • Sun Sounds of Arizona named one of 1,000 Points of Light by President George H.W. Bush
  • Receives 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

1993

  • Launches KBAQ (89.5 FM), a classical music radio station
  • Receives Governor’s Pioneer Award for Quality for applying business principles to an educational environment

1996

  • Becomes a national pioneer in online education by offering courses fully online
  • Administrative Headquarters move to the Tower at 2323 W. 14th Street, Tempe, Arizona
  • RSC Lifelong Learning Center opens

1997

  • Offers students 26 start dates a year for online courses
  • Provides online student support services including advising, registration, library, and academic counseling

1998

  • Rio School of Dental Hygiene opens in partnership with the Arizona Dental Association and Delta Dental

1999

  • Dental Hygiene program ranks among the top 20 in the U.S.

2000

  • Partners with U.S. Army for eArmyU to provide online courses to military students stationed worldwide
  • Launches Online Clinical Dental Assisting program in partnership with the Arizona Dental Association

2001

  • Online Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Education program is introduced

2002

  • Receives the Sloan Consortium Award for Excellence in Online Access
  • Clinical Dental Assisting program receives the Golden Apple Award from the American Dental Association
  • Receives 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

2004

  • Conference Center at Rio opens
  • RioLearn, a customized online course management, support, and delivery system, is created in partnership with Microsoft and Dell

2005

  • Teacher-in-Residence two-year program launched
  • Named a “Top 10 Digitally Savvy College” by the Center for Digital Education and the American Association of Community Colleges

2006

  • Hohokam Building, adjacent to the Tower at Rio, is purchased

2007

  • Weekly start dates are offered for online courses
  • Troops to Teachers program is created in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense to assist military personnel transitioning to civilian life
  • Receives Innovator Award from Campus Technology Magazine for development of RioLearn.
  • Lifelong Learning Center expansion opens in Surprise

2008

  • RSC Avondale opens
  • The Textbook Savings program is launched
  • RioLounge is created to offer online students an opportunity to interact through a virtual student union experience

2009

  • Communiversity at Surprise opens

2010

  • Dr. Chris Bustamante is appointed president
  • Receives the WCET WOW Award for its Peer-to-Peer Plagiarism Detection System
  • Recognized as one of eight highly productive higher-education institutions in McKinsey & Company’s Winning by Degrees

2011

  • Creates the East Valley Veterans Education Center (EVVEC) in collaboration with four other MCCCD colleges and several government and military agencies
  • RSC Northern opens

2012

  • Receives 2012 Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes
  • RSC Downtown location opens
  • RSC Thomas location opens
  • KJZZ’s Youth Media Center SPOT 127 opens as a free after-school program designed to teach digital media skills to at-risk high school students
  • Named a Great College to Work For with Honor Roll standing by the Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Receives Arizona Quality Alliance Showcase in Excellence Performance Award for the course production lifecycle process
  • Earns Alfred P. Sloan Award for Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility
  • Receives 10-year reaffirmation of accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

2013

  • Recognized as a Top Ten Education Innovator in the World by Fast Company
  • Named a Great College to Work For with Honor Roll standing by the Chronicle of Higher Education for the second consecutive year
  • SPOT 127 earns a Student Production Emmy from the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

2014

  • Bill Gates and his senior leadership team visit Rio Salado College
  • Named a Great College to Work For by the Chronicle of Higher Education for the third consecutive year
  • Communiversity at Queen Creek opens

2015

  • White House recognizes Adults Achieving a College Education (AACE) program as a Bright Spot in Education
  • Teacher Education earns Commitment to Action recognition from the White House
  • Splash selected as the Rio Waves mascot

2016

  • Maricopa Corporate College (MCOR) operations move to RSC
  • KJZZ opens Mexico City News Desk
  • KJZZ launches Soundbite, a mobile production unit and food truck

2017

  • A record 93 Dual Enrollment students earn associate degrees, most prior to high school graduation
  • One of five colleges nationwide to earn Excellence in Assessment designation from the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment
  • SPOT 127 earns three Student Production Emmys from the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences
  • Opens the Military and Veteran Success Center at Luke Air Force Base
  • Opens SPOT 127 East

2018

  • Plans to launch RSC National to expand online options nationwide