Looking Back

In the Beginning...

It consisted of an idea – to create a junior college for students newly graduated from high school, a safe, welcoming place to provide the basics of a college education with strict academic rigor, a gathering spot not only for classes but for athletics and dances and clubs and social occasions that would bring the community together.

It started in the fall of 1916 on the top floor of a high school with the city’s name – Sacramento – with high school faculty teaching college classes and former high school students taking them. Ten years later, it had its own location at the southernmost end of town, across the street from a new park called William Land.

And in that first decade, the people who founded Sacramento Junior College worked fervently, selling the concept to anyone who would listen. Dean Belle Cooledge, who oversaw the fledgling institution, and later Jeremiah B. Lillard, the first president, spoke to any group that invited them.

Cooledge and Lillard promised that the students would receive more personal attention and an excellent education from top-notch faculty for much less money than at a university. And, said Cooledge and Lillard, whether students began their higher education here or finished it here, Sacramento Junior College would provide memories and experiences those students would carry with them all their lives.

photo: six women graduates of SCC
Sacramento Junior College’s first six graduates in 1918
SCC history tour with Jack Halligan
Click for SCC video history tour with Jack Halligan

Go Panthers Go! — SCC Fight Song by the Sac City Vocal Ensemble, 2016

One hundred years later, that college, slightly renamed, much larger and going strong, still claims those attributes. Light rail trains pull into a station behind the campus many times a day. The original tiny trees tower over multi-story, state-of-the art buildings. Young students fresh out of high school have been joined by returning students often years, sometimes decades, older. Academic and vocational programs have flourished.

Not much has changed. So much has changed. But its purpose never has: to create and foster the best teaching and learning environment possible.

photo: Belle Cooledge

Belle Cooledge started the college in 1916 teaching math on the upper floor of Sacramento High School (18th and K Street)

photo: SCC faculty from 1923
First Faculty 1923: SJC’s first faculty included Belle Cooledge, front row, center, who served as the first principal of Sacramento Junior College. In 1947, she served as Sacramento’s first woman mayor.
photo: two women working on an airplane wheel
SJC’s aeronautics program trained women for the war effort in 1943.
photo: rows of tents on the SCC campus
During WWII the SJC campus housed the Army Air Corps and Army Special Training Corps. The apartment building in the background still stands across from Hughes Stadium.

History of Our Centers

West Sacramento Center

We are excited to be part of the 100 year anniversary of Sacramento City College. Although the Center has not been around for 100 years, we are part of the history, commitment, and quality of education the institution offers. The West Sacramento Center was officially opened in fall 1999 on Halyard Drive in West Sacramento. The facility had three classrooms and one computer lab. A variety of classes were offered, including lower level English as Second Language (ESL), basic skills, and transfer classes.

  • photo: West Sacramento Center
    West Sacramento Center, 1999-2010

In spring 2010, the Center was relocated to West Capitol Avenue and combined with the Downtown Center. Currently, the Center is a 3-story building that includes 12 classrooms and one computer lab. Services offered include academic and financial aid counseling, enrollment assistance, assessment testing, tutoring services, and other student support services such as the writing center, learning resource center (LRC), math lab, and open computer lab. The Center also offers a unique environment for students looking to start their educational goals in a smaller and more personalized setting. Students have the opportunity to take a variety of courses that includes completing all general education requirements for transfer. The Center currently serves more than 2600 students.

Davis Center Celebrates 50th Anniversary!

In 1966, Sacramento City College opened a facility in downtown Davis. In 2003, the Davis Center moved from a tiny space on B Street to a larger (and better) building on Galileo Court in south Davis. In June 2010, we broke ground on our current facility on the U.C. Davis campus, 1,800 students attend classes today.

  • photo: Davis Center 2003 several people cutting a ribbon
    Davis Center Dean John Ruden 2003


  • illustration: Davis Center summer 2016 addition
    Davis Center Summer 2016 Addition

New South Davis Building

New South Davis Building – Summer 2018