The Story of Copper Mountain College
Copper Mountain College (CMC), located six miles east of Joshua Tree, is renowned as the college built by the people, its first phase having been paid for almost entirely with local private money and subsequent phases with substantial private help. Now governed by its own locally elected board of trustees, CMC’s road to independence was accelerated by legislative action in recognition of the college’s uniquely strong local support.
The college was initially founded in 1966 when the residents of the Morongo Unified School District, comprised of the communities of Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Landers, Joshua Tree, and Twentynine Palms, elected to join the then Coachellla Valley Community District, (currently known as the Desert Community College District.) Classes were first offered in the High Desert in the Fall of 1967 at the Twentynine Palms High School to approximately 60 students.
In 1981, a group of Morongo Basin residents decided to build a campus with funds raised by community volunteers. Upon completion of its first phase in 1984, the new campus quickly attracted a host of first-generation college students, including a large population of Marines and their dependents stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. Community leaders began to suggest pursuing separation from College of the Desert as a natural next step.
When State Senator James Brulte (R-Rancho Cucamonga) learned of Copper Mountain College’s desire to achieve college status, he introduced legislation that created the Copper Mountain Community College District. By a 90 percent vote in November 1999, Morongo Basin residents endorsed their new college. As a final step, in June 2001, CMC was granted full accreditation status by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Traditionally, CMC has prepared area residents for transfer to private and state universities and colleges, and provides vocational training in accounting, administration of justice, automotive technology, fire science, nursing, early childhood education certification, and computer technology. Local pride in the “new” institution has forged closer bonds between the college and the business, education, and military sectors. Our students’ academic calendar can now be set so that it reflects that of the local Morongo Unified School District.
CMC offers Associate degrees and certificate programs in 49 degrees and certificates. Classes are offered at the Joshua Tree Campus and in various other locations convenient to neighborhood residents. CMC’s Developmental Education program provides all adults of the Morongo Basin the opportunity to enroll in classes directed at completing a high school diploma and/or GED. Copper Mountain Colleges’ academic calendar includes a fall, spring, and summer session beginning in August, January, and June respectively.
Some of the essential services that are offered to students, who attend CMC, include financial aid, registration, counseling, transfer empowerment, library, food service, and a bookstore. The Greenleaf Library provides a multitude of benefits to all residents of the local district. In addition to books, the library offers a computer study area with online access to assist students.