HLC Self Study
Chapter 2 Graphic

Estrella Mountain Community College

As one of the 10 colleges within the Maricopa County Community College District, Estrella Mountain Community College serves the communities in western metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona. Since opening in 1992, the College has strived to create a distinctive environment that expresses the historical and cultural values of the surrounding West Valley communities, while providing all students with meaningful, engaging and transformative learning experiences. Estrella Mountain sits on 135 acres and is master-planned to be a large, comprehensive college of over 40,000 students at full build-out.

Estrella Mountain opened in 1990 as an educational center of Glendale Community College. The College was granted its initial accreditation in the spring of 1997 from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC). Fueled by rapid growth, during the next decade, Estrella Mountain developed unique strengths in order to meet the changing needs of a diverse community. Strengths in strategic planning, campus design, integration of technology, community partnerships, and the cultivation of a customer-driven approach to program development contributed to institutional success. As a result, in fall 2002, Estrella Mountain Community College was granted its second accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

During the last 10 years, Estrella Mountain Community College has experienced dramatic growth and change. The Institution has faced challenges related to a college still in the early stages of development, while encountering unique opportunities surrounding leadership transition, a $71 million Capital Development Program (as part of a $951 million District bond program) to support expansion and an organizational culture shift to support a learning-centered philosophy.

In spring 2007, Estrella Mountain began an organizational culture shift aimed at transitioning the College environment from a focus on growth to a focus on learning. This Learning College Journey placed emphasis on changing the College culture to put learning at the center of all programs, procedures and processes. Goals include strengthening College planning efforts, increasing collaboration among divisions and departments and increasing employee awareness about their contributions to student learning. As a result, Estrella Mountain students have the benefit of comprehensive programs and services, instruction from award-winning faculty, expansive learning support services, one-stop student services, and innovative learning spaces.

Referred to as the "Estrella Way," the dedication of Estrella Mountain Community College’s faculty and staff to providing exceptional and creative learning experiences prepares all learners to achieve their dreams and transform their lives. This was evident when in fall 2010, Albert Ojeda, a graduate of Estrella Mountain, participated in the White House Summit on Community Colleges. Ojeda joined several community college officials and students from around the country. The summit was organized by Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden and a community college professor, at the request of President Barack Obama, who has made community college education a focus of his administration. During his introduction of Dr. Biden, Ojeda spoke of Estrella Mountain “as an institution that truly cared about his future.” 

The Institution’s efforts were formally recognized in spring 2011 when the Aspen Institute listed Estrella Mountain Community College among 120 community colleges with outstanding academic and workforce outcomes. Representing the top 10 percent in the country, the community colleges chosen not only demonstrate high standards in learning and college completion, but have established that they are training grounds for jobs that pay competitive wages. Estrella Mountain was the only Maricopa County Community College to be recognized by the Aspen Institute.