History, Tradition, Values

Taft College Mission Statement and History

Our Vision

Taft College instills a passion for learning, leading to success for all.

Our Mission

Taft College is committed to creating a community of learners by enriching the lives of all students we serve through career technical education, transfer programs, foundational programs, baccalaureate programs, and student support services. Taft College provides an equitable learning environment defined by applied knowledge leading to students’ achievement of their educational goals.

Our Values

  • Students and their success
  • A learning community with teaching excellence
  • An environment conducive to learning, fairness, dialogue, and continuous improvement
  • A communicative, collaborative, collegial, and respectful culture
  • A partnership of students, faculty, support services, and community
  • Innovation, diversity, creativity, and critical thinking
  • Academic, financial, personal, and professional integrity
  • Employees and their professional development
  • A transparent, accessible, participative governance structure

Our History

Taft College was founded on August 30, 1922, as Taft Junior College. Approved for creation by the Taft Union High School Board, which was formed in 1920, the new junior college was deemed necessary to keep up with the demands of a dramatically increasing population in Taft, California. In eight years, the population had grown from 1,650 to 4,000.

In its first year, approximately 12 students took classes at Taft Junior College on the high school property. In October of 1947, the Taft Union High School Board purchased and renovated buildings at the defunct Gardner and Minter Fields, left over from the United States Army Air Corps World War II training facility. Taft Junior College moved to its new location the following year.

With enrollment increasing, and the local population swelling to 16,100 by 1954, the Taft Union High School Board approved preliminary plans for a new campus in July 1954. They also officially changed the school’s name to Taft College. On September 11, 1956, the doors opened to the new campus at 29 Cougar Court, in Taft, California.

The college separated completely from Taft Union High School in 1962, when local voters overwhelmingly approved the Taft Junior College District, later becoming West Kern Community College District in 1971. Student residence hall construction began in 1962, and one year later, Taft College became one of very few California Community Colleges to have on-campus residential halls. Campus development continued. The new Science Building, which opened in 1966, was followed by the Technical Arts Building the following year. The Vocational Ed Building and the Library annex were completed in 1969 and 1970, respectively. The new gymnasium was added in 1981.

In 2004, voters approved a $39.8 million, 30-year bond to finance the renovation and remodeling of existing facilities and the expansion of the college. The West Kern Community College District Board approved the formation of a Bond Oversight Committee in May 2004 to keep the public informed of expenditures. In addition to modernizing most facilities at Taft College, new structures included the Child Development Center; Library facility; Vocational facility; Community Center; residence hall expansion; physical education Field House; and expanded laboratory spaces. Also included are several new infrastructure support projects, and maintenance and utility upgrade projects.

The Dental Hygiene Program, in place since 1993, operates a dental clinic open to the public.

Since 1976, Taft College has offered programs and special classes serving individuals with developmental disabilities. In 1995, with funding from Kern Regional Center, Taft College began its Transition to Independent Living (TIL) Program, a post-secondary educational experience for young adults with developmental disabilities that also offers a residential experience, where they receive training to handle living on their own.

Taft College welcomed more than 6,000 enrolled students in 2011. By 2020, Taft College offered more than 75 degree and certificate programs. These innovative programs are made available at a fraction of the cost of state and private colleges. Interest continues to grow for remote learning options, and by 2022, hundreds of students seeking flexibility took advantage of Taft College’s Distance Education for online and off-line classes.

With Taft College’s Transfer Admission Guarantee agreements, students awarded a degree for transfer have a guarantee of admission to enter the California State University (CSU) system; more than 20 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU); the University of La Verne; and select campuses and programs of the University of California (UC).

In 2022, Taft College proudly celebrated its centennial year of student success. Designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution in 2003 and a Military Friendly School in 2023, Taft College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.