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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Woodland Hills

Pierce Marks Gain in Students With Party

September 06, 2000|IRENE GARCIA

Students and administrators at Pierce College kicked off the fall semester Tuesday with a bash to celebrate an increase in enrollment not seen since the 1960s.

"We're calling it 'Miracle on Winnetka,' " Pierce spokesman Mike Cornner said. "We're the comeback kids."

Fall enrollment increased from 12,992 last year to 14,744, Cornner said. The school's biggest one-year enrollment increase was from 9,400 in fall 1964 to 11,100 in 1965, he added.

The news caused lots of excitement on campus, which in recent years has had a continuous decline in enrollment as well as a series of financial problems.

But those days seemed long gone Tuesday. The campus mall was decorated with balloons and loud music played during a two-hour celebration that featured L. A. Laker cheerleaders and a free lunch of sandwiches and soft drinks for 1,000 students.

"It's incredible; people are sky high," Pierce President Darroch "Rocky" Young said.

Young, a popular Santa Monica College administrator, was named president last year as part of a strategy to revive the troubled campus.

He attributes the enrollment increase to, among other things, a high school outreach program, an aggressive television and radio marketing campaign, and newly installed air conditioning.

"This is better than I could possibly imagine for my first year, but it's not going to stop here," Young said. "I'd like to get the campus back to [an enrollment of] 20,000."

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