Rio Hondo College is a public community college in Whittier, California. The college is named after the Rio Hondo. Founded in 1960, it mainly serves the cities of Whittier, Pico Rivera, Santa Fe Springs, El Monte, and South El Monte. Rio Hondo College offers 30 associate degrees for transfer that guarantee transfer to California State Universities, 60 associate degrees and 127 certificates. Rio Hondo offers on-campus, online, and off-campus courses to all of its students. It is the first community college in California offering a bachelor's degree in Automotive Technology. Rio Hondo also offers a Pathway to Law School program to one of six top California law schools.
It is accredited by Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Aside from its academic programs, the college is also home to Rio Hondo Fire Academy, Rio Hondo Wildland Fire Academy, EMT Program and Rio Hondo Police Academy. The college has been recognized for its service to Hispanic students.
Rio Hondo College District was established in October 1960, encompassing the boundaries of Whittier Union High School District. As it expanded to include the El Rancho Unified and El Monte Union High School Districts, it established a Board of Trustees in April 1962. In May 1963, the Board named the proposed community college Rio Hondo, named after the neighbouring Rio Hondo River.
While voters in the district approved a US$12 million to build Rio Hondo College in October 1963, classes were temporarily conducted at Sierra and El Rancho High Schools. The present campus, off Workman Mill Road, was opened for classes in Fall 1966.
In October 2011, the Rio Hondo College Board adopted a "No Cuts" budget, while neighboring community colleges were suffering from across-the-board budget cuts due to insufficient state funding. In October 2011, the college's president, Ted Martinez Jr. filed a formal grievance against 3 professors at the school, who were active union leaders. He said that they had created a hostile work environment which caused him to suffer a stroke. The president requested that the Board of Trustees hire a consultant for an initial payment of $5,000, without telling the Board that it was for an independent investigator for the claim. The cost later blossomed to $40,000. The independent investigator Angela J. Reddock found that the claim had no merit. Ted Martinez, Jr. retired when the Board of Trustees upheld the findings of the investigator. An action against the Rio Hondo Community College District was filed by the California Teacher's Association for an unfair labour practice.
In 2017-2018, Rio Hondo College had a 4,406 full-time and part-time 15,542 enrollment of students with a total of 19,948. The student-faculty ratio is 32-to-1. The largest group of students consists of 20- to 24-year-olds (30%). The second largest group (20%) were 19 or younger. The average age of students at Rio Hondo is 26. 51% of students intended to transfer.
The top feeder high schools (2005-2009) are as follows: Whittier High School, El Rancho High School, Montebello High School, California High School, Schurr High School, Santa Fe High School and Pioneer High School.
The in-state tuition and fees for 2017-2018 were $1,360, and out-of-state tuition and fees were $6,960. There is no application fee.
All full-time students (students enrolled in 12 or more units in a semester) are eligible for a free bus pass for transport with the Norwalk Transit, Metro, Foothill Transit, Sunshine Shuttle and Montebello Bus Lines. Negotiations between the Rio Hondo College Board of Trustees created this programme as early as 2006, which was proposed by Gary Mendes, Governing Board Member and followed by staff member Dr. Andy Howard. The programme was named the Rio Hondo College Bus Pass Subsidy Programme, and has since been dubbed "GO RIO" and officially began during the 2006–2007 school year. In 2012, the school also received a $500,000 federal grant to run a shuttle bus around campus.
The official student newspaper of the college is titled El Paisano.
It is the first community college in California offering a bachelor's degree in Automotive Technology. Rio Hondo also offers a Pathway to Law School program to one of six top California law schools.
Rio Hondo College is a NAFTC Training Center.
In 2004, voters in the Rio Hondo College Community School District approved Measure A, which gave the school US$245 million to renovate the campus, including the construction of new buildings on campus, such as the Learning Resource Centre and Library, Student Services and Student Union and Administration of Justice Buildings (completed 2011). Construction began in 2006 and is expected to continue until 2018, as part of the master plan. Rio Hondo College has also expanded off-site, at the 297 square metres South Whittier Educational Centre and plans to construct a 404 square metres facility in El Monte.
- Norma Torres - member of the United States House of Representatives
- Lorna Patterson – film actress
- Lauren Tewes – film actress
- Luis Aguilar – soccer player
- Troy Archer – American football player
- William John Cox – public interest attorney, author and political activist.
- Gloria Molina – politician, former member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors 1991–2014
- Evan Longoria – baseball player