MiraCosta College has achieved 80 years of service to its community by changing and adapting to the needs of its citizens. Through all the growth and change, one thing remains the same: MiraCosta College is shaping minds for success. We speak with the school’s new Superintendent/President Dr. Sunny Cooke about what makes MiraCosta so relentless in its mission to transform lives through education.
Q&A with Superintendent and President Dr. Sunny Cooke
What makes MiraCosta College so unique? What makes it stand out among other community colleges in San Diego?
MiraCosta has an excellent reputation for its dedication to students and their success. Everyone here really cares about the institution and they’re willing to invest their time, energy, and talent to make the college even better. Also, because of the way the college is funded, we have the ability to grow in a very strategic and planned way to meet our community’s needs. This gives us the ability to really focus on the quality of interactions with students and their success, rather than simply the number of students enrolled at a particular point in the semester.
What type of degree and certificate programs do you offer?
MiraCosta offers a full array of credit classes in more than 70 disciplines, which can lead to associate degrees and/or transfer to four-year universities. Plus, we offer short-term certificates that prepare students for the job force or help to upgrade their skills for a better job. We also have noncredit courses and workshops, and have programs for adult high school, English as a second language, and basic skills.
What is the history/background of MiraCosta College? When was it started and what was the motivation?
The college was established in 1934 as Oceanside-Carlsbad Junior College, an institute of higher learning for those who needed an opportunity to pull themselves up out of the Depression and get an education close to home and at an affordable price. In 2014, the college celebrated its 80th year!
What is your role as superintendent/president of MiraCosta?
My first priority is to get to know the people here and learn the culture of the college. I want to listen, learn, and figure out where I can best apply my energy to help the organization, students, employees, and community. I’m taking the time to meet with all departments across the college so I can get to know their history and accomplishments.
Can you tell us more about your professional and educational background?
I earned my doctorate in biology at Georgetown University and completed a postdoctoral training program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. I have more than 25 years of teaching and administrative experience, including as a biology professor; director of a biotechnology institute; dean of sciences, health and wellness; associate vice chancellor for workforce development; and most recently as president of Grossmont College.
What are your short-term and long-term goals and priorities for the college?
I’m excited for the opportunity to help get our recently approved baccalaureate degree in biomanufacturing up and running. This is a wonderful opportunity for the college and for students. Long term? In general, I want to help MiraCosta College as it continues to build on its 80-year tradition of excellence. I hope to bring new partnerships and opportunities to MiraCosta and showcase the amazing work that goes on here.
How many students are currently enrolled? What goals have you set to increase enrollment?
We have nearly 15,000 credit students and approximately 2,500 noncredit students, plus another 2,000 fee-based students. Over the past decade, we have met the explosion in enrollment by expanding our online course offerings and also by offering courses on Fridays and even on the weekends. As we go forward, we hope to renovate outdated buildings and explore the possibility of adding more buildings on campus to serve our growing student population.
What types of resources are available for students?
Students have access to services in tutoring, financial aid, counseling, career planning, scholarships, and more. And it’s all free! We also have opportunities for internships, volunteering, and service learning that contribute to the community and provide workplace experience for students.
Superintendent/President: Dr. Sunny Cooke
Year of Establishment: 1934
Campuses: Oceanside, Cardiff, and a Technology Career Institute in Carlsbad