By Leonardo Cervantes
Former East Los Angeles College president Ernest Moreno, who served from 1994-2011, was the first person who helped advance the modernization process of the campus we know today.
ELAC’s campus has gone through beautiful transformations throughout its 75-year history in order to look as good as it does today.
While there have been growing pains, ELAC’s campus has continued to evolve and it continues to tread in the right direction.
ELAC was established in June 1945 by the Los Angeles City Board of Education. The college opened for classes in September 1945 on the campus of James A. Garfield High School with an enrollment of 380 students and a faculty of 19.
The college was moved to its present site in February 1948.
Today, it is the largest college by enrollment in the largest community college district in the world.
When Moreno arrived as vice president in 1991, the first major building in decades was being built thanks to state funding.
The William Palmer Automotive Technology building was in the process of being planned, and Moreno worked with Department Chair Palmer, whom the building is named after.
“ELAC was the lost campus of the district when Ernest Moreno came as president,” Maria Yepes, former Writing Center Director, said.
Eighteen years later when he retired in 2011, enrollment had increased to 40,000.
Under his direction, the campus went from having the lowest enrollment in the district, to being number one.
Many of the buildings on the original campus were former World War II bungalows.
The campus had buildings that were unkempt, unclean and in complete decay.
This is in deep contrast to the buildings ELAC houses today.
The E3 Building finished construction in 2016 and was titled the Ernest H. Moreno Language Arts and Humanities Building.
The building stands at 135,000 square feet, making it the largest building in the California Community College System.
At the time the E3 building was built, it was the biggest and only five-story community college building in the state.
“The biggest change from how the college looked in the 1970s and 1980s is that there are multi-story buildings all over the place. It’s as if ELAC has turned into Downtown ELAC,” Jeffrey Hernandez, current academic senate president, said.
The Aquaponics Garden is a new weather monitoring system that was installed on campus in 2019.
The weather station is capable of reading wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, rainfall and can even identify specific types of pollution.
“Aquaponics gardening combines hydroponics and aquaculture where fish waste fertilizes plants and vegetables in an organically controlled system,” Lou Hughes, an internal evaluator for the STEM Department, said. “From a science standpoint, there’s a lot more you can do with it than with an ordinary garden.”
The weather station was the first of its kind within the Los Angeles Community College District.
In 2019, the first job center on campus became available for students and the community. It is a collaborative effort between East Los Angeles College and Los Angeles County.
The center is called America’s Job Center of California.
The programs are meant to provide training for students.
The county has committed to helping with the placement.
In 2019, Out of more than 250 colleges and universities in California, East Los Angeles College was ranked as having the lowest violent crime rates in the state.
Compared to other schools in California, ELAC made the list for having the lowest incidents of violent crime per 1,000 students, according to Safehome.org, an organization that researches, reviews and compares the latest security trends.
Many students and faculty complained throughout the years of the constant construction. Construction caused a multitude of inconveniences like relocating centers and blocking pathways.
However, in the long run, the construction paid off. Students, faculty and staff have a campus that looks modern and in an overall improvement from past buildings.