Editorial: Laguna College on a roll

Laguna College of Art & Design will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, and the college is already abuzz about its many accomplishments and plans for an even brighter future.

During a well-attended President's Circle breakfast on Sept. 29 at the Hotel Laguna, college President Dennis Powers outlined some impressive achievements.

The college is in the "top three" nationally for its figurative and representational drawing and painting program, Powers said.

Moreover, the college is boasting what may be its largest student population ever — 426 full-time students. The student body has been growing by leaps and bounds for several years, even in a lackluster economy, with a whopping 13% increase in enrollment in 2010 over the previous year, and in 2009, growth tallied 7%, an uptick after an average of 5% annual growth year-over-year.

By the same token, with more students, the college now has its biggest operating budget ever at $8.3 million.

In fact, Powers revealed, the institution has been growing so quickly that college officials at one point considered making a move from the cramped Laguna Canyon campus to larger quarters in Irvine or perhaps a business park somewhere in Orange County. Heaven forbid!

Fortunately, it was decided that taking Laguna College out of Laguna would be bad for the college, whose students enjoy unparalleled conditions for budding art careers by being in the artistic milieu that Laguna provides.

"We will stay in Laguna forever," Powers told the group.

Just as leaving Laguna would not help the college, it wouldn't be good for the city to lose its tradition of educating young artists.

Laguna College was founded in 1961 as a training ground for artists in the Pageant of the Masters, and many of its graduates have gone on to success as fine artists as well as working in graphic design and computer art fields. The numbers are truly impressive.

Things are really cooking at Laguna College. This year, the college opened its first-ever student housing facility, and a new wing for its high-tech Game Art program, whose graduates are now highly sought-after in the lucrative Game Art industry, according to Powers. A new library and art gallery are in the offing as well. With four sites now in operation, the college has employed a shuttle to ferry students and faculty around.

A visit to the college reveals a place humming with creativity and productive activities, and Laguna Beach should truly be delighted that the college will be in Laguna forever.

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