Rocky Young Park
Darroch "Rocky" Young was a groundbreaking president at Pierce College from 1999 to 2004. Under his leadership the college made a complete turnaround that the Los Angeles Times called "the Miracle on Winnetka."
Young, an MBA graduate of UCLA, left a vice president position at Santa Monica College to become President of Pierce College in June 1999. Under his leadership, the college increased its enrollment by 51 percent in less than three years, making Pierce one of the fastest growing community colleges in California.
He put a Master Plan in place that included extensive community involvement and guided what can be seen today in the remarkable modernization of campus facilities that has transformed almost every part of the campus. He created a 15-week semester plan that has become the most copied academic calendar in California, and reversed years of financial difficulties to create healthy financial reserves for the college.
He fostered new partnerships with Caltech, UCLA, UC Berkeley and CSUN, as well as a number of industry partners in the private sector. He created strong alliances for the college with neighborhood groups, businesses, and elected officials.
Young was named Chancellor of the nine-college Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) on May 4, 2005. As Chancellor, Young launched a major Student Success Initiative aimed at improving all student educational outcomes across the District-- including graduation, transfer, and job placement rates. He initiated an aggressive district-wide marketing campaign to publicize community college educational opportunities, and significantly increased the funding of the LACCD Foundation, which distributes thousands of dollars in student scholarships each year. He reversed the financial difficulties of the district and created healthy financial reserves.
Young was awarded the 2007 Harry Buttimer Award as the outstanding community college executive in California, the 2003 Pacesetter of the Year by the National Council of Marketing and Public Relations, the 1998 ACCCA Leadership Award for Administrative Excellence in California Community Colleges, a 1998 CCLC Award for the Creation of the High School Concurrent Enrollment Program, the 1997 RBI Award for Education Contributions, and the 1997 CCLC Award for the Creation of the Academy of Entertainment and Technology.
He retired from the LACCD on July 31, 2007. In retirement he continues consulting and has authored two books on leadership, A Walk Through Leadership (2013) and Harvest from the Vineyard: Lessons Learned from the Vineyard Symposiums (2016). Proceeds from the book sales go to a student scholarship fund.
On March 23, 2011, the Board of Trustees of the LACCD resolved that in honor of Rocky Young's extraordinary dedication to Pierce College and his tireless leadership in revitalizing the educational opportunities geared toward future generations of students, the park east of Pierce College's Center for Sciences be officially named Rocky Young Park.
On June 8, 2011, Young returned to give the Pierce College commencement speech, appropriately in the park bearing his name. Upon acceptance of the bronze plaque in his honor at the Faculty Gala that day, he cited his time at Pierce as the highlight of his career.
In his commencement speech he praised the Pierce faculty and staff and acknowledged the support of voters in passing bond measures which are funding both upgrades and new construction on the 426-acre campus.
At the same time he said, "A great college is not defined by the buildings or the people who work there -- a great college is defined by its graduates. It is ultimately up to you to define this college."
The naming of Rocky Young Park was approved on March 23, 2011 by the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees.
The plaque, to be installed in Rocky Young Park, reads:
"Rocky Young Park is dedicated June 8, 2011 in honor of a true leader who renewed the spirit of Pierce College. He saw the college as it could be, recognizing the power of our faculty and staff. He proved that one person could spark change, and became the one who made the difference. He led by the force of his vision. He solved problems with logic. He championed the best in collegiality and inspired those around him to greater achievement. He was a man of action in a time when it was needed. Armed with a visionary new Master Plan, he called forth the true spirit of Pierce, and led the students into a new millennium with a better future."