California Fires: A Letter from the Chancellor In the News

November 13, 2018

The past few days have brought incredible pain and tragedy to our state, and several of our colleges have been severely impacted.

In Northern California the Camp Fire essentially destroyed the town of Paradise just north of Butte College, which was almost lost but for the heroic response by the firefighters who defended it as fire surrounded three sides of the campus. The devastation and loss of life is heart sickening and affect many students, faculty and staff.

The Hill and Woolsey fires in Southern California also continue to burn, with additional loss of life and destruction. The inferno came just hours after a mass shooting at a nearby popular college hangout in Thousand Oaks. Among the 12 people killed were Moorpark College student Noel Sparks, 21, and Ventura College student Blake Dingman, also 21.  Former Moorpark College student, Telemachus Orfanos, 27, also was slain.

As always, our community colleges continue to serve as centers of hope and strength, even as adversity bears down on them. They become emergency shelters and service providers for people and animals who fled the flames and as staging areas for first responders. The response and recovery for the communities will be a long and difficult process, and it is one that I ask all of you to join in supporting.

Working with the state Chancellor’s Office and affected colleges, the Foundation for California Community Colleges has linked to local college giving opportunities and created a state-wide relief fund that can be accessed at  Funds raised will help community college students replace critical supplies like laptops, cell phones, books, backpacks and other essential materials in order to continue their education. Staff and faculty who have lost their homes will also be eligible for relief funds. Funds will be distributed through local community college foundations.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley
California Community Colleges Chancellor