Chaffey History

A Rich History, Traditions that Endure

George and William Chaffey founded Chaffey College in Ontario on March 17, 1883. Previously known as the Chaffey College School of Agriculture, the brothers envisioned a local college that would provide quality education to the citrus-growing families in the region.

Despite being a small school, Chaffey made its mark early on with its well-known athletics programs. In fact, Chaffey’s football team defeated the USC Trojans by a score of 32 to 6 in December 1893.

A hiatus came in 1901 when Chaffey had to close its doors due to financial issues, but the college returned in 1919 when the Chaffey Union High School District created a Junior College Department. Curriculum focused on academics and agriculture.

The school built a separate junior college building at the corner of Fifth Street and Euclid Avenue in 1930, the same decade that Chaffey faculty members developed four varieties of peaches. In 1957, bonds were approved to build a new campus and the board approved the purchase of 130 acres on Haven Avenue. Chaffey held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new location on March 17, 1958.

Chaffey continued to grow in the coming decades, joining with the Chino Union School District in 1968, opening the Wignall Museum in 1970 and the Chaffey College Children’s Center in 1977. By 1982, enrollments had reached more than 12,700.

President Bill Clinton visited Chaffey College in 1996, announcing a proposal to finance two years of community college education to expand the basic education of all Americans to 14 years. That year, Chaffey opened its Fontana campus. And three years later, Chaffey launched its online education program.

The residents of Chaffey’s serving cities – Chino, Chino Hills, Fontana, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Upland – stepped up to help the college meet its growing demands and approved Measure L in 2002. The $230 million general obligation bond funded new construction, repairs and renovations to existing facilities and new educational equipment. In 2002, Chaffey opened its Chino campus.

Chaffey would earn many honors in the years that followed, including being named a top 10 community college in the nation by the Aspen Institute in 2017. Chaffey earned a $1 million “Chancellor’s Higher Education Innovation Award” in 2018. And philanthropist MacKenzie Scott awarded Chaffey a $25 million gift in 2021 because of Chaffey’s dedication to equity.

The college’s passage of Measure P in 2018 has allowed Chaffey to make repairs, upgrades and improvements at its three campuses. And plans are underway to build a fourth campus in Ontario, which will be a return to roots for the college.

After 140 years, Chaffey’s commitment to improving lives through education has endured with the support of talented faculty and staff, the Governing Board and community partners.

Here’s to another 140 years!