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 Rio Salado College 

Name: Rio Salado College
President: Cristobal Bustamante
City: Tempe
State: AZ
Type: Public
Campus Setting: Rural, Fringe
Year Established: 1978

Governing Board Website 


Rio Salado College

Student Characteristics Based on Fall 2010 IPEDS Data

2010 Fall Credit Enrollment
Total: 25,266
Part Time: 87.6%
Full Time: 12.4%

Male: 36.3%
Female: 63.7%

African American: 10.0%
Asian/Pacific Islander: 3.9%
Hispanic: 15.3%
Native American: 1.7%
White: 61.6%
Other: 7.6%


Rio Salado College President

Cristobal Bustamante

Rio Salado College Board Chair

Dana Saar
 Board Chair

Quote from the President

“The culture at Rio Salado College fosters an entrepreneurial spirit which inspires change and embraces innovation. The college challenges the limits of tradition to significantly impact public higher education, business, and governmental entities. Whether it is finding new student markets, forging community partnerships, or tapping into new technologies, the college’s progressive approach accepts each challenge with remarkable enthusiasm and steadfastly pursues leading-edge solutions. Rio Salado promotes an atmosphere where out-of-the-box thinking can flourish by incorporating proven business strategies and strategic partnerships to benefit higher education and the diverse communities it serves.”  

Interesting Facts

  •  Rio Salado College’s systems approach to online learning is a nation model that balances access and convenience with student support in order to achieve student success. It is through its customized learning management system that the college’s Monday start dates throughout the year enable students to learn anytime, anyplace, and be supported in a variety of ways tailored to meet the individual needs of each student.

  • Rio Salado designed and developed a first-of-its-kind, online Post Baccalaureate Teacher Preparation Program, which has grown to serve students in 36 states and 33 countries. In 2011, the program received a $1.2-million National Science Foundation Noyce Scholarship to support recruitment of junior high and high school teachers in STEM subjects. This was the first time a Noyce Scholarship was granted to a community college.  

  • To fulfill the strategic goal of meeting students where they are and to create empowerment zones throughout the community, Rio Salado College utilizes a new model of higher education where multiple community colleges and universities partner with municipalities to offer students progressive degrees and seamless transfer options all in one convenient location. Rio Salado built its first Communiversity in 2009 in Surprise, Arizona, and recently opened a second Communiversity in partnership with the Town of Queen Creek, Arizona.

  • In partnership with KJZZ and The Friends of Public Radio, the college sponsors an after-school youth media center, Spot 127, to provide at-risk students aged 14 to 24 with career training and mentoring in digital media professions and sustainable foods journalism.

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