The ceremony began with The Lion Dance of Good Luck, where performers dressed in a dragon costume danced to beating drums played by students.
Speakers included Mayor Ed Lee and City College board member Lawrence Wong, who was instrumental to the campus’ construction.
The $138 million building will serve an expected 7500 students in classes such as math, physics, culinary and architecture.
The campus opens in the shadow of the Accreditation Commission’s threat to rescind City College’s accreditation status, but the speakers were silent on the issue and spoke confidently of the school’s longevity.
“We will never let City College close, we will never abandon our collective responsibility to guarantee education,” Lee said during his speech. “City College will stay open for many generations to come.”
Lee also for the first time officially endorsed Proposition A, which would introduce a parcel tax projected to raise $17 million annually for eight years to help curb City College’s routine budget shortfalls.
It was announced that the office of San Francisco’s representative to Congress and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent a letter thanking the Board of Trustees for working to build the campus.
Wong detailed the struggle and opposition he personally faced in his quest to bring a campus to Chinatown. “We had no money, we had no land, but it was a dream,” he said. “I have never doubted that this campus would be built, even when no one else believed me.”
Wong has previously served as president of the board of trustees and is currently a board member. He is known for advocating programs that help immigrants and non-English speakers. Wong is also a National Board Member of the Chinese Americans Citizens Alliance, one of the country’s oldest civil rights groups.
He explained that Chinatown’s citizens had been asking for a campus since he was elected in 1994 and that it had always been his primary goal.
At 14 stories, the campus’ only building provides a breathtaking view of Chinatown, Coit Tower, and the Transamerica Pyramid.
Facing Washington Street, the library’s window contains an aphorism to greet the aspiring students of the Chinatown campus: “Diligence is the path up the mountain of knowledge. Hard work is the boat across the endless sea of learning.”
The ceremony ended with a poignant rendition of classical/pop-rock songwriter Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” performed by City College’s choir.