I came across an old article about the “dedication” of our fair college that sheds a little light on the situation. In “Irvine Gets a ‘Valley’ at College Dedication” (Oct. 23, 1985), reporter Bill Billiter explained that the “5,200-student institution had been the northern branch of the Mission-Viejo based Saddleback College.” Now, he said, it was a “newly independent college.”
The main speaker for the dedication was State Chancellor Joshua L. Smith, who joked about the college’s name:
Smith … noted wryly that “Irvine Valley” created a valley “where none existed before,” adding: “Irvine Valley! ‘What valley?’ we all have been asked. Let’s face it, folks, Irvine Elongated Plane College just doesn’t have the same ring to it.The audience laughed, we’re told. It was a hot, sunny day. Not a negative word was heard from the people passing by.
“I’m told geologists have argued against the college’s name by pointing out that it is not located in a depressed plane. I say good. I’m delighted this college is not located in a depressed anything.
“If the ‘sun’ can have a valley; if ‘dolls’ can have a valley; if even ‘the shadow of death’ can have a valley, then surely geologists cannot deny Irvine its own valley,” he observed.
The article goes on to explain:
[“]Irvine Valley[”] was selected earlier this year as the new name for what had formerly been North Campus of Saddleback College. The name was a way of using Irvine, to please that city, while attempting not to offend Laguna Beach and Tustin, the other communities the college serves, according to officials familiar with the situation.* The decision to build a north campus had been made by trustees in the early 70s. The way I heard it, the people of Tustin were very excited about the possibility of a campus in their city, and, at some point, land in the vicinity of what became the Tustin Marketplace was selected for that purpose. But then (according to the story), the Irvine Company decided to give away some land for the purpose of a community college right here on Irvine Center Drive (and Jeffrey), so the decision was made to build the campus there instead, a couple of miles to the south.
The City of Tustin has been pissed ever since. It’s like Mayberry over there, so you can’t reason with ‘em.
That’s the story. Don’t know how much of it is true, but surely some of it is (I got it from a reliable sort).
* * *I looked for an article that tells the story of the first appearance of the Irvine “campus.” I found “North Saddleback Campus: It’s Small, Has No Name, but a New College It Is” (LA Times, January 15, 1979), by Tom Fortune. It says
It will start out the size of a junior high school. And it’s a long way from getting a name of its own.
But students will begin taking classes next Monday at Orange County’s newest community college, known as the north campus of Saddleback College.
College officials say they expect to enroll about 1,500 persons at the outset, many of them taking courses both at the new campus … and at Saddleback College (14 miles south in Mission Viejo).
For a few years, the new school will be merely a satellite campus. No attendance boundaries will be drawn to separate it from Saddleback College. It will not have its own name or a football team.
. . .
The plan is to develop the campus in 20-acre increments. Each new cluster is to have its own educational theme and central architectural focus.
. . .
Only two of the three academic buildings in the first cluster will be ready for the start of classes next Monday. A late start on the science building … will delay its availability by a couple of months....
During a press preview last week, the campus was still very much a construction site. The raw buildings were surrounded by mud. A workman was painting a door through which visitors entered.
Campus administrator Ed Hart had his full-time faculty there for introduction—all 11 of them.
. . .
The buildings are of brick with mostly flat roofs. A clock tower is the focus of the central plaza. Lots of outside windows are intended to show off a business machines center and a reading and language lab and entice students inside.
. . .
Greater things are ahead, promised District Supt. Robert Lombardi. He said the new campus probably will be one of the last community colleges built in the state….
And, in 1985, the college did become independent and was indeed named—an unfortunate name, for a college, if you ask me. (“Not really correct, but close enough!” said the politician.)
I’m not sure what Fortune meant by “educational themes” and “architectural focus” distinguishing the college’s “clusters.” It all looks kinda random to me. The campus does look good, however, and so I don’t mean to complain about its appearance.
Those buildings were not made of brick, dude. The brick is veneer, like the fake wood on a Walmart office desk. Oh, how shitty it is to tear open the veneer and to behold the particle board beneath!
Our leader, Pres. Glenn Roquemore (a protégé of Raghu F.U. Mathur), tore out the clock tower about ten years ago—supposedly cuz he and his predecessor (Mathur) had let it become rotten. (The Reb and I deftly liberated the hands of the clock. We occasionally break ‘em out and do performance art.) So the “central plaza” no longer has a focus, unless it’s that goofy sculpture smack dab in the middle.
Twenty years ago, owing to the high percentage of IVC instruction that occurs in that School, H&L was slated to get its own building. But then the odious Raghu Mathur happened (1997). Since his chief critics were among H&L faculty, Mathur, a petty sort, continually contrived to prevent the School from getting new facilities. Luckily, he finally got booted a couple of years ago cuz he had really pissed off trustee Don Wagner. (The initial story was that Mathur had deviously written to the Accred maven, Babs Beno, in an effort to get her to pressure the district not to create Accred committees that mixed faculty and trustees. Mathur had long presented trustees with a negative caricature of faculty and did not want his distortions refuted by trustees' exposure to reality.)
In recent years, we’ve been promised a temporary “new” building. It is the remodel of the old “science” building (A400). "Gosh thanks," said H&L faculty, warily.
For months, our School has been meeting with administration and architects to plan the building. At first, the plans looked pretty impressive. Gradually, they've been whittled down.
By now, we just call it the “incredible shrinking building.” Cynicism and skepticism reigns supreme.
*In late 1973, Tustin residents sought to move Tustin out of the Saddleback District and into the Santa Ana District—on the grounds that the distance to Saddleback College was too great for residents. The matter was taken to the Saddleback District trustees, who rejected the proposal. Tustin residents then sought the “petition” route: enough signatures were collected, and then the matter was taken up by the state. (See “Petition Asking District Shift Nears Goal,” LA Times, Nov 25, 1973.) The only other article about the matter I have found (“Tustin Bid for College Shift Suffers Setback,” LA Times, April 18, 1974) states that “The Orange County Committee on School District Organization has Recommended that Tustin remain in the Saddleback College attendance area and not be switched to the Santa Ana....” At present, parts of Tustin continue to be in the SOCCCD.