Friday, July 27, 2012

IVC: the birth of a college with a daffy name

Saddleback North: New Name and a New Valley (LA Times) - May 15, 1985
     After a short search that yielded suggestions such as Gumby College and El Torito College--Home of the Nachos, the Saddleback Community College District board has voted to rename Saddleback College's north campus Irvine Valley Community College.
. . .
     Two of the other names offered by students, teachers and administrators were Rancho Irvine College and Modjeska Community College. Modjeska had a nice ring, [spokeswoman Susan Clark] said, but it presented technical difficulties. "There was a lot of trouble with the spelling, and we couldn't fit it into a fight song."….

     WHAT VALLEY? Some of the wise guys here at Irvine Valley College can be depended upon to note that, despite the college’s name, there is no valley here. According to experts, they say, the college sits upon an “elongated plane” not a valley.
     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.
     “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 audience laughed, we’re told. It was a hot, sunny day. Not a negative word was heard from the people passing by.
     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.
     OFFENDING TUSTIN.* 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….
     Eventually, of course, “attendance boundaries” were established. I do believe that El Toro Road is used to divide the district neatly in half.
     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.
     The science building? Well, that will soon be gutted and transformed into the new Humanities & Languages/Social & Behavioral Sciences building.
     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.

Smith (contemp pic)
*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.

 New College Born: Irvine Valley Becomes Official, Independent Entity (LA Times, July 2, 1985)

Irvine Valley President Plans to Retire Nov. 1 (LA Times, Aug. 26, 1986)


Anonymous said...

What fun to read this history of IVC and its name. Weirdly, the absence of a valley had not occurred to me, even when I resided in Irvine and taught my first class ever on your campus, circa 1984. (Very good memories there.) "Irvine Valley College" has such bucolic, idyllic, green associations that I've always liked the name. I find it hilarious that somebody way back then felt the need to note that the campus would not have its own name "or a football team." Is that what makes a college?!


Anonymous said...

I think Ed Hart, first IVC president, passed over some great names to create a valley for IVC.

Anonymous said...

The great thing about the "new" building is that when it is done we will have fewer classrooms in which to teach because they will convert our "old" buildings into (1) a "bookstore" and (2) "learning centers."

In the end the problem we are trying to address by redesigning the A-400 building (too few classrooms for the schools that teach the majority of classes) will only be made worse - much worse, visibly worse.

I wonder if this will be compared to the scandal that shook up LACC.

Of course this is rooted in the scandal that can't be spoken about which created the empty, gaseous BSTIC building...and so many others. Development not driven by numbers but by favors.

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing.


And I followed her to the station With a suitcase in my hand And I followed her to the station With a suitcase in my hand Well, ...