I currently have columns running in 3 newspapers;
- Tri-Valley Herald : Looking Back
- Valley Times : Do You Remember?
- The Independent : Do You Remember?
The Articles appear in the Herald and Independent on Thursdays,
and the Times on Sundays.
They will also be found on this page each week as well.
If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.
The Tri-Valley's community college turns 30
By Barry Schrader.................................March
It was 30 years ago this week that those 147 acres of rolling hills
off Collier Canyon Road became a college campus. Since that time thousands
of students-young and old-have enjoyed the educational opportunities afforded
there and gone on to higher education, new careers and a better life because
of what they gained there.
The college was first called Chabot College Valley Campus, but then in 1988
became a full-fledged community college-Las Positas College. Then four years
later it was fully-accredited as California's 107th community college.
Four original staff members are still there, and deserve special mention.
They are Don Milanese, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Linda Peifer,
an administrative assistant (first switchboard operator), Maria Elena Pellinen,
philosophy and foreign language instructor, and Sophie Reinheimer, physical
education instructor and current Faculty Senate president. And of course
the founding Dean, Barbara Mertes, has now "graduated" (retired)
and is currently president of the Chabot-Las Positas Board of Trustees.
Another person who was there at the start, Marshall Drummond of the business
faculty, moved on to become the head of the Los Angeles Community College
District, and is now chancellor of the entire California Community College
Milanese reminisced with me over the 128 names suggested for the new college
and that list was culled to 11 finalists. They were--in addition to Las
Positas-Alisal, Altamont, Canyon Hills, Collier Canyon, Del Valle, Golden
Hills, Jack London, Kingsbury, Tri-Valley, and Valley View. How well I remember
was on the board of trustees at the time-and lobbied hard to get it named
after Jack London-but the vote was 4 to 3 in favor of Las Positas, which
was the name of Robert Livermore's original rancho in the valley and loosely
translated from Spanish, means "little springs." I had even encouraged
the college's public information chief Kim Huggett to go to the post office
and buy up all the Jack London commemorative stamps, which had been issued
earlier that year. I owe him something for all those stamps-he may still
be using them on Christmas cards!
Barbara Mertes also reminded me why the college had the reputation of being
the cleanest and the grounds pristine. A man named Babe Castillo was in
charge of maintaining the campus and treated it like his own yard and home.
Babe was even known to come up behind a student who had just dropped a Kleenex
or gum wrapper and say "Pick it up
" Then there was Marge
O'Leary, the Dean's exectuive secretary, who was unequalled in her efficiency
and caring attitude. These were the kind of people who made the new institution
seem like one big family.
Mertes also recalled the support they received from the community. The Livermore
Lions Club was the first service club to sponsor a scholarship, plus giving
money for the founding plaque, which can be found in the inner quad today.
Families like the Graham Nissens have been generous benefactors to the college
with their gifts. Sandia National Labs offered an early scholarship tied
to summer employment for the winners, and the two local Labs spawned adjunct
faculty over the years that added greatly to the quality of education students
So it was a great day 30 years ago when we got our own college in the valley,
and the tradition of educational excellence continues to this day. I hope
residents will join them in celebrating the occasion when they hold an open
house for the community April 16.
For the record, here are the names of the original 1975 faculty: Jerry Ball,
Roy Bidwell, Joe Downs, Marshall Drummond, Esther Goldberg, Jack Healey,
Henry Hoey, Maurice Ngo, Ellen Owen, Maria Pellenen, Judy Porta, Sophie
Rheinheimer, Dee Roshong, George Ann Tow, Bruce Werner, and David Wright.
The founding administrative and classified staff also deserve recognition:
Inez Barrious, Irv Batz, Kathryn Benapfl, Sally Canchola, Charles Correia,
Babe Castillo, Charles Dean, Angela Dotson, Robin Harrod, Linda Lucas, Joan
MacIsaac, Virginia MacCrossen, Judy McMurray, Marge O'Leary, Linda Peifer,
Linda Perreira, Margaret Raisner, Barbara Silvia, Carol Speed, and Shirley
* * *
There is no "history mystery" question this week as I am going
away for a long weekend and won't be back in time to include the answers
in next week's column.
The columnist can be reached via email at :
or by snailmail at:
PO Box 446
Livermore, CA. 94551