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Page 9 text:
gang fb brewery,
By Carolyn Ristuccia
Illustrated by Steve Fischer and Iohn Rosenfield , -
Valley College in its prime in 1974, and then Valley in 1949. A
microfilm machine reels over 25 years of faded photos and
print-vestiges of a rural Van Nuys. A rain-swollen dirt road
known as Burbank Boulevard lined with cow pastures, barns, an
old silo . . , baby pictures of an infant city, a spacious excuse
for 'the building of what was to become one of the most
prestigious, if not the largest, of the community colleges in the
In 1951, when saddle shoes, bobby sox, and prom queens
were the rage, Valley College president Dr. Vierling Kersey cut
the ceremonial ribbon marking the college's official opening on
its present campus. A barnyard collection of bungalows neigh-
boring Van Nuys High School, its purpose, announceda local
newspaper, "would be to serve the surrounding community at
And so, with a faculty of 22 and a student body slightly
shadowing the minimum enrollment requirement, Valley grew'
to colossal proportions.
From an enrollment of 540 students in 1951 to a towering
registration of nearly 20 thousand in 1974, the years came and
went, transforming a temporary collection of 32 bungalows, a
cafeteria and a theatre arts building into a 105-acre educational
Innovative legislation passed in 1907 authorized in 1949 the
S32 million funding for Valley College's creation. The brainchild
of educational maverics Dr. David jordan, president of Leland
Stanford University, and Dr, Alexis Lange, dean of the Univer-
sity of California, the 1907 measure encouraged local high
school districts to offer interested alumni post-graduate courses
in lower division university work.
As the community college steadily grew to precocious matur-
ity, the system established itself as the newest and most
permanent of educational experiments. Setting a national prece-
dent, between 1916 and 1973, billions of California tax dollars
had subsidized the building of some 94 community colleges
throughout the state.
Dazzling the progressive notions of both the "starry-eyed"
sociologist and the "tail-wagging politician," the community
college with its "education for everybody who wants it" appeal
carried the concept of education as a right and not a privilege
closer to reality. '
One of the first schools to provide a springboard curricula of
two-year course programs in academic transfer work and
occupational training, Valley was soon to recruit a pied piper
following of unwavering community support. A
To the utter amazement of city tax assessors, an otherwise
persnickity voting public was suddenly saying "yes" to a most
unpopular issue-increased funding for institutions of higher
learning during a time when student activism on college
campuses throughout the nation was at an all-time high.
In 1968, when the California electorate was particularly
adamant in assigning "no" vote after "no" vote to bond issues
calling for allocations designed to enlarge the state university
system, the community college continued to lasso ballot box
Following an improvement campaign that gave the college
modern chemistry, engineering, physics, and foreign language
facilities, a 100,000 volume library, and an Administration
Building, funding was also allotted for the construction of the
new Music and Theatre Arts Buildings, the Campus Center, a
cafeteria, and two gymnasiums.
With these developments at hand, Valley was able to
accommodate the ever-rising onslaught of enrollees.
Who came, and why they came, is the professional educator's
"once upon a time" storyrthat leaves everyone living "happily
Drawing individuals from every social and economic station,
schools like Valley attracted people with serious and, for the
most part, sincere academic intentions, serious teachers and
serious students. Rather than a "Big U" catch-all for research-
minded Ph.D.'s and self-styled intellectual elitists, Valley offers
a modest but highly efficient example of what education can
be: education for learning's sake . . . minus the pomp and the
Cutting across the class lines that have traditionally reserved
higher education for a privileged few, a no- or low-tuition policy
coupled with lenient admission requirements have provided
many with the opportunity to pursue avenues of personal
expression formerly closed to them. To attend it is not necessary
for one to be wealthy or in the top 4 percent of his high school
graduating class, or even a high school graduate.
Said to give even the so-called "academic loser" another shot
at succeeding by lending a supportive hand to the treadmill
products of what educational psychologist A. R. Ekerman
caustically termed "the system that teaches everybody to
memorize and nobody to think," Valley College has provided a
refreshing change for students who left public school believing
they would never return to any school.
"After I got out of high school," says Barbara Edelman,
second-year chemistry student, "the last thing I wanted to do
was get into another structured learning situation. I was
thoroughly sick of the whole thing." Between the mickey mouse
teacher-student power politics and the "busy work" assign-
ments, Barbara said she didn't know school had anything to
offer until she came to Valley on the advice of a friend.
"Besides liking the fact that I'm here because I want to be," she
says, "I appreciate the luck l've had with instructors . . . they
don't make you feel like a mental peon for not understanding
Page 8 text:
Page 10 text:
. . . .-- - li . '
This farmland is where Valley College was built. No one knew
at the tlme that someday these grounds would become an
Dr. Robert Horton, fourth president in the
history of Valley College, will be leading
the college in a salute to Valley's
something. You're expected to ask questions. If they don't have
the feed back, how else can they know if you're learning?"
Located in the suburban midst of L.A. County, Valley is large
by any standard of measurement, and after 25 years the college
remains a standing butress of relaxed sophistication in a maze of
As statistics supplied by the office of educational develop-
ment reveal, the Valley College transfer student is inclined to do
better than the high school student who went directly to the
university. This is of special benefit to the high-caliber student
who cannot afford the ever-rising cost of the four-year schools.
By attending the community college he may obtain the equiva-
lent or superior education while at the same time cutting costs
Also running in favor of the community college is the fact
that it provides a better chance for psychological adjustment
during a time of emotional uncertainty reflected in national
figures that show suicide to be the number one killer of college
While the community college and university students face
identical pressures for achieving success, one underlining differ-
ence separates the two groups-that of attitude. Shortly after
making the adjustment from one system to another, the transfer
student is thrown into a state of limbo.
ln opposition to the larger institutions in which a student
suffers from a gnawing sense of alienation, the Valley student is
accustomed to making and maintaining ties preserved long after
At Valley, professors, rather than teaching assistants, con-
tinue to instruct classes in which students are known and
addressed by name. Student-teacher contact is a serious
formality that escapes sacrifice in even the largest of classes.
The Valley student does not lead a campus oriented life style.
As available statistics reveal, the average Valley student is
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