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In 1916, Sacramento Junior College began at Sacramento High School.
Sacramento Junior College began with 46 students and 16 part-time instructors in 1916 at Sacramento High School at 18th and K streets. Edward Berringer was the first administrative head of the college, but shortly transferred to Stockton High School. Belle Cooledge, who was later to become vice-president, took over as principal of the college.
World War I was in progress, and the world of education was affected greatly by it. There were only six girls in the first graduating class of 1918. All the men had either volunteered or had been drafted into the armed service. Due to World War I the college was discontinued from 1918 until September 1920.
Fall 1920 brought brighter times and reopening of the doors at the new Sacramento High School building at 34 and Y streets.
Dr. Jeremiah B. Lillard was appointed president and Miss Cooledge named vice president and dean of women in 1923. The Sacramento school district bought 60.42 acres of land at the corner of Sutterville Road and Freeport Boulevard in 1924. The new Sacramento Junior College campus opened in 1926 with two buildings– administration/classroom and women’s gym.
In 1927, the first Art Ball with the theme “Deep Sea” launched 22 annual musical and dance extravaganzas. The balls, run by the student Art League, raised money for scholarships and became one of Sacramento’s premier social events.
Sacramento Stadium was built in 1928, and the athletic traditions began on campus for the Panthers. In 1944, the stadium was re-named Hughes Stadium in honor of Charles Colfax Hughes, superintendent of Sacramento schools. Hughes Stadium was renovated with new bleachers, press box, and stadium lighting system in 2012.
The college became part of the newly organized Sacramento City Unified School District in 1936. A new men’s gym, a science annex on the administration building, a library, and an auditorium were added to on the campus in 1936. Under the Public Works Administration, a cafeteria, a home economics wing off the library, an aeronautics building, and engineering building were completed in 1938.
In 1940, the college’s beloved President Lillard retired. Times began to change rapidly as Dr. Richard Rutledge stepped into the vacant presidency. The shop building, completed in 1941, allowed for more courses aimed at technical and vocational training as World War II demanded intense mechanization all over the country. After the United States entered the war, the face of the campus changed with tents appearing on the out skirts of the stadium was transformed into a mess hall for the Army Air Corps personnel stationed there. These men, who patrolled the West Coast in B-24 bombers, flew out of the Sacramento Municipal Airport.
Dr. Rutledge accelerated the vocational program to help meet the need for trained personnel for industry but died of a heart attack in 1942. The fall of 1942 found the president’s chair occupied by Dr. Nicholas Ricciardi, who found it a trying time for the college as the student body shrunk to 400. He managed to keep the college going until the end of World War II in 1945. He gave preference to returning veterans who were anxious to make up for lost time and complete their educations. Dr. Ricciardi’s administration saw other changes came in college. A new Sacramento State College began operating on campus in 1947, causing crowded conditions and, for a while, it looked as if the junior college might become a four-year institution.
In the 1944-45 academic year the campus was renamed Sacramento College. By 1947, the name changed back to Sacramento Junior College when Sacramento State College was born on the SJC campus, where it stayed until its campus was completed in 1952. Students successfully lobbied for the college to remove “Junior” from its name in 1959 when it became Sacramento City College. This also distinguished it from Sacramento State College.
Dr. J. Paul Mohr became president of the college in 1949. “A junior college must be all things to all people,” Mohr said. “It must deal with the remedial, the vocational…especially the academic.” During his administration, new engineering-technology and cosmetology buildings were erected.
In 1956, after Dr. Mohr’s death, Dr. Harold Stephenson took the presidential office.
During 1957 the first evening classes were taught off campus at Mather Air Force Base. Also in 1957 the first polio inoculation campaign was planned on campus, then postponed due to a shortage of Salk vaccine.
Former SCC student and instructor Albert Rodda, who graduated from Sacramento Junior College in 1931 and later taught history here, was elected to the California Senate in 1958.
The original administration/classroom building was torn down in 1974-75 because it did not meet earthquake standards. Two new brick buildings built in their place were dedicated in 1977, and were renamed for Senator Albert Rodda in 1980.
The civil rights and Vietnam War were in full swing during the 1960s. The Black Student Union demanded a permanent outreach center in Oak Park, which was later established as the Oak Park School of Afro-American Thought. Oliver Durand became SCC president from 1967 until 1969. “President Durand expressed a concern for City College student government problems and recommended they become subjects of study.” (The Pony Express, September 19, 1968)
Peter W. Knoles became the interim president in 1969. “This is not the first time Mr. Knoles has been top man on campus. During the 1964-65 year, he served as acting president of the college during the year’s absence of Dr. Harold H. Stephenson. In July, 1965, he became acting superintendent of the Los Rios Junior College District until a successor for Dr. Bill Priest could be found.” (The Pony Express, April 24, 1969)
Sam Kipp became president in 1969 through 1977 during the turbulent Vietnam era when students and some faculty protested the war. Despite difficulties resulting from the increased enrollment and the expansion of the physical plant, he said, “We have the spirit, the innovative minds, the creativity and flexibility to adapt to changes and grow with the times. Our educational program will be one of the most comprehensive in the country-based on a tradition of excellence.”
During his tenure as president, Dr. Kipp facilitated major projects on campus, such as the construction of Rodda North and South, the Graphic Arts/Cosmetology building, the business education classrooms and Learning Center (Business Building), Theatre Arts building, the Women’s Gym complex, and the Student Center. He also started the Afro-American School of Thought in Oak Park, and enhanced the criminal justice, photography, and nursing programs. In 1977, he returned to the classroom as a math instructor and retired in 1980. (SCC All Staff Memo from Robert M. Harris, president, September 6, 1999)
Jack Fujimoto became SCC president from 1977 until 1979. “Dr. Jack Masakazy Fujimoto is the first Japanese-American to be selected head of a major community college in the mainland United States.” (Newsline, September, 1977)
Doug Burris became the president of City College on July 1, 1979. Mr. Burris was president of all three Los Rios colleges between 1970 and 1984 and later served as deputy chancellor for the state community college chancellor’s office.
Dr. Carl Christian Andersen was the president from 1984 until 1987. “I like the dynamism of community colleges; it’s inherent in the amazing challenge of providing learning in an open door institution. You have people here with varying backgrounds and varying abilities, but they have one thing in common—they want to better themselves.” (Express, October 11, 1984) For 68 years SCC students paid no fees for classes until fall 1984, when they were charged $13 a unit.
Robert Harris 1987-2005
Robert Harris had the longest tenure of any president (1987-2005) since the college was founded. “President Harris is well known for his do-or- die resolve to work together to make our dreams a reality, which has resulted in many improvements to the SCC campus, including the restoration of the Auditorium, renovation of the City Café, and construction of a Child Development Center, Center for Physical Excellence, and the Learning Resource Center, a grand and gleaming high-tech wonder.” (Inside City, Spring 2005)
“During his presidency, SCC, in partnership with Sutter Health Sacramento Sierra Region, expanded its Associate Degree Nursing Program and Sutter has committed more than $16 million through 2010 with the goal of educating 450 registered nurses.” (Inside City, Spring 2005)
“Harris also helped establish Beta Eta Psi, a campus chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society, created a $7,500 scholarship to pay the induction fee for students who need assistance, and was one of only 24 college presidents honored with the prestigious Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction.” (Inside City, Spring 2005)
In 1995 President Harris supported the creation of Susurrus, the college literary journal, which twice won first place in the national Community College Humanities Association Annual Literary Magazine Competition. (Inside City, Spring 2005)
Patricia Hsieh was the interim president in 2005. “Please remember, the door of the President’s Office is always open to all of you, and your suggestions and input are most welcome.” (Greeting from our Interim President, Dr. Patricia Hsieh, to SCC faculty, staff, managers, and students, January 31, 2005)
Arthur Quinn Tyler served as SCC president for two years from 2005 until 2007. “Tyler, 56, grew up straddling the poverty line in Washington, D.C. He overcame dyslexia, spent a lifetime traveling the world with the Air Force, and then began a new career less than 10 years ago at a community college in Los Angeles. He arrived at Sacramento City College last summer.” (The Sacramento Bee, July 2, 2006)
“I probably shouldn’t be a college president, given what I was facing,” Tyler said in an interview, last week. “I wasn’t supposed to make it.”
“When you think about the number of kids who perhaps don’t graduate from high school-if they’re 18 years old, they can come here,” Tyler said. “We can transform them if they’re willing to work hard, if they’re willing to listen, if they’re just willing to show up. “We can find a way to help them find dreams that they never thought they had.” (The Sacramento Bee, July 2, 2006)
Dr. Kathryn Jeffery was the first permanent woman president on this campus to hold that title from 2008-2016. Dr. Jeffery attended Oklahoma State University and received her bachelor’s degree in music in 1975 and her master’s degree in counseling in 1977. She originally started at SCC in 1981 as a counselor. Dr. Jeffrey left SCC in 1991, taking administrative positions at community colleges across the country. She returned to SCC in 2008 to take on the role of president; her former colleagues knew she would be a good fit. According to Barbara Davis-Lyman, who taught sociology at SCC for 38 years, “President Jeffery has a unique ability to hear what is being said and also to hear what is not being said.”
Dr. Jeffrey accepted a position as president of Santa Monica College in 2016.
Learning Resource Center and Other Structures
The end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century at SCC has seen growth in student population, buildings and outreach centers. After several years of study, SCC determined that the library could no longer meet the needs of its student body because they needed more study room, the building was cold and leaked when it rained. The college decided to demolish the library and replace it with a larger, more technologically advanced building on the same site, to be known as the Learning Resources Center (LRC). The college submitted its plans to the Los Rios Community College District which approved them. In the course of approving and submitting the plans the district didn’t do a full-scale environmental review of the project under the California Environmental Quality Act. The library was registered as a historical building.
During this time, there was a great deal of emotion and debate about the fate of the library. As a result, the citizens for historic preservation filed a lawsuit against district Chancellor Queen F. Randall. The California State Court of Appeal ultimately found in favor of the district to build the new Library/Learning Resources Center on the site of the existing library. The original library was torn down in 1996 and a new three-story Learning Resource Center was built in 1998.
A new light rail stop near Hughes Stadium opened in fall 2003. To add to this convenience, a parking garage offering an additional 1,964 spaces for students was built in 2007. The latest renovations at SCC are the Sacramento City College Performing Arts Building and Hughes Stadium in 2012. The most recent structure on campus is the Student Services building dedicated May 8, 2015.