The seed for Saddleback College was planted as early as December 1960 with the release of a study entitled "A Study of the Junior College Needs of Orange County, 1960-80," conducted by Dr. William S. Biescoe and Dr. Hollis P. Allen, both area educators. The report recommended additional college campuses to account for "orderly growth" and to maintain enrollment at any given campus at 5,500 full-time equivalent students. Allen-Biescoe suggested one district for the entire county or, as a second consideration, three districts-North, Central, and Coast. Because it was state-mandated that a college or university exist within the boundaries of the district, the Tustin area, which lay adjacent to the University of California, Irvine, was encouraged to assume a responsibility.
In 1961, functionaries in the Laguna Beach, Capistrano, and Tustin school areas met in a meeting called by Larry Taylor, then President of the Laguna School Board (and years later to become a Saddleback Trustee) to discuss the ramifications of the Allen-Biescoe report. Over the next several years numerous such meetings took place to study and assess the possibility of forming a college district. This culminated in a feasibility study conducted by Boyle Engineering in 1965, the result of which predicted a full -time equivalent student count in 1964-65 of 1,113 rising by the year J973-74 to 1,9 J0 FTE. The target date of 1969-70 with an estimated average daily attendance of 1,332 qualified the area for district status.
The aforementioned initiating group set about to submit a petition to the
State Board of Education prior to submitting a proposal to the electorate. For unknown reasons the petition went first to the State Department, without first going through the Coordinating Council for Higher Education (as was supposed to happen). The Department of Education recommended against acceptance for numerous reasons inclusive of the impact to north Orange County communities. However, in July 1966, the State Board gave its approval of the petition and reaffirmed that approval in September. While the CCHE failed to react to the petition, on October J3, J966, the State Board of Education approved the formation of the South Coast Junior College District.
On Valentine's Day, February 14, 1967, Saddleback Junior College District was instituted. The new college district was immediately dubbed the "Sweetheart of South Orange County." Its boundaries included 329 square miles, 14 communities, and 5 elementary and secondary school districts in an area that constituted 48 percent of Orange County.
The district included land that stretches over rolling hills that give way to the Pacific Ocean to the southwest and to the crest of the Santa Ana Mountains and the Cleveland National Forest to the northeast, and at the time, was dotted with new residential developments and communities, as well as four incorporated cities.
From the period of February 14, 1967 to January 1, 1968, monumental steps were taken in preparation to open the district's college doors in September of 1968. There were no students and no classrooms during these 11 months, but all efforts and energies were geared toward this goal in order to serve the area's population of 126,550.
The following segment is an account of the planning and work that went into the accomplishments from February 14, 1967 to January 1968, the latter date marking the beginning of the district's first "effective year." The groundwork was laid for beginning classes in I 968-believed to be the first time in the history of the state that a junior college would open in its first "effective year" of operation. Inspired by highly interested citizens, an eager Board of Trustees and an enthusiastic but small administrative staff, the district was guided through exciting and challenging months.
The formation of the district and the board of trustees
The district became the 67th junior college district in the state and the fourth in the county. School districts within the college district at the time were Capistrano Unified, Laguna Beach Unified, Tustin Union High, Tustin Elementary, Trabuco Elementary and San Joaquin Elementary. Five Board of Trustee areas were established: Two in the Tustin area, one in Laguna Beach, one in San Clemente and one in El Toro-San Juan Capistrano-Laguna Niguel community areas. Each area represented nearly 10,000 voters with a total of44,966 registered voters. The Orange County Committee on School District Organization was responsible for setting up boundary lines.
Simultaneous with the election on the proposed junior college district was the election of the five-member Board of Trustees. There were 34 candidates in the race. Election of trustees was at large, although each trustee was required to be a resident of the trustee area he represented.
Elected to the first Board were Alyn M. Brannon of Tustin, Area I; Hans W. Vogel of Tustin, Area 2; Louis 1. Zitnik of Laguna Beach, Area 3; Patrick J. Backus of Dana Point, Area 4; and Michael T. Collins of Laguna Niguel, Area 5. Candidates with the highest number of votes, and named to four-year terms, were Zitnik, Brannon, and Collins. Vogel and Backus were named to two-year terms.
The elected Board of Trustees was sworn into office on February 23,1967. On March 13, 1967, Vogel was elected president of the Board, Collins as vice president, Zitnik as clerk, and Backus was named to represent the board on the County Committee.
Alyn M. Brannon of Area I was at the time of his election owner of the Friendly Quality Dairy in Tustin. He held a master's degree in industrial relations.
Hans W. Vogel of Area 2 was a contractor, book dealer and publishereditor of the Orange County Republican Observer. He had taught at the University of Southern California and California Institute of Technology.
Louis J. Zitnik of Area 3 was vice president of Mitchum, Jones and Templeton stockbrokers and a chartered financial analyst. He served as a Laguna Beach City Councilman from 1952 to 1956. He had taught parttime in the extended-day program at University of California at Berkeley, University of Southern California and Adult School at Laguna Beach High School.
Patrick J. Backus of Area 4 was also an educator. He was a guidance counselor at Huntington Beach Union High School District.
Michael T. Collins of Area 5 was an attorney associated with the Santa Ana law firm of Kindel and Anderson in Santa Ana. He received an engineering degree from the University of Notre Dame and his law degree from Georgetown University.
On March 21, 1967, the Board named the new district Saddleback Junior College District. The name was submitted by Trustee Brannon.
About the name
The name "Saddleback" was not new to the area, but rather it belonged to the historic past. Over 100 years ago, a newspaper account first spoke of the name that came to be chosen by the fledgling college district, but at that time the name was written as "Old Saddleback."
Although the "old" was dropped, the name, to this day, designates the slump between Santiago and Trabuco Peaks. According to Don Meadows, author of Historic Place Names in Orange County, the name Saddleback did not "come into use" until 1850-60. Before the dip in the mountain was given the name of "Saddleback," the entire area was called Trabuco Mountains after the guns carried by the Spaniards in the 1770s.
Meadows said the name had never been a Spanish word although there was a mountain in Mexico called "El Fortio," or the saddle. He declared that Saddleback "has always been a symbol of security."
Prior to the selection of a name by the Board of Trustees, the district had gone by the name "South Coast Junior College District." Because of a possible confusion factor with Orange Coast Junior College District, the name was changed.
The new junior college district opened its offices April 1 0, 1967, in Room 219 at Mission Viejo High School, 25025 Chrisanta Drive.
In November, the office was relocated to a vacant house in the model home compound of the Mission Viejo Company, on La Paz Road and Chrisanta Drive. It continued its operation from this office. Agreement to lease the two-story, 2,250 square-foot model home was made October 2 at a rental fee of $250 a month. Located in the Mission Viejo community, it was geographically in the center of the district.
Because they assumed duties immediately following election, the five members of the Board of Trustees were the only officials of the new college district for several months.
On April 10, 1967, the Board employed a secretary, Mrs. Marjory Foster. The first administrative official, the superintendent of the district and president of the college, a position with a dual title, was selected August 18. Named to this top post was Jack S. Roper, former Deputy Superintendent of Schools of Orange County. He assumed his duties September 1.
The Board of Trustees reviewed some 57 applications for the position. The criteria established included "attitude in general, knowledge of the Orange County area and its people, knowledge of the other junior college superintendents and high school superintendents in Orange County, and knowledge of the educational problems of Orange County."
Mr. Roper was not an applicant.
When the Board began applying these criteria to the three top candidates, they apparently decided that the criteria fit Mr. Roper more closely than it fit the actual candidates under consideration.
At an executive session August 14 following a regular meeting and without the knowledge or consent of Mr. Roper, the Board "interviewed" Mr. Roper in depth with regard to his interest in the position of superintendent of Saddleback Junior College District. After he indicated his interest, he was interviewed on the same basis as had been other candidates.
After investigating his performance in his prior positions, it was determined that all of his experience as an educator had been acquired in Orange County. He came highly recommended from every area of investigation, which included the Superintendent of Schools of Orange County, Dr. Robert D. Peterson. Mr. Roper was offered the job, and he accepted.
As Deputy Superintendent of Schools of Orange County Mr. Roper was suited to deal with any problems involving other junior college districts in Orange County and high school districts within the Saddleback District boundary. He had worked with all of these in his deputy superintendent capacity. While with the county, he had been instrumental in forming the new college district.
Jack Roper was 35 years old. He held credentials in general elementary and secondary education and administration. He received his associate of arts degree from Santa Ana Junior College, and his bachelor of arts degree, as well as his master of Arts degree, from Chapman College. At the time of his hiring, he was a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California, majoring in educational administration.
Upon employing the new superintendent, the Board was praised by several newspapers for the choice. The Rancho Reporter of EI Toro commented: "Congratulations to the Board of Trustees of the Saddleback Junior College District on their recent appointment of Jack S. Roper to the superintendency of the new junior college district. This newspaper has known Mr. Roper for a number of years and has found him to be an educator with fortitude, imagination, leadership qualities and an ability to work hard. A young junior college can use a young modern educator such as Jack S. Roper."
The Register in Santa Ana, a daily newspaper, reported, "The personable new superintendent said he believes the 'preparation of effective citizens has always been the most important objective of schools and we should make every effort to inculcate in our youth a knowledge of our American heritage and a love of our country, its institutions and its freedoms.' "
The Board named the business manager as the second administrator. He was Roy N. Barletta, who assumed his duties September 18, 1967. Superintendent Roper, who had recommended the hire, described Barletta's efforts as assistant manager of Santa Ana Unified and Junior College districts as "particularly impressive in the area of initiating new systems and procedures in accounting and budgeting of the Santa Ana di strict funds."
The third administrative staff member to be employed was Fred H. Bremer, Ph.D. He assumed duties as dean of instruction on October I. Bremer's prior experience included duties as dean of liberal arts at Santa Ana College and chairman of the education department at Chapman College, as well as education division chairman. He received his bachelor of science degree and master's degree in education from the University of Nebraska. He received his doctorate in junior college administration from the University of Texas where he studied under a Kellogg Fellowship.
On November 27 the trustees approved a teachers' salary schedule. The approved schedule was five per cent higher than the average payroll for a comparable junior college district, ranging from $7,200 to $14,475 per year.
The board approved a policy to allow classified, as well as certificated, employees to transfer accrued sick leave. No other college district in Orange County credited new classified employees with sick leave.
By December 26, 1967 more than 400 applications for employment were submitted to Saddleback.
Positions under consideration to be filled early the next year were: director of college and community relations, associate dean of students, athletic director, head librarian, and five division chairmen.
While a new district had been formed, no funds were available to it since the district would not become a formal taxing district until July I, 1968, and a full taxing entity until July I, 1969. The district negotiated a $25,000 loan from the state to meet expenses through July 1, 1967. In a July 13, 1967 edition of the Tustin News, an editorial gave the Board of Trustees a "round of applause." The editorial stated:
"They ended their first 'fiscal year' of about two or three months with probably the smallest expenditures on record. Having borrowed $25,000 from the State they have $23,453.04 left as a beginning balance. The district has spent only $959.24 for clerical and salaried help and $587.72 for office expenses....The board has shown laudable prescience as well as prudence in its conduct of district affairs. The voters elected some very capable trustees to represent them at Saddleback JC District."
By November the district borrowed $80,000 more, for a total of $105,000. On November 30, the state allocated another $98,000 to the district. The loaned money was to be used to employ the director of college and community relations, associate dean of students, five division chairmen and head librarian. Funds were needed to meet other operational expenses including staff salaries.
Aside from submitting applications for state loans totaling $203,500, the finance department during these early months set up an accounting system and personnel practices programs. Finance also initiated work toward establishing the district office and acquiring furniture and equipment. The equipment, including calculators and electric typewriters, was acquired on a "trial basis." On December 11 a financial projection report was submitted to the Board of Trustees. This report revealed prospects for lower taxes for property owners and construction of a campus for the new college. The report estimated income and expenditures based on projected daily attendance of students and assessed valuation. The report reflected two means to finance the capital outlay for a campus: A short-term five-year override tax or a long-term, 20-year general obligation bond proposal. The override proposal would place the tax rate at $1.15 on $100 assessed valuation in \969-70 compared to 53 cents on $100 assessed valuation under a 20year bond program.
The dean of instruction, Dr. Bremer, began ills duties with the responsibility of outlining faculty requirements and recommending the college's first faculty. He would also direct the entire instructional program for the junior college district and serve as chairman of the curriculum committee.
On October 10, 1967, the Board determined that classes for freshmen students would be offered at the new college in September 1968. To that end, on December 4, the new junior college conducted a survey of the students of the five high schools: Foothill, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, San Clemente and Tustin. The survey sought to determine the number of students interested in attending the new college and subject fields they wished to pursue. Saddleback district students attending area junior colleges were also surveyed to determine their current subject enrollments. Both surveys helped to plan for enrollment and curriculum at the new college.
Several important instructional concerns were determined at the December 11 Board meeting. The Board voted for a full athletic program to begin September 1968. This included the four major sports-football, basketball, baseball and track.
The Board of Trustees made a second major decision to adopt the 11week quarter system. The Board cited its reasons, including:
Financial studies showed the quarter system lending itself to year-round utilization of buildings and equipment. It would save the taxpayer money and yet provide educational advantages. The slower student would be able to concentrate on fewer subjects per term and would therefore, presumably, do better.
The more mature student who wished to accelerate a study program could do so. Some might complete junior college in one to two years and university graduation in three years. The quarter system was thought to be more flexible, helping to provide ongoing curriculum development and revision.
The working student, the student who may be undecided about a major, and the returning Vietnam military veteran-all would be able to enter college at shorter intervals throughout the year. The University of California and the California State Colleges were at this time engaged in making the transition to the four-quarter system.
Programs of Study
The type of overall program to be offered was to be based on the statement of philosophy, aims and objectives which had been adopted by the Board of Trustees:
General Education -To provide each student with a broad background which will enable him to function effectively as an individual.
Vocational-Technical Education -To enable students to qualify in industrial, business, semi-professional, and technical fields.
Lower Division Transfer Education -For those students who have demonstrated the ability to profit from such courses in order to seek baccalaureate and higher degrees.
Counseling and Guidance -To help students find the types of programs commensurate with their needs, abilities, and desires.
Community Services -To provide educational opportunities for the community as a whole, including courses leading to high school graduation, lectures, forums, institutes, discussion groups, and other forms of cultural activities.
Planning and projects
On October 30 the Board of Trustees approved a 10-year Capital Improvements Plan as presented by the administration. The program called for a $16.5 million program in four phases.
This would include temporary classrooms for 1968 with a projected total enrollment in the district at 2,000. Half this number, or less, the freshmen students, would be accommodated the first year.
Phase A -For occupancy in 1971, with an estimated enrollment of 3,070 in addition to the acquisition of a permanent site, would be buildings for library, science, physical education and gym, administration, business education, fine arts, maintenance, stores and trade-technical operation.
Phase B -For occupancy in 1972 with enrollment projection at 3,460 would be a student union center and stadium.
Phase C -For occupancy in 1974 with enrollment projection at 4,340 would be additions to science, administration, fine arts, student union and physical education activities.
Phase D -For occupancy in 1976 with enrollment projection at 5,420 would be additions to trade-technical and business education facilities.
All of these enrollment projections surpassed the 1965 Boyle Report projections.
The 10-year plan was to be submitted to the state for state aid on a matching-funds basis as provided in State Senate Bill 691.
On November 30 the Mission Viejo Company was the first to submit a campus site proposal. The Board sought other offers from property owners and development firms. Proposals were due in January 1968.
In September the first individual donation to the college library, a complete collection of Life magazines published during the World War II years, was presented by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Andrus of Laguna Beach. The collection was stored for $2 a month until library facilities were available.
On November 29 Judge Donald J. Dodge donated a collection of National Geographic magazines dating from 1914 to 1967 to the district.
Summary of 1967
The first year of Saddleback Junior College District was one of excitement and challenge. The early months set the pattern for the future when Saddleback Junior College District would provide truly a "community" college, providing services to meet the community's needs. A dynamic college in a dynamic area was underway.