Bob Jacobsen (1971)


Bob Jacobsen

When were you hired? What brought you to Saddleback?

I was hired in the fall quarter of 1971. In fall 1968, the year Saddleback College opened, I met Jack Swartzbaugh in Fresno at a California Junior College Student Government Association at a session for first-year student government advisors. Both counselors, were a bit taken aback by student protest demonstrations against the conference dress code.

Having kept in touch with Jack and having met his successor Bill Kelly, I learned of an opening for a counselor with “J.C.” experience. So I jumped at the chance to apply for a full-time counseling position and move from the desert to the coast. Besides, my position at Taft College had evolved from teaching English, counseling, advising student government, managing the bookstore and concession stands, to managing community services as well.

How long did you work or have you been working?

I worked as a counselor at Saddleback College for 30 years, retiring in 2001. Between 1974 and 1984, I also worked as Division Director (later called Dean of Counseling, Services and Special Programs). Since fall 2002, I have worked as an adjunct counselor except for 4 semesters as interim Dean of Students, Guidance and Counseling at IVC and interim articulation officer at College of the Desert, Citrus College, and at Saddleback as a sabbatical replacement.

Do you have a fond memory, a favorite story or a favorite student that comes to mind?

I have many fond memories and stories, too many, and a few I would not be able to relate here.

A favorite student who comes to mind was a recovering alcoholic who enrolled in my Applied Psychology course. We developed a program for transfer for CSU Fullerton as a Business Administration major. Through his Alcoholic Anonymous contacts he met an influential Chapman benefactor who suggested he transfer to Chapman instead. As required, I wrote a Chapman scholarship recommendation letter, but his contact “pull” and 4.0 GPA were all that were really needed.

I am also reminded of a former cocktail waitress that I helped get admission and financial aid at UC Irvine, who did not transfer because she became pregnant. Later on, I helped her husband, a Vietnam veteran, collect his V.A. benefits. Their daughter became one of my counselees.

What challenges did you face? How as your experience when you were first hired vs. how it was when you retired?

Among the challenges faced by community college counselors is to keep abreast of information needed to advise transfer students. In 1971, no one seemed to be aware that the University of California Office of the President published a list of transferable courses for every California community college. After inquiring around, Georganna Sizelove, found Saddleback’s UC transfer course list in a file in Dean of Instruction R.L. Platt’s office. Thus began my involvement with articulation of courses and programs with universities and colleges. I because proactive with Saddleback College faculty in developing new courses or revising courses to meet university requirements. With Dean of Instruction, Bill Jay’s support, we hired a classified “articulation specialist” to add transfer programs to the Saddleback College catalog. I became active on both general education and curriculum committees serving as chair between 1986 and 2001. In 2008, I was a founding board member of the South Coast Higher Education Council and was appointed by the CCC Chancellor’s Office to serve as liaison to the CSU General Education Committee.

All of the above represent challenges faced when I was hired and how different the situation is for counselors and students when I retired. When I was hired at Saddleback College, academic advisement for transfer was based on professional opinion (guesswork) and information contained in binders often based on “side letters” with university faculty.

Counselors and students now have access to certification patterns for general education requirements as well as major requirements statewide, as well as for independent institutions and some out of state universities accessible because of computerization of transfer information.