Linda Rice


Linda Rice

LINDA RICEThirty-two years ago. That was a long time ago. I was teaching part-time at Costa Mesa High School and going to Coast College. I was thinking it would really be nice to teach in a community college. My husband happened to see in the newspaper that a new college was being formed and that they were accepting applications. So I thought the timing was just right. I had taught ten years on the high school level, and it was time to graduate. I put in an application and I waited, and I waited. I was thrilled to death when I got called in for an interview. I think I had three interviews before the final selection was made, so I was very fortunate. I remember my husband said, "Well, don't feel too bad if you don't get it, because you'll get it next year." It was seven years before they hired another person for what I was teaching.

The first year we were in temporary buildings where Mission Hospital is located right now. The next year we moved to the current site. All the interviewing took place in the model homes for Mission Viejo.

When I was interviewing, they wanted a jack-of-all-trades because they couldn't hire that many people. I was hired to be in charge of the secretarial area. During the interview they asked a number of questions such as, Can you teach accounting, business law, economics? and I said, "Well," and tried to squirm and give an evasive answer. They said, "Well, could you teach intro to computers?" And I said, "Oh yes. That would be very exciting." I didn’t know what a computer was, but I had taught business machines. So I was hired to teach secretarial typing, shorthand, and introduction to computers. There was not a computer on campus that first year.

People have their favorite stories about the early days of the campus, and I'd have to think a little bit about what my favorite story might be. I think perhaps the dress code was something that was very startling. We did have a dress code, and not only for students. I know it was repealed for faculty at some point when the faculty wanted to start wearing pant suits, slacks, jackets, so after a great deal of thought, the President of the college finally announced that this would be all right as long as it was a three-piece matching outfit.

The students had a dress code and a hair code. There was one point they were measuring the length of the hair. It was really a very difficult situation.

It didn't take long before they repealed the dress code and the hair-length code. Of course, remember, that was 1968. Times were quite different then.

I had so many wonderful students that it's kind of hard to pinpoint any one particular student. We had a number of students that ended up being outstanding business students who went on to join the staff. We called it data processing in those days.

We were always developing new programs. We were always trying to forge ahead to think of what was going to really be successful so we could serve our community. I think one of the biggest things we did was when we started with personal computers and developed what we call our eight-week classes. Students from the community could come in and take eight weeks of a beginning software or intermediate class or another eight weeks of advanced. It was very much of a challenge keeping up and learning all the software as it was changing all of the time.

What kind of changes happened over the years? We spent several years on what was called the lower campus in Building N. We saw the Library building go up. We saw the Math/Science building go up. We saw the Liberal Arts building go up, and we were still in Building N. Eventually we got the Business Science and General Studies building.

It's hard to say what made Saddleback very special to me. I mean, there were so many things. The people I worked with, the students, the excitement of developing new programs, just being a part of it all.

Probably the most significant experience is that at first we were on the quarter system, and I was a little bit apprehensive about teaching introduction to computers once I knew that I would be teaching it. I had taken several classes in it. Finally, the third quarter rolled around, and I taught the class -and there was not a computer on campus, so it was all kind of simulated and make-believe and so on.

Then the next year, the Math Division got a mini-computer. Jim Thorpe was in charge at that time, and I remember going to him and kind of pleading for my business students to use his computer. Usually you didn't cross divisions, but then that was fine.

There was a building called Building D, and it was a very small room. This mini-computer had, I think, three or four teletype typewriters connected to it as the input/output devices. It was running what's called Basic programming. I had taken a Basic programming class at UCI and had assignments prepared for the students. I ran in one day to check something before class, and I grabbed a chair and I pulled it up to the teletype typewriter to start. You had a typewriter keyboard, and you’d store everything on a piece of tape. And I crashed the system. And in those days it took four hours to bring it back up. There was something with the metal chair and the mini-computer that did not agree. So that was a little bit of an embarrassing situation.

If I could send a message to future instructors, what could I tell them about Saddleback? It's a very exciting place to work. You are in an area where programs can be developed. You can be very creative. The students are wonderful. I just think that if you are fortunate enough to work at Saddleback then that's the place to be.