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Dr. George E. Frakes Lecture

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Lecture Perspective

 

WE LIVE IN AN AMERICA increasingly involved in historical celebrations. From local events to highly publicized celebrations such as the Statue of Liberty and the Bicentennial of the United States Constitution, these celebrations reflect upon a country with maturing institutions entering into a new phase in its national identity. Even as informed, involved citizens reaffirm and rejoice in their past accomplishments, many others, especially the nation's youth, are apathetic or completely uninterested in America's history, politics, or its humanities. The consequences of this dichotomy are obviously of significant interest to society.

 

The purpose of this 1987 Faculty Lecture is to examine the effectiveness of the role of historic celebrations in heightening interest in America's past and present political institutions, culture and thought. Are such activities effective instruments in increasing public awareness in the humanities and social sciences, as well as promoting serious scholarship in these fields-or are these celebrations superficial exercises in nostalgia or efforts to promote a particular point of view about the past? How well do such celebrations reach the apathetic, the uninformed and the uninterested?

 

THESE QUESTIONS WILL be examined in the context of four historic celebrations of the period from 1986 to 1988. The four institutions selected as case studies are the bicentennials of the Santa Barbara Mission and the United States Constitution, and the eightieth anniversaries of the film industry in Hollywood and the founding of Santa Barbara Junior College.

 

Of Bicentennials and History
An Inquiry into Their Contribution To an Informed Citzenry

George Edward Frakes, Ph.D.
Professor of History

 

I WOULD LIKE TO begin the ninth Faculty Lecture by expressing my appreciation to the members of the faculty who nominated and selected me for this honor. This forum is an opportunity for me to express my thanks for being a part of the faculty at Santa Barbara City College for twenty-five years. In this quarter-century, I have had the pleasure of associating with some of California's finest professors, many of whom are close friends, as well as colleagues. The students are another joy. I have observed them grow in wisdom as well as knowledge in their years here, and then have had the chance to watch those who graduate make their mark in universities, business and the professions. Finally, I wish to thank my wife, Catherine Davies Frakes, and children, James, Laura and Robert, for their love, encouragement and support, which have helped to make my teaching career a fulfilling one.

 

Recent America has experienced a boom period in the public's interest in popular history. Well-publicized events such as the centennials of the Statue of Liberty, National Geographic Magazine and of Hollywood, home of the film industry, focus national attention upon landmark events of our past. The recently lamented fifty-eighth anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash was noted with particular interest and substantial pain when a 1987 crash brought grim reminders of our past's linkage with the present.

 

Closer to home, a similar historical celebration commemorated the bicentennial of the Santa Barbara Mission last year. Next year, two of many celebrations pending which will add to the array of historical events are the twentieth anniversary of the end of the Beatles rock group and the eightieth anniversary of the founding of Santa Barbara Junior College.

 

Do these historical celebrations, among the thousands taking place in the United States, suggest a change in the national mood? Is this a movement away from a concentration upon the here and now to a concerned, reflective view of the past in order to gain a sense of direction or redirection in the 1980s? Or is this set of historical celebrations and commemorative events simply a case of nostalgia for a nervous people looking backwards to seemingly happier and less complicated days in order to forget the present? Is this desire to glorify the men and women whose achievements seem to grow larger with the passage of time a reaction to the public perception that the leaders of today seem to struggle unsuccessfully with contemporary problems?

 

Indeed, other reasons may explain the surge of historical celebrations that might be suggested: a desire to rekindle civic pride and patriotism, the opportunity to instruct the present and coming generations concerning values and attitudes, the possibilities of commercial gain, scholarly and journalistic recognition and fame, or an opportunity for escapism from the present, to mention only a few reasons.

 

Notwithstanding the causes or effects that others have perceived, I would like to comment on how bicentennial and other celebrations can act as beacons to illuminate some paths from our past to possible roads to a successful civic future. In the process, I hope to comment upon the opportunities such widely heralded events present to educators, particularly in my field of history.

 

My belief in historical commemorations as an opportunity to expand the public's knowledge of the past is not widely shared by many in my academic discipline. Some in my profession criticize historical celebrations as crass, shallow events that popularize and trivialize important milestones. I am not among them. My support for bicentennials and other historical commemorations is my belief that these events stimulate, however briefly, an interest, as well as some media analysis, which uplifts and excites the public to reconsider crucial events of our past and present. Between such popular celebrations, the press of daily events, the need to work for income, and the search for pleasure tend to relegate crucial but abstract ideas or institutions to the outer reaches of the public's mind and memory.

 

One cynic, commenting on the public's traditional absence of abstract thought, stated, "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so." I should attribute this quotation to Lord Russell in order to avoid being considered another Joseph Biden. The absence of knowledge is all too clear to me as I go daily into the trenches of academic instruction to teach bright, but frequently uninformed, students in my survey courses. I believe any external help that I can obtain from the media and others to aid in my quest to improve their knowledge and wisdom is welcomed and really needed in this media age.

 

My own anecdotal impression of the crying need for more information and understanding concerning our basic institutions and improved civic virtue has been confirmed by recent best-selling works by Allan Bloom and Dr. E.D. Hirsch. I would like to share some of the startling revelations that have made national and international headlines which social science professors know all too well here on this campus and across the nation.

 

Some painful yet comedic examples of the absence of such basic knowledge was recently shared by my colleague, Dr. John Kay. He reports that some of his students thought that Teapot Dome was a sports stadium in Boston. Another student believed that the distinguished Harvard professor and United States Senator Henry Cabot Lodge was a mountain ski resort.

 

Drs. Diane Ravitch and E.D. Hirsch have documented in their book,Cultural Literacy, that a large, representative sample of high school seniors do not know the following: nearly 70 percent cannot place the Civil War in the proper half-century, almost 40 per cent do not know when the Constitution was written, and almost 33 per cent believe that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1750. Furthermore, this study by the National Endowment for the Humanities uncovers equally devastating gaps of knowledge concerning literature and European history. This well publicized study suggests that a core of "cultural literacy" is needed for an informed citizenry.

 

Such problems are not limited to the humanities. A recent series of articles in the Los Angeles Times regarding the present status of geography indicated large gaps in student knowledge. One of the surveys reported that nearly one-half the students in Dallas, Texas, public high schools did not know the location of Mexico. A recent poll in a national weekly news magazine stated that 55 per cent of the public supported the Reagan foreign policy in Central America, but only 10 per cent of those polled knew where Central America was located. With such educational problems, what should be done about them?

 

Another well-known critic of the general state of knowledge in the humanities, philosophy and history is Dr. Allan Bloom of the University of Chicago. In his controversial, internationally best-selling work, The Closing of the American Mind, Professor Bloom criticizes the state of education in a democratic society ruled by public opinion. Bloom believes that the absence of the knowledge of philosophical principles and history makes the attainment of civic virtue and the "General Good" impossible. (The term "General Good" is a principle of government originally conceived by ancient Greek philosophers and later redefined by Renaissance and Enlightenment thinkers. The heart of this philosophical belief is that knowledge and virtue of the citizenry are necessary for a successful republican form of government.)

 

Dr. Bloom admonishes colleges and universities to return to a traditional, rigorous liberal education curriculum as part of a wide range of criticisms. For many who have completed their education or whose interests are in the commercial and vocational fields, such cries for a return to higher standards of curriculum and return to traditional academic study have little meaning or relevance. Often their only curriculum of liberal arts and civic education will be found in the press and the offerings of the visual media. It is for this vast population that public bicentennials and other commemorative events have real meaning and purpose.

 

A brief examination of two bicentennials will provide background for my subsequent remarks. The first of these events is the 200th anniversary of the Santa Barbara Mission, which was founded in 1786. Until reconstruction of the Royal Presidio, the mission is the only constant link with Santa Barbara's Hispanic past. The mission and presidio represent the two foundations of this city, religious and secular. The mission, founded by Padre Fermin Lasuen, started as a rude enramada or shelter of brush and stone. With the practical and spiritual wisdom based upon nearly 250 years of experience in Mexico, the padres, with the assistance of a handful of soldiers, selected a near-perfect location for their church, recruited native American Indians, convinced, or at least persuaded, the local Chumash to build a still functioning church and water system, and started the basis for modern agriculture in this area. The enduring triumph of their work is the mission itself.

 

Persisting through earthquakes, Indian revolt, the change from Spanish to Mexican and, finally, to American governments, this handsome ecclesiastical building personifies the spirit of the community. Santa Barbara Mission's Mediterranean architecture, with its roots drawn from the soil of Italy, Spain and Mexico, helps to set the example for the stucco and red tile that gives this city its pleasing architectural character. The generosity and hospitality of its pastors help maintain some of the finer aspects of Hispanic culture in our community.

 

These qualities and the enduring religious and social good works of the priests have not gone unnoticed in the community, which twice rallied around the mission in times of crisis. The first of these crises happened in the early 1830s when a well-meaning Mexican government secularized the mission chain throughout California. This return of church lands to the native Americans and Californios in effect closed the missions and the Chumash were left to their own resources. The citizenry of Santa Barbara, under the leadership of Don Nicholas Den, an lrish rancher, raised money and purchased the mission and its immediate surrounding real property to keep the church alive. Thus, Santa Barbara Mission is the only one in the mission system that has never extinguished its altar light.

 

Nearly ninety years later, in 1925, the city and church were struck by a devastating earthquake which caused severe damage to the structure. Once again, leading Santa Barbara residents rallied to the support of the rebuilding of this venerable institution.

 

What makes the Santa Barbara Mission Church's Bicentennial noteworthy? The planning of the two-year program has been excellent. Tasteful and well-delivered events, including the series of public lectures by academic and religious authorities, have expanded the public and academic knowledge of the role of the mission and the missionaries in the history of California and Santa Barbara. Tours of the church have offered opportunities for the public to see the largely unknown part of the beautiful mission garden-especially to those with the initiative to learn. The splendid Franciscan library in the mission was expanded and made available to researchers, and a variety of publications was released.

 

Even more important to the success of the mission's bicentennial is the nature of the institution and what it has offered the community in its two-hundred years: a foundation of faith, a set of moral principles, a link to a distant and colorful past, its ongoing program of social service to the community, its role as a center of scholarship and historic research, and its hospitality to the community of non-Roman Catholics. Other well managed institutions have come and gone in the two centuries, but the mission endures and flourishes. Perhaps its bicentennial symbolism reflects the need for accomplishment and civic responsibility as a prerequisite for a successful historic commemoration.

 

A second and much better known bicentennial (1787-1987) whose fame spans the nation and globe is that of the United States Constitution. The purpose of this national effort is to rededicate the citizenry to the principles of the Constitution. The commission in charge of the two-year program has a goal of expanding knowledge about the period of its birth, the events that shaped it, and the applications of the Constitution to more recent American life. Since the U.S. Constitution is the foundation of our federal government and national history, knowledge of the document and the history surrounding it is assumed to be the bedrock of social studies education in this nation. But, as most professors of American history and government know all too well, the reality of most students' and the public's understanding of constitutional principles is quite limited. History teacher that I am, I cannot bypass the opportunity to refresh this captive audience's knowledge.

 

The Constitutional convention being commemorated this year was convened in Philadelphia in May 1787. Prior to the convention, the thirteen states that constituted the United States had operated with modest success in the nearly four years that had passed since the end of the Revolutionary War. The young nation was operating under its first constitution, the Articles of Confederation, which was notable for its distrust of central authority, its weak structure and the absence of support among the economic, agricultural and financial leaders of the nation. After two preliminary meetings, a group of well-educated, wealthy and respected leaders convinced the Congress to call a convention to amend the Articles of Confederation. Many of the same spokesmen were among the fifty-five who attended the convention and have been subsequently called the "Founding Fathers" of the nation. All states were represented except Rhode Island.

 

At Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the delegates struggled with broad issues of philosophy of government and civic responsibilities. They also faced the challenge of constructing a government that could solve a large number of pressing contemporary problems. The immediate issues were important matters of economic inflation, social discontent among war veterans and frontiersmen, low international prestige and an even lower international credit rating. This multitude of problems, combining with deep divisions between the states, made for a long and difficult agenda of problems to be resolved.

 

Under the guidance of convention president George Washington and elder-statesman Benjamin Franklin, the delegates divided their time between plenary sessions and committees assigned to make recommendations as to the specific structure of the government and the language of the document. The average age of the delegates was nearly thirty-one, and those in attendance were notable for their wide range of experiences, considerable wealth, and an unusually high standard of education. They shared the 18th century Enlightenment philosophical outlook of a mechanistic (clock-like) universe and worked to build a government that could fit within these principles. The delegates' mindset, shaped by their recent Revolutionary War military experience, combined with the turbulence and inflation of post-Revolutionary America, gave them a general distrust of the common man and woman and of public opinion. Known as Federalists, they believed that human nature was to be distrusted and the "General Good" could only be understood and achieved by an educated elite.

 

The Constitution they wrote reflected all these values. It is, of course, the result of many compromises among the delegates. The document's celebrated checks-and-balances system, separation of powers and tripartite form all reflect the delegates' practical experience and knowledge of ancient and modern history and government. The delegates were particularly influenced by the works of Polybius and Charles Montesquieu, a French Enlightenment scholar. After months of hot, non-air conditioned work, the delegates signed the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787. Delaware was the first state to ratify in December, and the Constitution became the "Supreme Law of the Land" when New Hampshire, the ninth state, ratified it on June 21, 1788. Rhode Island was the last of the original states to approve on May 29, 1790, some twenty-three months after the Constitution officially went into effect.

 

Of the thirty-nine delegates who signed the document in Philadelphia, the majority shared the guarded optimism of Benjamin Franklin who stated prior to signing:

 

I confess that I do not entirely approve of this constitution at present . . . but having lived long I've experienced many instances of being obliged by better information or fuller consideration to change opinions even on important subjects which I once thought right but found to be otherwise . . . I doubt . . . whether any other convention we can obtain may be able to make a better constitution for when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom you inevitably assemble with those men and all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does. And I think it will astonish our enemies who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the builder of Babel, and that our states are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus, I consent, Sir, to this constitution . . .

 

Franklin's modest enthusiasm was shared by those elected to high office because, in the first session of Congress, only one-third of the representatives and senators appeared the first day of the Congressional session. It took nearly a month to establish enough representatives for a quorum. Once the Constitution was put into effect by the new government, the first of many steps toward improving the Constitution took place. That was the ratification of the first ten amendments, or Bill of Rights, in 1791. Following this landmark achievement, the subsequent implementation of the Constitution to solve problems continued through the process of changing interpretation, constitutional amendment and judicial review.

 

I am aware of the valid criticisms of the document and the government it created: (1) overly mechanistic, (2) the inclusion of slavery, (3) the ill treatment of native Americans and Japanese-Americans, (4) the slow resolution of equality for women and (5) the insensitivity to the problems of the poor. Yet if all these problems have not been resolved, the Constitution affords the opportunity for future solutions within the structure of the government created and nurtured by the men who wrote the documents.

 

Thomas Jefferson, a non-participant and Anti-Federalist, called the Constitutional Convention "an assembly of demigods." That statement may tend toward hyperbole, but the accomplishment of the men in Philadelphia has created an institution worthy of a bicentennial-as it has done much to improve civic virtue and create the "General Good." This relatively short document has enabled the nation to cope with such crises as a bloody Civil War, two world wars, the resignation of a recent president and an impeachment of an earlier one. All these problems, as well as the domestic upheaval during a contemporary unpopular war, attest to the problem-solving apparatus contained within our framework of government.

 

A case study of a foreign policy application of the Constitution is taking place this week (in December, 1987). It is the historic arms reduction summit in Washington, D.C. This meeting between President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev illustrates the differences in public policy formation between the American and Soviet governmental systems. The American treaty ratification procedure represents United States principles as shaped by the Constitution: freedom of speech and the press and the open debate and dialogue they inspire; government officials of the United States consider the impact of public opinion as they act; and the principle of senatorial confirmation acts as a check and balance upon even the president's actions. Such is the power of the "Supreme Law of the Land," whose positive values are reaffirmed in the bicentennial commemoration.

 

Two hundred years after the establishment of the United States Constitution, former Chief Justice Warren E. Burger assumed the leadership of the Bicentennial Commission to commemorate the event. Mr. Burger's leadership has been capable and effective in his tenure on the commission. His efforts have enabled the Constitution's anniversary to gain more time and national media attention than last year's highly commercial, flamboyant centenary remembrance of the Statue of Liberty. There is a wide spectrum of events associated with the Constitutional Bicentennial, including elementary school puppet shows, local musical and dramatic pageants, nationally syndicated newspaper columns, articles, editorials, and P.B.S. and network television programs. The culmination of the Bicentennial took place in Philadelphia this autumn. The cost of the program, underwritten by various federal sources, was nearly $55 million, with additional millions provided by other sources.

 

The names of the twenty-four-person Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution reads like a Who's Who of the American political, intellectual and corporate establishment. It would seem, with this able leadership and financial support, that the public's knowledge and understanding of the Constitution and its role in achieving good government and public policy would be greatly expanded.

 

Was the vast scope and cost of this anniversary celebration of the "Supreme Law of the Land" justified by its results? This is one of the crucial questions of this address. This inquiry is divided into four parts. They are: (1) What audience was reached? (2) How effective was the presentation of information? (3) What segments of the national population ignored all or most of the entire Bicentennial effort? (4) Finally, has the two-year celebration left an enduring foundation of understanding and scholarship that will lead to future civic betterment?

 

I believe that the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution has been largely successful in terms of the previously mentioned questions, but some criticisms can be made. The presentation of information was widely distributed by every possible communication source. It took a conscious effort to avoid the information presented at all levels of government, as well as by journalists and educators. Those persons who remained untouched by the Constitutional Bicentennial did so as a result of their illiteracy, apathy, lack of civic concern, or, perhaps, a cynical lack of trust in government. Such negative forces can prevent the accomplishment of the goal of any historic celebration, no matter how well designed or managed.

 

The Bicentennial was most effective in reaching children, young persons, the politically active, the literate and the well informed. These segments of society are perhaps the most significant because it is they who do most of the work for civic betterment. The Constitutional Bicentennial did stimulate wide-ranging debate within and without academia. Instead of the normal readers of scholarly journals, the discourse reported in popular journals reached a much larger audience than normal due to the opportunities presented by the media's interest. The stream of articles, books, and media programs concerned with constitutionally-related subjects have influenced, and will continue to shape, political thought. On balance, the entire exercise, while not without some criticism for certain aspects that were shallow, overly commercial, or trivial, has served a positive purpose.

 

Two historical celebrations of different institutions less than two-hundred years old can provide insight into the emergence of California's sense of its historic past. They are anniversaries of Hollywood and of Santa Barbara City College.

 

Even as our nation commemorated its centennial celebration in 1876 one hundred years ago, a small community named Hollywood was founded and slowly developed a few miles northwest of the center of Los Angeles. Part of the California general real estate boom of the 1880s, Hollywood attracted sun and health seekers, land speculators, would-be millionaires and normal citizens, as well as many unusual persons who would have difficulty fitting in anywhere else. Such eager immigrants had not yet heard the classic oneliner, "Perhaps there's no life after death-there's just Los Angeles."

 

A few years later, Hollywood was annexed by the larger City of Los Angeles and, had it not been for the film industry, the name would have no more significance than Eagle Rock, El Monte, or Cerritos. Of course, what makes Hollywood different from anywhere else in California-or the nation, or the world-is the image of the motion picture capital, where outrageous dreams, talent, beauty and wealth are clustered.

 

The film industry first arrived in Southern California in search of good winter weather for filming and a place where motion picture producers and directors would use moving picture cameras of dubious ownership far from the lawsuits of film pioneering genius Thomas A. Edison and his partners in New York. Eighty years ago, in 1907, William Selig completed the first commercial film in Los Angeles, "The Count of Monte Cristo." Soon, an old barn and tavern at the corner of Sunset and Gower Streets became the first Hollywood studio. "The Law of the Range" was the first of countless westerns produced to make money from the mass market of a public anxious for adventure and romance.

 

The leaders of the film industry that rapidly emerged after 1907 were men far different from the highly educated and dedicated priests and patriots who were responsible for the two previously mentioned bicentennials. The six most prominent of the early film magnates were self-made men-and primarily immigrants from Europe. The men who created the motion pictures possessed an immense drive, resourcefulness and an almost maniacal capacity for work. The results were rags-to-riches wealth for some and poverty for others.

 

Nearly twenty years after the first Hollywood film, sound was added to moving pictures to further revolutionize and popularize this industry. What was created was an instrument with endless potential for achieving the "General Good," a medium that could make the fabled storytelling abilities of the past pale in comparison. Often, the studios would settle for far less lofty goals, if the profit margin were great enough. At its peak of popularity in the 1940s, the motion picture industry employed nearly 40,000 persons and attracted talented individuals from around the world.

 

 The results of this boom were varied. "In the fields of manners, morals, social taste and business ethics, the Hollywood legacy is a mixture of good and bad, taste and tastelessness, showmanship and wisdom," to cite California historian Robert Glass Clelland. From its peak in the mid-1940s to its rise again in the 1980s, Hollywood suffered a generation of decline. Then the rise of the videocassette recorder (VCR), combined with talented new executives, has rejuvenated Hollywood's profits into a new "silver age" of the film industry.

 

 Scattered attempts to commemorate this Hollywood centennial have gone largely unheralded. Why is this the case? I believe the indifference to the past is a product of the nature of the ephemeral, profit-orientation of the film industry and its leadership. Not to belittle the important work of the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the American Film Institute, the Hollywood Museum and other serious film-related organizations, there is little deep interest in Hollywood's past except among film buffs. To most Americans, Hollywood evokes no image of significance; therefore, any attempt to make its centennial meaningful will have little more importance than the placing of another star on the Sidewalk of the Stars on Hollywood Boulevard.

 

 Even as the film industry was emerging in Hollywood, an event of some importance to this community took place. It was the founding of Santa Barbara Junior College, the parent and progenitor of Santa Barbara City College. Unlike the other three celebrations mentioned in this address, this event is likely to receive little funding or fanfare, so I consider this an opportunity to review some of the key events in the life of this vital institution and to make a plea for a systematic effort to record our past. Santa Barbara Junior College was the second such institution founded in the state and nation. It was located at Victoria and Anacapa Streets and terminated its operation shortly before World War I. Former students of the early period, such as nationally acclaimed architect Lutah Mara Riggs and civic leader and star attorney Julian Goux, studied, learned their lessons well, and later made their positive mark on this city.

 

 Thirty years passed and, shortly after the end of World War II, the need for college educational opportunities for Gls returning to Santa Barbara was greater than the capacity of the local campus of the University of California, then located on the Riviera. UCSBC, as it was then known, was a splendid liberal arts college with vocational training on the Mesa Campus, much later the home of City College. A few years later, a third part of the University of California, Santa Barbara College would be added near the airport in Goleta.

 

With both the Mesa and Riviera campus sites bursting with students, the Santa Barbara High School District decided to help local veterans by reopening the junior college on Santa Barbara Street. Dr. William Kircher was appointed the principal of the college. Thanks to the courtesy of Professor Henry Bagish, one of the faculty members from the Kircher years, the 1951 Catalog reveals a limited number of courses, and a visual inspection of the campus shows the limitations imposed by buildings and space for the emerging college and its young faculty. The college grew from a few students to more than 1,000 in 1961.

 

Along the way, Dr. Leonard Bowman was appointed college director in 1952 to replace the first administrator. Such distinguished pioneer faculty as Robert Profant, Frank Fowler, Robert Kelley, Albert Henry (Bud) Revis, John O'Dea, Julia Bramlage, Winifred Lancaster, Marie Lantagne, Maxine Waughtell, Marie Gressel, Max Whittaker, Kenneth Shover, Charles Courtney, Ray Loynd, (the late) Timothy Fetler, Robert Casier, Stanley C. Sofas, Henry Bagish and many others helped to provide outstanding undergraduate instruction for a generation of students in the 1950s.

 

Key events of the '50s included the move to the Riviera campus, which was vacated when UCSBC moved to Goleta, the establishment of the Santa Barbara City College Instructors Association, and the appointment of Dr. Joseph Cosand as director, and later president, of the college. The great difficulty in the 1950s was the downturn in enrollments caused by the decline in birthrate in the 1930s, as well as the Korean War draft.

 

In the 1960s, with the end of the Korean War and the emergence of the World War II baby boom, the Riviera campus could no longer accommodate the growing number of local high school graduates. Under the leadership of Joseph Cosand, the college was moved to the present Mesa site in the 1959-60 school year. By this time, the work of the faculty and of Dr. Cosand had started to achieve positive community recognition and favorable regard. Particularly noteworthy in this formulative period was the outstanding adult education division, under the leadership of Dean Selmer (Sam) Wake and his colleagues, which had developed nationwide acclaim. Equally important was the high standard set by instructors and the high level of academic performance of students who transferred from Santa Barbara Junior College to four-year institutions.

 

This discussion of Santa Barbara City College's history would not be complete without a final comment about Joseph Cosand. Cosand left Santa Barbara to accept the chancellorship of the St. Louis college system and, later, to become a professor at the University of Michigan. In his tenure here as president, he orchestrated the change from a small institution to one of 1,200 students, recruited excellent faculty who would be the foundation upon which the larger departments are built, did preliminary work for separation of the college from the parent high school district, and approved the name change to City College. His accomplishments are still remembered fondly by senior faculty.

 

After a brief caretaker period under Douglas White, Dr. Robert Rockwell, a local Harvard graduate, was selected as the college's next president. Within a year, he accomplished the emancipation of the college from the secondary district and became the first superintendent as well. The first trustee election which followed the establishment of the new district was a fortunate one, since a highly intelligent and dedicated group of civic leaders was elected to give general direction and to set policies for the years to follow.

That original trustee group consisted of Kathryn Alexander, James Garvin, Benjamin P.J. Wells, Dorothy Meigs, Sidney Frank, Wilbur Fillippini and Winifred Lancaster. A quarter of a century later, Kathryn Alexander and Sidney Frank continue their service to the students, college and community. Their dedication should also be noted during this commemoration.

 

Following Dr. Rockwell as president were Lorenzo Dall' Armi, Dr. Julio Bortolazzo and Dr. Glenn G. Gooder. Julio Bortolazzo's landmark accomplishment was to lead a successful bond election campaign, enabling the college to purchase the West Campus property and to build on the East Campus. The presidencies of the 1960s and '70s were marked by such issues as the ending of dress codes, establishment of the Academic Senate, construction of several badly needed buildings, the end of in loco parentis (the college's responsibilities as a parent), free speech rights, student political activism, minority identity issues, questions of academic and behavioral standards, and rapid student and faculty growth. To say that the years from 1963-1977 were exciting and challenging is an understatement.

 

 Then, shortly after the election of Governor Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown, Jr., came a decade of austerity caused by the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 and static enrollments that created an entirely different and difficult set of problems for Presidents David Mertes and Peter MacDougall, the faculty and staff of City College. Few new faculty were added to the tenured professorate, and substantial changes took place as re-entry and minority students became an ever larger part of the student body. With major changes in the nature of community college education under consideration in Sacramento, the chance of even greater modifications in the near future appear probable.

 

Next year will mark the eightieth anniversary of the founding of the college and the forty-second year of its renewed existence. The older cohorts of the post-World War II alumni have now reached an age when they are making a significant impact in the community and beyond. The contributions of more recent graduates show great promise. As our college has now reached a period of some history, I would like to urge the establishment of an archive of written materials and an oral history program to systematically record our achievements and have a corpus of information upon which we can base our decisions so as not to repeat our past mistakes. Until this comes to pass, I hope this sketch and anecdotal review will give us some insight into our recent past.

 

Institutions should have their historical celebrations, because the recording and recounting of their past puts color in the larger tapestry of state and national history. Such commemorations-bicentennial, centennial, or otherwise-can focus the attention of a community, large or small, upon the enduring values, accomplishments, failures and goals of a city, church, college, nation, or an industry. Such inquiry will bring to many a sense of pride of accomplishment; but, more significant for others, is that these events will cause a renewed sense of direction and purpose for the years ahead.

 

Furthermore, the impact of historic commemorations increases as the age of the institution lengthens. The better the planning of an anniversary's celebration, the greater is the public's awareness and appreciation of the event. More important than the quality of the celebration is the achievement of the institution commemorated. If managed honestly and thoughtfully, such events can provide the needed public insight that can lead to civic betterment-and the "General Good."

 

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