A Colorful History
The first junior college in California was established at Fresno in 1910, stirring interest in the concept across the state. There were tentative attempts in Stockton in 1917, which failed due to inadequate enrollment, and in 1920, when the Stockton Board of Education formally agreed upon an institution but provided no funds.
It was at College of the Pacific, a private, Methodist college located in Stockton since 1924, that things began to happen under the direction of Dr. Tully Knoles and Dr. Dwayne Orton, head of the Pacific Speech Department. The College of Pacific Coordinating Committee in 1934 recommended the formation of a lower division program to admit high school students not fully qualified for regular Pacific admission, and for Pacific students who failed to maintain satisfactory performance.
The committee put the plan into motion in February of 1934, naming Dr. Orton, as Principal of the College of the Pacific Junior College. The program courses were listed in the Pacific catalog of 1934-35, and 73 students were enrolled in the private junior college that fall. Thus began the formative years.
Pacific officials offered to turn the program over to the Stockton Board of Education, which was paying $30,000 yearly for local students to attend distant public junior colleges. The State Board of Education authorized the partnership a few days before the start of the 1935 fall semester.
San Joaquin Delta College is the successor of the Stockton Junior College formed that year. College of Pacific rented space and equipment only. Pacific instructors taught the classes, but were employed and responsible to the Stockton Board of Education.
The success of the operation was so notable that Pacific abandoned freshmen and sophomore instruction in the spring of 1936, bequeathing all such instruction to the junior college. The two institutions shared facilities through World War II, when the junior college added another unique, although temporary, feature: running an aviation school in Nevada. Science instructor Dr. Arthur T. Bawden succeeded Dr. Orton in this period.
Successful leadership followed with Dr. Bawden, then a triumvirate of three individuals Lorraine Knoles, Burke W. Bradley and Louis Windmiller-in 1948.
Stockton Junior College became Stockton College in 1948, with the total student body at just under 2,000 and Dr. Leon Minear as president. The physical change was even more evident, with classes being moved to a 43-acre site just south of College of the Pacific. The educational pattern also changed, as the Stockton School System restructured into six years of elementary instruction, four of junior high, and four combining the junior and senior years of high school with the freshman and sophomore years of college.
The physical separation of Stockton College and College of the Pacific was followed in 1951 by the resumption of lower division classes at Pacific.
In the next decade, the educational needs of the area became greater than the geographical focus of a Stockton College. Dr. Julio Bortolazzo took charge of the campus in 1952, when the college took on a different approach. It expanded its vocational programs and implemented the 6-4-4 plan. Dr. Burke Bradley Jr. followed him as president after which San Joaquin Delta College became a successor to Stockton College. Legally separated from Stockton Unified School District in 1963, the college encompassed virtually all of San Joaquin County and portions of three other counties. Dr. Bradley remained as president/superintendent.
The separation made Delta College a tenant on land owned by SUSD, and an attempt to develop a Delta multicampus system through a bond election failed in 1966 before Dr. Bortolazzo returned for one year to head a successful campaign in 1968-69.
This paid for a portion of construction of a $50 million campus. Today's cost of $125 million would make it an impossibility to build in this era.
The Rio Vista-Isleton area in Solano County was annexed during this time. Dr. Joseph Blanchard took the presidency of Delta College in 1969, combined $19.8 million in construction bonds with funds from six other sources, and over the next seven years directed the building of Delta's first permanent home.
The Delta College District grew to 2,300 square miles, larger than Delaware or Rhode Island, with the addition of part of Calaveras County in the summer of 1976, and now serves approximately 23,000 students.
Dr. Blanchard's retirement in 1976 prompted college trustrees to make a nation-wide hunt for a new leader, resulting in the selection of Dr. Dale Parnell, former Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District and Superintendent of Public Instruction in Oregon.
Dr. Dale Parnell, resigned on July 1, 1981 to take a position as president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges.
In June of 1981, the College Board of Trustees chose Lawrence A. DeRicco as President/Superintendent. Dr. DeRicco, a graduate of the old Stockton College, had been an educator and businessman throughout the district before serving as Delta College's Business Manager and Vice President/Management Services for 18 years.
Under Dr. DeRicco, the College entered a new era of limitations and consolidation with many foreseeable changes. During that time, DeRicco received an honorary Doctorate in Education from his alma mater, the University of the Pacific, for his contributions to the field of education. Dr. DeRicco retired in June of 1987 after 24 years of service to the district.
In 1987, Dr. L. H. Horton, Jr. took over as Superintendent/President. During his tenure, he oversaw the completion of a new physical plant, the creation of a new Child Development Center and initated the development of a new learning center in Tracy. Horton, the longest serving President to date, retired from the college in 1999 after thirteen years of service.
The millenium brought a new president. Edward O. Gould, Ed.D, was hired February 2000 to guide the college into the 21st century. He served as Vice Chancellor of Student Services at the California Community College Chancellor's Office where he developed and recommended policy for the state's 107 colleges and 71 districts in the areas of student services and services to special populations. He is the former Superintendent/President of Victor Valley College and Monterey Peninsula College.
Dr. Raul Rodriguez joined Delta College in Fall 2002 as our Superintendent/President. Under Dr. Rodriguez, a bond for $250 million was passed in 2004. The bond will be used to upgrade and expand the Stockton campus and expand and establish Education Centers in Delta College's region.
Delta College is proud of representing an area that launched California into world prominence, for the Mother Lode era brought about the great western expansion.
The partnership with the University of the Pacific continues. The two institutions combine to offer four years and graduate opportunities in higher education. California State University, Stanislaus is also a cooperative Educational Partner.
Long decades without a permanent home created a desire at San Joaquin Delta College to make its new campus something special.
Two key decisions were endorsed by College trustees in the fall of 1968. Though the campus would be one of the largest in California, the student population would be divided into five instructional centers.
The design of each center included a central open courtyard, snack bar and study lounge. The goal is to encourage students and faculty to develop activities according to their own interests, creating a healthy campus-wide diversity.
Cunningham Center and a portion of Budd Center were the first buildings to open in 1973, and had classes in physical and life science, public safety & services, computer science and printing.
The decision reflected the philosophy that all knowledge, as with all work, is worthwhile and not susceptible to "status." Students with greatly different backgrounds and career interests, musicians and mechanics-meet in the hallways, lounges and sometimes classrooms and learn to respect each other's values.
The Committee recommended the names of deceased, local historical people who had made significant contributions to education. And the College Board of Trustees agreed.
Cunningham Center, named after Sheriff Thomas Cunningham of the late 1800's opened in June, 1973. The center has Clever Planetarium, the only planetarium in San Joaquin Valley.
Holt Center was named after Benjamin Holt, developer of the belt tread tractor that helped make large-scale farming possible in this area's peat soil. Holt Center opened in the summer of 1974, and contains instruction in music, machine technology, heating and air conditioning, welding, engineering, and the only college electron microscopy lab in the nation.
Shima Center honors the memory of George Shima, who left Japan in the 1880's after failing his university exams and founded an agricultural empire on land reclaimed from Delta bog. The center opened during the spring semester of 1975, and offers instruction in agriculture and natural resources, broadcasting, fine arts, home economics (including early childhood education), business and photography. The Shima Gallery provides exhibits and displays in creative artistry.
Budd and Locke centers were completed in the fall of 1976, except for a vocational portion of Budd which opened in conjunction with Cunningham Center. James Budd was the only Stocktonian to become Governor of California. The center holds the physical education facilities, including a 3,000-seat gym and 50-meter pool.
Locke Center is named after Dr. Dean Jewett Locke, the man who founded Lockeford and the Lockeford School District. The center has instruction in nursing, business, drama, and includes a 400-seat main theatre and a 100-seat studio theatre. Atherton Auditorium holds over 1,400 people.
Three other campus buildings bear historical names. Goleman Library is named after Dr. Irving Goleman, a brilliant Delta teacher and thinker who believed no one was truly educated without experiencing the liberal arts. Danner Hall honors Helen Danner, Associate Dean of Students at Delta until her death in 1970. The hall contains student activities offices as well as the main cafeteria, a student-operated gourmet restaurant and bookstore. The road connecting the different campus areas is called Burke Bradley Road in the south part of the campus and Burke Bradley Drive in the north. Dr. Bradley was President of Stockton College in 1956 and presided over the separation of San Joaquin Delta College from Stockton Unified School District in 1963.