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A Colorful History - Part 1

 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.

 

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San Joaquin Delta College
5151 Pacific Ave
Stockton, California 95207
(209) 954-5151

 

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