…in the 1940s, education experts in California sounded the warning: California did not have the capacity to provide college education for the students who would graduate from highschool in the early 1960s. Dr. George D. Strayer, professor emeritus of education at Columbia Teachers College, headed a committee that wrote a report recommending that California build more colleges.
California did not move forward with construction. Instead, it invested time in arguing. The 1953 California Legislature appointed a restudy staff and asked the regents of the University of California and the State Board of Education to re-examine the question. The 1955 restudy report presented the opposite recommendation: don’t build more colleges, just lift the enrollment caps at the existing colleges and universities.
Roy E. Simpson, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction immediately challenged the restudy report.
The California Legislature battled over the idea of expanding existing colleges and over possible sites for new colleges. They argued over quality, they argued over overlap in the missions of California’s higher education systems and, most of all, they argued over locations. They ended up voting down a proposal for eight new colleges. Which brought us to 1956, when California’s State Department of Education reported that K-12 school registration had risen by over 7%. Where were these students going to go to college? Who was going to educate the teachers who were going to be needed as K-12 enrollment continued to grow?
The wrangling continued, more colleges were needed, but the Legislature could not agree on locations. Many legislators wanted a new college for their own district. If it would not be in their district, they could see no reason that any state money should be spent on a new college. In 1959 the Master Plan Survey Team, led by Arthur G. Coons, was released. It answered many of the questions that had been raised about the need for more capacity by clearly delineating the roles and responsibilities of the University of California, the California State University, and the Junior Colleges. Then it brought forth a list of recommendations, including three new university campuses (in San Mateo County, southeast Los Angeles County, and the La Jolla area) and two new state colleges (one near the Los Angeles airport and the other in the San Bernardino-Riverside area).
The California Legislature finally moved forward. They would fund a San Bernardino-Riverside college.
In the next few years over 26 proposals for sites for the college were submitted. This site won!
If you would like to read more about the history of our area, and you are on campus (or are off campus and are either a current student, staff, or faculty) use Pfau Library’s Journals List to get to Newspapers.com. Go to the library homepage, click on the link for the Journals List, and type San Bernardino into the title search blank. A list will come up, click on the San Bernardino paper that you would like to read. An agreement between the San Bernardino County Archives, the San Bernardino County Sun, California State University San Bernardino and Newspapers.com provides you with access to San Bernardino newspapers from 1886-1989. Pfau Library Special Collections is digitizing local newspapers. Anyone in our community can go to Scholarworks, click on Collections, open the John M. Pfau Library list, open Special Collections & Archives, and choose the Inland Empire Business Journal, the Hispanic News, or the Black Voice Newspaper. These are not yet complete – we are working on it!