A People's History of Spokane Community College

The 1970s


  • Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water" was Billboard's #1 hit.
  • Patton took the Best Picture Oscar, first-year comedy "All in the Family" won an Emmy, and The French Lieutenant's Woman (John Fowles) and Love Story shared time on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Walter S. Johnson was appointed the new community college district's chief executive officer in 1969. A year later, the District 17 Board of Trustees separated the Mission and Fort Wright campuses, creating two distinct colleges. Hobart Jenkins, a former principal at Mead High School, was selected to lead Spokane Community College; and Max Snyder, previously superintendent at Pullman School District, was at the helm of Spokane Falls Community College.

Hobart Jenkins
SCC President
Hobart Jenkins

Hobe Jenkins arrived at SCC with the college staring at its first pot of capital building funds, totaling about $2.7 million in all. Looking around at the "campus," which still consisted of the Main Building (fondly known as "Old Main") surrounded by a variety of residential homes being used as classrooms, he made a radical proposition to Johnson and SCC's administrative team.

Sasquatch groundbreaking

Jenkins suggested that, sooner or later, the state would begin prioritizing how to use capital funds. Before it did, Jenkins said, let's build a student center and athletics facility - two facilities that would help make SCC feel like a "real" college campus. SCC's administrators concurred and construction began on the Lair-Student Center and physical education complex. A science building followed shortly thereafter.

And Jenkins' prediction was right - the state did begin to prioritize community college capital projects. Chances are SCC would never have gotten the funding for a student center and athletics facilities.

Metal trades student - 1970s
On Wednesday, Sept. 22, 1971, SCC announced it was laying down the law as far as hair went. "There are no general college rules on appearance, or on the length hair or beards," Wayne Leffler, supervisor of trade and industrial education, said in an interview with The Spokesman-Review. "We are, however, developing some safety regulations for those vocational programs in which students work with potentially dangerous equipment. Obviously, if long hair can be caught in a machine or burned, then for safety reasons it will have to be covered or restrained."
Lady welder - 1970s

Those darn hippies.

SCC was a center for program innovation in the community during Jenkins' tenure. In response to industry, the college trained air traffic controllers and organized a food marketing institute in Spokane and engineering aides in Colville.

More degree and certificate programs sprouted up - farm implement service and repair, forest product tech, commercial truck driving, and legal assistant, among others. And SCC graduated its first classes in cosmetology and bank teller training.

Throughout it all, SCC's second president was a passionate advocate for vocational education.

In a graduation speech, Jenkins told students, "Until the general public, the legislators and the academic educators understand that occupational education is skill-oriented and not subject matter-oriented, our society will fail to provide the means by which your skills are perpetuated and advanced. It's time to stop making comparisons between academic and occupational educations. It's time for the occupational liberation movement."

Typewriter repair - 1970s

Following Jenkins' departure in 1974, Lloyd Stannard, who had served as District 17's first coordinator of extension services since 1968, was named president. As coordinator of extension services, he had been responsible for 40 off-campus sites as far-flung as Colville and Pullman.

Spokane's World Fair, Expo '74, consumed the community - and SCC as well. The college assisted with two major hospitality training programs - "Company's Coming" and "Expo '74 Orientation" - in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and other area businesses. Almost 8,000 people took in "Company's Coming" presentations, which highlighted major points of interest in Spokane, detailed the economic impact of Expo, and finally, offered tips on being good hosts to the world.

The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me, SCC.
For a few glorious years, in the late 1970s and early 80s, regional law enforcement officers could attend the SCC Polygraph Examiners School which offered an intensive seven-week course in conducting polygraph investigations. Seven officers graduated from the program Nov. 16, 1979.

The orientation program targeted the nearly 2,000 people employed at Expo '74. In addition, both SCC and Spokane Falls hosted numerous short-term courses in hospitality, tour guide training, and fast food service. SCC watch-making and machine shop students helped repair the clock in the tower at the center of the World's Fair site (now known as Riverfront Park), and SCC's Natural Resource Association sponsored an international college competition in traditional logging events at Expo's Folklife Festival site.

Under Stannard's watch, SCC added an optometric technician program - the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest - as well as fire science and fluid power technology. The college's 31,078-square-foot health occupations building opened fall quarter 1974, and plans were drawn up for a new trade and industrial building and Main Building remodel.

Lloyd Stannard
SCC President
Lloyd Stannard

In all, the college now offered 94 different career/technical programs, including some notables like "domestic appliances/vending machine repair," "food market management," and "horology and micro-precision instrument."

Stannard wrote, "By the very nature of the 'open door policy,' the comprehensive community college is committed to a well-educated citizenry for a successful democratic society. That which is offered should be useful to both society and the individual. Thus, it is elementary that we arrange an educational environment in which it is possible for the student to find his own way toward full development. Decisions as to what should be taught and the method are made by reference to the usefulness of the knowledge in everyday life."

District President Walter Johnson retired in 1976 and the community colleges welcomed a new president, Max Snyder. By 1977, Stannard's last year with SCC, enrollment at the college reached 9,924 students (4,199 enrolled in day classes and another 5,725 in evening and extension offerings).

Identity crisis. Am I a Sasquatch or a Spartan? You decide.
The CCS Board of Trustees weathered a minor student uprising in 1979 following their decision to adopt Sasquatch as a single mascot for the district's newly consolidated athletics teams. They did what any self-respecting board would do - sent it back to the District Athletic Committee for reconsideration. Feathers (or would that be fur?) were apparently unruffled by 1984 when students at SCC and SFCC went to the polls to determine a single sports mascot.
Bigfoot was the last mascot standing. Sasquatch prevailed with a vote of 451, followed by Spartans (219) and Suns (118).
The CCS Sasquatch is the only mascot of its kind in the U.S. (probably for good reason). An iconic statue of our Bigfoot created from papier mache, wire, and faux fur by SFCC art students in the 1970s was featured in "Sports Illustrated." You can gaze upon said statue in the lobby of the Walter S. Johnson Sports Center. It's well worth the trip.
Today, we have a living, breathing Bigfoot - Skitch - who has his own Facebook page and writes a semi-regular advice column, "Ask Squatch," in the staff newsletter On the Inside. Catch up with him at home basketball games and other special events. Skitch is a renaissance kind of fella: He did a stint in the Peace Corps and worked for a few years on Wall Street before returning home to don the mantle of CCS mascot. In his spare time, he enjoys the zither, mycology, geo-caching, and doing research in the field of non-carcinogenic tick repellents.
Skitch with Dr. Robert Sapolsky
Skitch with students

Ramon LaGrandeur
SCC President
Ramon LaGrandeur
Automotive mechanics - 1970s
Library, Lair, and Old Main - 1970s

Ramon LaGrandeur, former assistant to the president of the University of Nevada's community college division and Spokane Community College's fourth president, arrived on campus as debate heated up about balancing liberal arts and professional/technical programs at SCC. He was quick to reassure faculty and staff that both occupied an important place at the community college, saying "I don't feel I'm a vocational educator. I'm interested in a comprehensive community college that includes both liberal art programs and vocational programs."

The Anaconda, Montana native started July 1, 1977, earning a salary of $33,500. His goal: "to continue to provide the high quality education that SCC provides in new and better ways." Among his ideas: to expand the college's "television courses" and night education division.

He succeeded at first. Statewide, District 17's student enrollments peaked in 1979, totaling 26,729 in all. SCC's share included 4,251 credit students and well over 6,000 taking noncredit classes.

Between 1977 and 1979, the college would add several more new programs in response to the region's changing employment needs: Trailer rebuilding and refinishing (1977); personnel management technician and biomedical equipment technician (1978); and professional sales training, dietetic assistant, industrial mechanics, and corrections technology (1979). It would open its Automotive and Heavy Equipment Buildings spring quarter 1977, followed by an Olympic-size swimming pool that summer. Oh, and SCC found itself a fire station in 1979!

The 1980s