June 1, 1989
Fresno Junior College
By Howard Hobbs, Ph.D.
Valley Press Media Network
[This column contains 2770 words.]
FRESNO -- Robert M. Hutchins
recently wrote that "...while nobody was looking, the junior
college which might have become the home of liberal education, became
the community college, the reflection of community pressures, and
a place of accommodation for those who did not know what else to
This provocative observation raises such
questions as, who, if anyone, ever intended for the junior college
to become the "home of liberal education" and if, in fact,
the community college today reflects neighborhood pressures while
accommodating those who do not know what else to do, does this mean
that the theory has gone awry, or the practice?
If something different from that originally
intended has come into being, how can the difference be explained?
Or did the contemporary community college come about despite leadership
headed in another direction?
The widening spread of education to more and more people has been
the most significant feature of the school as a social institution
in the twentieth century. The movement to
broaden educational opportunities for all continues to be an inherent
attribute of the American experience. Growth of high school enrollments
at first, and now college enrollments, have far out-stripped the
growth of total population.
A pervasive influence supporting this generous
extension of learning has been the belief that education is a good
in itself, that there is a life of the mind which everyone has a
right to share, insofar as he has the capacity to do so.
Some of the most articulate spokesmen for
this point of view have been those advocates of what has become
known as the "junior college movement."
Samuel Bowles and Herbert Glintis, in their research "IQ
in the Class Structure"(1973) argue that community colleges
tend to teach their students principally to become obedient, to
follow orders, and to be punctual.
These schools are engaged in shaping students
for the work-force who will be loyal and compliant employees who
will adopt the goals of the organization as their own goals.
These colleges, therefore, tend to sort and select
people ina way which ties occupational status closely with educational
attainment. In this way, it is thought, the community college
will maximize society's chances of discovering its most talented
students and preparing them to gain access to the high status mertitocracy.
This practice is mistakenly justified by
its proponents as morally justified because it increases the chances
for those individuals to gain access to high paying jobs.
In historical perspective the junior college
has become an institution which offers the first two years of college
education together with vocational curricula and an adult education
program. It is almost entirely a creation of this century even though
the idea was first broached in the middle of the last century.
W. H. Cowley of Stanford thinks otherwise.
Discussing William Rainey Harper, he terms
the junior college "an historical accident" and writes;
"Junior college historians also refer to Henry Philip Tappan,
President of the University of Michigan from 1852 to 1863, and to
William W. Folwell, President of the University of Minnesota from
1869 to 1384, as progenitors of junior colleges; but, like Harper,
they did not propose or even contemplate the unitary two--year junior
college of today.
They, too, conceived of a reconstructed
educational system which would include a six-year secondary school
similar to the German gymnasium." W. H. Cowley, "The
Junior College; Whence and Whither, " Memorandum for the
Fund for the Advancement of Education, Stanford University, September
10, 1955, pl3. 2-3.(unpublishud manuscript.)
Tappan, not long before he became President
o f the University of Michigan, conceived of a university patterned
after the German model, with professional schools based upon four
years of collegiate work which he envisioned as being done mostly
in secondary schools scattered throughout the state.
President Folwell of the University of Minnesota
advocated the relegation of the work of the freshmen and sophomore
years of the college course to the secondary schools, in his 1869
inaugural address . In 1880,
President James McCosh, of Princeton, pointed out that the colleges,
multiplying in numbers_ tended to "drag each other down, by
lowering the standard at entrance and at graduation."
As a remedy he suggested "not a university,
but an educational institution of are enlarged and useful character,
to give education to all who wish, and have made a certain amount
of progress at the elementary schools."
He continued: "These academies would
serve much the same purpose as the Gymnasia of Germany, with this
superiority, that they would teach women as well as men." [
Henry P. Tappan., University Education (New York: G. P. Putnam's
Sons, 1851) , p. 12 .William Watts Folwell, University Addresses
(Minneapolis: H. W. Wilson Co., 1909), pp. 37-38.
It is also asserted that the first president
of the University of Michigan urged the transfer of all secondary
work to the state high schools. See B. A. Hinsdale., History of
the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press,
1906) , p. 43.]
C.L. McLane of Fresno, writes [in The School Review Vol.
XXI March 1913 The Junior College, or Upward Extension Of The High
School] geographic-educational conditions in California are such
as to demand that the public-school system, in many sections of
the state, shall meet the requirements for advanced training above
the four-year high-school course.
If the map of California were placed on
the eastern seaboard of the United States it would cover the whole
of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey,
Delaware, Maryland, and about two-thirds of New York, Pennsylvania,
Virginia, and North Carolina.
While the population of California is less
than that of each of several of the above-mentioned states, oli
the other hand, two or three small areas in this state each contain
a greater population than that of each of four of the smaller states
Besides the two great universities in California-the state university
and Stanford University-both of which are located near San Francisco,
the state is without university advantages such as are afforded
by a large number of colleges and universities distributed over
like areas in the eastern portion of this country.
Thus when one considers only the largest
of the eastern universities and thinks of their geographical distribution
from Harvard at the north to Johns Hopkins at the south, the concentration
of university opportunities in California becomes obvious.
The element of distance is a most important
factor to people so far from home. Many who desire to continue their
studies cannot afford the expense necessary to college attendance
where the items of room and board mean so much.
Authorities in the University of California acid Stanford University
have been consulted in this matter and seem much interested in the
project. Both have promised such assistance as they may be able
to render in planning courses and securing instructors.
There seems to be no question as to the
possibility of doing work of such merit as will command recognition
from these institutions. The following general aims are set forth:
1. To give to young people of this section of the state, who cannot
afford to go to either of the universities, an opportunity to continue
their studies at home.
2. To provide practical courses in agriculture, manual training,
domestic science, and other technical work in addition to the regular
3. To carry students through the first two years of a college course,
thus enabling them to complete a four years' course with but two
years' residence at the university.
The report concluded with the following
recommendations: That the Board of Education authorize the establishment
of a two year' postgraduate course along the lines above mentioned.
That mathematics, English, Latin, modern languages, history, economics,
and technical work be the general courses offered for the first
year. That a competent person be secured as dean or head of
this department, with such assistants as the attendance-and courses
desired may justify.
This report was adopted and the superintendent
was authorized to carry out the details preparatory to opening this
department along with the high school in September following. Several
vacancies occurring at this time in the high school, including the
principalship, it was thought best to reorganize, placing the new
principal over the entire institution including the "junior
college," and selecting for the heads of such departments
as were vacant instructors with college experience and thorough
This plan was carried out, it being understood
that these special instructors should take such regular highschool
classes as might be required to fill in their daily programs. Three
such teachers were selected, one of whom was given the title "Dean
of the Junior College."
The state university authorities rendered
valuable assistance in selecting the head of the; school as well
as these assistants. Special equipment was purchased for scientific
The legislature passed the Junior College
Act before the first steps were taken by any school department
to put it into effect. As previously stated, the population of California
is found to be grouped in several important centers. This
was a significant landmark. In support of the measure, a large delegation
of San Joaquin Valley officials and prominent citizens traveled
to Sacramentoand attended Committee hearings om the proposed legislation.
However, Gov. Jiles Gilette stood in opposition to the Bill.
At the time, news strorieswere published
in the Fresno Republican Newspaper pointing up Gov. Gilette's
animosity toward Fresno becaaause of mounting opposition ther to
the Governor's campaing for re-election.
However, the Caminetti Act of 1907 worked round the log-jam in the
Governor's Office by authorizing California high schools to provide
an optional course of study in 5th year of high school. No funding
mechanism was included in the bill.
C. L. McLane petitioned Sacramento legislators
to approve the additional coursework in the Fresno High School currticula.
That bill was approved overwhelmingly in California Statutes 1909,
p.462. McLane quickly moved to incorporate the additional year in
the Fresno High School Cours of Study, be instituing on the
Fresno High Campus, the Fresno Junior College, in 1910.
David Star Jordan, President of Leland Stanford
Univiesrity expressed interest in McClane's Fresno Junior College
Program, as did Alexis Lange, Dean of Facuty at he University of
California, Berkeley. Lange wrote, "...The City of Fresno is
to be greatly congratulated on being the first city inthe estate
to establish a junior college...farsighted and progressive eductors
are agreed that the establishment of 'junior colleges' denotes a
necessary development in the right direction."
These in order of population are: the Bay section with San Francisco
as its nucleus, southern California with Los Angeles as its center,
Sacramento Valley with Sacramento as its center, San Joaquin Valley
with Fresno as its center, extreme southern California with San
Diego as its center, then several smaller groups along the coast
and in the northern part of the state. Each of these local centers
has its own problems and conditions in the way of government, climate,
industries, commerce, and education.
The Bay section is well provided with institutions
for higher educational training as before stated. Southern California
has several colleges and universities of secondary rank which are
equipped to meet local demands. The center of population in the
Sacramento Valley section is less than one hundred miles from the
The San Joaquin Valley section, however,
the center of which is over two hundred miles from any institution
of higher education, seemed to be the most logical division in which
the "junior college" should have its birth. The first
movement toward making use of this "upward extension"
law was made by the city superintendent of the Fresno schools in
June, 1910, when a circular letter was sent to patrons of the Fresno
High School and to the principals of various other nearby high schools.
Over two hundred favorable replies were received with not one adverse
opinion. A report was then presented to the local board of education
presenting conditions and arguments looking toward the establishment
of an institution of higher learning in connection with the local
The substance of this report will, no doubt,
best present the leading facts pertaining to the organization and
establishment of this first "junior college." There
is no institution of higher education within two hundred miles of
Fresno where students may continue their studies beyond the regular
By the the following year, in 1911, the founding
of the Fresno Normal School, public policy, planning and
public school administration, the legislative process, an informed
judiciary, with active media interest in higher education and policy
reform brought informed social and economic forces together in the
personality of C. L. McLane, an outstanding civic minded educational
pioneer at the dawning of the Twentieth Century.
to see the Slide Show!
Community College statistics:
Number of Community Colleges:
Public institutions - 1004
Independent institutions - 147
Total - 1166
10.4 million students
5.4 million credit
5 million noncredit
44% of all U.S. undergraduates
45% of first-time freshmen
58% women; 42% men
63% part time; 37% full time
(full time = 12 + credit hours)
46% of black undergraduate students
55% of Hispanic
46% of Asian/Pacific Islander
55% of Native American
Average student age - 29 years
Students Receiving Financial Aid:
Any aid - 32.8%
Pell Grants - 14.9%
State aid - 6.1%
Federal loans - 6.0%
Percentage of Federal Financial Aid
Pell Grants - 33.0%
Campus-based aid - 9.8%
subsidized - 5.9%
unsubsidized - 5.1%
PLUS - 1.2%
Tuition and Fees:
$1,518 average annual tuition
Degrees and Certificates Annually:
More than 450,000 associate degrees
Nearly 200,000 two-year certificates
In 2000, 59.7% of applicants taking the national registered nurse
examination to become licensed professional registered
nurses were graduates of associate degree programs.
Revenue Sources: (Public Colleges)
42% - state funds
23% - tuition and fees
18% - local funds
5% - federal funds
10% - other
Governance: (Public Colleges)
More than 600 boards of trustees
6,000 board members
29 states - local boards
16 states - state boards
4 states - local/state boards
More than 95% of community colleges are Internet connected. In
recent years, the average starting salary for graduates
of information technology programs has increased more than 24%,
from $20,753 to $25,771.
95% of businesses and organizations that use them recommend community
college workforce education and training
48% of community colleges offer welfare-to-work programs. Of those
that do not, 54% plan to offer programs specifically
designed for welfare recipients.
65% of new healthcare workers get their training at community
Note: The writer is indebted to the University of California, Berkeley,
CA., for providing access to the archival copy of "The Junior
College" the master's thesis of Arthur Amos Gray, April
1915, and to the Fresno County Office of Education, Superintendant
E.W. Lindsay (1911) for official archives of meetings of the Fresno
County Institute from March 13-16, 1911. The sociological analysis
of the San Jose Junior College during its first four years, by Burton
Clarke (1959) was consulted. Dr. Art Margozian's copy of "The
Public Junior College" Fifty-fifth Yearbook of th National
Society for the Study of Education" editor, Nelson B. Henry
(1956), was consulted. The personal accounts, papers, writing and
photographs of historical significance from private collections,
including The Diary of C .L. Mclane 1897-1931, interview
notes of the writer in the matter State Sen. Kenneth L. Maddy, in
1983 on the Financial Plan for the stat's 107 community or
junior colleges covering more than 1.4 million students and the
new funding formula to set aside $1.1 billion in current funding
for 1984. Also, personal intrviews of Mrs. Bobbe Harris Brock and
Margaret McLane Harris, and Isa Eldon who described recollections
of personal activities and events during the period under study.
Interviews were conducted and by the researcher at the original
Fresno Normal School site with the use of tape recorded interviews
and contemporaneous notes. Administrative research sources cited
in this study include the unpublished graduate paper titled, "The
Early Administrative History of Fresno Junior College 1907 to 1927"
by Robert G. Stuart, Univ. of So. California, 1981.Robert
M. Hutchins "The Time Is Now," Liberal Education, The
Bulletin of the Association of American Colleges, (May, 1964) ,
249-62. Statistical sources updated to year 2000, include the National
Profile of Community Colleges: Trends and Statistics, 3rd Edition.
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