In 1957, the San Mateo Junior College District Board of Trustees developed a 25-year District master plan based on the recommendations of a citizens' advisory committee, and the same year submitted a $5.9 million bond issue to voters that was approved by a three-to-one margin.
The bond issue victory cleared the way for prompt acquisition of the present College of San Mateo campus and also provided funds for purchase of a 111-acre site west of Skyline Boulevard and south of Sharp Park Road in San Bruno. A third site, of 131 acres west of the Farm Hill subdivision on the Redwood City-Woodside line, was purchased in 1962.
The current College of San Mateo campus was opened in 1963, followed by Cañada College, Redwood City, in 1968, and Skyline College, San Bruno, in 1969. Construction of Cañada and Skyline was made possible in large part from proceeds from a second bond issue of $12.8 million approved by District voters in March, 1964.
Educational and architectural planning for Cañada was accomplished in 1964-66 and proceeded on the theory that a first phase for at least 2,000 students should be designed to permit expansion ultimately to 8,000 day students. Grading of the site began in 1966, and the building construction contract was awarded in April, 1967. The first classes – for 2,000 students – were held in September, 1968.
The Cañada College Dedication Program was held on April 27, 1969. The first President, Bill Goss, welcomed dignitaries including Francis Pearson Jr. then president of the Board of Trustees. Carl Sitton, conductor of the college choir, opened the invocation with a song of praise.
The total cost to build the campus was $12.2 million. The 241,000 square feet of buildings cost $24.77 per square foot to build.
Editor's Note: This was the original dedication address delivered by Clifford G. Erickson, San Mateo Junior College District Chancellor-Superintendent, at the Cañada College Dedication Program in April of 1969. We have included various historic photos from Cañada's history to illustrate the words of Chancellor Erickson. We hope you enjoy.
New Horizons for the Community Colleges
As one of the more recent arrivals in this great community, I regard it a privilege to be able to share with you today's historic event.
A special privilege...and a special pleasure.
Because to me it is always an inspiration to come to this beautiful college.
I can say that in the very best of taste because I had nothing whatsoever to do with the planning or construction or the operational birth of Cañada College.
All those things had been accomplished long before I arrived on the scene.
So I say to those who have brought this college into being that every time I set foot in these beautiful and functional facilities, or talk with the outstanding people who serve here, or walk amidst the trees and drink in the tremendous highland vistas, I find myself refreshed...reinvigorated...renewed.
More than half a century ago, President Woodrow Wilson eloquently expressed one aspect of what I feel about Cañada College.
"It is appropriate that a college should be set upon a hill. It must be a place of outlook, and there must be eyes in it that can comprehend the things that are seen – even the things distant and vague upon the horizon.
"For the object of scholarship," said Mr. Wilson, "is not to please the scholar; it is not to amuse the leisure of inquisitive minds, but to put forth to release the human spirit from every kind of thralldom of darkness."
And that is precisely the kind of college we are assembled here to dedicate today...a college placed upon a hill, both physically and in the realm of spirit.
Yet, and this is very important, there is no sense in this setting of separation from the community...no sense of remoteness or inaccessibility or above-it-allness.
Because Cañada College is a creation of the community. It exists for the community. Its roots are permeated deep in the rich heritage and fertile resources of the community.
This, as you know, has been called the Age of Education. And education has been called the key to equalizing opportunity for the realization of the utmost of all America holds dear...in life, in liberty, in the pursuit of happiness.
No institution in the realm of higher education and adult education embodies the American dream as does the community college. None measures up to the community college in relevancy to the political, economic and social development and welfare of the community.
San Mateo Junior College District has set a proud example of what the educational philosophers really have in mind when they talk about the open door community college. Literally thousands of community people, both in and out of leadership roles, have involved themselves in the destiny of this junior college district and its institutions – both as contributors and beneficiaries.
Your elected Trustees and appointed academic administrators, headed for a dozen momentous years by Dr. Julio L. Bortolazzo, who shares this platform today – all of these and you who are gathered here have shown your dedication to excellence in community higher education through the San Mateo Junior College District.
For 46 years, all this dedication was focused at College of San Mateo.
You are well aware of the result:
College of San Mateo is nationally and internationally known.
Now today we are to dedicate a second district college, cast in the same mold of excellence and opportunity for all, and to efficient management of intellectual, physical and financial resources. Cañada College has drawn strength from a core staff drawn from College of San Mateo augmented by many other creative people who have been attracted through the known leadership of this District exemplified at College of San Mateo – yet, it will continue to develop its own image and strength as an autonomous college in a multicollege system.
Beautiful though it is – and already the college is receiving a steady stream of visitors – Cañada College has not been designed as a monument to please the eye.
Instead, it has been planned as an optimal environment of learning...learning for young and old, from early morning to late evening, week around, year around. Though it has walls to enclose classes, it also follows the admonition of Peace Nobel laureate Father Dominic Pere by building bridges to the community in innumerable ways – in adult education, in a rapidly developing program of community services, in extending the college to include the whole community in cooperative education, in using lay advisors from the community to assist in program development – in short, this is a living, dynamic community college taking its rightful place in the world of higher education.
As an open door comprehensive community college, there is as great concern here for the dignity and service and education for the food service technologist as for the abstract painter; for the accountant, as for the philosopher, for the fireman, as for the physician.
On this beautiful campus, all of those who prepare for life's many occupations work and live together, fulfilling the American dream for each, regardless of race, color or creed, to reach his highest possible level of personal development and fulfillment.
Last fall, when this college first opened, it enrolled more students than the total college enrollments of many of the nations of the world. For example, the Republic of Congo, which has a population equal to that of California. It is sobering to reflect on the fact that, here in California 700,000 American are enrolled in community colleges and another 300,000 in State colleges and universities, providing opportunity 500 times as great as that of the citizens of Congo.
As a new member of the team, I take this opportunity to commend all of you for the long-range planning which has brought you to this great day.
In the last decade, we have seen the rapid development of a national policy for equalizing opportunity for all Americans. Government, industry and the professions have made tremendous strides in equalizing opportunity for employment, for participation in management and in ownership for the minority peoples of the nation. Rapidly growing college enrollments of minority and disadvantaged persons express a realization that education is the key to fulfillment of rising aspirations.
This college district was ready for this new surge. You planned well when you instituted the open door for admissions, the free tuition policy and the special program for the educationally disadvantaged, known at College of San Mateo as the College Readiness Program. A similar program, by the way, is now under consideration for launching by Trustees, faculty, administration and students at Cañada College in the fall of 1969.
President Wilson admonished us to look ahead to the things that "may be distant and vague on the horizon". With your indulgence, I would like to use this occasion to attempt just that – to look ahead for a minute or two and to visualize how this great college will serve the students of this community, the nation and the world.
First, I see this creative faculty, under the able leadership of President Goss, continuing its outreach into the community to discover the special needs of individuals, of employers, of the professions, of local government and, using the insights derived from people of the community, to develop educational programs – both formal and informal – which are finely tuned to the needs of this area.
Second, I see the developing program of this college, articulated and coordinated with the offerings of College of San Mateo, and with the new soon-to-be-established Skyline College, in such a way that there will be no needless duplication of effort in order that we may best steward those funds which are placed in our care. Yet, despite this coordination, there will be, as already there is, Cañada's own distinctive personality, its own individual approach to its objectives, and its own autonomous determinations.
Three, I see a continuing and wholesome response to social change. At its last meeting, the Board of Trustees reaffirmed the District's commitment to equal opportunity employment and rapid progress in the direction of staffing in accord with the ethnic balance of the community.
Four, I see ever-increasing translation of this equal opportunity commitment in terms of educational program. Even now, the faculty, working with students, administration and Trustees, are developing new ethnic study courses, sequences of courses, and even whole curriculums, as all of us eek better ways to assist minority and disadvantaged students to discover the ladder of success in education, in career attainment, and in community service.
Five, I see a continuing effort by the faculty to counteract modern tendencies toward depersonalization of human experience. Inspired by counseling, creative teaching, development of relevant learning materials and compassion for each student as a human being help to develop a sense of personal worth and motivation to study and devote service to others.
Six, at the same time, I see this faculty assisting each student to transfer the center of gravity in learning from the teacher to himself, in order that he may lead a self-directed life. This transference, in part, is being achieved by widening the opportunities for learning materials beyond those of the familiar book, to include films, tapes and programmed lessons which provide for the student the freedom to learn at his own pace and in his own style, under the supervision of a qualified teacher who shares the commitment and philosophy of the community college.
Seven, I see our total institution lean in the direction of evaluating competence, rather than sitting time in the classroom, using advanced placement for those who are gifted and for adults who return to the college classroom after years of learning through many other avenues of human life.
Eight, I see the college moving toward greater utilization of the multi-billion dollar learning laboratory which is the community itself, in order that we may enrich the learning experience through a merging of town and gown. Cooperative education partnerships with industry and the professions can improve the easy transition into careers and revitalize the learning experience of students by coordinating classroom learning with on-the-job experience. Progress made in the last two years in experimental district programs will soon be expanded to this college and to the new Skyline College, vastly increasing the educational learning resources available to our students.
Nine, I see the model of the dynamic, creative community college, exemplified here, being extended to many other states of the Union and to other nations of the world. The United States Congress is, during these days, considering legislation known as the Williams Bill, which provides for grants to the fifty states for state-wide planning for community colleges, in order that they may all achieve the kind of development already near comprehensive maturity here in California and in the San Mateo Junior College District. This same model is being studied intensively and being transplanted around the world. Since 1948, Japan has created over 500 junior colleges. The system is under development in Ceylon, in Chile, and Australia. Several nations in Africa are moving in the direction of the community college. The American Association of Junior Colleges is convening in March, 1970, the first International Seminar on the Community College. Educational leaders from the Americas and the other nations which border on the Pacific Ocean will share experiences and future plans for community college development. Perhaps the future will bring similar conferences for the nations of Europe and Africa.
Finally, I see in the decade ahead a gradual diminution of the tensions which are being created during this period of rapid growth in educational opportunity for disadvantaged and minority students, a diminution accelerated by institutional change to accommodate the special needs of these American minorities and disadvantaged groups – and by the closing of the gap between the great number of positions open to the college-trained, and the number of persons having the education and experience to fill this vast array of opportunities. This gap is already narrowing perceptibly as we work together in all areas of our public and private life, in government, business, education, religion and the home to build the bridges of understanding and mutual trust which will dissipate those misunderstandings which too often bring unrest and unhappiness.
We are privileged to live in a great college community with a tradition of unparalleled opportunity for education for upward social and economic mobility, for local control of education through elected lay boards, for publicly supported education in order that all shall have an opportunity to reach the highest level of development.
Cañada College is a typical part of this noble tradition. Trustees, the college administration, faculty and students have already demonstrated their commitment to this tradition.
May we take this opportunity – as we dedicate these physical buildings – to rededicate ourselves to a continuing effort to fulfill this dream of service to the community for this generation and those yet unborn.
May it be said of us here that, as we looked to the things distant and vague upon the horizon, we did indeed fulfill Woodrow Wilson's admonition that we release the human spirit from every kind of thrall of darkness; that we brought here knowledge properly interpreted and seen with the vision of insight that is uniting the spirits of the world.
And that with Father Pere we built many more bridges – between people, between cultures, between classrooms, and community – than we built walls which may divide us.
May these beautiful buildings and this inspiring college serve as an environment for learning, for human understanding – may they serve well the eye, the head and the heart for all of us and for the generations who will follow us.