The second decade of the Los Banos campus begins in turmoil, ends in success

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Corporate Brief At the start of the second decade of the Los Banos campus of Merced College (1982), a grand opening took place in the new campus facilities on Mercey Springs Road. Bill Martineson, then president of the college, is at the microphone. Richard Rodoni, then the District West Ward College Trustee at the time, is third from left on stage. Richard Menezes, who donated the land for the Mercey Springs site, is second from the right on stage.

This is the second in a series on the Merced College Los Banos campus, which will celebrate its golden anniversary with a campus celebration on November 5, 2021, to which the entire community is invited. This article chronicles the campus’s second decade, 1981-1991.

At the start of the 1981-1982 school year, the Merced College Los Banos campus of Merced College did not have a campus. The lease for the leased building on L Street had expired and the new modular facility on Mercey Springs Road – on a 10-acre site donated by Los Banos resident Richard Menezes – was still a year away from completion.

Classes were held during the 1981-82 academic year in many different locations across the city: in a vacant furniture store, in a storefront on I Street that would later become an insurance agency, in high school de Los Banos and in a small building that belonged to the City Parks and Recreation Department in Talbot Park.

In the Talbot Park building was a classroom, the office of campus coordinator and faculty member Bob Edminster, a small bookstore, and a bathroom, the toilets of which were often overflowing with water seeping into the rest. of the building. One of the three full-time teachers held office hours at Jerry’s Restaurant on Pacheco Boulevard.

During this school year, the pre-constructed modular buildings gradually arrived at the Mercey Springs site (now the site of Mercey Springs Elementary School) and were laid on a foundation. A member of staff, seeing the trucks carrying the modulars coming down Pacheco Boulevard, exclaimed: “This is my new college! “

Residents of the community joined the college in 1981-1982, taking classes at the many different sites, and the college survived.

In the fall of 1982 the college opened in Mercey Springs and a campus was back in Los Banos. However, there were still problems. For one thing, it was renamed “The Westside Center” and it didn’t have a dean, just a Merced administrator who came in periodically. It remained that way for three years, until a new president of Merced College was hired, Tom Harris.

In 1985 Harris appointed John Spevak, professor of English and resident of Los Banos, acting dean. Dean Spevak got involved in college meetings and has been a strong advocate for the campus. He showed the staff at Merced University that the “center” was not a strain on the university’s budget, as some mistakenly believed, but actually contributed to the university’s income. And the name of the establishment is again “Campus de Los Banos”.

Gradually, more and more full-time faculty were hired for the campus, including child development instructor Barbara Penney. And little by little, more university funding has been granted to Los Banos, including allowances for a new daycare center on campus.

Plans have been made for another modular building, specially designed as a day care center and child development laboratory. Funding to equip the center comes from a donation of $ 40,000 from Richard Menezes, the same person who donated the Mercey Springs site. The crèche was due to open in January 1992.

From 1985 to 1991, enrollment on campus increased every year as more classes and programs were added, including for the first time computer technology courses.

The campus has developed closer ties with the Unified School District of Los Banos and a plan has been made to make it easier for high school students to attend college classes during the day on campus.

On October 26, 1991, the campus celebrated its 20th anniversary with a barbecue, music, balloons, face paintings, recognitions from LBC alumni and a “This is Your Life” presentation with highlights from both. decades of campus.

Between 1981 and 1991, the Los Banos campus had not only survived. He was thriving, continuing to help thousands of residents of Los Banos and Dos Palos obtain degrees and diplomas, improving their lives and that of their families.

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