La Verne Magazine
Winter 2000

"Tradition & Change"


ULV: Transition or Tradition?

by Jennifer Parsons


photo by Matt Wright

Peaks made of teflon fabric cover the Supertents at the University of La Verne. Center of student life since 1974, the prototype buildings hold the Communications Department, the Movement and Sports Science Department, the Associated Student Federation office, Multi-Cultural Affairs Office and Dailey Theatre, center-piece of the Theatre Arts Department.


Dwight Hanawalt laughs heartily into the phone, muffling the sound, as he recalls his funniest memory as the University of La Verne's dean of students in the late 1950s.

An evening telephone call alerted Hanawalt to a secret sting operation minutes away: a group of male students were planning to raid the women's dormitory Studebaker-Hanawalt.

Hanawalt quickly drove to the women's dorm and saw a "gang of guys" sneaking up the back entrance stairway. He parked and rushed up stairs to catch the "hoodlums" in the act. But by the time Hanawalt gained entrance, the students had already run up and down the hallways, yelling and horsing around. The dorm was pitch black, and as Hanawalt chased after the ruckus-causing students, a few of the women came out into the hallway and began hitting him.

"No, I'm the dean," he yelled, and ran out the building front in search of the trouble-making men. Just then, the police pulled up and shined a bright red light on him. "I yelled, 'No, I'm the dean' again. The guys at this time had made it back to their dorms, and all was quiet," Hanawalt chuckles, remembering it as if had happened just last week.

Of course, these were the days when traditions such as L-Day and painting the Rock were still allowed, and when a funny incident like this was just that -- a funny incident. Today, if the same prank were pulled, it would probably turn into a legal battle between the men and women students or the University, the students and the police department.

Dr. Marlin Heckman: Good Old Days

It is the fall of 1954. The city of La Verne sports orange groves stretching for miles. Weaving through the groves is an access street, Foothill Boulevard, with one lone restaurant on it. Nestled within this warm, fuzzy town for the past 63 years is La Verne College, with 320 full-time students, most living on campus because they have come from a distant city or another state.

Dr. Marlin Heckman, now head of Wilson Library, was a freshman from Fresno, living in Woody Hall. In a sense, he had found freedom, but in the same breath, in loco parentis was firmly in place. Girls were not allowed in his room, but at least there was a television in the lounge of Woody Hall, which he and his buddies crowded around in the dark to watch.

Just across the street, sat the women's dorm Miller Hall. Women slept on porches on the second and third floors, some even on nights the temperature dipped to 27 degrees fahrenheit and wind machines churned to keep the oranges from freezing. The dining hall was located in the basement of Miller Hall, and it was such a tight fit that once Dr. Heckman sat down, he could not get back up. The meals were family style with one choice, and, yes, the students complained about the food. Tuition cost Dr. Heckman $1,000, and room and board set him back another $1,000; he remembers that his parents were only making $3,000 annually. None of the students owned a car, cost averaging $12,000, says Dr. Heckman, so on the weekends he, fellow classmates and faculty actively participated in school activities, such as "Snow Day," "Clean Up Day," "Beach Day" and "L Day." "I remember Beach Day in 1956. It was 108 degrees, and one of the most wonderful days of my life," recalls Dr. Heckman, as he looks past whatever it appears his eyes are fixed on, into the days gone by. He has led the ULV Library for the past 28 years; he is the keeper of the archives and has seemingly memorized their contents. He stands for family tradition at ULV. Dr. Heckman received his bachelor of arts in sociology from La Verne College; his parents, his brother, his wife and his daughters all attended ULV, and his grandfather was on the board of trustees. His family is as much a part of ULV's history as the Leopard mascot.

Marilyn Davies: From Paper Records to Computer Records

One can tell by the clutter of papers on her desk that Marilyn Davies, university registrar, is a busy person. ULV population growth is reflected in her office, which is responsible for not only serving the central campus but also all of the off campus sites. Davies has worked at ULV for the past 29 years and prior to that she was a student (class of '72). The biggest change she says she has witnessed is the population and the expansion over the years of the off-campus programs, including the ones in Alaska and Greece. Her office, in particular, has taken on a whole new set of responsibilities.

"When I first started here, we did not have any automated processing, and I filed and also typed up individual grades for transcripts," she says. "In fact, we were so busy, I ran a night crew and worked until midnight. It was all completely manually processed. After that, we started automating it, very minimally, and now we are on Banner, so we've come a long ways."

The Rock

Posters hanging in the Student Center read, "Beach Clean-up Day Thursday at 4 p.m. Meet at the Rock." Every year, Orientation flyers go out to new students saying, "Check in Saturday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. in front of Founder's Hall, at the Rock." If ever there were a landmark at ULV, the Rock would most definitely be it. So, is it any wonder that outrage is evoked from many University of La Verne students and faculty when mention of the possible removal of the Rock is brought up? Some deem it a long standing tradition for organizations to take turns painting the Rock. The ritual itself is a way of bringing students together, and the actual Rock is a billboard used to express certain ideas.

"There are some who believe we have caused serious pollution by painting the Rock because the paint has seeped into the ground," says President Stephen Morgan. Dr. Heckman begs to differ with this view of "tradition." "I've been here long enough where tradition isn't tradition anymore. The real Rock tradition was that for one week in the fall, freshmen and sophomores took turns painting it. This was before the days of sororities and fraternities. The rest of the year, the Rock was green with an orange block on it."

"The Rock was only painted differently when it was vandalized, which did not happen often," reminisces Dr. Morgan, who received a bachelor's degree in distributive social science in '68. "Once in a while, one of our rivals would come over and vandalize it or even a group of on-campus students would paint it the way they wanted it." The Associated Students Federation Forum and Student Affairs Office November 1999 contracted the installation of a concrete base around the Rock that may help mitigate heavy metal soil absorption.

Dr. Ahmed Ispahani: "You're Not a Number"

Dr. Ahmed Ispahani, professor of business administration and economics, remembers what teaching at ULV in 1964 was like. "I knew each and every person on this campus when I first came here. I knew the janitors, the gardeners, all of the secretaries and the professors. It has grown so big now, and I don't know a lot of people today," he says, obviously overwhelmed. "There is a lot of pressure on ULV to keep growing, growing, growing . . . I know all my students by name, and I would hate to be in a classroom where I would call my students by a number."

Dr. Stephen Morgan: Growth

The most obvious change to many at the University is the growth in population. When the college opened in 1891, there were 76 students enrolled, and by the year's end there were 136. Today, the University has a total of 1,270 traditional undergraduates. The question today is what is the upper limit.

"I could see us growing to 1,400 traditional age undergraduates, and then I think we'll have to cap off because our facility won't accommodate more students. And we don't want our classes to get so large that we lose that personal touch or we lose that small class environment," says Dr. Stephen Morgan, president of ULV. Although he feels that University growth is a positive thing, Dr. Morgan fondly remembers the days of a small ULV community. "When I first started working here, there was a home economics department in the basement of Founders Hall where CAPA is now located. Every morning, between 9:30-10 a.m., most of the employees gathered down there for coffee and dough-nuts, so you literally could see almost all of the faculty and administration in that room sometime during about a 30-45 minute period. "So growth brings with it a lot of cultural changes because we are much larger now, and with the laws that now exist we have become much more bureaucratic and formal in our relationships and our structure. We were very informal then."

An increased student population has caused a student housing dilemma. Dr. Morgan says that this is not the first year the University has had housing issues, and that in fact he can remember housing being crammed as far back as the '70s. "I lived fairly close to the students, and I had two students who rented a room from me, and a number of faculty and staff offered rented rooms during that housing crunch to try and meet the needs of an overflow crowd. Overflowing our residence halls is not something brand new. For a long time, we had students who lived in San Dimas in the Daisy apartments before we built the Oaks. I think students have become more discerning about where they live, and I'm not sure they're interested in renting a room in somebody's house. They want more privacy than that."

Last year, the Office of Housing and Residential Life decided to triple residence hall rooms to accommodate the overabundance of on-campus students. Many students, especially returnees, felt robbed by the lack of space. This year, once again, housing had to deal with the issue of too many bodies and not enough room. The new approach was to make a deal with the Claremont Inn, allowing students to live under their roof, abiding by ULV housing guidelines.

Dr. Morgan and his staff are earnestly working on a solution. Plans are drawn up for a new three-story Oaks pod, which would add room for 60 students by spring 2001. There is also a possibility of building apartment style housing here in the city of La Verne, not too far from campus," confides Dr. Morgan.

What the Future May Hold

An obvious change that has already taken place this year on campus is the use of parking permits. To ensure ULV students parking given the limited number of parking spaces available, students were issued free plastic permits to hang from their rear view mirror. Although this is only a temporary "solution" to the problem, a permanent one is in effect also. What used to be the softball field is converted to a parking lot. The ULV softball team uses a city field at the corner of Wheeler Avenue and First Street. "I see that we might have to move our athletic facilities to another location, not far from campus, probably south of Arrow Highway, and I think that will change the feel for the campus. I'd rather have them close together and right here on campus, but we just don't have the room to build buildings and add parking that we need to for our growing student body. I think it will change our culture a bit. We might have better facilities, better fields," Dr. Morgan says.

He is optimistic about the future. "I'm hopeful that we will always be better. I would hope that we will continue to strengthen our academic program by adding faculty and resources and providing the highest quality educational opportunity we can for our students. I'd also like to see us improve our services to students and make it easier to go through the registration process, to pay their bills and apply for financial aid. Technology will play a major role in that.

"I hope we are never satisfied with what we have, and we are always trying to make La Verne better but not lose the core values that makes us a special, caring community."

Dr. Al Clark, associate vice president for academic affairs and professor of humanities, also foresees ULV evolution. "The No. 1 change would be an increase in size. I would anticipate having 8-9,000 students total compared to the 6-7,000 we have now."

Technological advances is another major change, says Dr. Clark, who teaches a number of courses on the internet. Biology lab through the internet does not sound feasible, but imagine receiving a package in the mail with a dead cat and dissecting instructions. No, this is not in the future. Students are already using their kitchen counter as a dissecting table. "A significant portion of education will be electronic. By that time, we will have interactive video and audio in everybody's home. Although, I don't think there will ever be a time when we don't have the physical campus because that's part of the University experience for the traditional student."

Dr. Heckman has his doubts about the future. "Who is going to know in 2050 what life was like in the 1990s if no one writes it down? Maybe we'll have videos, but will equipment be around?" he wonders. "And 20th century paper may not be around either, because the paper quality is cheap."

Rest assured, it has been written down. The paper, now that's another story. One can only hope it weathers the storm of time.



photo by Isela Peña

The ball game was over for the women's softball team January 2000 when a 91-space parking lot opened on its location. The original field, which never met NCAA mandates for right field, was replaced by a city owned field at Wheeler Avenue and First Street. Construction began in September after weighing the off-campus consequences.