Central Arizona College hits its stride in the mid-1970s

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – Central Arizona College hit its stride as the mid-1970s rolled around. Disco was swinging into action, Jimmy Carter was elected President, and women’s basketball debuted as an Olympic sport in Montreal.

Women’s basketball also was blooming at Central Arizona College as Lin Laursen began erecting a dynasty in the desert. On March 13, 1976, the Vaqueras were ranked first in Region 7 of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) tournament hosted by Mesa Community College.

During the mid-1970s, Central Arizona College was extending its accessibility throughout Pinal County, becoming an important community-building entity that still exists today.

During the January 13, 1975, governing board meeting the board approved a resolution to name the administration building at the Signal Peak Campus the James T. O’Neil Administration Hall in honor of his many years of dedicated service to the community college movement in Pinal County and all of Arizona.

Also at the meeting, Jimmie Nun announced that bids for the Gila River Career Center dormitories were $100,000 higher than federal funds allocated. He also said the Arizona College of Technology campus (now known as the Aravaipa Campus) had been completed.

Dr. Don P. Pence was named an Outstanding Educator in Arizona for 1975, along with Harry Schmidt, professor of physical science and mathematics; Dale Gibson, executive dean; and George Young, track coach and athletic director.

The governing board approved Dennis Jenkins as comptroller at its Feb. 24, 1975, meeting held on the Arizona College of Technology Campus.

Enrollment reports in March showed the spring semester Full-time Student Equivalency (FTSE) count to be 1,915 at Signal Peak Campus, 518 at Arizona College of Technology Campus, and 315 at the Gila River Career Center. The total of 2,748 was 518 higher than the previous fall’s 2,230 total. Total headcount was 6,005.

Knute O’Brien celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by pitching a no-hit perfect game for Ken Richardson’s Vaqueros. He sent 27 batters from Trinidad down in order – no hits, no walks, no errors, no base runners. It was the first no-hitter and perfect game ever recorded by CAC. He also set a record of 17 strikeouts as the Vaqueros won 11-0.

A five-state competition sponsored by Phi Ro Pi, a forensics organization, was held March 28-29 at CAC. Approximately 200 students from 13 schools in Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Arizona competed. Chuck Hall, CAC forensics coach, organized the meet.

The CAC mid-management association earned first place in the Distributed Education Clubs of America Career Development Conference held in Tucson. Among those elected to office and winning awards were: Carlous Turner, Jim Wentworth, Mike McBride, Manuel Sanchez, Glenda Lott, Harvey Bernal, Dorothy Street, Janet Stockwell, Angie Keyes and Jerry Morphis.

Students from CAC Phi Beta Lambda successfully competed in the PBL Leadership Conference, placing in 21 of 22 events. Business students from three Arizona universities and four community colleges attended the meet, which was held at CAC. Elected to office were: Vinnie Alexander, state president; Lorrie Kinoshita, treasurer; and Glenda Lott, director of public relations. Julie Bond and Don O’Dell sponsored the CAC group.

The man once dubbed the World’s Fastest Human and a Phoenix resident at the time, Jesse Owens, 1936 Olympic Track champion, was the guest speaker at CAC’s annual sports banquet April 24, 1975.

The Spike and Bar track periodical reported that CAC placed 10 athletes in national rankings. Art Redhair of Snowflake topped the list in three separate events – mile (4:14.5), three-mile (14:18.6) and six-mile (29:30). Other top athletes included Derique Powell, Phil Kinkead, Ruben Reyes, Tom Reynolds, Glenn Hoppe, Al Skiba, Dennis Hanson and Roy Willits.

May 16, 1975, marked the first graduation and dedication at the Arizona College of Technology.

The CAC women’s softball team won the regional title and placed third at the national junior college tournament.

Art Redhair established a record and won the six-mile championships in Pasadena, Texas. He was timed in 29:08, shaving off 22 seconds from his previous time. George Young was chosen National Junior College Coach of the Year. Redhair competed in the Meet of Champions at the University of California, finishing third among Americans, and sixth in a field of 11.

In June the McCartney Road interchange on Interstate 10 opened to traffic. In addition to improving access to CAC, it gave Casa Grande another direct route to the freeway.

At the Oct. 14 board meeting Dr. Mel A. Everingham discussed the impact of the community college on Pinal County academically and economically. The district’s three campuses have served 36,000 people between 1967 and 1975. The district employed a staff of 273, generating a payroll of $3.3 million, which represented tremendous purchasing power in the county communities.

The board approved naming the newly constructed buildings with bronze plaques to be appropriately installed: Leslie A. Wakefield Center for Health and Home Arts; Paul Pearce Center for Technological Studies; Bradley Sizer, Jr., Center for Business Studies; and John I. Nix, Administration Hall at the Aravaipa Campus.

Dedication of the Pence Center and open house, held on Sunday, Oct. 26, marked a two-week Bicentennial celebration. Dale Gibson, executive dean, and Marion Cornelius, president of the CAC Faculty Senate, welcomed everyone. C.V. Coffey served as the master of ceremonies. Dr. Don P. Pence, Jimmie Nunn, Dr. James T. O’Neil, Dale Stacey and Coffey accepted the buildings on CAC’s behalf.

The stage production Oklahoma premiered on Oct. 27. The musical was a part of a long series of programs presented to dedicate the Fine Arts Center. Marlene Saens, Rusty Myers, Loralee Cooley, Peter Feliz, John McArdle, Cindy Ruddell, Ken Alvey and many other performers were outstanding. Don Brassea provided chorography, while Joe Secrest directed.

The Vaquero cross country team won the Arizona title at Glendale and went to Rochester, Minn., to compete in the NJCAA Championships. CAC fell just short of winning the national title taking second in team standings to Southwest Michigan College.

Eleven residents of the tri-valley area were elected to the board of directors of the new Pinal County Fine Arts Council on Dec. 9. They were Loralee Cooley, Don Brassea, Nancy Brassea, Eugene Fleishman from Casa Grande; Ronald Bowen and John Siler, Coolidge; Ron Robbins and John M. Sullivan from Florence; Dr. Don P. Pence, Vern Harden and Chuck Hall from the Pinal County Community College District.

Members of Pinal County Community College District governing board, which met on Jan. 1, 1976, included Dr. J.H. Boyd; Paul Pearce; Dr. J.T. O’Neil; David C. Ridinger; James H. Hunter and James J. Karam, Jr. Pearce, of Eloy, was named president, while Boyd, of Coolidge, was elected secretary-treasurer.

A unique course offered at Arizona College of Technology received much publicity. Students participated in an archeological dig originally excavated by Professor Dudley Meade at the site of a large HoHoKam village named The Big Dutch Site. Piecing together artifacts and participating in an actual dig made archeology more accessible to the students.

Sophomore distance runner Art Redhair once again provided an outstanding performance at a track meet in Flagstaff. Redhair set a new meet standard of 9:16.4 in the two-mile race.

The governing board on Feb. 9 gave Dr. Mel A. Everingham a strong vote of confidence as he prepared to assume the presidency role on July 1, 1976. Upon recommendation of Dr. Don P. Pence, outgoing president, the board voted to give Everingham a three-year contract and approved five people he proposed for top positions on his administrative team. Wayne Gerken, district vice president for academic and student affairs; Dr. Francis Colgan, occupational dean and curriculum specialist; and Dr. Michael G. Toler, dean of community services. Homer Koliba was retained as district vice president for business services and Dale Gibson was retained as district vice president for research and development.

The Tri-Valley Dispatch announced on Feb. 18 that Houghton-Mifflin Company published mathematics text for technology students, which was co-authored by CAC staff - Al Chew, CAC math professor, and Dr. Richard Little and Dr. Sherry Little. The 397-page book titled Technical Mathematics should prove useful at community colleges where heavy emphasis is placed on technical and vocational training.

On Feb. 27, 1976, CAC sophomore basketball star Nate Stokes was named as a guard on the 1975-76 All-Arizona Community College Athletic Conference Basketball squad.

A Senior Citizens Fair was held at the CAC campus on Sat., March 13, 1976. Several hundred valley residents browsed among the hand-made clocks and barometers and other handcrafted items offered for sale and review by senior citizens of the area.

Ken Hillery, CAC welding instructor, was named most outstanding welding instructor in six Southwestern states by the American Welding Society in early April. He also was elected vice chairman of the Arizona chapter of the AWS.

Julian Hernandez, CAC speech competitor, received a gold medal and ranked among the top five percent nationally for his informative speech presented at national championship competitions in Chicago.

The Vaqueros captured the 1976 NJCAA Baseball Championship in Grand Junction, Colo., by beating St. Clair Community College of Port Huron, Mich., 10-8. CAC won the title in five straight games and claimed the first national team championship for the institution. CAC pitcher Bob Most was named an NJCAA First Team All-American.

Joe Parson led the Central Arizona College men’s rodeo team to the team championship at the University of Arizona college rodeo on Nov. 19-20. CAC took the top team award and the CAC women finished second behind the Wildcats. Parsons captured the all-around team championship while teammate Scott Martin placed fourth. Holly Van Winkle wound up second in the women’s all-around competition.

A unanimous resolution of thanks and commendation was passed by the board members thanking Dr. Don P. Pence for his dedicated work and service to the district as founding president.

The year started with a reorganization meeting of the board on Jan. 10, 1977. The oath of office was administered to Maria Chavez, the newly-elected trustee from Eloy. The board selected Dr. J.H. Boyd as its president and Jim Hunter as secretary-treasurer. Other members of the board included Dave Ridinger of San Manuel and Jimmy Karam of Superior.

Ken Richardson was named Baseball Coach of the Year at the annual meeting of the NJCAA baseball coaches.

Professor Julie Bond and Stella Ramirez, president of the Phi Beta Lambda student organization, reported to the board on the PBL Superwalk - an event sponsored for the March of Dimes on Feb. 5, 1977. The event raised more than $8,000 in pledges for the March of Dimes.

Annette Quijada was crowned as Central Arizona College’s first homecoming queen on Feb. 9, 1977. Coronation took place at halftime of the CAC-Pima Community College men’s basketball game. The queen’s attendants included CAC sophomores Beverlee Stucker, Carol Elvoid, Jonice Palacio, and Ann Perry. Anselmo Torres was the queen’s escort.

During the April 11 CAC Governing Board meeting a moment of silence was observed in the memory of Gilbert Ortiz, a college employee who was killed in an automobile accident.

Fifteen first-place awards along with the sweepstakes trophy were claimed by the Phi Beta Lambda chapter of Central Arizona College at the Sixth Annual State PBL Leadership Conference. John Luttrull, Arizona City, won four individual awards. Luttrull served as the vice president of the PBL chapter at CAC.

Stella Ramirez, Casa Grande, CAC’s PBL chapter president, won three individual and chapter awards. All first-place winners attended the national Leadership Conference in Denver, Colo., July 5-8.

The Parliamentary Procedures Team placed first in the nation at this conference –the team members included Glenda Brackett and Stella Ramirez of Casa Grande, and Pat O’Dell, Sherri Tatum and Steve Williford of Coolidge.

At its Oct. 11 meeting, the governing board honored George Young, athletic director and track coach. Young was inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame because of his four-time participation in the U.S. Olympics, an achievement received by only one other individual at the time. As a result of this honor, it was agreed by the board that the college gymnasium be officially dedicated to Young and be renamed the George Young Activity Center.

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