Text -- Evolution, Expansion

Clark students in the 1960s
Students Linda Hamilton and Don Bonker were named citizens of the month in 1962.  Bonker pursued a political and international career after graduating from Clark. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975-1989, representing Washington's 3rd Congressional District.


In many ways, Clark College still had almost a neighborhood feel at the start of the 1960s. Expanded programs and growing diversity in student demographics were well on the way, however. And Clark meanwhile strengthened its ability to tailor curriculum to the needs of shifting social populations.

Classes covered a broad array of programs from psychology to computer science.  In a precursor of the "Healthy Penguin Nation," the college featured classes including swimming, lifesaving, fencing, ballroom dance, modern dance and folk dance.

In addition, the Business Division was at the vanguard of a boom that would carry on for several decades.

The Clark campus benefited from exterior enhancements as well. Trees and shrubs were planted; landscaping plans were approved. In 1964, the college hosted a dedication ceremony for its distinctive chime tower, which had been installed following a massive fundraising effort spearheaded by then-public relations director Bob Moser.

During the 1960s, the college began to capture memories on film as well as photographs. Historic silent film footage shot at the college in the 1960s and provided by the Cannell Library, features art, biology, images of our main campus, chemistry, classrooms, diesel classes, drama productions, horticulture, the machine shop, more footage from our main campus, the printing shop, and historic sports footage

Dr. Antonio Scarpelli
The 1962 Galapagon yearbook described a reorganization that grouped all courses into eight instructional divisions.  The reorganization included the appointment of Dr. Antonio Scarpelli as chair of the Division of Business Education.

Other milestones dotted the years. A 1962 Columbus Day storm broke windows and damaged roofs, but did no structural harm to the campus. Ball games, parties, dances and even classes were closed or postponed after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, dubbed “The saddest day” by the Galapagon.

Of longer-lasting impact was the 1967 decision by the Washington legislature to create a state system of community college districts. Clark College became one of 34 Washington community and technical colleges.

In early 1968, an article in The Columbian provided an overview of the opportunities and challenges as a result of the transition.  It noted that enrollments dropped in 1967, “perhaps because of the [Vietnam] war and good work conditions.”  As a result, the article reported, “the college cut back its proposed $2 million budget, dropped several professors and leveled off some of its programs.”  The article also noted that the college “made changes in its programs, offering more high school completion programs for dropouts.  The ‘community’ sense of the college was also seen in the offering of more adult education programs, evening classes for all types and interests, and increasing emphasis placed on vocational and occupational education.” Despite the challenges, Clark’s president described the outlook for the college as shining bright.


Clark’s mostly serene campus saw little of the turbulence disrupting other colleges and universities in the 1960s. Nonetheless, the 1965 Galapagon made a passing reference to students protesting parking lots. In 1967, the yearbook published students’ views on Vietnam and also printed an editorial posing the question: Should women be drafted?  The times...they were a-changin’.

Nonetheless, the college continued its tradition of honoring its history and leaders.  It also continued to grow.

In May 1969, a Columbian article showcased “Clark College’s sparking new and modern lab and clinic facilities” for the 20 students in the college’s first dental hygiene program.  On June 11, 1969, the college held its 33rd annual commencement ceremony in the college gymnasium.  Approximately 325 students received associated degrees or certificates of proficiency.  The guest speaker was Amo De Barnardis, president of Portland Community College, who told the graduates, “One of the main things that education should give you is a sense of respect for the dignity of others.”   He added, “What you learn in school should help you live better and help you help others live better.”

That philosophy would resonate as Clark College entered the next decade.