Though no one would characterize Clark College in the 1970s as a hotbed of agitation, students were stretching politically and finding ways to express themselves on campus. And the college in turn sought to respond to these voices as a way of better serving student needs.
Student requests came in several forms. A group called Black Students for Change emerged in the early 1970s. Its members staged at least one campus demonstration and heightened sensibilities toward matters of inclusion, awareness and diversity.
Other students were motivated by their military experiences. Alumni from the 1980s remember numerous small groups meeting on campus to discuss elections and civil unrest.
Opportunities for change could be initiated at higher levels as well. More money become available for women’s sports as a result of the 1972 enactment of Title IX, which states that no person can be excluded from participating in educational programs or activities receiving federal funds.
Another far-reaching development was the establishment of the Clark College Foundation in 1973. Dr. Richard Jones, Clark College president, and Lynn Degerstedt, the foundation’s first director, shared a vision. They believed that the foundation could provide funding to bridge the gap between what the state could provide and the college’s aspirations for its students and its future. Today, the foundation provides more than $350,000 in scholarship support to more than 250 students each year.
In 1970, talented high school musicians from across the state came to the campus for the first time for what is now known as the Clark College Jazz Festival. The competition, which was established in 1962, had been held at local high schools on a rotating basis. Clark provided a permanent home for the festival, which draws nearly 50 jazz bands and 25 jazz ensembles each year.
By the end of the 1970s, student enrollment at Clark had grown to the 8,000 mark, a reflection of Clark County’s burgeoning population. But not all was booming. A tough economy was about to present many challenges for Clark College in the early 1980s.