Skip to main content

Social Change and Upheaval Comes to AVC: The Kepley Era, 1967-1975Superintendent William N. Kepley Jr

When William N. Kepley Jr. took over as superintendent-president of Antelope Valley College in summer 1967, he couldn’t have known that he would face one of the most tumultuous times in the college’s history – a reflection of social upheaval occurring in America.

The United States was heavily involved in the Vietnam War with 485,600 troops – including young people from the Antelope Valley -- in the Southeast Asian nation.[i] The Vietnam Antiwar Movement was in full bloom, as protests erupted on college and university campuses, riots occurred in major cities, and some young men took to burning their draft cards.

Hippies descended on San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district and 1967 became known as the “Summer of Love” amidst an explosion of drug use and sexual freedom. “Turn on, tune in and drop out” became the call to action of some young people.[ii] Accepted norms of society were brought into question as some embraced the phrase “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”[iii]

AVC was not immune to the changes in America.

A spring 1968 article in an AVC student magazine featured an interview with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. George Edson, who noted an increased local use of marijuana, LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs by young people. When asked his feeling about “hippies,” Edson responded: “Most of these kids can’t face the responsibilities that go along with a normal adult life, so they create a fantasy dream world with drugs and escape.”[iv]

While much of the national unrest that was occurring in America during the 1960s took place on university campuses, community college officials wanted to be prepared.

In February 1969, trustee Ross Amspoker, an attorney, and President Bill Kepley reported to trustees that they had attended a meeting in Los Angeles with the chancellor of the California Community Colleges for a discussion of “Campus Disorder and Student Unrest.” Amspoker noted AVC had already adopted due process policies and procedures that were recommended for adoption by the speakers during the meeting.[v]

Student enrollment continued to grow at AVC. By spring 1969, Dean of Student Personnel Jennings Brown reported a 29 percent annual increase with 3,179 enrolled for spring semester, 714 students more than the spring 1968 semester.[vi]

While most of the buildings in the campus original master plan were completed or nearing completion, there was still one element missing: a proscenium theater. Virgil Weaver, representing the Fact Finding Committee for a Civic Auditorium, in early 1969 outlined plans for the proposed theater. It would be located adjacent to the Performing Arts Complex – later called the Fine Arts Quad – with 500 seats at floor level and 1,500 seats on a second level, with a ceiling that could be lowered to produce a self-contained 500-seat auditorium for drama productions. The estimated price tag for the theater was $1.5 million.[vii]

The college continued to expand its course offerings, as well.

Since 1957, the college had operated a licensed vocational nursing (LVN) program – with courses first offered at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds located at the northeast corner of Division Street and Avenue I.[viii]

In June 1969, college trustees took the unusual step of approving an associate degree program in registered nursing (RN) following an informative report. Typically, the board would receive a communication and take action at a subsequent meeting.

However, Dean of Instruction Eugene Schumacher told board members that, due to personnel involved, that it was urgent for trustees to act immediately. Physician and Trustee Dr. Harry Deutsch told fellow trustees that there was a shortage of registered nurses at Antelope Valley Hospital.

After a closed session to discuss personnel, trustees emerged to authorize the superintendent/president to plan for a registered nursing program. Also, trustees approved hiring Thera Abbott as director of the nursing program.[ix] Abbott’s tenure was short-lived, however, as she resigned the following year.

The RN program got underway in the 1970-71 academic year with 48 students, who received practical experience at the area’s medical facilities that included Antelope Valley Hospital, Lancaster Community Hospital, Mira Loma Hospital, Antelope Valley Convalescent Hospital and Valley Haven Convalescent Hospital.[x]

The next month, officials announced another program to train aerospace company workers – this time for Lockheed California Company. Kepley and Schumacher announced they had been meeting with Lockheed officials for several months. Lockheed had need of local structural assemblers and they were willing to work with AVC on developing the appropriate curriculum to provide entry-level skills for prospective job seekers. Eight short-term courses of four to 12 weeks in length would be offered beginning Sept. 2, 1969.[xi]

Representing Lockheed at the board meeting were Karl R. Kunz, manager of training and management personnel, Kenneth Berkheimer, training administrator, John N. Landon, supervisor of numerical control and metal trades training, and Steve Chaudet, public relations.

Board members, including new member Charlotte R. Rupner who had taken over the seat held previously for one term by James H. Felcher, unanimously endorsed development of the training program.[xii]

Meanwhile, outside of AVC, opposition to the Vietnam War was growing. AVC students joined with other college campuses across the country for a national Vietnam Moratorium Day on Oct. 15, 1969, that included a “teach-in.”[xiii]

Concern over the Vietnam War wasn’t the only thing to break up the normal routine on campus. In another first for the campus, a fire broke out in the new Art Building at approximately 10 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5, 1970. An alert night watchman and prompt action by Los Angeles County firefighters are credited with averting major damage. Damage was done to the roof and two interior walls.[xiv]

Fire officials initially suspected the inadequacy of a flue for a ceramics kiln was the apparent cause. The flue was reportedly rated for a temperature of 1,500 degrees while the kiln had a maximum operating temperature of 2,700 degrees.[xv] A subsequent investigation by Richard Houts, chief engineer with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, determined the kiln room vent wasn’t installed according to standards of the National Fire Code.[xvi]

To reduce the risk of structure fires, college trustees approved the construction of an open-air concrete block enclosure on the east side of the Art Building to house the kiln, a project that cost more than $3,000.

In March 1970, President Kepley announced the college’s chief instructional officer, Dean Eugene Schumacher, would be leaving AVC June 30 to take a new position as superintendent-president of the Siskiyous Joint Junior College District in Northern California. Kepley praised Schumacher for overseeing the college’s curriculum expansion and improvement in the educational program over the prior three years.

As the spring 1970 semester continued, there was growing discontent among students and others. A man who had held a program on campus called “Free Rightist Revelations,” was upset over campus newspaper coverage of his event and called for President Kepley to be fired.[xvii]

Then, students engaged administrators and trustees in a dialogue concerning using the Cafeteria as a free speech area; control exercised over the student newspaper, Marauder Times; the student dress code; making the Los Angeles Free Press available on campus; racism in the Antelope Valley; and various requests by members of the Black Congress.[xviii]

Aside from the stirrings among students, President Kepley had other issues vying for his attention. Kepley’s predecessor, Dr. James Starr, had expressed concerns that the low tax rate in the district was not sufficient to support a comprehensive college. Even under founding president Dr. Lowell Barker, AVC had difficulty in devoting 50 percent of its budget to faculty – as required by state law. Low faculty salaries continued to be a concern throughout the young college’s history.

So it should not have been any surprise to followers of the district when, in June 1970, Kepley issued his two-page statement entitled “Exercise in Futility” to board members. Kepley noted how during his three years in the job, that improvements in the educational program and facilities had required money from sources beyond the district. He noted the efforts of his resigned academic dean, Schumacher, who brought to the district money 20 times his annual salary.

Kepley expressed his discouragement in the lack of adequate financial support for the college.

“The (junior college) district was the only district in the Antelope Valley to reduce its tax rate this year,” he wrote. “The college faces a financial crisis during the coming college year. In order to continue the present program and to provide for salary increases, it will be necessary to reduce the current level of expenditures by some $170,000 and to again draw upon the reserves of the district in the amount of some $92,000 in order to avoid any sizable increase in the tax rate for the JC district.”

“(I am) discouraged because another district (that) secures its taxes from the same source base as does the junior college district appears to be under no compulsion to hold the tax line in relation to its operation,” Kepley wrote. “…the other district finds the solution to its problems simply by increasing the tax rate by an amount which represents more than one-quarter of the total operating tax of the junior college district. And the levying of the additional taxes makes if possible for that district to grant large salary increases and fringe benefits to its employees, while the junior college district must hold the line on such expenditures.”

For the college to continue in the same manner amounted to “an exercise in futility,” Kepley wrote.

“In addition,” he concluded, “in the process, the board and the administration of the junior college district is cast in the role of the ‘bad guys’ in the eyes of their employees, while the board and the administration of the other district enjoy the ‘good guys’ image in the eyes of their employees.”

Trustees made no response to Kepley’s plea during the open meeting.

Despite the lack of money, the college continued to respond to the needs of the community.

In September 1970, representatives of Lockheed, as well as McDonnell-Douglas, North American Rockwell and the Federal Aviation Administration met with AVC officials to discuss the college’s growing role as a training facility for aircraft manufacturing and maintenance technology.

Already, the college was conducting a training program taught by Lockheed personnel in Building 295 at Palmdale’s Plant 42. AVC officials agreed to add a phase II of the Aircraft Manufacturing and Maintenance Technology Program to include aircraft blueprint interpretation and other courses that would prepare students for positions as structure assemblers, electric and electronic installers, hydraulic plumbing installers and controls installers. The second phase training would be conducted on the Lancaster campus late afternoons for 10 weeks. Seventy students were identified for entry into the second phase program.[xix]

Any hopes that the student unrest that surfaced during spring 1970 would disappear were quickly erased with the resumption of fall semester classes. A proposal by a student group to bring Black Panthers to speak to AVC students on campus created an uproar unlike anything that had been seen before on the campus.

The Black Panthers -- like other groups of the era emerging from national unrest and upheaval -- were formed in Oakland in 1966 with the purpose of, among other things, to practice militant self-defense of ethnic minorities against the government and to establish revolutionary socialism.[xx] In 1969, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declared the Black Panthers the “greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”[xxi]

The impetus for weeks of controversy throughout the Antelope Valley started innocently enough: The seemingly simple removal of a poster of Communist Party member and Black Panthers’ supporter Angela Davis from an AVC campus display case.

In August 1970, Angela Davis’s name was in the news after she was implicated – yet later acquitted - in the armed takeover of a Northern California courtroom that led to the deaths of four people including a judge.[xxii]

The poster of Davis next to the student Black Congress lounge was removed after a faculty member noticed the poster lacked approval of Dean of Student Activities Bill Montamble. Montamble, upon hearing the report, directed his assistant dean, Fred Thompson, to remove the poster, according to one account.[xxiii]

Thompson recalled in a 2016 interview that it was a history instructor, Francis Rogan, a retired colonel, who first objected to the Angela Davis poster. “I was taking my daily stroll on the campus …and I saw a picture of a communist,” Thompson recounted Rogan saying. [xxiv]

Removal of the poster led to strong objections by representatives of the Black Congress, who were joined by other campus groups, Students for an Improved America and Student Democratic Council.

“The students were indignant and they came back with thousands of pictures (of Davis) that they plastered all over the campus,” Thompson said.

In the wake of objections, Montamble suggested a student-faculty committee create guidelines over posting requirements. After two meetings, the committee finalized guidelines and determined the Davis poster didn’t violate the guidelines.

“The controversy might have died down had not a student working as a reporter for a local newspaper erroneously reported in his coverage of the meeting that the Academic Senate had asked that the poster be removed,” reported an AVC student magazine.[xxv]

The embers of controversy reignited and quickly spread to the community where citizens were outraged at the prospect that their community college could be host to such seemingly anti-American activities.

Citizens attending the Octobert 21, 1970 board meeting questioned officials about the posting of pictures of Angela Davis on the campus and wanted to know what was going to be done about it. Kepley advised the audience that he needed to operate within the law and he was awaiting word from county counsel. The meeting lasted more than four hours.

The situation worsened when the Student Democratic Council on Oct. 27 voted unanimously to invite two Black Panthers to speak on campus – tentatively planned for Nov. 19, 1970. The Black Panthers were just the start, however, as student council members expressed a desire to bring in speakers from other groups such as the American Nazi Party, the Minutemen and the Resistance to expose students to extremes of the political spectrum.[xxvi]

College officials were deluged with phone calls from community members.

At the next meeting of college trustees on Nov. 2, board President Don Ross set aside regular college business to allow people to voice opinions regarding the Black Panthers’ invitation.  In what was described as the largest trustees meeting in college history, an estimated 300 people attended, with the majority objecting to the proposal for AVC to host the Black Panthers.[xxvii] In hope of fostering greater understanding, President Kepley invited to the meeting the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce, leaders of several veteran’s groups, the Student Democratic Council members and advisors, and interested members of the community. The meeting lasted nearly four hours.[xxviii]

Emotions ran high.

Ten days later at a public meeting hosted by a citizen’s group called Veterans for Freedom, one woman who identified herself as the mother of an AVC student proclaimed: “If those black bastards come here, I’ll be on the front lines with a gun!”[xxix]

By the Nov. 16 board meeting and with no decision regarding the Black Panthers speaking date, the trustees and administration drew criticism. Art Aurand, in his second year of teaching at AVC after graduating from San Jose State University, asked why the request to have the Black Panthers speak wasn’t on the board’s agenda. That launched a meeting that lasted past midnight. Kepley explained that until he had received an answer from legal counsel, there was no action to be taken by the board.[xxx]

Hours later, on the morning of Nov. 17, as members of the Kiwanis and Circle K gathered for a 7 a.m. flag raising near the Roy Knapp Library, they were greeted by about 70 people holding picket signs with “Have you forgotten something? The war” and “Flags are neat but many don’t eat.”[xxxi]

Bill Parris, president of the Students for an Improved America, claimed the demonstration was spontaneous. “Many times a country’s problems are overshadowed by patriotism and nationalism. We wanted to bring out the fact that there is an unjust war being waged, rampant racism and imperialistic foreign policies being practiced,” Parris said.[xxxii]

It wasn’t the first controversial action by Parris. When college officials balked at the sale in the AVC bookstore of a controversial book, “DO IT!: Scenarios of the Revolution” by activist Jerry Rubin, “Bill Parris went down to L.A. and bought 300 copies and set up shop to sell on campus,” said Thompson. Another time, a goose-stepping Bill Parris arrived at school dressed as a Nazi SS officer – a display witnessed by the college president.[xxxiii]

Bill Montamble was frequently an effective buffer between the students and president by helping diffuse situations, according to Thompson.[xxxiv] The Black Panthers issue, however, had exploded.

The long-awaited legal advice on the Panthers came at the Dec. 7 board meeting when Michael Taggart, deputy county counsel, told officials the college was not obligated to allow outside speakers to appear on campus but if it did allow such speakers it had the right to regulate the time, place and manner of presentation. Kepley proposed a Black Panthers representative be allowed to speak, but only as part of a panel presentation with other speakers as part of an observance for Black American Day on March 5, 1971. The other speakers would be from the Congress of Racial Equity and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Kepley was specific: each of three speakers would have 25 minutes. There would be 10 minutes for questions. Trustees approved the recommendation.[xxxv]

However, Kepley’s compromise did little to appease people on either side of the controversy. Students complained that their concept of hosting the program had been hijacked by the administration. A resolution from the Lancaster Elks lodge and its 1,800 “loyal American members” expressed opposition to the college “use of our tax supported facilities by any individual or organization advocating the overthrow of our government by direct or subversive means.”[xxxvi]

Then, local businessman and activist Jim Miller filed recall petitions against three of the college board members: Ross Amspoker, Charlotte Rupner and Dr. Harry Deutsch. The other two trustees, Don Ross and Robert Nelson, faced re-election in April and thus weren’t included in the recall effort.

The recall petitions against the trustees cited a “sorry record of continued and arrogant activities … in promoting anti-American and pro-Communist policy and activities.” Specifically, the petitions claimed trustees had allowed advocates of “filthy speech,” anti-American sentiment, and “pro-Communist connections” to speak on the campus, as well as allowed an American flag to be desecrated through the arts department, “illegally” lowered the American flag in support of the 1969 “Communist Moratorium,” and cancellation of the Pledge of Allegiance at board meetings.

“It is time to follow the advice of Vice President Spiro Agnew for the great silent majority of Americans to take action to recapture our institutions from the liberal, leftist, anti-American radicals who are leading our young people lower and lower into the sewers of intellectual bankruptcy,” the petitions stated.[xxxvii]

The recall petitions prompted Kepley to ask the board for reassignment to a teaching position. “If they’re going to recall anyone, it should be me since I made the recommendation,” Kepley said.[xxxviii]

In addition, Kepley protested what he called political “blackmail” of board members by extremist groups on and off campus. Kepley noted his conviction that such tactics had to be stopped before qualified citizens refused to serve on school boards.[xxxix]

 “This board has never failed to support legitimate needs of this institution,” Kepley said.[xl]

Officials moved ahead with Kepley’s compromise for a symposium to host a Black Panthers representative on March 5, 1971. However, Kepley’s plan to remove the students from organizing the event, placed all responsibility - and blame -  on college leaders, as noted in news media coverage.

“The symposium had been programmed by the administration, approved by the board of trustees last December and touched off a valley-wide controversy whether a Black Panther should be permitted to speak on the campus,” wrote Valley Press reporter Bill Gillis.[xli]

Anyone looking for controversy and inflammatory remarks was not disappointed. An estimated 700 people attended the campus event “to hear four black speakers mainly denounce this country,” Gillis wrote.

The symposium had an ideologically diverse group of four speakers that included Emily Gipson, Black Panthers party member; Ken Stewart, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE); John Cope, vice president of the Watts Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); and Eddie Lynn, Urban League board member.[xlii]

Front-page newspaper coverage of the event included photos of two of the speakers, along with an extensive account of their remarks.

Stewart reportedly launched his talk with: “It’s nice to be here at lovely, little bigoted Antelope Valley College in lovely, bigoted Lancaster, California.”[xliii]

That was followed by Gipson, a recent newcomer to Southern California from Chicago, where police two years earlier had shot to death a Black Panthers activist in an apartment.[xliv]

“Whites didn’t come off (the) best at the Friday night symposium,” Gillis wrote. “And the most vitriolic diatribes were launched by the Black Panther speaker, Emily Gipson.”

Gipson’s talk was laced with profanity, including a frequent use of the term “bull s--t,” a reference to President Richard Nixon as “Pig Nixon,” and a call for “violent resistance” to the government. Gipson opened and closed her remarks with one hand in a clinched fist raised above her head.[xlv]

Antelope Valley residents who had been exposed to a steady stream of upheaval from across the nation via broadcast and print media for several years now had controversy delivered to their hometown.

However, voters maintained their support of the college board. The recall effort fizzled[xlvi] and the two trustees up for reelection won easily in April 1971 over two challengers.[xlvii]

Meanwhile, college trustees for three months held onto Kepley’s request to step down from the presidency and be reassigned to classroom duty. Finally, after receiving letters of support from community leaders and AVC administrators, trustees on April 19, 1971 voted 4-0 (with trustee Deutsch absent) to deny Kepley’s request for reassignment.

As the turbulent academic year drew to a close, Kepley found a kindred spirit in former AVC colleague Eugene Schumacher, then president of College of the Siskiyous. Schumacher wrote to Kepley: “The various statements of duties and responsibilities, objectives and goals, etc., etc., that I have read for presidents seem to overlook the major objective of all of us which is, I believe, just to survive the year, to be around to work through another one.”

Kepley had survived. The remainder of Kepley’s tenure at AVC was relatively calm compared to the 1970-71 academic year.

In an odd twist, however, just 13 months after trustees had denied Kepley’s request for reassignment, Kepley inexplicably submitted his resignation at the May 15, 1972 board meeting. There was nothing to indicate publicly Kepley’s reasons for wanting to resign effective Aug. 30, 1972. Trustees countered with a unanimous 5-0 vote asking the superintendent-president to withdraw his resignation, which Kepley did.

The college continued to grow.

Student enrollment reached 4,174 students by fall 1972, up from 3,973 in fall 1971. Architectural plans were being developed for a 9,760-square-foot automotive mechanics building north of the Gymnasium and a stone’s throw from the existing automotive facility, which would be converted to an auto body shop.[xlviii]

Officials tried to estimate the number of AVC students transferring to four-year colleges and universities. Of the 3,933 students attending AVC in spring 1972, 491, or 12 percent, had transcripts forwarded to four-year institutions – an indicator of how many students were at least interested in transferring.[xlix]

There were 311 students in the spring 1972 graduating class. Among the graduates, 143, or 46 percent, requested transcripts be sent to four-year institutions. And the California State College and University system as well as University of California reported 205 AVC students enrolled at their campuses during the 1971-72 academic year.

In fall 1972, Kepley started to push the idea to trustees for a tax override election, which would bump the tax rate up 5 cents per $100 assessed valuation, generating money for campus building projects.

It was an uphill fight for Kepley.

“We had a very, very conservative board,” said Thompson. “Other colleges were using their taxing authority. We weren’t.”

The low funding for Antelope Valley College was evident when compared with the statewide average. The average income per average daily attendance (ADA) was $1,385 in California, but only $1,106 per ADA for Antelope Valley College.[l]

Kepley was persistent and, in January 1973, trustees called for an election on April 17, 1973 to ask voters to approve a 5 cent override tax for 10-years, from July 1973-June 1983, to secure funds for construction and equipping and furnishing buildings.[li] Even so, the tax increase would not provide enough money for a theater.

The small tax increase, which would generate approximately $200,000 a year for the college, was approved narrowly by a 46-vote margin, 3,457 to 3,411.[lii]

The spring 1973 election was significant in another way as it brought about the single-greatest transition in board members since the college district was established. Three incumbents, Ross Amspoker, Dr. Harry Deutsch and Charlotte Rupner, chose not to run for re-election. Amspoker and Rupner were the only remaining original board members from when the board was created in 1962.

Twelve community members sought to fill the three board seats, with Paul K. “Ken” Williams, Paula Clever and Dr. Herman E. Kicenski garnering the most votes. Other contenders included Jack Ashworth, Dennis Gulbranson, Earl J. Wilson, Dr. Richard Osgood, former college trustee Chester Wolowicz, John Henderson, Chopin Kiang, Charles Phillips and Michael Price.[liii]

The new line-up of trustees did not last long, however. Veteran trustee and current board President Robert E. Nelson submitted his resignation to the board effective Dec. 28, 1973. While there is no indication of his reason in the public record, Thompson recalled that Nelson was vehemently opposed to a new economic disclosure law for elected officials.

“What got him was when the state legislature asked for the economic disclosure act, (Nelson) augured himself in the ceiling. ‘I’m not going to disclose a damn thing’,” Thompson recalled Nelson saying.[liv] (Months later, Nelson sought the Republican nomination for representative in the 18th Congressional District.[lv])

Nelson wasn’t the only one with plans to leave the district.

In January 1974, Kepley submitted his retirement as the district’s chief executive officer, effective June 30, 1974. That prompted a one-hour closed-door session among trustees who emerged with an offer to retain Kepley with a one-year contract extension through the 1974-75 academic year. [lvi]

Trustees expressed their desire to keep Kepley one more year due to his experience and expertise on campus construction, reaccreditation and financing of community colleges. He would be paid $33,770 for the year.

Kepley accepted the deal.

As the 1973-74 year came to a close, trustees hired registered nursing instructor Rae O. Yoshida as director of Allied Health Programs, for an additional $100 a month. Philosophy instructor Richard Loofbourrow accepted a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship during the 1974-75 year. Jack Strait, a division manager for General Telephone Company in Lancaster, was elected by voters to fill the unexpired one-year term of Robert Nelson. And relations between the AVC Academic Senate and administration had vastly improved, according to both senate representatives and Kepley.[lvii]

The good relationship with faculty members would be tested in the months ahead.

Knowing that Kepley would be in his final year leading the college, board president Don Ross in October 1974 unveiled a timetable and process for the selection of a new district superintendent-president by February 1975. The board gave unanimous approval to the plan.

However, faculty members boycotted the process when it was revealed that there would be just one faculty representative on the screening committee proposed by Ross. The remainder of the committee consisted of one classified (non-teaching staff) employee, one student, one administrator and two board members.

Steve Langjahr, standing in for Faculty Association (teacher’s union) president Martha Wengert, reported to trustees that the Faculty Association had voted not to be involved in the selection of a new superintendent-president under the board’s adopted procedure. Langjahr stressed that faculty members wanted to participate, but wished to have more representation.

The search process wasn’t done in a “spirit of openness,” according to Thompson.

By December, there were 28 applicants for the CEO job, including Dr. Clinton W. “Dick” Stine, from El Camino College in Torrance. Ross knew of Stine from Ross’s statewide work on behalf of community colleges.[lviii]

Thompson claimed Ross “almost single handedly” brought in Stine.

“He knew Stine was business manager at El Camino and Ross liked that single aspect of him. It was very myopic of Ross to go that route. The only thing (Ross) zeroed in on was the fiscal management,” Thompson said. Thompson said some people perceived Stine as lacking in interpersonal skills. But Stine’s ability as a “financial wiz,” would serve AVC well through some challenging times.

A banner headline on the front page of the Feb. 4, 1975 Ledger-Gazette newspaper announced: “Redondo Beach Man Named President of Antelope Valley College by Trustees.”

“Knowing the community college system and being part of it for a long time, I have high expectations about being able to move to an ongoing, viable institution,” Stine was quoted as saying. In reference to the rift between faculty and the board and administration over his hiring, Stine said: “A cohesive faculty is important to me, and if the selection process has caused a problem, I look for it to be healed.”

The presidential screening committee consisted of bookstore manager Richard “Dick” King, Associated Student Organization President Peggy Fuller; Dean of Student Activities Bill Montamble; and board members, Jack Strait and Don Ross. Ross served as committee chairman.[lix]

Stine was recognized for his 15 years experience at El Camino, which was the largest community college in California with 28,000 students, and teaching background at the high school, community college and university levels. He would be paid $34,000 a year, plus a $150 per month transportation allowance.[lx]

As the spring semester drew to a close, there would be one more change on the college’s Board of Trustees.

Jack Strait had filed to retain his board seat in the spring election but he withdrew after a job transfer. A write-in candidate, Earl J. Wilson, who had run twice previously for the board, won the open seat as Don Ross was re-elected to another term. Wilson was employed at the NASA Flight Research Center.[lxi] Wilson had the distinction of becoming the first African American elected to the board and one of the first – if not the first – African Americans elected to political office in the Antelope Valley.

The academic year closed out with a round of salary increases for college employees. In addition, the Faculty Association recommended to trustees that the median salary concept be continued. (A formula had been developed that determined the annual statewide community college median salary for faculty members, despite the lower than average funding for the college.) The Faculty Association cited among its reasons of maintaining the median salary concept as eliminating the “difficult process of arriving at some compromise increase in salary,” it relieves some of the burden on the board in dealing with other matters, and the faculty is satisfied with the concept.[lxii]

In eight years, William Kepley Jr. had led the college through challenging times – both in terms of societal turmoil and in turnover of key district personnel. Of the five trustees on the board when Kepley started, only one, Ross, remained. There had been significant changeover in the administration as well, with new employees as chief instructional officer, business manager and dean of student personnel. Even the name of the college district had changed. Following a statewide trend of changing the college district’s name to one that was more descriptive of the nature and purpose of the public two-year college in California, trustees changed the name from Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District to Antelope Valley Community College District.[lxiii]

The arrival of Dr. C.W. “Dick” Stine as the new superintendent-president brought anticipation of still more changes.


(Editor’s note: A portion of the official historical record – the board meeting minutes – during the first 19 months of President Kepley’s tenure is missing. The missing minutes cover the period from July 1, 1967 to February 2, 1969.)

[ii] A statement popularized by university professor, author and activist Timothy Leary,

[iii] The comment is attributed to Jack Weinberg, arrested in 1965 during a Free Speech Movement protest at UC, Berkeley.

[iv] King, Alan, “Know Your Local Fuzz,” Mesquite, spring 1968

[v] “Minutes, February 3, 1969,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[vi] “Minutes, February 3, 1969,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[vii] “Minutes, February 3, 1969,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[viii] “A Learning Experience,” In Touch, 1970-71

[ix] “Minutes, June 2, 1969,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[x] “A Learning Experience,” In Touch, 1970-71

[xi] “Minutes, July 7, 1969,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xii] “Minutes, July 7, 1969,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xiii] “Minutes, October 20, 1969,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xiv] “Minutes, February 16, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Boar

[xv] “Minutes, February 16, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xvi] “Minutes, March 16, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xvii] “Minutes, May 4, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xviii] “Minutes, June 1, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xix] “Minutes, September 21, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xx] “The Black Panther Party,” 2016, website:

[xxi] “The Black Panther Party”

[xxii] “Angela Davis is Sought in Shooting That Killed Judge on Coast,” New York Times, Aug. 16, 1970, website:

[xxiii] Hafstrom, Dan and Hite, Oliver, “The Adventures of Angela and the Panthers,” In Touch, 1970-71

[xxiv] Thompson, Fred, Interview by Steven G. Standerfer, March 23, 2016

[xxv] Hafstrom, Dan and Hite, Oliver

[xxvi] Hafstrom, Dan and Hite, Oliver

[xxvii] Hafstrom, Dan and Hite, Oliver

[xxviii] “Minutes, November 2, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xxix] Hafstrom, Dan and Hite, Oliver

[xxx] “Minutes, November 16, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xxxi] Hafstrom, Dan and Hite, Oliver

[xxxii] Hafstrom, Dan and Hite, Oliver

[xxxiii] Thompson, Fred

[xxxiv] Thompson, Fred

[xxxv] “Minutes, December 7, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xxxvi] “Minutes, December 21, 1970,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xxxvii] Hafstrom, Dan and Hite, Oliver

[xxxviii] “College Board Denies President Kepley’s Reassignment Request,” Antelope Valley Press, April 22, 1971

[xxxix] “Minutes, January 12, 1971,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xl] Hafstrom, Dan and Hite, Oliver

[xli] Gillis, Bill, “700 Attend Black Week Symposium at College,” Antelope Valley Press, March 7, 1971

[xlii] Gillis, Bill

[xliii] Gillis, Bill

[xliv] “The Black Panther Party,” 2016, website:

[xlv] Gillis, Bill

[xlvi] “College Board Denies President Kepley’s Reassignment Request,” Antelope Valley Press, April 22, 1971

[xlvii] “Nelson, Ross; Wright, Andrejcik, First; Hines, Bigalk; Dees, Shanks Win Posts,” Antelope Valley Press, April 22, 1971

[xlviii] “Minutes, October 2, 1972,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[xlix] “Minutes, October 2, 1972,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[l] “Minutes, June 4, 1973,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[li] “Minutes, January 7, 1974,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[lii] “Overide OKed; Williams, Mrs. Clever, Dr. Kicenski Win College Board Posts,” Antelope Valley Press, April 19, 1973

[liii] “Overide OKed; Williams, Mrs. Clever, Dr. Kicenski Win College Board Posts,” Antelope Valley Press, April 19, 1973

[liv] Thompson, Fred

[lv] Antelope Valley Press, April 2, 1974

[lvi] “Minutes, January 7, 1974,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[lvii] “Minutes, June 3, 1974,” Antelope Valley Joint Junior College District Governing Board

[lviii] Thompson, Fred

[lix] “Redondo Beach Man Named President of Antelope Valley College by Trustees,” Ledger-Gazette, February 4, 1975

[lx] “Redondo Beach Man Named President of Antelope Valley College by Trustees,” Ledger-Gazette, February 4, 1975

[lxi] “Wilson Wins Write-in; Incumbents Re-elected,” Ledger-Gazette, March 5, 1975

[lxii] “Minutes, June 16, 1975,” Antelope Valley Community College District Governing Board

[lxiii] “Minutes, November 4, 1974,” Antelope Valley Community College District Governing Board


Last updated: May 25, 2016