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Menlo College Celebrates 90th Anniversary

The year 2017 marked an important milestone with the celebration of 90 years of the founding of Menlo College. Since 1927, the college grew from a boys’ preparatory school to an expanded curriculum as a two-year college. Through the years there have been changes to the curriculum, the facilities, the grounds, faculty and staff. However, through all of those changes there has been one consistent factor and that is the unique learning environment developed to change the lives of the students. Menlo College is a place where students come to learn to make an impact on the world.

The foundation of Menlo College is as strong as the Oak trees that line the campus. As we celebrate 90 years, reflect and recollect memories of Menlo College. More importantly, join in the excitement of the years to come of future students and alumni who will make their mark in business and industry.

Enjoy the excerpts of a timeline and alumni reminiscences from Through the Gates: Eighty-Five Years of Menlo College and its Times by Pamela Gullard. Click here if you’d like to purchase a copy of the book for your coffee table.

Through the Gates – Timeline

1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s

1920s: Founding of Menlo School and Junior College

1927 February—Dr. Lowry Howard becomes President of Menlo School, a small boys’ preparatory institution.

1927 March—Dr. Howard and Ray Lyman Wilbur, president of Stanford University, begin planning a new joint venture whereby Menlo expands its program to include the first two years of undergraduate education for all Stanford students.

1927 September—Menlo’s two-year men’s college opens its doors to 27 new students! 

1930s: Surviving the Depression Era

1930—The Menlo College track team, organized the year before, wins its league championship. Pole vaulter William W. Miller (’32) goes on to win a gold medal at the 1932 Olympics and discus thrower Gordon G. Dunn (’33) wins silver at the Olympics in 1936.

1931—Menlo begins to feel the Great Depression. Charles F. Michaels, President of the Board of Trustees, quietly saves the college with large, no-interest loans to the institution.

1939—Financial difficulties ease and enrollment reaches 150.

1940s: The War Years

1941—After the attack on Pearl Harbor raises alarms about the safety of the West Coast, Menlo prepares for wartime with new classes.

1944—Menlo Dean William Kratt returns from military service to accept the role as president. Law professor John D. (“Judge”) Russell also returns from service to teach, mentor students, and eventually fill various positions, including the presidency.

1949—Dr. William Kratt presides over the founding of a School of Business Administration (SBA) at Menlo. The four-year SBA program runs parallel with the two-year Letters and Sciences (L&S) curriculum, and the institution is re-named Menlo School and Menlo College.

Through the Gates – Alumni Reminiscences

When I enrolled at Menlo College in 1940, the campus had a very pastoral setting, almost like being on a farm. Because it was a small school, I developed very close relationships with the faculty, which significantly bolstered my interests in classical music, art and literature, interests that I still have today.
–Wilfred “Bill” Fletcher ’42

A Menlo education comes as close as possible to an Oxford tutorial, and it prepared me well for my lifelong journey in business, community causes, public service, the U.S. military, education and diplomacy. I shall be forever grateful for this priceless gift.
–John Henry Felix ’49

1950s: The Post-War Prosperity at Menlo College

1956—Ground is broken for the Florence Moore Science and Engineering Building, financed by a quiet philanthropist who donates large grants to further education in California.

1956—Football coach John “Bo” Molenda inspires his players to one of three championships in the decade. In his first year as coach, his team scored two touchdowns in the first minute of play.

Through the Gates – Alumni Reminiscences

It has been sixty years since I graduated from Menlo, yet I still consider those golden years and one of the great learning experiences of my life. While at Menlo I had the unique honor of being instructed by “Judge” Russell, F. Philler Curtis, Donovan Fischer, Edgar Weaver, Leon Loofbourow, Chris Connor, J. Crooks, and other icons of the Menlo faculty.
–Michael Paige ’54

1960s: The Revolution Comes Softly to Menlo College

1962—Menlo’s School of Business Administration (SBA) is granted national accreditation.

1962—The Jon G. Bowman family generously donates funds for the project in memory of their son Timothy Dillon Bowman, for whom the library is named.

1966—Inspired by the Civil Rights movement sweeping the U.S., several Menlo College students ask administrators why the college does not admit African-Americans. Patrick Tobin, Professor of Humanities, writes eloquently about the need for integration and a student says, “Get Black students on campus and not just a token two.”

1968—Director of Admissions F. Philler Curtis welcomes the first African-American students.

Through the Gates – Alumni Reminiscences

Upon arrival at Menlo, I remember the warm reception by Director of Alumni Relations, Dorothy Skala and Director of Menlo College, John “Judge” Russell, the friendly teachers and the perfect educational environment for me. The low student/teacher ratio allowed for everyone to be involved in class.
–Michael S.F. Chun ’66

“Judge” Russell, Carlos Lopez, Patrick Tobin, Captain Walters, just to name a few, are the reasons that I am so dedicated to Menlo, not only for the education they offered, but for their personal approach. My friendship with people like “Judge” and Carlos after graduation was huge. I am especially grateful for the many letters I received from them while serving a year in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. These gave me so much hope and support and, frankly, without those kind words, my tour would have been much more difficult.
–Karl Ludwig Buder ’66

1970s: Menlo Finds Its Place in the Culture Wars

1970—The new International Club, with Faisal al-Saud (’72) as president, celebrates a long history of international students at Menlo College.

1971—The first class of women is admitted to Menlo College. The women quickly excel academically and star on new sports teams.

1971—The dorm Kratt Hall is completed and dedicated to William Kratt, a man who devoted 30 years to the development of Menlo College.

Through the Gates – Alumni Reminiscences

In 1972, I called Menlo College to find out about the school and what it could mean for me. Dorothy Skala asked, “Is this for you or for your son?” It was for me, though I was a mother of three. My husband had accepted a position as Director of Personnel at Stanford University and I wanted to further my education. Menlo was one of the best experiences of my life. Although I chose Accounting as my career choice, my classes with John “Judge” Russell almost changed my mind. When I graduated in 1974 along with two other women, my entire family was there with me to celebrate.
Barbara Sarpa ’74

1980s: Tectonic Shifts Beneath the Surface of a Quiet Decade

1980—The new Haynes-Prim Pavilion is dedicated in honor of its financiers from the Haynes and Prim families.

1987—The Menlo College Letters and Sciences two-year program is expanded to four years.

1989—After 32 years at Menlo College, beloved Dorothy Skala, Director of Alumni Relations/Placement, retires. Starting in 1957 as secretary to School of Business Administration director John Russell, she has mentored countless students.

Through the Gates – Alumni Reminiscences

I’m sure that every alum from every Menlo generation feels that theirs was the best. I believe this about the ‘80s at Menlo. This era was a transition point for the college. We had the best of the past, such as the SBA; a wonderfully diverse, multi-national student body; and “Judge” still advising, mentoring and loving Menlo! And we also had hints of what would be great about Menlo’s future, such as the four-year sports teams, additional four-year degree programs, and far better dining than SAGA (insert smiley face). The past and the future sometimes conflicted, but what always remained true was Menlo’s care for our students, and the students’ care for one another. Menlo lasted for only four years of our lives, but our memories, friendships and connections to Menlo last a lifetime. Once an Oak, always an Oak!
–John U. Rohrer ’89

1990s: The Last Decade of the Millennium

1993—Under the leadership of Dean James Waddell, Menlo College institutes a Professional Studies Program (PSP).

Menlo College Trustee Rosemary Hewlett and her husband William provide a $1 million grant for a Visiting Scholars program.

1994—Dr. Berthold, Menlo College President and the Board of Trustees begin the separation of the college and school by creating two separate boards and three entities.

1995—Menlo College undertakes a major effort to streamline its academic program and combine the SBA and L&S degrees under one umbrella.

Through the Gates – Alumni Reminiscences

At Menlo College, we did not get a handed-down education like you would have in a larger institution, but rather, faculty, students, and administrators all participated in a collegial environment. I counted my professors amongst my friends, calling many by their first names—Lowell (Pratt), Al (Jacobs), Pete (Arnovick) and Kurt (Servos). I knew them as not only incredibly learned people, but also as distinct personalities. They taught us students the work habits of collegiality, building on the strength of others, and those work habits have extended into my career long after Menlo.
–Wilson D. Bean ’90

As an international student thousands of miles away from home, I cherished the family-like environment. Furthermore, the ease of access to faculty allowed for an excellent educational experience. The business classes ably combined invaluable lessons from academia and professional experience. I will always remember the lively discussion on Pixar’s IPO with Professor Donna Little. Professor Craig Medlen made the topic of economics interesting! In the international business classes, Professor Michael Schultz exposed us early on to the powerful notion of globalization. I am thankful to Menlo College for providing a home and inspiring my professional path.
–Theodora Maradjieva Jamison ’98

2000s: Millennium Begins

2009—The first Señor Carlos López Memorial Soccer Tournament is held in honor of the beloved professor of history, soccer coach, chairman of the humanities department, and president of Menlo College.

2010—After almost twenty years of discussions and negotiations, Menlo School and Menlo College complete the separation of their two institutions.

Menlo College affiliates with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) sports league.

2011—Menlo College introduces three new majors in Accounting, Finance, and Marketing. The other majors are International Management, Management, Management Information Systems, Marketing, Marketing Communications, Psychology, Real Estate, and Sports Management.

2014—Menlo College receives accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), an honor that only 5% of the world’s undergraduate business schools have achieved.

2017—Menlo College launches new brand identity with new logos for the College and for Athletics. The new identity takes many of the attributes of an oak tree: strength, endurance, success, stability, protection, and growth.  It infuses the oak tree’s attributes into a monogram ‘M’ symbol. The new logos represent the tradition and future of Menlo College.

Through the Gates – Alumni Reminiscences

One of my favorite memories at Menlo was my first finals week. It was cold and muggy out as I headed toward Brawner Hall and I wished I had hot chocolate to accompany me. And there it was in the hallway—hot chocolate with cookies. Then, I went to the library to study and started getting really hungry, but, not wanting to break my concentration or leave the building, I wished there were cookies. And then someone brought in a huge tray of cookies! My point isn’t about the food, but about the little details that the staff, professors, and the entire Menlo community took into consideration and provided. One of the plus sides of having attended Menlo is the requirement to take business classes, which really expanded my frame of reference and gave me a sense of being an entrepreneur.
Loan Thach ’11

What I most valued from being a Menlo student, beyond the personalized education, was my ability to grow as a leader. At larger institutions, being proactive is more challenging and time-consuming. I truly enjoyed being the President of the African American Student Union because we shared unfamiliar cultural events and issues with the entire student body. The most memorable was a talent show contest we hosted in the Florence Moore Building theater, inspired by the popular “Apollo Amateur Night” from the syndicated television show “It’s Showtime at the Apollo.” Menlo students were able to showcase their singing, dancing, or comedy skills. The energy that night was phenomenal and everyone who attended enjoyed it! I am Mass Communications graduate; however, the overall experience at Menlo best prepared me to be a great business leader.
David Lamar Williams-Pinkney ’02

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