by Jennifer Phillips
Ten years ago, two students at the University of La Verne had no idea they would go on to become future professors of their alma mater. 1987 graduate Don Morel was as skeptical in returning to La Verne to teach as he was about being crowned Powder Puff King.
“It was a joke. We didn’t get dressed up like they do now [for Powder Puff coronation]. My friend Rob and I dressed up as Steve and Ann Morgan,” says Morel, now the ULV head football coach.
The student population was small, adds 1986 graduate Kelvin Simmons. And the campus needed landscaping. “When I first came here, this place was a dump,” Morel says.
Although ULV was not the beautiful campus it is now, it did offer a quality education that motivated students to attain higher education degrees. Simmons recalls the benefit of the small student-teacher ratio. “It was a plus. The professor had time to invest in you.”
Simmons graduated with a bachelor of arts in radio communications and is now a community organizer in South Central Los Angeles. Coming from the inner city, he remembers the small percentage of African Americans students on campus. “After attending high school in Watts, where the majority of students were black, and then coming to La Verne, it was a big difference,” he says.
According to Simmons, race relations between students were “very polite,” and the attitude of La Verne regarding race was “I won’t bother you, and you don’t bother me.”
Like Simmons, Morel had to adjust to the culture of ULV.
“I’m from Apple Valley, and I didn’t grow up with a lot of African American students. Eric Bishop was the first black guy I met at La Verne. I talked to him, and he talked to me. Ever since then, we’ve been friends,” Morel says.
Paralleling Morel, Bishop became editor in chief of the Campus Times in fall 1987. After a stint of service as managing editor of Messenger Magazine, he gained a position as a ULV professor. He is currently an assistant professor of journalism in the Communications Department and the adviser to the Campus Times.
“Cost of tuition was about $9,000 to $10,000, and the average student maybe took out $2,500 in loans. Everything was a lot cheaper,” Morel says. Not only were things a lot cheaper, but students who participated in the Work Study program received a 10 cent raise. This increase hiked their pay from $ 3.50 to $3.60.
Both Simmons and Morel are in awe of the significant changes at the University since 1986. With the arrival of President Morgan, the University was changing for the better. The percentage of returning students increased, and, for the first time in 10 years, the University of La Verne was operating with a balanced budget. The land that is now the Oaks Residence Hall was also purchased.
The hit movie, “Pretty In Pink” starring brat packer Molly Ringwald and Harry Dean Stanton was the must see movie. Warehouse Pizza was the hangout, but the checkered tile and colorful themes of the present pizza parlor were nowhere to be found. According to Morel, the pizza parlor was very dark and scummy.
Students were active participants in dances and concerts. Bands like Fishbone, The Bus Boys and X performed at the University.
The football team finished with a winning record, but the season was almost cut short. When the team violated the school’s no-alcohol policy, Coach Roland Ortmayer threatened to end the season early.