Dr. George H. Bell was Mt. SAC’s founding president, providing leadership during the college’s formative years. He oversaw the passage of the college’s first bond measure, which enabled the transformation of the former 400+ acre naval hospital into a college campus with needed modifications and construction of the first buildings on campus, including Hilmer Lodge Stadium and Track—home of the world-famous Mt. SAC Relays. In 1946, the college opened its doors to 635 students, many of them veterans, and a staff of 32.
Dr. Oscar H. Edinger, Jr. was instrumental in securing passage of the Donahoe Act, which was the first state master plan for higher education. He also secured passage of a 20-cent tax community services tax override for building projects, recreational activities, and community services. The tax override was later negated by Proposition 13. He served as the president of the American Association of Community Junior Colleges, and was the first community college president to serve on the board of the American Council of Education.
Marie T. Mills, the only woman to lead Mt. SAC, served as president during a time of student unrest throughout the country. With the exception of one incident, she kept the campus in order. She was one of the earlier advocates for equal opportunity and diversity in higher education. She enhanced opportunities for women and students of color, and hired the college’s first diversity coordinator to recruit and nurture African-American, Latino, and Asian-Pacific Islander students.
Eldon E. Pierce presided during the era that birthed collective bargaining between the college and employee organizations. He helped to initiate participatory governance at the college. Existing academic and vocational programs were extended and strengthened under his leadership. By 1972 the college had grown to more than 17,000 students, 700 courses, and 110 majors.
Dr. John D. Randall is credited with maintaining and strengthening Mt. SAC’s fiscal stability after passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, which resulted in a significant reduction in college funding. Under his leadership, high quality programs and services were developed, and Mt. SAC was increasingly recognized throughout the state. He presided over an era of major planning for the future, including development of a Facilities Master Plan. In 1987 he was selected to serve as Interim Chancellor of the California Community College System. Dr. Randall was instrumental in the passage of AB 1725, the Omnibus Community College Reform Bill, which included new funding for community colleges and mandated a form of shared governance. He also served on and chaired the CEO Board of the California Community Colleges.
Dr. William H. Feddersen spearheaded the construction of the college’s first new buildings in 25 years, the Student Services Center and the Performing Arts Center complex, and the complete renovation of the Library building into a Learning Technology Center. He is credited with passage of a $221-million bond measure, the first college bond issue to pass since 1946, providing funding for 17 major campus renovation and construction projects. This followed the development of a new Vision, Values, and Mission Statement, and a new Long Range Educational and Facilities Master Plan. Many new programs and services were initiated under his leadership, including the college’s first Honors program and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Physicians Assistant Program, Paralegal Program, Service Learning, and others.
During his tenure, state, national, and international championships were won by the college’s choral music program, speech/debate team, aviation flying team, the Honors program, staff development program, and many athletic programs, including the college’s first national football championship. These achievements were accomplished despite a continuing budget challenge. 1991-95 were the worst fiscal years in the history of California Community Colleges. Continuous quality improvement processes were initiated in teaching, student services, and administration. Dr. Feddersen served as President of the Community College CEO Board, as an officer of the Association of California Community College Administrators, and on the Community College League of California Board. He helped create and taught at the California Community College CEO Academy.
Dr. Christopher C. O’Hearn oversaw major renovation and construction projects via the voter approved $221 million Measure R bond measure, which included the largest science laboratory building in the state community college system. During his administration, graduation and transfer rates continued to increase, enrollment grew, and scholarship funding increased each year. Faculty and students continued to garner awards and distinction, including state and national championships in athletics, aviation, the performing arts, forensics, and the Honors program, which was among the state’s largest. New partnerships were forged with local business and industry and K-12 school districts. Dr. O'Hearn also oversaw the celebration of the college's 60th anniversary celebration.
Dr. John S. Nixon led the effort in winning voter approval of a $353-million campus improvement bond measure during the worst economic recession in the state’s history. Under his leadership, the college secured the highest level of grant funding, financial aid funding, as well as fund-raising success through the Mt. SAC Foundation and Osher Challenge, which led to a scholarship endowment fund in excess of $2 million. Major campus construction initiated during his tenure included the state’s largest Natural Science Complex, a new Agricultural Complex, a new Early Childhood Education Center, and renovation of the Administration Building. Student accomplishment in the areas of the performing arts, health sciences, agriculture, forensics, journalism and athletics continued with state, national, and international recognition and championships. This included back-to-back state/national titles in football, men’s soccer, and softball. The Chamber Singers earned the coveted distinction of “Choir of the World.” Individual student academic achievement continued as well with the selection of Mt. SAC student scholars on state and national teams and the consecutive selection of students for the nationally competitive Jack Kent Cooke University Transfer Scholarship.
Dr. Nixon led the campuswide development of a new mission statement and brand identity that underscored Mt. SAC's institutional values of excellence and distinction. He held statewide leadership roles, including co-chair of the System Advisory Committee on Curriculum, the statewide Basic Skills Advisory Committed, and President of the California Community College Chief Instructional Officers Association. The culmination of his 35-year educational career came in 2011, when he was unanimously selected to receive the coveted Harry Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award, the highest honor granted by the Association of California Community College Administrators.