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Former Santa Monica College President of Two Decades Dies

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

January 5, 2016 -- Richard Moore, a former Santa Monica College President who for two decades guided the institution through expansive growth in enrollment and added some of the ambitious programs for which the college is known today, has died.

Moore died December 27 in Las Vegas, Nevada, surrounded by family. He had fought multiple myeloma for a number of years, Jeff Shimizu, Interim Superintendent/President for Santa Monica College (SMC), said in an email to SMC staff and others. He was 82.

Moore served as SMC’s president from 1974 to 1994. After his tenure at SMC, Moore went on to become president of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College in Henderson, Nevada, where he oversaw dramatic increases in enrollment in the rapidly growing state.

Colleagues remembered Moore as being highly creative, energetic, forward thinking and devoted to SMC’s future.

“He wanted growth, he wanted the college to be exceptional, and he wanted communication between us and faculty,”

Photo credit: SMC In Focus Issue 5 | October 19, 2015.
said former SMC trustee and VP Herb Roney. “He demanded excellence and he wanted it quickly -- he wanted students to have the very best education here, so the College grew from around 9,000 to beyond double.”

Shimizu called Moore a “visionary” and “strategic planner” who increased focus on minority enrollment, developed continuing education classes for senior citizens and others and fought back against Proposition 13, the 1978 tax-slashing measure that hobbled the budget of SMC and other publicly funded entities throughout California.

He said that in reaction to Proposition 13, Moore lobbied hard for, and eventually helped win, the passage of a “free flow” bill that allowed students to attend community colleges outside their district boundaries.

His concerns about low enrollment of minorities help lead to the creation of SMC’s Black Collegians and the Adelante program, a network of Latino students, faculty and staff, Shimizu said.

SMC’s decades-long ranking as the No. 1 community college for transfers to UCLA and top institutions like USC is rooted in Moore’s early work at SMC, Shimizu noted.

After discovering through a study that students who transferred to UCLA from SMC did better than all the other students, Moore created a special guaranteed transfer program called “Scholars,” Shimizu said.

“I was among the first counselors he hired for that program in the mid-1980s,” Shimizu said. “SMC became the first community college to get this Transfer Alliance Program with UCLA. Today, our transfer reputation, and unrivaled counseling and student support system is largely due to the vision that Dr. Moore had, to make us “Number One in Transfers.”

Moore set up SMC’s first personnel and business services offices and focused on a new role for SMC – providing career advancement through programs such as the Career Center. He also was a guardian for programs SMC’s NPR station, KCRW and the former College of Design, Art and Architecture, which became a model for the college’s Arts Mentor program.

Colleagues remembered other innovations as well.
“To this day, I remember Dr. Moore in ways that are both tangible and nostalgic,” Shimizu said. “Like me, many longtime SMC employees may remember the “Reading Hour” (when employees were required to drop what they were doing and read something, anything); Spanish language lessons piped into the restrooms for our linguistic enlightenment; and “Think-Write-Create” days (when managers/program leaders were asked to spend a day just coming up with innovative ideas).

In an October interview with the campus newsletter, SMC in Focus, Moore reminisced about his time there. One of his favorite memories was of introducing the then-newly hired faculty member Tommie Smith, the former Olympic gold medalist known for his symbolic “human rights” salute at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.

“I loved ‘Chariots of Fire’,” Moore said in the article. “So I played the theme music from ‘Chariots of Fire’ and had Tommie come on stage. I was not against a little drama!”

“Working during the Dr. Moore years was an incredible adventure,” said Brenda Benson, Senior Administrative Dean for Counseling and Student Wellness. “I think the entrepreneurial spirit we are known for today stems back to the Dr. Moore days.”

Moore is survived by his wife Susan, daughters Betsy and Parker, and son Jeff.

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