Santa Monica Lookout
Former Santa Monica College President of Two Decades Dies
By Niki Cervantes
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.
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.
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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