Cuesta College celebrates 50 years this year and the first major milestone was when voters approved bonds to finance building a brand new facility to replace the 30-year-old wood frame military barracks. This story is from June 5, 1976.
Story by Kay Ready
Buildings—once whitewashed enlisted men’s quarters for Camp San Luis Obispo, now paint-chipped and showing their age—still indicate signs of College campus life.
A weathered black insignia on one dilapidated building reads “Student Offices,” but a quick look inside dusty, cracked window panes reveals nothing but emptiness.
Cuesta College’s new $22 million home, now two-thirds complete, is a creek and deserted airfield away from the old.
County voters, who approved the new campus into existence in 1970 and 1974, have watched it grow alongside Highway 1, between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. In 1970, it boasted only of brand new tennis courts. In 1976, it’s more than a dozen brick and red tile buildings strong — and still growing.
Buildings and parking lots encircle what looks like a giant, newly planted patio. The grass has sprung green between cement walkways; but tiny saplings still have not shed protective wooden cages and groundcover still rests in clumps in beds of redwood bark.
A few years down the road, there’s promise of shade trees and groundcover aplenty.
The campus will be formally dedicated Thursday, June 10, during 1976 graduation festivities. County residents will get their first eye-opening look at buildings and services they’ve financed, during a grand-scale open house celebration.
From 2 to 4 p.m. students will lead tours of classrooms, laboratories, the planetarium, bookstore, cafeteria and physical education facilities. There will be music and art exhibits, and refreshments in the new cafeteria.
The Cuesta Jazz Ensemble, in a farewell appearance before its July trip to the International Jazz Festival in Switzerland, will entertain from 4 to 5 p.m. And dedication ceremonies will share the commencement spotlight from 5 to 6 p.m. at the outdoor student assembly center.
More than 400 graduates will be honored, following ceremonies, during a reception from 6 to 7 p.m.
College president Dr. Merlin Eisenbise is proud of his new campus.
“From those first few hundred students, faculty and staff who set up school in the barracks of Camp San Luis Obispo amidst mud puddles and gopher holes — to the thousands now attending classes in the new, modern campus — Cuesta’s appearance has changed dramatically,” said the man who’s been at its helm since 1964.
“The basic campus is not complete, but…we think it is time the total community takes a look at what it has achieved.”