Retired Journalism Prof Recalls Early Years

By Jim Drummond
Former Titan Times Editor

The first two professors hired to teach journalism courses during this college's second year also spent considerable time recruiting students and advising student publications.

That's the recent remembrance of Jim Alexander, who was the first journalism professor to advise the college's early newspaper, the weekly Titan Times.

Alexander and J. William Maxwell were hired to teach the first journalism classes in the fall of 1960 at then-named Orange County State College, Alexander recalls.

"Bill Maxwell, who had been a visiting professor at UCLA in 1960, was hired to chair the department," Alexander noted. "In turn, he hired me from Glendale College in the spring of 1960, where I was teaching journalism."

"A few weeks later Maxwell won a Fulbright award to teach fall, 1960, in Peru. [First College] President [William] Langsdorf thought it would honor our university to have this recognition, so he asked me to advise the student newspaper for fall 1960," Alexander said.

Maxwell returned from Peru to advise the spring 1961 newspaper, and he continued as adviser until the spring of 1968. He oversaw the weekly publication until 1965 and the twice-weekly paper through the spring of 1968.

The Titan Times began publication Jan. 4, 1960, when classes were held in the science wing at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton. Adviser was Ernest A. Becker, the college's longtime Dean of Students. Eight biweekly, two-page issues were published during that first year, under editor Chuck Loyd and a small staff of juniors and seniors.

The newspaper began weekly publication during Alexander's semester as adviser, when the college moved to temporary buildings on the current campus. The staff consisted of transfers from the newspaper staffs at several of the area's junior colleges.

"Because we had such a small staff headed by excellent journalism students Don Anderson and Carolyn Bridge recruited from Santa Ana College, I decided that I would pick up proofs and return copy and proofs during each publication week," Alexander said.

"I wanted the staff to concentrate on their classes, which proved a good idea, [because] some had problems with their upper division classes," Alexander noted.

Alexander also said that he and Maxwell spent much of their time visiting the local junior colleges to recruit students for their fledgling journalism program, which was adding faculty at the rate of one or two individuals per year. The Journalism Department was renamed the Communications Department in 1965.

"The Anaheim Gazette print shop printed the four-page tab Titan Times. This was the home of the oldest newspaper in Orange County, established in 1870," according to Alexander. "Just visiting there reminded me of working on a weekly in Sunland-Tujunga, when I was in college."

The Gazette shop was "quite a contrast [with its] hot metal operation to the current newsroom of the Daily Titan," on the sixth floor of the College Park building, Alexander said.

The Daily Titan newsroom was named in Alexander's honor, when it opened for the fall semester of 2000. The dedication took place just before the newspaper's 40th anniversary banquet.

Alexander also advised several other college publications, including the first summer Titan Times, published in 1965. He advised other summer papers, many issues of the Orange State and Titan Illustrated magazines and several yearbooks. He also ran several summer workshops for high school newspaper and yearbook advisers.

Thirteen individuals served as newspaper advisers for past 45 years.