Opinion: Here’s my SNC Tahoe – let’s make it ours
Special to the Bonanza
I can clearly recall that day in 1985 when my fellow Sierra Nevada College student, Todd Hudzinski, and I were given the task of spreading the pile of earth just delivered and dropped in front of the new Nathan David Hall building, and when I drove my shovel into that pile and raised my other hand to the sky and exclaimed loudly, “In the name of the universe and all that is in it, I claim this college as mine!”
Todd said, “What about me? It’s my college, too, ya know.”
And as I reflect on my three decades living here in Incline Village, my mind fills with numerous memories of people and events that have shaped our college into what it is today.
I can still see the day when Lorne Greene of Bonanza television fame gave the commencement address and was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters, and the day Ben Solomon was awarded the same for his extraordinary years of devotion and attention to the evolution of the college with Margaret by his side, and my knowing all of the sacrifices they made to keep the infant SNC alive.
The first ski team, its first library, its first electric car, and its first Bohemia Night, when all members of our small college in the Sierra — students, faculty, staff and administration — came together on a cold, snowy evening in December, 1985 to share with everyone else there what inspired their passions and dreams, their music, poetry, dance, and slide shows.
That night lasted more than four hours, and when the dust settled after midnight, the stars in the cloudless sky sparkled and smiled brightly, and with them the more than 40 performers.
I can recall the many different presidents who served the college over the years, more than ten, the many different board of trustee’s members, and the more than half-dozen entire administration and staff that came and went, with all playing significant roles in SNC’s formative evolution.
And all of them bringing their best to the table every day to help grow the college and to keep the dream alive when it seemed the pressures were too great to overcome, and to not under any circumstances allow it to close.
There have been so many inspiring people involved during the college’s growing years, easily more than a hundred, that I hesitate to name even a few, but many of them I came to meet and know had a powerful impact on my own growth and maturation.
I recall not just the hundreds of college events and accomplishments, but possibly the more than a thousand that took place there, and those are just the ones that occurred on the original Mountain Campus.
I cannot even imagine how many more events have transpired since the college’s relocation to its current 20-acre campus, but I know in my heart and mind that each and every one of them also helped bring our small mountain college to where it is today.
I remember when the Mountain Campus was “bursting at its seams,” and when that small campus and the trailer park behind it were demolished.
Oh, what stories there are to tell about that campus and the many students who lived in its shadow.
And I recall when on a sunny day Nancy Siebens-Binz and Ben Solomon walked the land of what would become the new Lake Campus.
Here we would soon see a new library, a new science building, new student dorms and eating hall, all rising up out of nothing but dirt, and only because of others in our community who also believed in SNC’s bright destiny and would provide the funds and intelligence required to make the original SNC dream a reality.
Gone are the days of the Croom Theater and its basement ceramics studio. Gone are the years of buildings built by students.
And gone are the many people who gave their love and provided nourishment to ideals worth striving for: wisdom, freedom, and responsibility. Gone, but never to be forgotten. What stands today is a testament to them.
This is our SNC Tahoe.
To quote its founding father, Gilbert Ralston, “We’re a small institution, with a big idea.”
Bill Casey, an Incline Village resident, is a graduate of Sierra Nevada College and the University of Nevada, and is the author of “The Architects of SNC: 1969-2009.”
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