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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Glendale

College Bookstore Named for Ex-Dean

November 15, 2000|ZANTO PEABODY

J. Walter Smith, retired dean of student affairs at Glendale College, held the purse strings to student fees and bookstore revenue so tightly for 37 years that he earned the nickname Mr. Money Bags.

"He would say there wasn't any money, but we knew there was money there," said Glendale College President John Davitt.

Smith turned down funding requests so often, people just stopped asking. When he was about to retire in 1992, school officials got their first glimpse of the fruits of 45 years of tightfisted fiscal policy--a $1-million rainy-day fund.

The Associated Students on Tuesday opened a $4-million bookstore and student center named for Smith that will be paid for with the reserve funds and future bookstore sales.

"I was just cheap," Smith, 80, said Tuesday. "I told students to collect the student fees but don't put all the money in the budget. If you get any extra revenue, don't put it in the budget."

Though Smith was the student government advisor who influenced student leaders to be thrifty with bookstore revenue, the Associated Students had to vote each year to follow his lead.

"The students knew they would not directly benefit from this [saving] effort," Smith said.

Jeremy Gump, who was president of the Associated Students when they voted in 1995 to build the bookstore, said students wanted to build it as a sign of popular power.

"It was a very hard sell at first," Gump said. "But then people saw the money as ours. A lot of times, the [college's] staff made decisions that we didn't have anything to do with. We wanted to make our own decision on how to spend the money."

Victor King, president of the Glendale Community College Board of Trustees, said the two-story student center and bookstore stands as a testament to Smith's ability to keep students focused on the future. Other buildings on the school's campus are named for the area's mountain ranges, such as Sierra Madre and Verdugo, King noted. Smith's is the only one named for a person.

"He is as permanent as all the geological formations we have," King said.

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