Growing tradition

Campus Life

The 1970s contributed to the environment, programs and luxuries present at Schoolcraft today


Thinking of the 1970s, people may reminisce about the Watergate scandal, Elvis Presley’s passing, the first observed Earth Day or Apollo 17, the enterprise that landed the first humans on the moon. Gas cost an average of $0.36 a gallon and minimum wage was raised to a whopping $2 an hour in 1974, opposed to the $1.60 that was consistent since 1968. During this progression of events, technology and economy, Schoolcraft College was simultaneously improving to benefit its students for years to come.


By 1970, Schoolcraft College continued to expand its physical presence. Additional buildings were built to include the Applied Science building, then known as the Technical Vocational Building, which was dedicated in 1967; the now-demolished Continuing Education and Professional Development building, which was the Student Affairs Office at the time; the South parking lot in 1966 and the Liberal Arts building in 1968.

In 1970 the Physical Education building was built and the library was dedicated to the first president of the college, Eric Bradner on Oct. 24, 1972. The Day Care Center opened in 1973, Students held the first School Daze, then known as Get Acquainted Week in the winter semester of 1973 and the Ocelot Grill opened in the Lower Waterman center where conference room E is now. Kids on Campus began as Adventures in Learning in 1979.

Roads to get to Schoolcraft from surrounding areas were small and offered limited safety for commuters. Alumnus Kent Lawless attended Schoolcraft from 1973 to 1975. Lawless grew up in Detroit and Livonia, recalls, “cross-country skiing to get to campus when roads were closed due to heavy snow storms, driving through thick fog to campus and seeing cars in the ditches along Six Mile Road.” He also remembers “sparkling views of Detroit basin following a heavy ice storm.”


Throughout the 70s, Schoolcraft’s campus had major growth with student population and sports. Schoolcraft started catering to those similar to the student population of today, with an average age of 23 and to some who lived outside metro Detroit.

The Student Activities Board participated in several local holiday parades in the 1970s, including the one pictured in 1974.
The Student Activities Board participated in several local holiday parades in the 1970s, including the one pictured in 1974.

The college offered cross-country, mens basketball, mens soccer, golf, tennis, mens swimming, wrestling, volleyball, gymnastics, womens basketball and a year of womens swimming starting in 1978. Increased sports teams led to greater student engagement outside of the classroom.

“I remember going to Uncle Sam’s on Monday’s for $0.25 drink nights, doing the bump on the disco lighted floor, and one time there was two or three feet of snow outside [when I left],” said Kenneth Cox, an African-American on the mens basketball team. Cox grew up on the northeast side of Detroit and attended Schoolcraft from 1974 to 1976. “Ponderosa would be waiting for us on Wednesday’s with steak dinner for $5. Schoolcraft was nicknamed SchoolcraftU.”



After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, schools across the country were welcoming minorities to join the classroom and sporting teams. After centuries of discrimination against African Americans, women and other minorities, America truly began the melting pot.

“During my stay in Livonia, there were only about three to five blacks that stayed in the city. Being a very outgoing person, myself and [my] teammates never felt any racial pressure in any of our travels. Schoolcraft College most definitely helped prepare me for life. I have been very successful in many endeavors,” said Cox.

Minorities were not only engaging in college activities, but also in careers. Women particularly started gaining better, higher paying jobs aside their college education.

“I worked full time, 40 to 50 hours per week, at Metro Airport,” said Debra Lawson, who grew up in Garden City and attended Schoolcraft from 1972 to 1975. “I ended up having a very good first career, becoming the Director of Marketing and General Manager for a name car rental company.”

The 70s paved the way for a much clearer idea of the college known today, with an added curriculum of continuing education classes and other events involving the community. Expansion in every area of the college led to an emphasis on community for Schoolcraft, which to be continued to grow in the upcoming decades.