Johnston: A timeline


1961 U of R president George Armacost starts planning to develop a consortium of colleges at the University that would strengthen the reputation and resources of all member institutions.

1966 James Graham Johnston of IBM  makes a founding grant of $1.8 million for U of R to name a college after him.

1968 U of R starts building three buildings exclusively for Johnston: East Hall, West Hall, and Orton Center. Presley McCoy is hired as the first chancellor of Johnston College. He hires 17 charter faculty members, including Bill McDonald, Kevin O’Neill, and Yasuyuki “Yash” Owada.

1969 Johnston College, with 181 students, opens its doors. Staff and students attend a retreat at Pilgrim Pines where they plan the curriculum and the framework for the new college’s academic structures. The retreat evolves into a retreat that today occurs biannually to build curriculum and community consensus.

1969 Johnston becomes a hub for the national wave of counterculture in the traditionally conservative University of Redlands. Time magazine highlights Johnston College’s practice of sensitivity training or “T-Groups.”

1971 In its third year, Johnston achieves its highest enrollment—310 students—served by 28 faculty.

1976–1979 Johnston’s undergraduate student population and faculty numbers shrink and budget deficits rise; by 1979, only 35 undergraduate Johnston College students remain at Redlands.

1979 Johnston students move to Bekins, the oldest residence hall on campus. The porch becomes an icon. Enrollment gradually rises throughout the 1980s to the current average of 180 to 200.

1980 While closing Johnston College is considered, the program is instead integrated into the University of Redlands College of Arts and Sciences as the Johnston Center for Individualized Studies.

1989 Johnston Center acquires Holt Hall to accommodate its growing student population. Kathryn Green ’76 endows a lecture series, which brings back three to four alumni each year to speak about life after graduating from Johnston.

Early 1990s The buffalo is adopted as the Johnston mascot; its mythology begets the BuffaloFest, a celebration of the end of the academic year with music and outdoor fun.

1994 After a series of sexual assaults within Johnston, the community writes a consent-driven “sex policy” that, in 1997, inspires a new U of R policy on sexual assault response.

Mid-1990s The program is renamed Johnston Center for Integrative Studies. 

2006 The first Vintage Johnston Wine Tasting Dinner is held to fundraise for the Johnston Student Project Fund. It is now in its 12th year.

2016 The first Race on Campus conference, led by Jonathan Garcia ’16, is held to address race and inequality in higher education; the conference continues as an annual event.

“It’s not surprising that our students would identify Johnston with the buffalo; Americans have appropriated it in many ways over the centuries, often paying tribute to its physical stamina, strength and stubborn attitude. Like the buffalo, we have adapted and roamed afar; it is possible to escape extermination.”

Kathy Ogren, U of R provost and former director of Johnston Center

For the love of wine and Johnston

Vintage Johnston, a collaboration between wine expert John Slater and Johnston founding faculty member (and wine lover) Bill McDonald, is back! This dinner is open to all and will feature appetizers and a three-course meal, a large selection of excellent red and white wines donated from various wineries and personal collections, raffle prizes, and silent and live auction items. All proceeds benefit the Johnston Student Project Fund, supporting both academic and community projects for Johnston students.

The 12th Annual Vintage Johnston Wine-Tasting and Dinner will be held on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, at 6 p.m. at the Orton Center. For more information, contact Maggie Ruopp, Johnston alumni and admissions coordinator, at 909-748-8839, or visit after Sept. 1.

Read more about the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies:

  1. The making of a Johnston education: 50 years of student-directed learning
  2. Johnston: Myths vs. Reality
  3. Creating the book on Johnston

About Author