Albert Rodda, for whom the City College Rodda halls are named, died April 3 at the age of 97, and was a champion for education in the California State Senate and a fundamental contribution to the Los Rios Community College District.
Born July 23, 1912, in Sacramento, Rodda graduated from Sacramento High in 1929, and continued his education at Stanford University where he received a doctorate in history and economics.
Rodda was a faculty member at City College, which was then known as Sacramento Junior College, and taught history and economics, according to American River College math professor Anthony Barcellos — a close friend of Rodda’s who worked under him in the Senate.
In 1958 Rodda was elected to the California State Senate as a representative for Sacramento County, Barcellos said. At the time, the California Legislature was only a part-time institution, so he taught for one semester of the year and legislated for the other one. In 1966, the state Senate went full time, and Rodda made the tough decision to leave City College to serve as a senator.
Rodda was a major supporter of the equalization of school financing, believing that public schools should all get the same amount of money, according to Barcellos. One of his more notable achievements was the passing of Senate Bill 160, which established the right for faculty to unionize.
“Albert knew that in the ’40s and ’50s, instructors had virtually no rights whatsoever,” Barcellos said. “They were just servants of the school board, and he managed to change that.”
During Rodda’s career as a politician, he actively avoided taking money from lobbyists, Barcellos said. He never ate at any of the downtown restaurants because that’s where the lobbyists were taking the senators out to eat. Instead, he regularly dined with his staff at the Food Circus, a former food court once housed in Arden Fair mall.
“Honest politicians do exist,” Barcellos said. “I know because I worked for one.”
According to City College Foundation Executive Director Mary Leland, a public memorial service will be held April 23 at 4 p.m. in the Main Auditorium.