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The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Retired City College administrator preserves school history through Facebook posts

Former City College administrator Robert Heiselman says he is getting to do what he never got to do now that he is retired. Elizabeth Ramirez| Multimedia Editor|
Former City College administrator Robert Heiselman says he is getting to do what he never got to do now that he is retired. Elizabeth Ramirez| Multimedia Editor| [email protected]

While the rest of California braced itself for the mass exodus of displaced refugees from the Dust Bowl-ravaged Heartland, the New Deal brought Sacramento Junior College a new library where the Learning Resource Center is located today.

This is just one of the many historical factoids that former City College staffer Robert Heisleman has shared on his per­sonal Facebook wall since September 2014.

Admissions and Records Supervisor Kim Goff says about Heisleman, “It’s been great working with Robert because he knows such an extensive history of the college that if you needed to know something, you could always ask Robert.”

Until Oct. 22, Heisleman was the campus outreach specialist for the last 17 of his 32 years at City College, after spending the first 15 as the manager of the student store.

“I’ve always liked history,” says Heisleman. “Over the years I’ve taken [the] opportunity to read more about City College, and I worked in an office that had a small collection of yearbooks.”

The yearbook was the Pioneer, which published its final issue in 1962. These yearbooks, in addition to copies of the Express newspaper since the 1920s, have aided Heisleman’s project to preserve and educate the public about City College history.

The history of Hughes Stadium has been one of his favorite topics. According to Heisleman, Hughes Stadium was for a long time the largest venue in Northern California outside the San Francisco Bay Area.

His July 12, 2015, post describes the 1988 Pink Floyd concert that was held in the stadium.

Heisleman recalls that that there was some strange cloud cover over the stadium that night. “When they performed — you know that they were going to be loud anyway — but the noise carried across town into the Arden area where people were complaining about the noise level.”

Hughes Stadium has not hosted a concert since then.
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One of his favorite subjects in his Facebook posts has been successful former students. Heisleman recalls Joe Batiste, an African-American student from before World War II, and calls him the greatest athlete to come out of City College. Bastiste was a track star who led the college to two consecutive national championships.

Heisleman’s Feb. 1, 2015, post featured actor Jessica Chastain, who was a student from 1996-97 before transferring to Julliard. Since then, Chastain has gone on to earn a Golden Globe for her performance in “Zero Dark Thirty.” She was also nominated for two Oscars for her work in “The Help” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”

But in addition to the positive history in his posts, Heisleman has not shied away from darker moments. He recalls the effect that World War II had on a significant number of students and their families.

“The Japanese community was taken out and relocated to places like Manzanar, some as far away as Missouri and Colorado,” Heisleman says. “The [Japanese] community was very cooperative, even though their citizenship was not being respected.”

On Jan. 18, 2015, Heisleman added to his series of posts with one about the Sacramento Junior College Japanese-American students who were unable to complete the spring term of 1942 as a result of the relocation.

Fumiko Yabe, a 17-year-old who sang “The Star Spangled Banner” at a college symphony concert on Pearl Harbor Day, as well as other Japanese-American students from the era, received honorary A.A. degrees in 2010.

Heisleman remembers Yabe as “vibrant, energetic and happy to be returning to the college” more than 60 years after she was a student.
In his many years working for the college, Heisleman says that he has supervised over 1,200 students as they filled out their applications and paperwork, and has helped them with personal matters.

“Students are really the best part of the job when you work at a college,” Heisleman says.

“We were more than just his employees. We were definitely like his family, his grandchildren,” says history major Donnaven Bradley, who worked in the Student Center with Heisleman. “[Robert] cared about us, and he went to war with us with any situation that we needed. I definitely appreciate and respect him for that.”

But throughout his years working with students whose names and faces Heisleman still remembers, he says, “The one thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that you are a teacher [at City College], even if that’s not your job title.”

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