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Looking Back

June 03, 2001

Young Chang

Vanguard University of Southern California is a baby.

Accredited as a "university" just two years ago, the 80-year old

institution lived several lives before arriving in Costa Mesa in 1950.

In 1920, a man named Harold Needham was one of the players in founding

the school as a Bible school, said Pam Crenshaw, a longtime staff member

at Vanguard's development department.

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The campus, called the Southern California Bible School, opened in Los

Angeles at the same time the University of California at Los Angeles

began.

"The Needhams decided that there was a growing Pentecostal movement in

Southern California, which required a Bible school," she said.

The state recognized what was merely a "training institute" as a

liberal arts college in 1939 -- one that granted degrees.

"There were lots of Christian colleges, but few that were accredited,"

Crenshaw said. "A lot of bible schools just did it to train their own."

It became Southern California Bible College, and then later Southern

California College,

She added that the change-over helped the school appeal to different

groups of students.

Vanguard moved to its Costa Mesa campus in 1950 and gained university

accreditation after adding a third masters program in 1999. The student

population is now more than 1,600.

Today, the curriculum offers bachelor of arts or science degrees, 30

majors, four masters degrees (including one in theological studies) and a

degree completion program at Vanguard's school for professional studies.

"From 1920, they were all religion students . . . but [now] we have a

variety of majors," Crenshaw said.

Vanguard is run by the Assemblies of God and its credits include

accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges,

approved licensing by the California State Board of Education, membership

with the Association of Independant California Colleges and Universities

and a spot on the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

"And the roots go back as far as 80 years," said Mike Bower, director

of public relations at the school.

* Do you know of a person, place or event that deserves a historical

Look Back? Let us know. Contact Young Chang by fax at (949) 646-4170;

e-mail at young.chang@latimes.com; or mail her at c/o Daily Pilot, 330 W.

Bay St., Costa Mesa, CA 92627.

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