Strolling Through Academia : A visit to picturesque Glendale Community College offers hillside hikes, great views and a sure way to refresh campus memories.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; John Morell is a regular contributor to The Times

Who really wants to go back to school? To memories of history professors with food stains on their ties, algebra problems on sweltering September afternoons, the pain of a C that should have been a B-plus at least.

If it's all too much to bear, then forget about this tour. But if you're up for it, try a walk around what is arguably one of the most attractive community college campuses around.

A tour of the Glendale Community College campus, built into the foothills above North Verdugo Road, is great for those who need to work on their calves. There are enough steps between the classrooms near Verdugo Road and the parking lots to make you quit the Stairmaster. A walk up to the Child Development Center at the top of the campus can seem like a prelude to an alpine hike.

The school moved to this site in 1937, after its founding 10 years earlier in a few spare classrooms at Glendale Union High School. It was part of the Glendale Unified School District until 1981, when it was separated into the one-campus Glendale Community College District.

Even if you didn't graduate from Glendale, a tour of the school can make you remember those days of pop quizzes and long-winded lectures. So tie on those comfortable shoes and walk those paths you traveled years ago when your hair was longer, stomach smaller and your grades weren't in yet.

3 p.m.: From the visitor parking lots, B and C, off Mountain Street, take the path beside the tennis courts to an area between the north and south gyms filled with portable offices and classrooms, sort of an academic trailer court. When you hear "trailer court," you usually think of one of those unfortunate places that always seem to be hit by tornadoes in the Midwest. At Glendale College, however, the trailer court refers to these temporary structures where overflow classes meet. Just north of the trailers is a set of sand volleyball courts, and chances are you can stop and catch one of the games on a bright afternoon.

3:15 p.m.: Continue walking down the path, and you realize that nearly every building is either new or is being remodeled or rebuilt. The San Rafael Building, which is just in front of the administration building, is one of the newest structures on the campus.

Built in 1989, the San Rafael has been part of a remodeling campaign at the college that includes a new advanced technology center and a refurbished administration building. It houses conference rooms and faculty offices, and around tuition time you'll see lines of students waiting to get into the financial aid office.

3:30 p.m.: Take a walk around the auditorium and, if it's open, look inside--you might spot a play being rehearsed. The college's theater department produces several plays and musicals during the school year. They've turned out such Hollywood successes as Angie Dickinson (in the '50s) and Michael Gross (in the '60s).

3:45 p.m.: Just south of the auditorium is the track and athletic field, where many of the school's athletes work out. Football players Wes Bender, who starred at USC before joining the Raiders, and Mark McMillan of the Philadelphia Eagles wore the uniform of the Vaqueros, Spanish for cowboys. Glendale competes with most of the other area community colleges.

4 p.m.: Adjacent to the bookstore patio is the Taylor Library, which has a 16,000-volume collection and an expansive view of Glendale from its rotunda reading room.

4:30 p.m.: Across Verdugo from the college is a place for a bite. The Great Grill is a little white clapboard restaurant that gets lots of business from students and faculty. If you can't seem to find a professor to explain Beowulf in plain English, you can probably find one here. Try the ever-popular onion rings, $1.46 for a small basket, and you'll be in deep-fried heaven.

5 p.m.: Walk off the onion rings with a brisk march through Verdugo Park across Canada Boulevard, which intersects Verdugo Road at the college. You'll find lots of mature oak trees--and parents pushing strollers, making you feel like you're in Mayberry.

5:30 p.m.: If you feel you need to hear the crack of a bat, go over to Stengel Field, on Verdugo across from the school, on your way from the park. The college's baseball team plays and practices on this city-owned field. No replacement players here, and no admission fee.


Where to Go

What: Glendale Community College.

Location: 1500 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale.

Getting there: Take the Ventura Freeway east, exit at Glendale Avenue and go north; Glendale Avenue turns into Verdugo Road. Turn right on Mountain Street.

Call: (818) 240-1000.

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