Former Santa Monica College President Richard Moore, an innovative educator at the campus for 20 years before he left to oversee a dramatic expansion of the College of Southern Nevada, has died at 82.
Moore, of Las Vegas, who served as president of Southern Nevada and Nevada State College in Henderson during his career, died Dec. 27 from complications of cancer, family members said in a news release.
As president of Santa Monica College from 1974 to 1994, he was known as a bright, creative leader and credited with improving student diversity and developing continuing education programs for senior citizens.
During his tenure, the institution grew from 14,000 students to more than 21,000, and the college sent more students to the University of California than any other institution of higher learning in the state.
Shortly after taking the job in 1974, Moore launched Emeritus College on campus, which offered thousands of senior citizens courses in everything from Yiddish poety to Chinese exercise.
He also steadfastly guarded the budget of public radio station KCRW, had foreign language tapes played in campus restrooms and gave a commencement speech to a restless high school class that only had three words: “Feelings. Adventures. Ideas.”
Moore “demanded excellence, and he wanted it quickly. He wanted students to have the very best education here,” said former Santa Monica College trustee Herb Roney in a tribute to Moore sent to faculty by the administration.
At the College of Southern Nevada, Moore led a major expansion during the 1990s, when Clark County was one of the fastest-growing areas of the country. His colleagues recall that in one year the institution hired more than 100 teachers and the student body grew by 26%.
In 1999, he became the founding president of Nevada State College, a position he occupied until 2002.
Moore, who earned a doctorate in economics from the Claremont Graduate University in Pomona, started his professional life as a teacher, but soon turned to college administration.
After teaching at Cal State San Jose, he became dean of business and economics at San Bernardino Valley College and founding dean of instruction at Moorpark College.
Moore, who was born in Seattle, is survived by his widow Susan K. Moore, five daughers, a son and five grandchildren.