50th Fridays – 1973

Posted on Feb 27, 2015

RVC 50th logo

Every Friday through December 18, we will be sharing RVC facts and photos from over the years in the Daily News and on social media. Be sure to check this blog every Friday and follow us on all of our social media platforms as we will be posting unique content across all media throughout the year!

We encourage you to use #RVC50 to share your memories and photos with us on social media all year long.

Today’s 50th Friday covers the year 1973.


Vietnam Veteran Inspires

Donny Dunn, a blind, legless Vietnam veteran, was enrolled in RVC’s automotive technology class in 1973. Dunn was in a Marine Corps. Infantry Division, checking the field for booby traps on July 4, 1970, when his foot hit a trip wire and exploded. He amazed his instructor and fellow classmates with his ability to work under a car’s hood despite his blindness. From the College’s origins up until today, RVC has always offered equal opportunities to learn for veterans and for persons with disabilities.

Donny Dunn 

Speech Team Wins State Championship

In March 1973, the RVC speech team, coached by Nancy (Sly) Sylvester, won seven individual events and took the first place sweepstakes title, dethroning former champions, the College of DuPage. Besides collecting 13 certificates for excellent and superior performance, six RVC team members placed high in seven individual events. The meet was held at Illinois Central College in East Peoria.

Reforestation at RVC

RVC and the City of Rockford joined forces to plant 7,000 trees on the RVC campus as part of a reforestation program. The planting of the 7,000 trees was completed in April 1973. The plan was for 14,000 trees to be planted eventually with 7,000 donated to private nurseries for City reforestation and 7,000 bought by the State of Illinois for RVC.


Circus Comes to Town

RVC was the site of a performance by the Hanneford Circus in May 1973. The circus was sponsored by the RVC Student Commission and was held in the Physical Education Center. Rock Valley College held a circus on its campus many times over the years up until the early 2000’s.

 Circus at RVC

Freedom Tree

On May 17, 1973, the RVC Veterans Association presented a Freedom Tree to the College, dedicating it to Sgt. Michael R. Lenker, a Rockford prisoner of war. The tree was planted in the northeast section of the campus near CLI. In front of the tree was placed a stone with a bronze plaque which stated:  “’The Freedom Tree’ with the vision of universal freedom for all mankind, this tree is dedicated to Sg. Michael R. Lenker and all prisoners of war and missing in action 1973.” Lenker was shot down in Quang Tri in North Vietnam on February 8, 1968 and returned to Rockford on April 14, 1973. Lenker gave an address in the Performing Arts Room on the day his tree was dedicated.

 Freedom Tree

First Student Trustee Elected

In November 1973, RVC’s first ever Student Trustee was elected. Melvin Jenkins (then 24), won a three-way election among RVC students. Jenkins ran for trustee in the April 1973 election but was not elected. He was later able to benefit from a state law signed in September 1973 that allowed student members on state college and junior college boards. Jenkins viewed his role as a catalyst for the development of new education and research programs. He was quoted as saying, “A vote may be only one in 20, but a voice, if it’s true and honest, can sway 100 people.”

 Melvin Jenkins

Tennis Legend Plays at RVC

Tennis legend Billie Jean King played an exhibition match at RVC in December 1973, defeating Francoise Durr of France, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. King came to RVC fresh off her historic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over Bobby Riggs in “The Battle of the Sexes” on September 20, 1973. King was a six-time winner at Wimbledon, winning five of those titles before her appearance at RVC.

Billy Jean King

Don’t forget to check our social media platforms for some unique content from 1973 not seen here!

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50th Fridays – 1972

Every Friday through December 18, we will be sharing RVC facts and photos from over the years in the Daily...