Celebrating 165 Years

by Cynndie Hoff

When the corners of Citrus and Alosta avenues produced more strawberries than graduates; long before recital halls, gymnasiums, dormitories, and science centers sprouted and sprawled across the new home of (then) Pacific Bible College, four young students walked onto campus expecting to stay four years and earn a degree. More than half a century later, they boast a collective 165 years of shared dedication and consider their diplomas only one of countless blessings.

2005 Distinguished Alumni of the Year

While Don Grant ’54, Pauline (Diller ’53) Grant, Cliff Hamlow ’56, and June (Hill ’58) Hamlow can trace their introduction to the APU family further back than most, their years of service alone point only to their longevity. It is their hearts and souls that poured into a place blessed by God, and the students called to serve Him imprinted the heritage of the institution deeply and indelibly, inextricably weaving themselves into the very fiber of APU.

“For 106 years, this God First university has responded to the needs of our students and the opportunities of Christian higher education through remarkable servant-leaders like Don and Pauline Grant, and Cliff and June Hamlow,” said President Jon R. Wallace, DBA. “God used Cliff and Don in administrative leadership positions at vital times in our history. Don carried the academic mission as vice president as we moved into our university structure, and served as senior leader in the Schools of Music, and Business and Management. The very character and nature of the university’s current athletics program bears the imprint of Cliff’s leadership as did he leave an enduring mark on the administration. Both June and Pauline impacted generations of students through their commitment to bring the very best to the classroom. Each of us would want it said of us what we can say of these four: ‘There is a life well served; there is a life well lived.’”

In recognition of these exemplary lives characterized by the four foundational cornerstones — Christ, Scholarship, Community, and Service — Azusa Pacific University’s Alumni Association and President’s Council honor Don and Pauline Grant, and Cliff and June Hamlow, with the 2005 Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award.

Team Players

In 1958, Azusa College enforced a strict dress code for women: nylons were a must, make-up a must not; sleeves were at least three-quarter length; and hemlines were regularly measured to ensure all conformed to the highest level of propriety. Functioning within those school parameters and the equally limiting social mores of the decade, June Hill stood out among her peers as student body president.

The natural leadership skills she used to govern her classmates, she developed, refined, and applied as an APU professor of Spanish. Beginning as a teaching assistant in 1966, she steadily moved up the faculty ladder while helping to develop the Spanish program. She gained rich experience studying and teaching in Spanish-speaking countries, bringing back with her the expertise necessary to establish a top-rate program. She began with a trip to Zacatecas, Mexico, assisting the chair of the Department of International Studies in the establishment of reciprocal studies between APU and the Universidad Autonoma de Zacatecas, México. In 1994, she helped re-establish APU’s Spanish major, developing courses and recommending texts. Her efforts earned her the Chase A. Sawtell Inspirational Faculty Award, co-chair of the Department of Modern Languages with colleague Dixie Pieslak, and the ominous task of preparing the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) document for the five-year review of APU’s Single-Subject Teaching Credential.

After a combined 50 years as both a student and teacher, “I cannot imagine being anywhere else,” she said. “I have always considered myself fortunate to love what I do for a living, and am thrilled that God has allowed me to do it here at APU.” Though the students she has reached far out number her years of service, June Hamlow cannot help but count herself infinitely blessed as well. After all, it was here where she met and fell in love with Cliff.

His charisma was contagious even then. Few have filled more roles at this institution than Cliff Hamlow, and fewer still with such panache and proficiency. The dynasty began when he took the helm as director of athletics in 1956 and continued even past his retirement (official in 2000). Regardless of the role, the man remained the same: a consistent force that helped build APU into what it is today. “Cliff Hamlow and Don Grant represent the rebar in the structure of this university,” said Terry Franson, Ph.D., senior vice president for student life and dean of students. “They both interviewed me when I was hired in 1978 and surprised me by focusing on my spiritual life. I knew then that this was going to be a special place and these were two extraordinary men.”

Gary Pine ’84, MBA ’05, associate director of athletics and sports information director, echoes the sentiment. “In December before my graduation, Cliff asked me to come back as a full-time sports information director. The position did not exist, nor did the salary exist, but my faith in Cliff Hamlow did,” said Pine. “He went to bat for me then as he has for countless others. When I faced the opportunity to take a position at another school five years later, the hardest part of the decision was leaving Cliff Hamlow.”

Though Hamlow’s reputation as a man of action landed him lofty responsibilities, the heart of who he is remains a God-fearing son of a farmer with an unparalleled work ethic. President C.P. Haggard hired him for those innate qualities, not his athletic ability. Ironically, the winningest coach in the NAIA with more than 500 victories was not a player. “He taught himself to be a great basketball coach with the same determination he uses to approach any job,” said Pine. “The difference in Cliff’s leadership style is his ability to confront with compassion. Paul writes in Ephesians 4:15, ‘Speak the truth with love.’ That’s Cliff. He is not brutally honest; he is lovingly honest. He understood the mission of APU, and he understood his role within that mission. That gave him clarity. Now it gives me clarity. To this day, I filter major decisions through the ‘Cliff Hamlow lens.’ Outside of my own family, no one has had a stronger influence on my life.”

A Lifetime Duet

Young Pauline Diller met talented music student Don Grant in 1953. She kept busy as assistant to the dean of students (lovingly dubbed the “Warden”) during her senior year, and he sang and traveled with the Envoys Quartet. Somewhere between concerts and classes, the close friends fell in love. “She was my accompanist,” said Don. “I was so impressed, I asked her to accompany me for the rest of my life.”

The couple served the school through three name changes, four presidents, fire, flood, and financial struggles, selflessly filling any role asked of them. Recognizing Don’s leadership ability even as a junior, Jack Rains, dean of the School of Music, asked him to consider teaching music theory at Pacific Bible College after graduating. That teaching job began the Don Grant Era, spanning five decades of APU history.

“Don Grant is the reason I came to APU,” said Carolyn Koons ’65, who went on to develop APU’s internationally renowned Mexicali Outreach Program and become an influential and integral part of APU in her own right. “I was a transfer student trying to enroll at the end of the second week of the semester, and Don met with me on a Saturday night to get everything in order. Since then, I have never known him to exhibit anything but the utmost concern and compassion for students. He is an amazing man, and a loyal and committed member of the APU family.”

From the days he directed and traveled with the Dynamics and Conquerors, paving the way for a new brand of church music, to the demanding administrative roles he expertly fulfilled, Don Grant proved himself the “go-to” guy everyone could count on. When beloved President Cornelius P. Haggard, Th.D., died in 1975, Don teamed with Malcolm R. Robertson, Ed.D., Glen W. Adams, Ph.D., and Dewayne B. Bell to help keep the institution on track with its founding principles. Koons said, “Whenever there has been a crisis, Don has been the catalyst for healing. He knows how to build something solid out of something broken.”

Building seems a common theme in Don Grant’s life. On the firm foundation set by Rains, Grant expanded the breadth and scope of APU’s burgeoning School of Music. Beyond physical buildings and tangible programs, it is the relationships Grant has cultivated that characterize his legacy. “Of all the positions I’ve held,” he said, “I truly loved being dean of the School of Music. It was then that I was able to reconnect with the students. We traveled together in vans and buses, ministering in city after city, church after church, becoming family. I think only coaches must come close to what we experienced.”

During those five years as dean, the Grants attended more than 150 student concerts, recitals, and performances each year and hosted more than 200 students for dinner where they prayed with, mentored, encouraged, and inspired those in their charge. Some have gone into ministry, some into teaching, and some into performance, but each carries the unmistakable mark of the godly Grants.

While Pauline cared for those college students with equal passion, her day job involved much younger pupils. From 1954-93, Pauline taught at local public elementary schools prepping future collegians. In 1991, she developed a ground-breaking phonics program called Alphabet Noodle Factory (Sorenson & Fitzhenry Publications) that became a standard in the Glendora school districts and throughout schools in Southern California. Known as the model kindergarten teacher, she received the Glendora Reading Teacher of the Year Award in 1990, and became APU’s student teacher mentor in 1994.