Delta campus full of history

    The Delta College campus is seen from above on Oct. 31. PHOTO BY THE COLLEGIAN
    The Delta College campus is seen from above on Oct. 31. PHOTO BY THE COLLEGIAN

    We come to Delta College in pursuit of education. Knowledge is essential. We often prioritize what we desire to learn amidst these buildings on campus, named after historical San Joaquin County figures. Students repeat the names of buildings often without thinking about who the monikers belonged to.

    “I’m in the Holt Building,” Iberlina Suero, a police academy cadet, said. “I do not know who Holt is.”

    “This is the Budd Building,” Ashley Simmons, nursing student, responded. “I have no idea who Budd is.”

    Delta College’s history is tied to its historical connections, including those who have buildings and areas named after them.


    At Danner Hall, a table of 17 students socialized over lunch.

    They basically knew they were in Danner Hall, but their responses to who Danner were across the board.

    “Danner, he’s a person. He’s a man,” a student exclaimed.

    “Hey, don’t be assumptive,” scolded her friend.

    Her friend was correct in her admonishment.

    Helen Danner — According to retired History and Political Science Professor Charles Bloch, Helen Danner was “… an English teacher with a strong dedication and caring attitude toward her students as well as a preeminent scholar of literature. She had a concern that the students should have a center for social interaction and collegiality. To that end, she gifted funds for the construction of a student union.”

    Danner donated over $500,000 dollars to have the student union built. She died in 1970.

    Bloch serves as a member of the college Heritage Committee and the San Joaquin Delta College Foundation.

    Each building has a dedication plaque honoring the person that it is named after. For the most part, the plaques can be easily found on the first floors.


    The Shima Center is dedicated to George Shima who lived from 1863-1926. Born Ushijima Kinji, he emigrated from Japan and developed San Joaquin Delta swamp land into potato fields during the 1890s. He became America’s first Japanese American millionaire. He was known as the Potato King of California.  


    The Budd Center  was dedicated to James Budd who lived from 1851-1908. Budd became the 19th governor of California from 1895-1899. 

    Budd was instrumental in having the federal government create the Stockton Deep Water Channel, also known as the Stockton Waterfront. As governor, Budd helped bust railroad monopolies. The governor is buried in Stockton’s Rural Cemetery.


    The Holt Center  was dedicated to Benjamin Holt, who lived from 1849-1920. He was a co-founder of the Stockton Wheel Company and known for inventing the tread-type tractor. Holt’s innovation led to the development of British and French tanks during World War I. Also named after him is Benjamin Holt Drive in Stockton’s Lincoln area.


    Delta’s library is named after Irving Goleman, who lived from 1898–1961.

    Goleman “…was among the pioneering faculty who transitioned from the founding of Stockton Junior College as the lower division of the College of the Pacific to Stockton College to San Joaquin Delta College,” said Bloch.


    The Locke Building is dedicated to Dean Jewette Locke, who lived from 1826-1887. He was the founder of the town known as Lockeford. He was known as a gold miner, educator and medical physician of his time.

    Delta College has a host of other buildings with interesting stories about the individuals named after them. Some buildings such as the Cunningham Building and the George Clever Planetarium were torn down. They only exist now in our historical accounts. 


    Located within the Locke building, this theater was dedicated to Tillie Lewis, a patron of the arts.  She is known for innovating the agricultural industry by introducing and developing the italian pomodoro tomatoes to San Joaquin County.  

    Her business expertise enabled San Joaquin County to become the leading county tomato producer in the nation during the early 1940’s.  Lewis lived from 1901-1977.


    An advocate for veteran’s affairs, Atherton served as the national commander for The American Legion.  

    He helped create the G.I. Bill for returning military vets after World War II in order to further their education plus other benefits. Atherthon served as a judge for Stockton, CA.  He lived from 1891-1976.


    An educator in  San Joaquin for over 60 years, Muller taught and directed theater at Delta from 1968-1992. 

    He directed hundreds of shows.  He was an original member of the Stockton Arts Commission.  Muller lived from 1932-2017.


    Phelps converted the campus security into a fully POST certified police agency back in 1984.  

    His efforts enabled state funded training as well as mutual partnerships with city, county, and state law enforcement organizations for Delta Police. 

    He was an Army Air Corp WWII veteran tailgunner on a B-17 and also served as the Chief of Police for Richmond, CA.  Phelps lived from 1924 to 2008.