By MYLO ERICKSON
In 1970, Pima Community College held its first classes in a hangar at Tucson International Airport, providing an alternative to pricey universities.
Larry Toledo, who had taught and coached at Tucson’s Pueblo High School, was hired as a charter member of the PCC staff. He and a handful of other people spent two weeks cleaning the hangar to make it suitable for classes.
Once the space was ready, about 2,000 students started classes.
PCC’s early philosophy was, “Teach to succeed, not to fail.” Classes used a lax pass-fail grading curve.
The grading system changed after the college became established, and class credits began transferring to universities.
Immediately after West Campus opened in January 1971, college officials discussed the feasibility of starting an intercollegiate athletic program. Pima employees decided they would travel around the city to survey residents.
Once a decision was made to have an athletic department, Toledo was appointed as interim athletic director.
Toledo decided against having football as the backbone for Pima sports, even though he was a former coach and college quarterback. He said it was more cost effective to support several men’s and women’s athletic programs for the same costs as football.
Within two years, both Toledo and his department chair agreed he was fully capable of fulfilling all athletic director duties.
He accepted the permanent job on one condition: that he could assemble his staff from all races and ethnicities.
“Other schools used to snicker when they saw us on their schedule, now they say ‘uh-oh,’” Toledo said in 1997.
Toledo retired in the spring of ‘97 after almost 27 years at Pima.