By Erik Galicia
The plaques that line the walls of the Viewpoints newsroom at Riverside City College are so many that they leave little room for much else.
However, Allan Lovelace, the full time journalism instructor since 1996, affirms that Viewpoints is not in it for the awards. He will be retiring at the end of the spring 2020 semester.
“It’s not a beauty contest,” Lovelace said. “Journalism should be a public service.”
Still, Lovelace is leaving behind a legacy of recognized excellence.
RCC President Gregory Anderson attributes Viewpoints’ accolades to Lovelace’s fierce commitment to the First Amendment.
“These accolades demonstrate the trust that Professor Lovelace has in his Viewpoints staff and his proven ability to step back and let the student editors manage the paper, freely making decisions about the stories that would be run in the newspaper,” Anderson said via email.
There have also been struggles the past 24 years. However, Lovelace’s dedication through tough times earned him a reputation as a fighter who bleeds journalism.
Wolde-Ab Isaac, chancellor of the Riverside Community College District, recalled Lovelace’s advocacy during the 2008 recession. With funds low, Viewpoints was forced to use student generated advertisement revenue for its expenses. Lovelace made it known to administrators that students should not have had to do this.
“He was a true warrior,” Isaac said. “He defended his students. He defended his program.”
Lovelace has also built a reputation as a staunch proponent of equality, never backing down from confrontation with injustices. His strong belief in empowerment of disadvantaged communities could be heard often in the Viewpoints newsroom.
“He often reminds the RCC community that there is a larger society outside of our campus whose successes, challenges and systemic ills affect our lives and the lives of our students,” Anderson said about Lovelace, who he considers to be the social conscience of the college.
Lovelace recounted one of his most cherished memories at RCC being when a student in his lecture class told him he made her feel as if her opinion mattered. Another highlight of his career was seeing Laura Tapia, an undocumented student and former editor-in-chief of Viewpoints, become president of the Journalism Association of Community Colleges State Convention in April 2017.
“What a lot of people may not see at first because of the secluded nature of our newsroom is that Allan truly cares about our students and is very protective of them,” said Matthew Schoenmann, the part-time journalism adviser.
Lovelace’s compassion was put on public display when a former student, Nick Peralta, collapsed and began convulsing during the fall of 2018. Viewpoints students scrambled to help, calling 911 and moving road barriers on Terracina Drive themselves to make way for ambulances. Peralta recovered and Lovelace ensured his students’ emergency efforts were recognized by the district at a subsequent Board of Trustees meeting.
Roberto Hernandez, a former student who went on to report for The Press-Enterprise, acknowledged Lovelace as being a pivotal figure in his collegiate and professional career. Although he now works as the director of administrative operations and marketing for the College of Natural Sciences at Cal State San Bernardino, Hernandez continues to use what he learned at Viewpoints.
“He was there on the side of the students,” Hernandez said. “He was there on the side of the values of journalism. Who knows where I would’ve gone had Allan Lovelace not encouraged me.”
Lovelace said he will miss his students more than anything and hopes to leave behind a legacy of passionate reporting that holds the powerful accountable. He urged Viewpoints students to focus on the content of the newspaper and write stories that matter.
“Everyday when I go into my office, I almost always have the door wide open and I hear you guys excited in the newsroom when you’re working on something,” Lovelace said. “I’ll hear you guys joking around and having a good time. I’m not gonna get that anymore.”
Schoenmann, who has worked by Lovelace’s side for the past seven years, expressed a feeling of loss, echoing the sentiment shared by several colleagues.
“The program is losing its advocate and I’m losing a mentor,” Schoenmann said. “But he’s left Viewpoints in a good place. I just hope we can continue the legacy and make him proud.