Rock Valley College
The Cornerstone and Time Capsule at RVC's Educational Resource Center

The Cornerstone

The cornerstone placed outside the Educational Resource Center (ERC) at Rock Valley College houses a time capsule also placed in 1970 that was intended to be opened in 2020. A new capsule will take its place to be opened 50 years from now in the year 2070.

History of the Cornerstone

1970 Cornerstone CeremonyOn November 23, 1970 at 2:00 p.m., a dedication event was held at the cornerstone of the Educational Resource Center (ERC) on the Rock Valley College main campus. The ceremony symbolized completion of Phase I of the Rock Valley College building program, which included six buildings: Classroom Building One, Classroom Building Two, the Boiler House, the Educational Resource Center, the Student Center, and the Physical Education Center.

Sealed into a copper vault behind the cornerstone was a time capsule containing various documents and artifacts pertinent to the history of Rock Valley College. Most of the documents were preserved on microfiche format, while audio and video files were recorded to 16 millimeter reels, to conserve space.

By resolution of the Rock Valley College Board of Trustees in 1970, the vault was to be reopened in the year 2020 so that future scholars, including many who may just be beginning their studies at Rock Valley College, may have an undistorted view of the life and times in 1970.

To honor those wishes, the College held a special ceremony exactly 50 years later on November 23, 2020 at 2:00 p.m. to open the capsule and acknowledge RVC staff and student leaders from 1970. To also honor the tradition of the cornerstone, a new time capsule with items from our life and times in 2020, including a resolution from our current Board of Trustees that the vault be reopened again in fifty years, in the year 2070, was put back in place behind the cornerstone.

Below you will find a recap of the items removed from the 1970 time capsule and the items placed in the 2020 time capsule.

1970 Time Capsule Contents

Most of the documents for the 1970 time capsule were placed in microfiche to conserve space. Those documents have been converted to .pdf files and can be viewed in their entirety below. Local radio and television stations in the RVC district submitted audio or video files that were recorded to 16 millimeter reels. Those have been converted to modern audio and video files for your listening pleasure.

Click on each item of interest to read more about it and access the full document or audio/video file. 

1970 Time Capsule Items

The Junior College Proposal for Boone and Winnebago Counties is a Joint Report of the Northern Illinois Junior College Committee and Northern Illinois University that contains the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the Citizens Committee appointed to determine the need for and prepare suggests for the establishment of the proposed Boone-Winnebago Counties Community Junior College.

Read the entire Junior College Proposal for Boone and Winnebago Counties.

A Junior College Proposal for Boone and Winnebago Counties

On October 10, 1964, a referendum was voted on to create Rock Valley College following a two-year study that established the need for a community college to serve Winnebago and Boone Counties. The college was officially born after 4,460 yes votes to 1,529 no votes. 

Referendum to Create RVC Vote Chart

What was then called the Winnebago-Boone County Junior College Board (now known as the Board of Trustees for District 511) convened for the first time at 7:30 p.m. on December 3, 1964, at the Courthouse in Rockford. 

Winnebago County Superintendent of Schools Charles Espy called the meeting to order and proclaimed the seven members of the Winnebago-Boone County Junior College Board.

Espy announced that the first order of business would be drawing of lots for length of terms.

Board members drew the following terms:

Mrs. Vivian Hickey: 3 years
Dean A. Olson: 3 years
Mrs. Almeria Roberts: 3 years
Blanche E. Alden: 2 years
Robert E. Sechler: 2 years
Thomas B. Wasson: 1 year
William R. Williams: 1 year

Read the complete minutes from the December 3, 1964 meeting.


Much of the content in the first Rock Valley College catalog was typical college catalog content (programs and course listings, academic information, tuition and fees, RVC history). Unlike today's catalogs, there was not a single photograph, not even on the cover.

Some points of interest include:

  • Tuition & Fees for fewer than two courses taken was $5. For two or more courses taken the tuition skyrocketed to $10. 
  • Curricula Leading to Employment (what we would now label as CTE or Career and Technical Education) offered in College's first year included Accounting, Agriculture - Business, Data Processing, Retail Marketing, Secretarial, Drafting Technology, and Mechanical Design Technology.

Read the entire 1965-66 Catalog

1965-66 RVC Catalog Cover

The 1966-67 Student Handbook was the first Rock Valley College Student Handbook. It highlights information on "Important Places and Friendly People," student employment, loans, registration, student discipline, student activities, and the Constitution of the Associated Students of Rock Valley College. The handbook doesn't include photographs, but does feature some illustrations of campus at the time.

Read the entire 1966-67 Student Handbook

1966-67 Student Handbook

The 1970-71 Rock Valley College Catalog was much like the catalog RVC has today. It included RVC history, objectives, information on admission, academic information and requirements, and course descriptions.

Some interesting highlights included:

  • There was a $5 application fee in 1970. In 2020 there is no application fee for RVC.
  • The Catalog was "Dedicated to the Dignity of Man and Man's Work."
  • Tuition was only $12.50 per credit hour.
  •  In 1970 RVC had a Commercial Pilot Program.

Read the entire 1970-71 Catalog.

1970-71 Course Catalog

The 1970 Cornerstone Dedication Ceremony program included a tribute to those who had given their time, talent, and energy to Rock Valley College, a list of items included in the 1970 time capsule, and an agenda of the ceremony. 

Read the entire 1970 Cornerstone Dedication Ceremony Program

1970 Cornerstone  Program

Content wise, the 1970-71 Student Handbook was much like our 2020 Student Handbook.

Some interesting highlights from the handbook include:

  • A Student Faculty Canoe Race
  • A note that states, "Remember: Nothing is too trivial to discuss with the Dean of Student Personnel Services or a counselor if it is a problem to you."
  • Traffic violations lead to a $2 fine in 1970.

Read the entire 1970-71 Student Handbook.

1970-71 Student Handbook photo

The first student newspaper from November 10, 1965 hadn't yet been named The Valley Forge and was at the time called "The ?????"

Headlines of articles included:

  • "RV College Campus Desperately Needed"
  • "Parking, Communications Two Biggest Problems"
  • "RVC, Another Step In Rockford's Progress"
  • "RVC Heads Sits In On Education Conference"

Read the entire First Student Newspaper

First Student Newspaper 1965

The Rockford Journal was branded as "Your Friendly Weekly News" and was distributed to 12,000 homes in the area weekly.

Headlines from the November 5, 1970 issue included:

  • "New Courthouse, New Faces"
  • "Unique Musician To Make Appearance Here Nov. 15"
  • "Towe: Lecture Postponed at Rock Valley"
  • "Rights Advocate Julian Bond Here November 23"

Read the entire Rockford Journal from November 5, 1970.

rockford journal 1970

The Register-Republic from November 4, 1970 was filled with articles covering the recent election.

Headlines included:

  • "Election shows Nixon is beatable in1972"
  • "Statewide Demo sweep leaves GOP in shambles"
  • "Area voters bury property tax"
  • "Canadian, Rockford pal head Vietnam Mail Call list"

Read the entire Rockford Register Republic from November 4, 1970

Rockford Register Republic 1970

The Schedule of Classes for Fall 1970 was a folded brochure that listed all classes. The schedule included a planning sheet where students could plan out their schedule before meeting with a counselor for registration.

 Read the entire Fall 1970 Class Schedule.

Class Schedule

The November 4, 1970 issue of The Valley Forge included articles on RVC's upcoming spring class schedule, and a number of advertisements.

Headlines included:

  • "Board Drops Tuition Bomb"
  • "29 Expected to Join PTK"
  • "Art 'Thieves' at Work Exhibition 'Stolen'
  • "Since Library Noise Annoys, All Talkers Should Get Lost"

Read the entire issue of The Valley Forge from November 4, 1970.

Valley Forge November 4

The November 18, 1970 issue of The Valley Forge highlighted the upcoming Cornerstone Ceremony.

Other article headlines included:

  • "RVC Sings New Fight Song"
  • "Drug Problem Needs Solving"
  • "Happiness is Finding a Parking Place at RVC"
  • "College Turmoil Tied To High Schools"

Read the entire issue of The Valley Forge from November 18, 1970.

Valley Forge November 18

In 1970, Chuck Faber from WCEE-TV in Rockford, Illinois, recorded this recap of notable news from 1970. The footage was recorded on a 16 millimeter film reel and placed in the time capsule. The film was converted to digital and shown at the cornerstone and time capsule ceremony at RVC on November 23, 2020.

In 1970, Bruce Richardson from WTVO-TV in Rockford, Illinois, recorded this segment for Rock Valley College's time capsule. The footage was recorded on a 16 millimeter film reel and placed in the time capsule. 









The Cornerstone Resolution states that the Cornerstone Vault is to be opened in 2020 and is signed by Board of Trustees Secretary Blanche Alden and Chairman Hugh Hammerstag. 

Read the entire Cornerstone Board of Trustees Resolution.

Cornerstone Board of Trustees Resolution 1970


2020 Time Capsule Contents

Included in the vault to be opened in 2070 are documents, photos, and videos, as well as some tangible items that summarize life at RVC in 2020. All of the documents, photos, and videos have been saved to a flash drive.

Click on each item of interest to read more about it and access the full document or audio/video file. 

2020 Time Capsule Items

Much like the 1970 time capsule, the 2020 time capsule includes some of the more significant college documents from 2020, including the College Catalog and Student Handbook, class schedules from Community and Continuing Education and the Center for Learning in Retirement, as well as some documents very much specific to the year 2020 at RVC, such as the Phase 4 Reopening Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the pandemic, events in 2020 were unlike any other year at Rock Valley College. That being said, many unique and innovative events were held in a virtual environment.

Here are some samples of promotional materials from some of the major events at RVC in 2020:

We identified the four biggest news stories at RVC in 2020 and placed supporting documents, photos and videos for each of those stories into the time capsule.


The year 2020 was an eventful year not just for Rock Valley College, but for the entire world. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic disrupted our way of life all across the planet, and had a significant impact on how we conducted business, socialized in the community, and educated students.

Rock Valley College, like educational institutions all over the world, had to abruptly transition most of our courses to online instruction in the middle of the spring 2020 semester. That approach continued into our fall 2020 semester and, as this is being written, our students are registering for a spring 2021- semester that will also be mostly online. We truly do not know if we will ever be able to "go back to normal." Most likely, there will be a "new normal" going forward at Rock Valley College.

The students are the lifeblood of our college, and these days we are missing that vibrancy. Our campuses are lonely. When we do see students on campus, we can't see their faces behind their masks. Students can't gather and socialize together. Our athletics teams have not competed since early March and their seasons are uncertain at this point. Our most celebrated day of each academic year, the Commencement ceremony, had to be held virtually.

Despite all of these challenges, we persevered, in hopes that RVC will emerge stronger and better for it.

Below are links to news stories on how the pandemic impacted RVC, examples of campus signage that speaks to campus procedures and guidelines under COVID-19, and a couple of videos created in response to the pandemic.

Zoom Speech Class

Most of RVC's classes had to migrate online, meaning classes were held in platforms like Zoom instead of a classroom.

RVC Positivity

At Rock Valley College, we saw leaders emerge from every level of the College during the COVID-19 pandemic to support our students and the community we serve. We took some time to recognize some special RVC people and stories that have inspired us in this short video filmed in April 2020.

Do Your Part to Stay Safe at RVC

As we welcomed students back to the Rock Valley College campus, we took some time to remind them of the 5 key things they could do to keep our campus safe under COVID-19.


Dr. Howard Spearman Hired as College’s Eighth President

After a national search that took place over several weeks, on July 30, 2020, the Rock Valley College Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Dr. Howard J. Spearman as the college’s eighth president. Dr. Spearman returned to RVC where he previously worked in several leadership roles from 2011-2019. He was the first African-American to be named President of Rock Valley College.

Below are supporting documents, audio, and video that document Dr. Spearman’s hiring and some of his initial contributions in his role as president.

On July 20, 2020, Dr. Spearman visited campus to participate in open forums with staff, faculty, students, and community members as part of the college's Presidential Search process. Below is the full video of the community forum with Dr. Spearman. 

Community Forum with Dr. Howard Spearman

Media Coverage of Dr. Spearman:

Dr. Spearman Video Messages to Students

Dr. Spearman Joins "Everything RVC" Podcast

On September 10, 2020, Dr. Spearman was a guest on the "Everything RVC" podcast. The podcast was brand new at the time with this being just the second episode recorded. Dr. Spearman had just begun his tenure as President on September 1, 2020. 


Tornado Strikes RVC, Community Rallies to Restore Campus

On August 10, 2020, a tornado ripped through the Rock Valley College main campus causing significant damage and delaying the start of in-person classes for the fall semester.

Here is a brief recap of the event, damages, and cleanup efforts:

  • The National Weather Service (NWS) officially classified the tornado as an EF-1 tornado with peak wind speeds reaching 100mph. The path length was 9.2 miles and impacted Rockford and ended near Caledonia.
  • The College’s main campus sustained over one million dollars in damages. Over 200 trees were damaged or downed, and nearly all buildings sustained some form of damage. The most significant damage was to the Woodward Technology Center (WTC) and included roof and skylight damage as well as damage to the lobby and second floor classrooms and offices.
  • Hundreds of volunteers, including staff, faculty, students and community members, pitched in to aid with cleanup efforts over the course of several days in order to get the campus ready for students and staff to safely return (although the COVID-19 pandemic was already significantly limiting the number of people physically present on campus). Cleanup efforts continued beyond that for several additional weeks.

Tornado News Coverage, Photos, and Videos

Security Camera Video Footage of Tornado Striking Campus


Advanced Technology Center

While the vision for the project itself began a few years prior, 2020 is when the vision started to become a reality. A site location was selected and preliminary work was begun by the architects.

The approach to developing the ATC included commitment and collaboration from local partners to help transform the region through education and workforce development. The vision is that the ATC will become a workforce and economic development engine that helps sustain and grow the manufacturing industry in our region by providing innovative hands-on learning to prepare both RVC students and currently-employed workers for high-demand jobs with local manufacturers.

The ATC will offer both credit and non-credit programs, including certificate programs and stackable credential models that can be completed in as few as five weeks. At this time, the programs scheduled to be housed at the ATC when it opens are CNC Machining (TechWorks), Mechatronics, Truck Driver Training, and Welding. As the needs of manufacturers in our region evolve, future programs could include Advanced Automotive Technologies, Lean / Six Sigma Training, Logistics Training, and other customized coursework.

In June 2020, the Board of Trustees selected the site for the ATC, which will be located in Belvidere at the old Shopko building at 1400 Big Thunder Blvd.  Although RVC will own and operate the ATC, Belvidere School District 100 (D100) is acting as the General Contractor during the renovation phase.  The renovations are scheduled to begin January 2021, with a goal of completion by June 2021 with the first classes beginning at the ATC in August 2021 for the start of the fall semester.

Below are links to a news article on the ATC site selection and an in-depth presentation on the ATC that was delivered to the Board of Trustees in October 2020. You can also view some mock-ups of the “coming soon” signage that will be placed at the construction site in Belvidere.

ATC Ground Level Coming Soon Sign

ATC Roadside Monument Coming Soon Sign

Take a look at this special slideshow that captures RVC 2020 in photos!

Here is a sampling of some significant RVC videos that captured RVC life in 2020!

Write. Shoot. Edit. Repeat.

This reflective and inspiring piece was created special by Rock Valley College's Mass Communication Department for the RVC time capsule to be sealed in November 2020 and opened in November 2070.


Stand Against Racism

RVC faculty, staff, and students took the "stand against racism" pledge as part of the college's annual "Stand Against Racism" events led by the PAIC (Promoting an Inclusive Community) Committee. 


Virtual Commencement Ceremony

For the first time in RVC's over 50 year history, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the commencement ceremony could not be held in person on campus. Here in its entirety is the 2020 virtual commencement ceremony.

RVC Good Day Stateline Takeover

Rock Valley College took over the entire hour of Good Day Stateline on WTVO on June 28, 2020.

Virtually Starlight

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Starlight Theatre could not perform live shows in front of audiences the way they had for over 50 years. Like many areas of the college, they were nimble and adapted. Here's a sampling of some virtual entertainment the Starlight talent entertained audiences with amidst the constrictions of the pandemic. There's also a special greeting from Starlight Director Chris Brady followed by a recap of Starlight's history of performances. 

Online Learning at RVC Commercial

Virtual Veterans Day Celebration

A few RVC students shared some thoughts on RVC in 2020 and their hopes for RVC 50 years from now…

2006 Rock Valley College graduate Jenna Goldsmith wrote this poem as a special contribution to the RVC time capsule to be sealed in November 2020 and opened in November 2070.

James Stratton and Kristin Crowley from WREX-13 News in Rockford, Illinois, created this special 2020 news recap to be placed in Rock Valley College's time capsule to be opened in 2070. 

Tangible items that were physically placed in the 2020 time capsule include the following:

RVC COVID-19 Safety Kit (Mask & Sanitizer Bottle)

RVC COVID Safety Items

Arvee Bobblehead (1 of 300)

Arvee Bobblehead

Cell Phone 

Who knows what they will think of seeing this in 2070. Will this look to them the way a phone booth does to us now? How will they communicate in 2070? Telepathically? 

Cell Phone

Commemorative Cornerstone Event Pen

Commemorative Pen

Commemorative Pen Close-up

Commemorative Cornerstone Event Flash Drive

Commemorative Flash Drive

The Big Flash Drive

This 512GB military-grade flash drive is loaded with everything you see on this website and more. All documents, photos, and videos from the 1970 and 2020 time capsules are on it along with a video recording of the 2020 Cornerstone Ceremony. This flash drive is built to hold up in all types of weather conditions and should remain in fine condition by 2070. Will they be able to plug it in and access the files in 2070? No one can say for sure, but not our problem, right? 

The Big Flash Drive

On November 24, 2020, the Board of Trustees voted to approve this resolution affirming the Lifetime Achievement Awards presented to  Dr. Karl Jacobs (RVC President, 1969-1997) & John T. "Jack" Wolf (RVC Trustee, 1968-1997).

Read the resolution

Board Resolution Lifetime Achievement Awards for Dr. Karl Jacobs & Jack Wolf


On November 24, 2020, the Board of Trustees voted to approve this resolution decreeing that the cornerstone and time capsule placed in 2020 be opened in 50 years in the year 2070.

Read the resolution

Cornerstone Board Resolution