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CSUN at 40

The Early Years: San Fernando Valley State College

September 21, 1998

1955

Legislature approves purchase of land in north San Fernando Valley for satellite campus of Los Angeles State College (later to be known as Cal State Los Angeles).

September

San Fernando Valley Campus of Los Angeles State College begins classes in 10 leased rooms at San Fernando High School.

1956

Jan. 4

Groundbreaking for new Valley satellite campus. The 165-acre site, much of it farmland is purchased for $6,000 an acre.

Sept. 24

Campus opens with 40 instructors and 1,475 students. To distinguish itself from Los Angeles State College, campus will specialize in education.

1957

Construction begins on South Library, campus' first permanent structure.

Feb. 1

First issue of campus newspaper is published, but since name has not been chosen, papers display large question mark for masthead. A month later, "Sundial" becomes name of paper.

1958

July 1

Valley campus separates from Los Angeles State College and is named San Fernando Valley State College.

Ralph Prator assumes job as first president.

Officials project campus will hold 5,000 students, but estimate is soon doubled.

1960

March

Construction is completed on Fine Arts Building, designed by famed modernist architect Richard Neutra.

1963

March

Students protest over censorship when Fine Arts Department decides to not show sculpture by artist Edward Kienholz, called "Bunny, Bunny, You're So Funny," depicting pregnant, nude mannequin with baby in her see-through torso.

1965

February

First major budget crunch hits Valley State. Admissions are restricted to accommodate $500,000 budget cut imposed by state.

1965

September

Enrollment reaches 12,690.

1966

November

Valley State students are arrested at antiwar protest at Van Nuys Air National Guard Base. Days later more students are detained for handing out "unauthorized" antiwar fliers on campus.

December

Los Angeles police are called to campus to disperse student protests.

1967

September

Faculty Senate urges campus administration to stop calling in police during campus disputes and protests.

Out of 15,600 students, 23 are black and 11 Latino. School decides to boost minority enrollment.

1968

Sept. 1

Prator resigns. Paul Blomgren, former dean of business and education, becomes acting president.

Nov. 4

Members of Black Student Union hold 34 staff and administrators hostage in Administration Building until Blomgren agrees to increase minority enrollment and staff, and investigate racism complaints. About 150 LAPD officers are called to campus. No one is seriously injured.

Nov. 6

Twenty-four students are arrested and charged with conspiracy, assault, burglary, kidnapping and false imprisonment. Blomgren rescinds agreement with BSU on grounds it was obtained through coercion.

Dec. 8

Blomgren's office is gutted by fire set by Valley State student.

1969

Jan. 7

Blomgren, a diabetic, is hospitalized. Administrator Delmar Oviatt is appointed acting president.

Jan. 8

Hundreds of students march to Administration Building to see Oviatt but are met at the doors by riot police. Fighting erupts. Some students are injured, others arrested.

Jan. 9

Oviatt declares state of emergency and bars public assemblies. When 2,000 protesters gather, police arrest 286 students and faculty for unlawful assembly.

Jan. 10

Negotiations between administration and students, result in creation of Afro-American and Chicano Studies departments.

February

Oviatt resigns.

Oct.21

Former speech professor James Cleary becomes president.

November

Of 24 students arrested after hostage-taking incident, 19 are convicted and receive terms of as much as one-to-25 years.

1970

April 22

To mark first Earth Day, Valley State moves to preserve campus' remaining orange groves.

May 5

March by 1,500 demonstrators protests shootings of antiwar demonstrators by National Guard at Kent State.

May 6

To prevent violent protests, Gov. Ronald Reagan orders all state colleges to close from midnight until May 10. Students calmly protest actions at Kent State and disperse before midnight.

1971

Groundbreaking for Oviatt Library. Construction will be completed in 1973.

Feb. 9

Sylmar earthquake. No deaths or injuries are reported on campus, but library sustains significant damage.

Matador Gourmet Society sponsors pig, Juicy Lucy, for homecoming queen to protest what it calls demeaning treatment of women in beauty pageants. Pig was disqualified.

1972

June 1

In recognition of its growing enrollment and mission, Valley State College is designated California State University Northridge.

Researched by JAKE FINCH / Special to the Times

Nov. 21

Workers remove last of portable classrooms installed after quake.

Dec. 8

Student is convicted and another acquitted on charges they attacked police during demonstration against Duke's appearance.

Dec. 22

President Wilson reinstates men's sports teams.

1998

January

Officials announce plans to build biotechnical office park on North Campus. Developer agrees to provide internships and work study programs for CSUN students.

June

Demolition begins on University Tower Apartments, closed in early 1990s because of serious maintenance problems. University hopes to attract entertainment-related businesses to site.

Sources: Cal State Northridge University Archives; "Suddenly a Giant, a History of California State University Northridge" by John Broesamle.

Researched by JAKE FINCH / Special to the Times

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