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San Fernando Valley State College | Special Collections & Archives

Name: San Fernando Valley State College

Historical Note:

The San Fernando Valley campus of Los Angeles State College opened to students in 1956 on land that once produced citrus, avocado, and walnuts. Just two years later, in the fall 1958, that campus became San Fernando Valley State College (SFVSC). With the creation of the CSU system in 1972 SFVSC became California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

The Official groundbreaking for the college was January 4, 1956. Classes were held in temporary buildings as construction continued throughout campus. The old library was the first building on campus to be completed; however it was destroyed following the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

The campus gained a national reputation for being one of the centers of campus activism during the mid-1960s and the early 1970s, and the documentation supports the University's struggles against such national issues as the Vietnam War, racism, and social and educational inequality.

Racial tensions erupted with the take‑over of the Administration Building on November 4, 1968. Charges of racism were leveled against a white football coach, Don Markham, and the Black Student Union called for his dismissal. Twenty to twenty-five black students (with the white coaches in tow) marched to the Administration Building to take up their grievances with acting President Blomgren. In subsequent action, the black students took over the fifth floor of the Administration Building in an attempt to have their demands met.

In the fall of 1969 Dr. James Cleary was chosen as the new President of SFVSC. He had past experience at the University of Wisconsin in dealing with student unrest. He remained President at SFVSC/CSUN for twenty-three years.

During the tenure of campus president Dr. Blenda Wilson CSUN was again challenged. This time in the form of a 6.7 magnitude earthquake centered just 1.5 miles from campus. Causing in excess of $300 million in damages to the CSUN campus the spring semester was delayed by only two weeks.

In 1956 1,500 students attended classes at the San Fernando Valley campus of Los Angeles State College. In 2013 total CSUN enrollment nears 37,000 students.

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