CSUN in the Community
The history of CSUN is closely tied to the history of residential development in the San Fernando Valley. The establishment of an affordable four-year college in the area was a natural corollary to the rapidly-expanding middle-class suburb, and the college has increasingly served as a venue for cultural and community participation. In 1957, the Theatre Department launched the Teenage Drama Workshop. In 1972, CSUN extended educational access to deaf students by establishing the Center on Deafness. When the Valley community was recovering from the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the campus provided a forum for national, state and local dignitaries to commend local efforts and offer encouragement and assistance.
National Center on Deafness
The seeds of NCOD were planted 46 years ago when the National Leadership Training Program (NLTP) for the deaf was established in 1962, through a federal grant to train SFVSC administrative personnel in working with the deaf. In 1964, NLTP admitted its first two deaf students to the college and provided them with interpreters and note-takers for full access to university classes.
In 1972, The Center on Deafness was established at CSUN as the administrative coordinating unit for the Deaf Studies program. NCOD was the first postsecondary program in the nation to provide paid sign language interpreters for deaf students. The Center provided full educational accessibility by training interpreters, note-takers and tutors to work with its growing population of deaf students.
By 1978, the achievements of the Center's alumni and students had begun to have national impact and its name was changed to the National Center on Deafness. The NCOD Building Fund was established the following year with a major donation by the San Fernando Valley Industrial Association (now VICA). Groundbreaking began April 26, 1986. The building, Jeanne M. Chisholm Hall, generously donated by Grace Petri in memory of her sister, opened its doors in 1989. [Courtesy of the National Center on Deafness Archives]
Beth Gesner, first interpreter for the deaf studies program at SFVSC, ca. 1964
[Courtesy of the National Center on Deafness Archives]
The Speech Indicator was developed for use by students in the Leadership Training Program at San Fernando Valley State College. The needle moved on the indicator when a person on the other end of the line spoke into the telephone with short replies such as no, yes-yes, and please repeat, or through a series of Morse Code signals. [Courtesy of the National Center on Deafness Archives]
San Fernando Valley State is nationally recognized for its innovative National Leadership Training Program in the Area of the Deaf, designed by project director Dr. Ray L. Jones. "The increased interaction of deaf and hearing people united in a common cause is making the handicap more visible, the people more human and integration a reality." (Article by Eugene W. Petersen) [Courtesy of the National Center on Deafness Archives]
The Deaf CSUNians participated for eleven consecutive years in building the Kodak floats for the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena. Nine of the eleven floats received tournament awards between 1979 and 1990.
1994 Northridge Earthquake
On January 17, 1994, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck the San Fernando Valley, killing 72 people. At the time, it constituted the greatest disaster ever to hit a U.S. university. With more than $300 million in damage, the spring semester was delayed only two weeks and instruction was held in temporary classrooms. Community morale was lifted by visits by Vice President Al Gore and Poet Laureate Maya Angelou.
The parking structure at the corner of Zelzah and Plummer, guarded by security officer Darryl Boid, lies twisted and mangled in the aftermath of the quake.
The black t-shirt depicts the iconic columns of the Oviatt Library as they crumble over the statement, “Epicenter 6.8,” in a symbolic linking of CSUN with the devastation of that day.
Despite suffering the most damage ever inflicted on a university by a natural disaster, CSUN successfully reopened for the spring semester just four weeks later. The CSUN campus community, supported by federal and state assistance, rallied together in a massive recovery effort and reopened for its spring semester a mere two weeks late. The sign, "Cal State Northridge Stands," serves as a firm commitment to the rebuilding process.
The Oviatt Library core was damaged in the quake and restored to service by fall 1994. The east and west wings suffered irreparable damage and were demolished, rebuilt, and restored to full service in Fall 2000. The 10,000 square foot Lindley Library Dome at CSUN was constructed to provide temporary housing for Fine Arts, Instructional Materials, and Microform, as well as a study area.
The Earthquake Recovery Bulletin was developed and circulated in an effort to inform the university community and the public about the status of campus repairs, updates on federal and state disaster relief, changes to classroom and administrative locations, campus maps, transportation issues, and safety concerns resulting from the earthquake.
In 1995, the CSUN Office of Public Relations received the Award for Excellence, given by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for publication of the Earthquake Recovery Bulletin, recognizing "excellence and outstanding achievement in institutional advancement. . . for creativity, quality, and effective use of available resources in meeting your goals and objectives."
Commemorating the one-year anniversary of the 1994 Northridge earthquake, President Bill Clinton spoke at California State University, Northridge on January 17, 1995. Clinton stated, "I said that we wouldn't let you pick up the pieces alone, that we would stay on until the job is done. Twenty-seven federal agencies worked with state and local officials in unprecedented ways and this was the most efficient and effective disaster operation in American history. CSUN is a symbol of the ability of the people of this state to keep coming back following adversity after adversity."
Explore the 1994 Northridge Earthquake
Teenage Drama Workshop
The First Annual Teenage Drama Workshop was launched in the summer of 1957 with productions of Greensleeves' Magic, Lady Precious Stream, Mr. Dooley Jr., and Alice in Wonderland, performed in a tent erected on what is now the Zelzah Parking lot.
The Tenth Annual Teenage Drama Workshop season featured a production of Rumpelstiltskin. Here, makeup transforms actor David Gurian for the title role.
Teenage Drama Workshop actors David Gurian and Cynthia Lutz on stage in the summer 1966 production of Rumpelstiltskin
Johnnie Lee Gray (1941-2000) was a prominent self-taught African-American painter from South Carolina. The CSUN Art Galleries exhibition in Fall 2003, "Rising Above Jim Crow," was part of the New York Life-sponsored national exhibit of Mr. Gray's paintings.
The 1998 "Raices-Roots (Tres Generaciones)" in the Performing Arts Center lobby featured the work of Frank Martinez, Lalo Garcia, and Ricardo Ortega.
CSUN Department of Music's May Music Festival for the Spring 2000 Season included performances by the CSUN Jazz "A" Band, Wind Ensemble, Northridge Singers, Latin Music Gala, and CSUN Symphony. All performances were at in the USU's New Performing Arts Center.
CSUN dance is a dynamic, rapidly growing area of study that draws students with an interest in performance art and dance theory. Within the Department of Kinesiology, and in collaboration with the Music and Theatre Departments, three concerts are produced each academic year, while multiple studio performances are offered at the completion of each semester.
In this photograph from The Three Musketeers, young actors perform a staged sword fight scene. This production was staged during the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the California State University, Northridge campus in 1983. [Courtesy of the Theater Department]
In 1976 actor Jon Voight played Hamlet in the CSUN production of Shakespeare's famous work directed by Jerome Guardino. The introduction of actors from professional theater into departmental productions was an innovative attempt to provide the students of CSUN's Theater Department with instruction beyond that which can be provided in a classroom. The program cover features a sketch of Jon Voight by Don Bachardy.
For more than 30 years, San Fernando Valley-area leaders have explored the possibility of building a large-scale regional performing arts center for the San Fernando Valley. A resolution by the California State University System pledging basic support for building a performing arts center at each of its campuses, together with great demand among community and University leaders for such a facility, prompted Cal State Northridge to make building the Valley Performing Arts Center part of its master plan as well as a presidential priority. In 2010, the dream will be realized.
More on the Performing Arts at SFVSC and CSUN