About the CSUN Stories Project

Cafeteria at Northridge Hall
Cafeteria at Northridge Hall

As part of our celebration of CSUN’s 50th anniversary in 2008-2009, the Oviatt Library invited CSUN students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to come with a friend or relative to discuss and record a memorable CSUN experience.

Library staff took photos at the time of recording, and sent an audio CD to each interviewee once the interview had been processed. Audio segments were then selected for posting online with photos. Visitors to the web site were invited to respond to the posted audio snippets with their own memories.

Project Staff

  • Project manager: Elizabeth Altman, Web Services Coordinator
  • Project sponsor: Marianne Afifi, Associate Dean
  • Project research: Dean Arnold, Music & Media Supervisor
  • Recording technology consultant: Michael O’Connor, Student Assistant
  • Systems setup: Michael McFarland, System Support Specialist
  • Photography: Michael O’Connor and David Morck, Student Assistants
  • Recording: Michael O’Connor, Elizabeth Altman
  • Audio editing & transcription: Elizabeth Altman, David Morck

Thanks also to Eric Willis, Library Systems Administrator, and Jason Billick, Logistical Services Supervisor for their assistance

Project Guidelines

Sue McElvogue & Mary Gilbert, Alumnae & Granny Girls

Sue McElvogue (right) and Mary Gilbert (left)

Sue: Granny, Dorothea Heitz, that the volunteer award is now named after her, that is given to every deserving student every year. She started back in the 60s as a 53- year-old woman to earn her degree. She noticed that there was a lack of school spirit, so she formed the Granny Girls as a result of all the girls who were trying out for cheerleading and didn’t make it, and where did they go with all that school spirit?  So with all that energy she had, she created this wonderful, friendly, great service organization called the Granny Girls. Both of us were part of it for a number of years, and it was during the time when school apathy was at its height —  the Vietnam war, a lot of protesting — and yet we still wanted to participate in school activities.

Mary: Right, it was a very difficult time to be in school. It was hard. Because a lot of us had come from far away. We didn’t have any family here. Some of us, like myself, I had come from a small junior college and came down here and here was this huge school. From my junior college it was 1500, and here I came to this campus and basically it was a commuter school– 33,000,  And I was lost, and it was like, oh my gosh, I have no family, I hardly knew anybody here. And then here was Granny and here were the Granny Girls, and it helped me have a sense of belonging, and then I had this whole family of Granny Girls and Granny that helped me belong. Granny really fostered women going to school and women being in service, and the whole school spirit and everything. That really helped us foster the Matador pride and the Matador spirit of Northridge.  It made a world of difference — not just here at school, but in our whole lives. Granny, she was just incredible. She was just a really dynamic, vivacious, incredible woman.

There were a lot of different things that we did. We did service. We would hand out cookies. Granny had us do routines. We had dresses: the dresses were mini-dresses, but then we wore long skirts and we had the black fishnet nylons, and at the end of our routines then we would take off the long skirts and here were the mini-dresses, and of course that was a just a great hit.

Sue: We were at the Temporary Union Building, which was called the TUB, and to come back years later to see this wonderful Student Union that’s now here on campus when it was just a small bungalow. We supported all the sports events.  The Granny Girls were at the last football game that was held here at CSUN, and that was sad. You know, we have to move with the times, but that was the closing of a chapter in our lives.

Mary: The TUB was a great place to go because they would put on screenings of the Marx Brothers films, and you’d see those advertised all over campus and in the Sundial. So you had something you could do, you had something you could go to. It was kind of odd when you would come here as a new student.  I was living in Rincon Hall, that was the year that it had opened, and we played our football games at the horse racing track next door, which was Devonshire Downs, and I thought, ok this is different, this is going to be an interesting place with everything that was going on.

Sharron Morgan, Alumna

My name is Sharron Morgan and I am a recent graduate from CSUN. I came here a couple years ago, so that would be 2006, and enrolled in the credential program for teaching. It was a two year program, and I completed that in May of 2008.

This is a career change for me, so being a teacher is relatively new, even though I am an older person. I have been in the work world for a number of years, and my first degree, bachelor of business, was from the University of Illinois many many years ago. I decided to get into teaching because I saw an ad in my magazine– Peace Corps Volunteer magazine — that was recruiting people to come teach in Los Angeles. People who had international experience. So I was intrigued by that and I made a phone call and there I was, pursued that path. So I learned that the state of California has a program for people who do not have a bachelor’s degree in the subject area that they want to teach, but have some knowledge, or a lot of knowledge, and that is through state tests that are offered. So the more I explored it the more I realized that this would be a path for me to pursue and that I had a lot to offer to the field. I moved to California and began that whole process of re-training myself and getting qualified to take the state exams, and so on. At the same time I knew I was going to need to be enrolled in a university’s intern program, so I contacted CSUN and there we were.

Once I found a job, once I got finished with the exams that I needed to pass and so on I needed to find a job, which I did. Then at the same time I needed to get enrolled in the university’s intern program. That all happened very quickly actually and I was very impressed with the staff that made that happen. I actually got a job offer about the late part of August of 2006. In fact, the credentialing program had already started, or the fall session for 2006 had already started by the time I contacted the faculty, but like I said I was only a couple weeks late and they were very gracious in getting it going and moving things right along. So one day I wasn’t in and the next day I was in, and so it was good.

William M. Paparian, Alumnus & Former Mayor of Pasadena

The year I graduated, 1971, I received two diplomas. One said San Fernando Valley State College — had all the information, my name, my degree, and signatures of, I think it was Mr. Cleary. And then I had a second one that said California State University Northridge. So I was able to have them both plaqued and able to give one to each of my parents.

I started in 1968 and my first year I lived in the dormitory that was called Northridge Hall on Zelzah Ave. There was a male wing and a female wing, we were separated. The year I started I remember vividly the assassination of Martin Luther King, and the turmoil that that generated and then I remember studying for final exams the night that Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. There was a great deal of turmoil on the campus. There was a great deal of reverberations of what was occurring and society was reflected here on campus. I remember that there was a state of emergency declared and the Los Angeles Police Department had a riot squad on campus. There were protests that occurred. The African American students were lobbying for a Black Studies program. There was an area by the library — it’s not there anymore — called the Free Speech area, and there were usually rallies and demonstrations that were occurring there almost every day.

There was a lot of paranoia among student activists that we were being watched by our government. Years later I did a Freedom of Information Act request on myself and discovered that our worst fears were true. There was a file on me from those days here at Cal State Northridge. There were copies of articles I had written for the Daily Sundial that were in the file. There were informants that had been in meetings regarding anti-war activities that were reporting on what I was saying and doing, and the anti-war movement here at school.

In the archives there’s a flyer that I had hand written in 1971. It said “Laos invaded, is North Vietnam next? And it was a call for a meeting about what to do about that. There was a lot of activism on the campus in those days.

CSUN Stories – William Paparian Interview – Excerpt 2

Well I was a Theater Arts major and there were many distinguished teachers that were here in the Theater Arts Department at that time. There’s a very famous acting teacher named Jeff Corey who recently passed away who was very well known. There was another acting instructor named Lew Palter who then went on to found the Theater Arts Department at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia .

I came to school, I wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment industry and found that I couldn’t separate my life on the campus from what was occuring in the society around us. There were very profound changes that were occurring in America during those years.

When I went to school there weren’t any black students in my high school, and my first year here in the dormitory there was a special program that was instituted to bring in African American students from South Central Los Angeles.  And when Martin Luther King was assassinated, the white students really weren’t prepared to deal with the Black Experience and we had to come to terms with it. One of the things that I did was I took a class in Black theater that was taught by a very famous African American actor named William Marshall, and one of the students in the class was the son of a very famous African American singer named Lena Horne. . . It was a real adventure in interacting with African American students in a way we ordinarily wouldn’t have had that opportunity. I think that was a very positive thing in my life, was understanding the diversity in our society, which I had never really understood before coming to Cal State Northridge and I think that served me well in later years as an elected public official.

Steve Ford, Alumnus

My name is Steve Ford. I graduated in January 1985 in Speech Communication, which is today Communications Studies, but I was proud to be a Speech Communication major, and initially began as a marketing major, but wanted to be into Communications for broadcast and/or, marketing agency work, like advertising agency and public relations agency work.  So I crafted a special option in the speech communication department which allowed me to have a triple major: one third journalism, one third marketing, and one third speech.

My dad was a professor of Sociology here from 1958 to the late ’80s or early 1990s — I don’t know the date that he retired. But that let me really grow up on this campus.

People think Speech Communication is all about talking and standing at a lectern, you know, and blabbing away on rhetoric. I found the Speech Communication Studies program to be fantastic from the standpoint of understanding writing for broadcast, understanding rhetorical discourse, writing to persuade, advertising writing, interpreting and evaluating communication and understanding the theory of communication, world views of communication and all the theoretical things that you don’t think you would get, and I say that just to give a plug for the depth and academic side of Communications Studies. Really powerful information.

It actually makes me feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle, you know, to come back here today because I blink my eyes and wake up and I come back in 2009 and there’s nine new buildings. I parked my car over in the parking lot that’s east of the University Student Union, and I recognize the parking lot, but you know, I walk no more than twenty-five, thirty seconds into the University Student Union and I see a dramatically different structure. I was on the board of directors of the University Student Union in 1984 and 1985.  I was very involved there. So I have both affection for what I see on the campus today and also sort of shock and dismay because many of the open, green-lawn walk areas are now concrete buildings. But it’s tastefully done, and I still see the orange grove, so I must tell you that so long as the orange grove is here on this campus I will forever allow and bow to the expansion of the campus to build more concrete. But that orange grove has to stay.

When I look back at the difference between me today and what I would have been, say, if I hadn’t gone to Cal State Northridge, that education that I was describing — with the unique major that I had through the Speech Communications department — enabled me to do everything I’ve done in the 25 years since then. I’ve been in management, advertising agencies, public relations agency work, I’ve hosted a national TV show on the Home & Garden television network, I’ve done radio, television, print journalism, using the journalism I studied here. I continue to be motivated and excited about my career with the studies that I took here that have enabled me to be a better communicator, professionally, and make a living at it in the years since graduating.

CSUN makes a powerful difference. You are influenced by what was positive here at CSUN far beyond what you are aware of when you are going to school here. It takes you forward to open options and awareness that you didn’t know — you didn’t have — until you got here.  And then by whatever studies you go into, suddenly a whole new world opens up and, depending on how much vigor and enthusiasm you bring, CSUN meets you and pulls you forward.

Dorothy Stilling, Alumna, First Graduating Class

[San Fernando Valley State College] had  just opened when I came.  I came from Valley Junior College [Los Angeles Valley College], over on Fulton Avenue.  And I did two years there, and then realized that this was a good spot to come into, at the end of my two years, to complete my degree.  That would have been in 1957.

Dr. Schwartz was the chairman of that department [Education], and he was also the main teacher in getting us into training.  Everything I took was geared toward teaching.  For example, the Music Department with Dr. Ryan was learning to teach music in the schools.  And the same was true with the Physical Training [Phys Ed], which was Mrs. Fisher, as I recall — there again, we were given ideas about incorporating it into our teaching.

I was older, because I put my husband through college first, and then he decided that he would put me through college. . . I think I had an advantage as far as my age was concerned, because I thoroughly loved it, and I got a lot out of all my classes because I enjoyed coming and studying, so in that respect it [San Fernando Valley State College] had a lot to offer and I appreciated it as far as the professors and just being a new college was great for me too.

I think it’s been a fantastic thing for the valley to have this university and it seems to be better each year as far as things that are offered and then the community involvement as far as Northridge is concerned, I think it’s great.  It’s a wonderful thing for our community.

It was just an overall wonderful accomplishment for me to be able to finish and get through in four years — which doesn’t happen too often.  — and then also getting the teaching credential to me was like an insurance policy, so wherever we might go I could use it, and it wasn’t until two years ago that I stopped with my substitute work.  I enjoyed that thoroughly throughout the valley.

Natalie Holtzman, Alumna

I wouldn’t be anything without it (education).  When I see a person and they tell me, “Hh, I can’t go to school because…”  You know, just go, because I want everybody to be educated.  I just– I adore people being able to think.  They think– they think that they’re going to really learn something and it’s going to make them be something and do something.  That’s not what it’s about.  It’s about learning how to learn.  It’s opening up the doors and showing you where to go to get the learning that you need, so that you can develop the thing that you want.  So that you can get the thing that you want.  So that you can think about the thing that you want.  I promote that constantly, I’ve never lost that.  I have a great love for knowing everything there is to know.

I was on the campus newspaper, and I advise everybody to do at least one semester on the campus newspaper.  I advise my grandchildren.  One semester is all you have to do, because you will get to know everybody and everything about how the school works, and that’s what I adored about being on the paper.  I was on the Pierce [College] paper also, and I was on the paper here [the Sundial].  I was on the magazine [Scene Magazine] and the magazine we put out. . .  I believe was either the first in the country, or at least the first for CSUN, that was dedicated totally 100% to women, and it was at the height of the latest women’s movement, because the women’s movement never stops.  It’s ongoing.

Amy Reichbach & Edward Reichbach, Alumni

Hi, I’m Amy Reichbach.  I am an alum of Cal State University Northridge.  I graduated in 1977.  I now work here as a health educator in the Klotz Student Health Center.  I love being a health educator.  I have contacts with students from – I’ve been here 19 years now as a staff member – I still have contacts from at least 12 to 15 years ago.  Students stay in touch with me.  People still say, you know, “You made a difference in my life,” and that’s what I like about my job.

I think the other thing that helped motivate me was when I came here, one of my mentors was the woman for whom the Health Center is named, Addie Lou Klotz, and I met her through my journalism teacher . . . I met her when I was still in high school, and she encouraged me to come here too, and she encouraged me to be in Health Sciences.  She was the first director of the Student Health Center here.  And so she was the first director.  She mentored me, she taught me a lot about being in health education.  She was the first person I knew that had an MPH, a masters in public health, along with her MD degree, and I adored her.  I was here for groundbreaking [of the Klotz Health Center], I wanted to come and work for her.

. . .

[Even though CSUN has grown] there are things that galvanize the community.  In 1992, I think and again in ’95 I spearheaded a drive to bring the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt to campus, and it was a collaborative effort.  The premise had to be that nobody got charged any money to come view the quilt.  So everything had to be donated, and what I found in terms of building relationships — from President Blenda Wilson on down, in those days — is it’s still possible to do that, no matter how big you are.  I got to know people on all levels, from the custodial staff up to the president’s office, to make this event happen, and everybody cared about it and everybody came.  It was possible, even in those times, to build relationships that cross all levels of campus and everybody knew everybody for a common goal.  I think those things are still possible, despite how big we are.

CSUN Stories – Ed Reichbach Interview

I am Dr. Edward Reichbach (I differ with my daughter, I go with the original Austrian pronunciation).  I graduated with a Master’s.  I went on and got my doctorate and wound up teaching at Florida International University in Miami, and I credit Cal State Northridge — now — with getting me into administration because that’s what my degree was in, and that helped me immeasurably.

When I first came here this was a branch of L. A. State College [now CSU Los Angeles]. It was orange groves and Devonshire Downs which was a state or county fairgrounds.  It was large tents, tentlike buildings, and all of a sudden there were portables dropped.  There were many veterans like myself attending.  There were also people who lived at this end of the valley who didn’t want to go all the way back to Vermont Ave. to go back to L.A. State and since the branch was open and it was accredited, we could finish our degrees.   All this — there were  wheat fields along Sepulveda Blvd. and as you climbed the hill, it was ranches, cattle. . . And to see a small college starting here was just amazing to me. I always thought this would be rural for the rest of my life.

I remember Delmar [Oviatt].  He was the first Dean of the College of Education — I think it was the School of Education, because there were no doctorates at the time.  He was open.  You could talk to him anytime, because we were small enough.  And I remember going up the first time and seeing him and I said “Dean how are you?” and he says “Wait a minute I remember you, you were down on Vermont,” “yeah right,” and it was just an open, because we were small, everyone knew everybody, so it was really a nice way to fall into graduate school.

Hinda Lee Sheffer, Alumna

Hinda Lee Sheffer

I wanted to go to a state college. Let me say that– one of the questions you asked was,  “what was the most significant day for you?” It was my graduation day. My high school guidance counselor said I was not college material, I had to take a business class and I would never graduate from college. So for me, I was looking for something that was small and easily managed. After I went to junior college I came here, I did not want something mammoth like a UCLA. What I’ve seen today of this campus is nothing what it was like when I first came here. It was a small city — not even a small city —  it was just very small and very comfortable and very familiar. And now I see so many buildings and so many things, it’s so huge, compared. You have a three or four story parking lot. We had outdoor parking lots that, you know, that might be filled. So that was one of the things I wanted. I wanted a smaller school, which is what this afforded me at that time.

Even though I only lived over the hill, I wanted to stay in the dorm and it was very exciting for me. My sister had lived in a dorm in college and I wanted the same experience. It was all so new. I was with the big kids, so to speak. To be quite honest, most of my memories are centered around the dorm life, although I have some wonderful memories of the school life also.

[Living in the dorms was] very much like a sorority of sisters. We had interesting things. Like if someone got engaged, there’d be a message on the bulletin board, there’s going to be a candle-lighting tonight. They’d pass around a candle with an engagement ring on it and when it got to the girl who was getting engaged she’d blow it out. Oh, and we’d cheer and have a bridal shower and all that stuff. Which today sounds like totally ridiculous I’m sure, but in those days that was something you did if she got pinned or she got engaged. And there was a big social hall where we did that.

They had what’s called a panty raid. And if you’re not old enough you don’t know what a panty raid is. It’s when the guys break into the dorm and steal all the girls panties and then the next day. . . I have a photo of it with me, and the panties were all strung from the Sierra Hall tower. I for whatever reason locked my door, and then ended up because I was judicial vice president, I ended up helping the police type up a report and everything. The best part of it is, they gave us a party afterwards. You know, like a “we’re sorry” party.

Joel and Bernard Klass, alumni.

Joel and Bernard Klass
Bernard and Joel Klass

(Joel Klass):

[CSUN had] the major that I wanted to pursue, which was Religious Studies. I did a minor in Jewish Studies, which I declared my junior year, and then, from my junior to senior year — mostly my senior year was Jewish Studies courses that were focused. But it was convenient, near my house. We lived in — we still live in — West Hills, and my brother went here, my father had gone here, so it’s in the family, and it was the school of choice for the major, and I had friends here and family here.

I was a full-time student, and I was working. So I worked part time, and I was also a musician, so I was in a band at the time. So I was busy — I had a lot going on.

With work and school there was a connection because I had work/study courses that I had to take, and I got credit for those through my job. So there was a relationship there which I was really glad that I took that course, because I really got a lot out of it. It was the “Working in the Jewish Community” course I was getting college credits for. I was working at the Jewish Federation as an office manager, and we would do different things there. We have historic bus tours of Jewish Los Angeles, there’s events, special activities. We have publications, membership. I did a lot of the website development, and all of that that I did it would culminate in a paper at the end of the semester, I would turn that into my professor as part of the final.

Because of the assignments we had to do in that course, it really strengthened my bond to working in the Jewish Community. Because I had to fulfill a certain number of hours and write a paper, and the only way I could do the paper correctly is if I had done certain research in the Jewish community, and in the organization. On budget — on finances, for example — I had to research all the money that was coming in and going out, and all those things really opened up a new world for me that I didn’t really deal with before. . . . Evaluating and analyzing how [finances and political issues] affect the Jewish community in Los Angeles did have an impact on me, and changed the way I saw my job. And I think the course did open up another dimension for me.

At CSUN there are at least 500-1000 Jewish students on campus– perhaps more, by now. I was involved in Hillel — they’re on every campus, and there is a social scene. They meet, for example, at the Coffee Shop — I used to go to meetings there, and we’d talk about Judaism, talk about Hebrew. . . At Freudian Sip, we would talk. . . And we would have field trips. You know, for — we’d go to the beach, or we’d go to a pool hall– it was social things, social activities. So there is a [Hillel] community, but it’s relatively small.

[My experience here] really made me more appreciative, more aware, and more knowledgeable about Hebrew language, about Jewish texts, about Jewish history, history of all religions. It broadened my entire knowledge base, and that made me a different person. It definitely allowed me to mature, and to grow into someone who. . . As a result of the education I got here, I’m just more knowledgeable and more aware and appreciative of history and of Judaism. The skills I learned here have helped me greatly in my job, both at the Federation, and with teaching. . . . So it’s really impacted me as a Jewish person, I would say, the most, and that’s very valuable. I feel like I learned a lot.


(Bernard Klass):
My situation was quite a bit different than my son’s. To give you a little different perspective on my very fine experiences here at CSUN: years ago they offered some classes in educational theory and so forth. I was already teaching [at Pierce College] at that time and . . . I met Ralph Prator at the gym. . . . Pierce, you know, their gym wasn’t air-conditioned, and they didn’t have a lot of nice facilities. I started coming up here. I saw this rather handsome elderly gentleman, and we got to talking, and I told him that I was teaching over at Pierce College. . .. So we struck up a conversation, and he said, “Well, I teach, in addition to being the president, I teach some courses in education.” And I said, “Well, you know it wouldn’t hurt to review some of the things I’m doing, maybe I can improve my effectiveness. Even though I’ve taught for many years there are always new things to learn.” I’ve kept young by trying to keep up with new things, and not just be stuck in the mud,so to speak. So I struck up quite a friendship with Dr. Prator, and I took a couple of his classes, and I found some very interesting new theories that he presented, and it helped me in teaching students.