Message from the Dean: Prospering from Lessons Past

It was philosopher-writer George Santayana who first said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana, who was educated in the United States from the age of eight, was a Spanish immigrant but considered himself an American and went on to become a Professor of Philosophy at Harvard. One of his star students, W. E. B. Du Bois, was able to attend college in large part due to donations that were collected by the congregants of his church. Du Bois himself became a prominent American civil rights leader and helped co-found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). These linked pieces of history, like the articles in this issue of the eNews, remind us that it is in coming together as a community to educate our students that we keep our democracy vibrant.

Dean Mark Stover

Dean Mark Stover

Our What’s Up article spotlights two events that echo the importance of Santayana’s words: the “Executive Order 9066: The 75th Anniversary” exhibit, and the March 17 luncheon with Dr. Lane Hirabayashi in which he will revisit the events that led to FDR's signing of that executive order. Shakespeare wrote that “what’s past is prologue,” and the events of early 2017 indeed suggest that forgetfulness of history often leads to a painful repetition of past mistakes. Both the exhibit and Dr. Hirabayashi’s talk will help us avoid repeating past egregious errors that mar our nation’s history. I hope you are able to attend both.

The Thanks & Recognition article in this issue tells the history of a group of Northridge women who took it upon themselves to find a way to help students realize their educational dreams. CSUN owes much to these inspiring ladies who were pioneers at Valley State College in fundraising, philanthropy, and fostering student success. Their legacy lives on in the form of a permanent endowment that provides student employees in the Oviatt Library with annual scholarships. 

A Peek in the Stacks blog post, featured this issue in We Would Like You to Meet, introduces readers to local politician and women’s rights activist Joy Picus. Councilwoman Picus was a groundbreaking force in Los Angeles from the 1970s to the 1990s, and she continues to make her presence known through philanthropy, social action, and the cultivation of relationships borne of decades of hard work and activism. Her archives in the Oviatt Library’s Special Collections & Archives tell a fascinating and still-relevant story of a changing Los Angeles. CSUN and the Oviatt Library are proud to call Joy Picus a friend and ally. 

The long-awaited completion of the CSUN master’s theses digitization project is highlighted in our lead article, written by the Oviatt Library Web Services Coordinator Elizabeth Altman. As CSUN approaches its 60th anniversary, it seems appropriate to highlight a project that opens up to the world the graduate-level research that our university has always been engaged in. Once you’ve read this article, take a look at some of the 15,000 fascinating master’s theses that have come out of Northridge for over half a century. You will be amazed at how creative and prolific our graduate students have been, and continue to be.

The Spotlight article in this month’s eNews describes how the Oviatt Library is modeling the importance of stewardship of our planet through waste reduction. In this world of partisan disagreements and argumentative rhetoric, I think we can all agree that careful cultivation of Planet Earth’s resources should be one of our highest priorities. Whether it is through water conservation or recycling of plastic, paper, aluminum and glass, the Oviatt Library leads the way on the CSUN campus in trying our best to avoid the ecological blunders of earlier times. 

If the past is indeed prologue, then let us all learn from chronicles old and new, and work toward a sustainable future that will allow our planet’s “narrative” to continue to be written for our children, our grandchildren, and for centuries to come.