Studetns wait in line to register for classes at CSU East Bay in 1959 when it was still Alameda State.
Story Impact

CSU Campuses Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries

Alisia Ruble


Studetns wait in line to register for classes at CSU East Bay in 1959 when it was still Alameda State.
The history of the CSU dates back to 1857 when the state established its first higher education institute, now known as San José State. What began as a night-time teachers college has evolved and expanded to include 23 universities from Humboldt to San Diego that serve the needs of each unique region of California. Several universities have organized activities to celebrate their individual achievements as they approach milestone anniversaries.

The oldest higher education institution in San Diego, San Diego State was established 120 years ago in 1897 as the San Diego Normal School and was intended to train elementary school teachers. It had humble beginnings, hosting its first class of 91 students in a downtown drugstore while campus buildings were being erected, and changed names and locations three times before settling atop Montezuma Mesa in 1931. 

The campus has designated 120 Days of Leadership to commemorate its 12 decades of service to San Diego County, which kicked off with the annual “Hello Walk” in which new students were greeted by the campus community as they walked through the Hepner arches on their first official night as Aztecs.

Established as the Los Angeles State College in 1947, Cal State L.A. celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. The school initially held classes on the Los Angeles City College campus, but its student body soon outgrew the space and it settled in its current location in 1958 and established a downtown campus in 2015. 

The university will mark its 70 years of distinction with an art exhibition featuring work by famous alumni including Los Angeles muralist Kent Twitchell. “Legacies” will be housed in the Fine Arts Gallery this fall with an opening reception in September.

Responding to rapid population growth in Orange County, the state of California established Orange County State College 60 years ago in 1957, which became a California State University in 1972. The university has since expanded to include a satellite campus in Irvine in order to meet the needs of central and southern Orange County. 

To celebrate their milestone anniversary, the university has launched a website illustrating its legacy and listing commemorative events, including its “60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee at Concert Under the Stars.”

Also in 1957, the State of California established the State College for Alameda County in order to serve the county’s growing economy and population. The university settled in Hayward in 1963, eventually growing to include a satellite campus in Concord and a professional center in downtown Oakland. CSU East Bay has produced several notable alumni, including Chancellor Timothy White.

To celebrate 60 years of Pioneer pride, the university has organized a weekend of special events geared toward alumni. The events begin with a young alumni mixer and culminating in the “60th Anniversary Gala.” They have also installed an exhibition in the Hayward campus library featuring a visual and narrative history of the university.