It’s hard to imagine that Cal State Fullerton, the second largest CSU in the state, was once a grove of orange trees.
In 1959, founding president William B. Langsdorf created an institution many have grown to know and love—CSUF.
During the university’s 55-year existence, there have been five presidents, including president Mildred García, who was inaugurated as on Friday.
“I thought it (the inauguration) was very well orchestrated—the program, the message all tied in together. (It) was very forward looking and … sets the stage for taking our university to the next level, although we are already pretty fantastic,” said Diana Guerin, professor of child and adolescent studies and the campus’ California State University Academic Senate chair.
Faculty and staff, students, alumni, the Philanthropic Foundation Board and several college and university members took part in the inauguration.
Adding some history to the inauguration, presidents emeriti L. Donald Shields, the university’s second president, and Milton A. Gordon, the university’s fourth president, attended the inauguration.
Shields said in his time at the university, he went from being an assistant professor to acting president for nine months and then to the permanent president.
“I was here (at CSUF) for 17 years, I came in 1963 and was assistant professor of chemistry, and then went into administration soon after that. When I first came there was one building, McCarthy Hall, and we had everybody there. I mean we had the scientists, social scientists, history … (all) in that building,” said Shields.
He added that the Visual Arts Center, the addition to the center and the Education Classroom Building were built while he served at the university.
Shields was president from 1970 to 1980. While he did not have an official inauguration ceremony such as García’s, his inauguration consisted of a black tie dinner in which he spoke at.
It is a university tradition that the president receives a handcrafted academic medallion upon being inaugurated into office.
Joseph Arnold, Ph.D., dean of the College of the Arts, commissioned Christina Smith, an art professor, to design García’s medallion.
“I was sort of given free reign other than that the (CSUF) seal had to be on it, so I researched what different universities around the world used and then went from there,” said Smith, the area coordinator for the crafts department.
García’s sterling silver medallion features the CSUF seal, a silhouette of an elephant, García’s name and the California State University motto “Vox, Veritas, Vita.” The Latin words translate to, “Voice, truth, life,” to mean, “Speak the truth as a way of life.”
Shields’ medallion, which was presented to him at his black tie dinner inauguration, is made of ivory and silver and says, “California State College,” the campus’ old name, on it.
Following tradition, Gordon, Shields and President García all wore their medallions to Friday’s inauguration.
Everyone who participated in the ceremony wore graduation gowns—most were black, representing academic degrees and many were trimmed with three bars across the sleeves representing doctoral degrees. The color of the bars represents the subject of the degree granted.
“The gowns recognize the significance of the day and the significance of the message to the community that we are all working together to advance the teaching, the research and the service that the university provides to the students and the community at large,” Guerin said.
Also donned in a graduation gown, John Bock, an anthropology professor, led the platform party while carrying the university mace during the procession.
The university mace, designed by alumnus John L. Berg, reflects the architecture, colors and location of CSUF and was first used in 1975.
Shortly after the procession, the University Singers, the University String Quartet and pianist Grant Rohr, a Titan alumnus, performed the alma mater.
Robert Istad, conductor and associate professor of music, said prior to the inauguration, the alma mater had not been played in quite a long time.
“I was a student in the late ‘90s and I don’t remember ever hearing it before and neither had my predecessor,” said Istad.
Students in English and music classes in 1984 created the music and lyrics for the alma mater. Istad said that Steven Mahpar, alumnus and lecturer in music, was commissioned to recreate an arrangement of the alma mater for García’s inauguration.
“It varies greatly from the original. The original was written for just choir unaccompanied and now he (Mahpar) has included brass. The original sounded more like a hymn you would hear in church and now it sounds like a concert,” Istad said.
The University Singers and the University String Quartet also played another musical piece called “The Promise of Living,” by American composer Aaron Copland’s opera.
“I thought the text was very appropriate (for the inauguration),” Istad said. “The piece has to do with a community coming together to celebrate their accomplishments and gifts bestowed upon them and to plan for the work of the future.”
Tim Worden contributed to this report.