Nearly 40 years ago, Carol Haverty and Ben Rude made history on a small patch of land in a little-known Los Angeles suburb called Northridge. On Sept. 24, 1956, the pair hoisted an American flag with 48 stars over the San Fernando Valley campus of Los Angeles State College, heralding the first day of classes at the fledgling institution.
On Wednesday, they did it again.
Joined by Vladimir Cerna, current student body president at the institution now known as Cal State Northridge, the pair celebrated the campus' 40th anniversary by reenacting the long-ago ceremony before an audience that included several original faculty members and students.
"At that time, we never had to hunt for a parking space," quipped Rude, the college's first student body president. "We had hundreds of acres of parking."
Now retired from teaching English at Pasadena City College, the 65-year-old Rude never imagined the once-tiny campus would attain university status but said he knew he'd return again and again to honor its anniversaries. "We all knew it would grow," he said.
The campus attained independence on July 1, 1958, when it became San Fernando Valley State College. In 1972, it was renamed California State University, Northridge.
"It was the only place, really, for students who lived in the San Fernando Valley," Haverty recalled, noting that attending UCLA required a treacherous (pre-freeway) trip through Sepulveda Pass. At the time, she was Carol Tegner, a 19-year-old transfer student from Valley College studying business administration.
Like Rude, she predicted that it would someday become "a hub of education" but sees little resemblance on the sprawling, 353-acre campus today. "It's totally different," she said under the shade of a recent addition to the student union.
Before departing, she made her way through the crowd for a brief goodbye with Rude.
"I'll see you in 10 years," she said warmly. "Good job."