Fifty Years of Firsts


President John F. Kennedy received the first California State Colleges honorary doctorate

President John F. Kennedy received the first California State Colleges honorary doctorate in 1963 at San Diego State University.

CSU Los Angeles alumna Billie Jean King ('61-'64) became the first woman tennis player since 1939 to win the triple crown of singles, doubles and mixed doubles in the British and American championships. She went on to win 20 Wimbledon titles and five U.S. championships.

The nation's first Chicano Studies department was established at CSU Los Angeles in 1968.

The nation's longest-ever campus strike came to an end at San Francisco State University in 1968, with the Black Students Union and the Third World Liberation Front issuing 15 non-negotiable demands, including the expansion of the university's Black Studies Department (the nation's first), the creation of the College of Ethnic Studies, and increased recruiting and admissions of minority students.


The nation's first Women's Studies Program
First maritime academy to admit women into a licensed
      maritime program

The nation's first Women's Studies Program was established at San Diego State University in 1970, with classes taught by current students, faculty from other departments, and one instructor hired specifically for the new program.

In 1972, CSU Dominguez Hills was the first college to open a Head Start unit on campus.

CSU Long Beach makes the Guinness Book of World Records

In 1973, CSU Maritime Academy became the first maritime academy to admit women into a licensed maritime program. One later became the first in the U.S. to earn a chief engineer's license, and another the first female master of an American merchant ship. Cal Maritime is the first and only degree-granting maritime academy on the West Coast and only one of seven in the United States.

CSU Dominguez Hills became the first West Coast university to offer a bachelor's degree in electronic music in 1978.

CSU Long Beach makes the Guinness Book of World Records with the largest submarine sandwich on record.


Chia-Wei Woo

Chia-Wei Woo became San Francisco State University's eleventh president and the first Chinese-American president of a large university in 1983. Woo placed a new focus on faculty research at SFSU, committed to making San Francisco State "The City's University" and strengthened the university's international curriculum.

San José State University won the NCAA women's golf championships with coach Mark Gale in 1987. The Spartans took the title again in 1989 and 1992, and tied for the national championship in 1991 and 1996. San José State University was the first university to capture the NCAA championship three times.


The CSU chancellor and trustees approved development of CSU Los Angeles's Charter School of Education in 1993, creating the first such school of higher education in the nation.

One of the first U.S. universities to offer a master's degree in Asian American Studies, San Francisco State founded the only Vietnamese American Studies Center in the country in 1996.

As a young San Francisco State astronomy student, Paul Butler and fellow astronomer Geoff Marcy helped start a new space race by becoming the first to discover planets outside our solar system.

The Center for Environmental Analysis (CEA-CREST), the first of its kind funded by the National Science Foundation on the West Coast, opened at CSU Los Angeles in 1998.

In 1999, San José State University and the City of San José combined their main libraries to form a joint city/university library located on campus, the first known collaboration of this type in the United States. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Library opened in 2003 and has won several national awards.


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In 2006, CSU Los Angeles's Multidisciplinary Flight Dynamics and Control Lab helped the school become the first university west of the Mississippi and second ever to successfully launch an unmanned aerial vehicle powered by fuel cells.

Students, faculty and staff retrofitted Chico State's Konkow House 2 as the nation's first sustainable campus residence hall in 2006. Chico State continually leads CSU campuses in environmental education and sustainability programs.

Click to Play VideoThe Chico State Organic Dairy Unit, added to the University Farm in 2006, is the first of its kind in the western United States. The University Farm is an 800-acre Agricultural Teaching and Research Center where students can practice concepts they learn in the classroom, farmers and ranchers benefit from the research conducted, and the community enjoys the produce and meat from the farm.

CSU Long Beach was honored as the No. 1 university in the nation for awarding mathematics and statistics graduate degrees to minority students in 2007 by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

In 2008, CSU Long Beach ranked first in the western region and second-best university nationally for having the lowest percentage of students graduating in debt, according to U.S.News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges Guide." Only 34 percent of the Class of 2006 carried debt upon graduation.

For 2008 and 2009, San Diego Sate University ranked as the No. 1 research university for those with 14 or fewer Ph.D. programs, according to Academic Analytics' faculty-scholarly productivity index.

In 2008 and 2010, CSU Chico's Jazz X-Press was the only college band invited to the Telluride Jazz Festival. The annual event features jazz music's finest artists from around the world in multiple indoor and outdoor venues.

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Click to Listen to Live Streaming Coyote Radio In 2009, CSU San Bernardino's student-operated Coyote Radio station was recognized by MTV as the greatest Internet-only college station in America and the third greatest of all college stations. As of 2010, it is one of only 50 select college radio stations carried by iTunes.

In 2010, for the third straight year, The Orion, Chico State's student newspaper, won first place for general excellence for four-year weekly college and university newspapers. The Orion has placed either first or second in the National College Journalism Convention competition for five consecutive years.