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Memories of SSU

Bonnie Leigh Harris

Student, Dorm Manager and T.A., 1965-1969

Schulz Information Center clock tower and carillon

Schulz Information Center clock tower and carillon

Four Wonderful Years

            In 1965 I received a music scholarship allowing me free tuition to any CSU in the system. Knowing I wanted a small school where students and faculty would know each other and care about the educational experience, I took a drive to the different campuses that seemed interesting. The last campus I saw — actually almost missed seeing — was the old SSU campus which was a series of apartments as offices and old buildings as classrooms.

            I spoke with the registrar Kay Wiley, who had been in theatre in her younger days. I also spoke to Fred Warren, head of the Music Department. After I met these two professors, I knew this was where I wanted to be.

            After I got all my classes, I applied to be the headmistress of Jack London Hall, the only housing for students at that time. I was very lucky to get the job, for it paid for books and food.

            The first class I took at SSU in 1965, History 251, was taught by a young professor named Dennis Harris. He was a wonderful teacher, just as were so many others like Sally Ewen, Fred Warren, Peggy Donovan and almost all who taught me. It was a wonderful time in my life. In 1967 I re-met Dennis Harris from whom I’d had my first class. As so many “happily ever after stories” are written, our meeting in 1967 began a romance and marriage that lasted 42 years.

            During my education, I earned a B.A. in music and psychology and a minor in social studies. Then I continued an additional year when I went back and got a lifetime teaching credential and a secondary teaching credential. Many of my professors remained friends for years.

            Thanks to my wonderful education at Sonoma State, I went on to teach music and drama. I sang with the Lamplighters in San Francisco, managed and sang with the Santa Rosa Symphonic Chorus, founded and was artistic director of Redwood Empire Lyric Theater which performed more than a dozen seasons at the Luther Burbank Center performing arts center.