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Sonoma State University Timeline

50 years of growth, 1961-2011
1950s | 1960s | 1970s| 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s
Year Event
1956 Santa Rosa Center established as an expansion of San Francisco State College.
1957 California Assembly Bill 4 provided for a new state college to serve Sonoma, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Lake and Solano counties.
1959 The 215 acre Benson Ranch was selected as a site for the campus.
1960 State Senator Joseph Rattigan introduced Senate Bill 43. On May 2 Governor Edmund Brown, Sr. signed the bill establishing Sonoma State College (and making it a member of the California State College system).
1961 The Santa Rosa Center closed
Feb. 11, 1961 Ambrose R. Nichols, Jr. was named the first president of Sonoma State College
Sept. 22, 1961 Sonoma State College was dedicated
Fall 1961 Classes opened to 274 students in leased buildings in Rohnert Park at  265 College View Drive. Courses were offered at the junior and senior level which led to the B.A. degree in elementary education and the General Pupil Personnel Services Credential (counseling).
1962 Planning for the construction of the first academic buildings on the permanent site began. The first Master Plan was approved.
1962-63 Freshmen were admitted for the first time, as liberal arts majors
July 14, 1963 A groundbreaking ceremony for Stevenson and Darwin halls took place.
1966 Construction of Stevenson and Darwin halls complete.
The first full graduating class received their degrees. The first master’s degree in biology was established, coinciding with the opening of Darwin Hall.
Aug. 1966 SSC moved to the permanent campus at 1801 E. Cotati Avenue.
1966-67 There were 1,425 students but no sidewalks or landscaping.
1967 Construction work began between Darwin and Stevenson to ease the mud problems in the winter.
1968 Ives Hall, the Commons, the bookstore were completed
1969 PE building was completed
The Master Plan was revised in order to meet the “Cluster Schools” concept.
1970 Library opened (although not named Ruben Salazar Library until 1979)
Sonoma State College had 3,500 students
Ambrose Nichols resigned
Earl Jones appointed as acting president
Students vote to end student government
Feb. 1971 Thomas McGrath was appointed president of SSC.
1972 The first on campus housing (Zinfandel Hall) opened.
1974 Marjorie Downing Wagner appointed president as the first woman president in the California State University system.
The information booth at the south entrance opened.
1975 The Student Health Center opened
The student newspaper The Steppes was suspended because of editorial differences.
1976 The Student Union building opened. Nichols Hall opened and was named after the founding president.
1977 The art building, childcare center, and an addition to the library for a computer center were also completed.
1978 Sonoma State College gained university status.
Peter Diamandopoulos was named president
1982 The pool adjacent to the P.E. building was completed.
1983 President Diamandopoulos resigned.
“George,” the library’s new computerized circulation system went online.
1983-84 Hobart Burns served as interim president
1984 David Benson became permanent president
1985 Cabernet Village opened for student housing
1987 The Distinguished Alumni program was established. The first recipient was Tamara Loring, a 1972 music graduate
1990 The Evert B. Person Theatre was dedicated and opened
1992 David Benson retired
Ruben Armiñana became Sonoma’s 6th president
Verdot Village residential suites opened
1993 The first honorary doctorate was awarded (Raymond Burr)
2000 The Jean & Charles Schulz Information Center opened. The Ruben Salazar Library moved into it, along with Information Technology. Sauvignon Village opened.
The CSU Board of Trustees approved the development of the Green Music Center and a groundbreaking ceremony was held.
May 2000 A new Master Plan was approved by the CSU Board of Trustees which included adding 48 acres at the northeast corner of the campus for the Donald & Maureen Green Music Center.
2001 The Lifelong Learning Institute is founded. Due to a large gift from the Osher Foundation, the name was changed to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.
2002 Ruben Salazar Hall was renovated to include many student services as well as the Department of Engineering Sciences and the Cerent Engineering Science complex.
2004 The student-financed Recreation Center opened.
Beaujolais Village opened
2005 A major renovation of Darwin Hall began which re-opened in 2006.
2008 The music education hall of the Green Music Center opened
2009 SSU enrolled 8,500 students, had residential space for 3,100 students and offered 41 major and 46 minor programs at the bachelor’s level. Fourteen more were offered at the master’s level. There are 65 departments and programs with six academic schools. The University offered a joint doctorate in educational administration with the University of California at Davis as well as a joint master’s in mathematics with San Francisco State University. Nine different credential programs are offered in teaching and education-related fields.
Tuscany Village opened
2010 Prelude (the restaurant of the Green Music Center) opened.
2011 Construction of Student Center begins