The history of California State University Long Beach is the story of a Cold War Sunbelt campus. Built on former naval territory, the campus began serving students in 1949 in temporary housing. The first graduating class in 1950 consisted of 31 students. A decade later, the graduating class had grown to more than 1500 students. The campus has continued to expand dramatically since then; last year, over 8600 bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees were awarded.
Below, the story of the first decade of CSULB’s history is recounted.
Governor Earl Warren signed the enabling act authorizing the building of a new college as a result of a 1947 survey, conducted by the State Board of Education and Regents of the University of California.
September 28, 1949
Los Angeles-Orange County State College was opened with 169 enrolled students and thirteen full-time faculty in a converted apartment building. Classes were only offered to junior and senior classmen, who were mostly women and veterans. The college only offered 29 classes, emphasizing Teacher Education, Business Education, and the Liberal Arts.
The City of Long Beach, by vote of the people, authorized the City Council to purchase a 320 acre tract of land. It was deeded to the State to be the future home of the new college. It was decided the college would be renamed Long Beach State College (LBSC) upon donation of the new site by the people of Long Beach.
June 15, 1951
Eleven candidates were the first to receive their Master of Arts degree from LBSC.
LBSC began offering lower division classes, and admitted the first class of freshman and sophomore students. The freshman class consisted of 114 students.
January 1, 1955 marked the end of LBSC’s infant stages as the first permanent buildings were occupied after two years of construction.
LBSC was voted into the California Collegiate Athletic Association. Tennis, basketball, track and golf entered the conference immediately.
The 34 out of the 114 first freshman class that had enrolled four years before graduated from LBSC.
The first dormitories were complete by September of 1958 to be used the following year (1959-1960) by students, changing the campus from only being a “commuter campus” to a resident college. CSULB was on its way to becoming a major university that would continue to grow in student population and the number of programs offered for several more decades.