Sonoma State University

A college in a mustard field?

mustard field

Once a mustard field, now a major public university.

temporary campus

Sonoma's temporary campus in Rohnert Park, 1961.

Sonoma is proud to celebrate its 50th year in 2011-12. The early history of the college with its pioneering faculty and students helped shape the university it is today.

Fall 1961 saw the first students, 274 of them in fact, coming from the Santa Rosa Center of San Francisco State College. Classes opened 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). It wasn't until the academic year 1962-63 that the first crop of freshmen came to take classes in the not-yet-permanent site of the college. Some felt the temporary buildings looked like a motel, but the founding faculty made good use of the ample classrooms, attractive grounds and the good nature of the new students. Pioneers for sure.The University's first grads (from years 1961, 1962 and 1963) are part of the inaugural "Golden Graduate" group, to be honored as part of the 50th anniversary celebration.

Stevenson Hall, pictured above in both 1961 and in 2011 was the campus' second building. The first was the fieldhouse as the campus planners had to work somewhere on site. Darwin was the third to be built.

Read on, click the links to the left to learn about the early days, see some historic photos and read what those who were at the campus in the '60s, '70s and '80s had to say about it. Have some memories of your own? Send them to for inclusion in this website.

County recognizes 50th anniversary

Sonoma County Board of Supervisors present resolution honoring SSU's 50th anniversary.

Vice President Dan Condron accepts a resolution from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors honoring Sonoma's 50th anniversary. Left to right, front row: Dan Condron, Shirlee Zane. Left to right, back row: Valerie Brown, Mike McGuire, David Rabitt, Efren Carrillo.