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Karen Gebhart, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Foundation, kicks off the 50th Anniversary Speaker Series at CSU Dominguez Hills
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Caption BulletKaren Gebhart, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Foundation, kicks off the 50th Anniversary Speaker Series at CSU Dominguez Hills; courtesy of AOPA

CSU Dominguez Hills Kicks Off 50th Anniversary with Speaker Series and Commemorative Web Site

California State University, Dominguez Hills kicks off its 50th anniversary with the launch of the 50th Anniversary Speaker Series and a special Web site that features upcoming events, history of the campus and neighboring community, and a spotlight on distinguished alumni.

As part of the 18-month long anniversary celebration, the speaker series will highlight members of the on- and off-campus community. The first event, “An Evening with Karen Gebhart,” will take place tonight at 6 p.m. in the Club 1910 restaurant in the Loker Student Union. Gebhart is president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Foundation and will be speaking on “Women in Aviation and the 1910 Air Meet.” The historic 1910 Air Meet took place at Dominguez Field, on land adjacent to the present day CSU Dominguez Hills campus. A reception will follow Gebhart’s presentation.

Brenda Knepper, director of University Communications and Public Affairs, says that university events and programs celebrating the 50th Anniversary will draw attention to the role CSU Dominguez Hills has played for five decades as a preeminent educational and cultural center in the South Bay and as a major contributor to the workforce for the region and state.

“The celebration of our 50th Anniversary provides the opportunity to highlight the heritage of both the university and surrounding community,” says Knepper, “and reflect on the impact the university has had on many lives. We hope many people participate in the celebrations and that our connections with the community are strengthened.”

CSU Dominguez Hills has a legacy of social and cultural advancement, and playing an important role in community development. The university is proud to be a major sponsor of the celebration of the centennial of the 1910 Los Angeles International Air Meet, an important event that took place near the university’s current site on lands owned by the heirs of Manuel Dominguez. For 11 days in January of 1910, aviators and spectators from throughout the United States and Europe flocked to the area to experience the Air Meet, the first such exhibition in the United States and the first time anyone in Los Angeles had seen a “flying machine.”

Professor of communications James Sudalnik has been working on a documentary of the Air Meet since the late 1990s solely with the help of volunteers and a shoestring budget of donated funds from the CSU Dominguez Hills campus and the community. He hopes that the university's partnership with the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum and its yearlong celebration of the centennial, will give the project more exposure – and more opportunities for funding.

Sudalnik says that the Air Meet was the seminal event that led to the establishment of the aviation, and later the aerospace, industries in California and on the West Coast.

“It was the ‘Kitty Hawk’ event for California,” he notes. “The event at Kitty Hawk seven years earlier in 1903 demonstrated to a few people that air travel could be achieved, but the 1910 Dominguez Air Meet proved to all of America that it had been achieved. Once citizens actually saw planes in the air with their own eyes, [and witnessed] ordinary citizens as pilots and passengers, the reality of air travel began to sink in and spread like wildfire. We went from the short flights of the 1910 Air Meet to putting a man on the surface of the moon in [only] 60 years.”

Along with images of the Air Meet, the university’s Digital Collections contain a treasure trove of historic photographs and documents including images of the campus’s first two locations: the original site of what was then called California State College, Dominguez Hills, the California Federal Bank building in Rolling Hills Estates and the Watt campus that used to be located across Victoria Street from the university’s current site.

For more information on the CSU Dominguez Hills 50th Anniversary Celebration, visit www.csudh.edu/50thanniversary. For information on the Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum and Air Meet Centennial event, visit www.dominguezrancho.org.

- Joanie Harmon


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Last updated January 14, 2010 12:43 PM by Joanie Harmon