Claudia Hampton Honored: Dominguez Hills Remembers Trustee and Friend of Campus
Claudia H. Hampton, the first African American woman to serve on the California State University Board of Trustees, was honored last week in a ceremony in James L. Welch Hall at California State University, Dominguez Hills. During the event, a commemorative photo of Hampton and a plaque were unveiled in the Claudia Hampton Hall located on the south side of the building. When the building was in the planning stages, its namesake, James Welch, former CSU Dominguez Hills administrator and professor of clinical sciences, requested that the lecture hall be designated in honor of his esteemed colleague.
“James Welch held Dr. Hampton in very high regard,” says California State University Trustee Herb Carter. “When he was setting up a trust to provide funding for Welch Hall, he wanted to be sure that we recognized her.”
Hampton was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1974 to 1994. She served as chair from 1979 to 1981 and bears the distinction of being the first African American member of the board. She was a teacher and administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 25 years, retiring in 1981 as director of the district’s Human and School-Community Relations Resource Office.
Carter and fellow trustee Denny Campbell gave tributes to Hampton as the photo and plaque were unveiled by Hampton’s daughter, Kathryn Wallace, and three nieces, Cynthia Hudley, Genethia Hudley Hayes and the Rev. Margaret Hudley McCauley. In what seems a fitting legacy for Hampton’s accomplishments, three of the four women have careers in education.
“She was the first in our family to get a degree beyond a master’s degree, and that was the most inspiring to me personally,” says Cynthia Hudley, a professor of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “We come from a family of people who are expected to achieve, and you can only achieve along paths that are visible to you. Her accomplishments made many paths visible to me.”
Mildred García, who recently took the helm as president of the university, and members of her cabinet warmly greeted the special guests. President García acknowledged that she stands on the shoulders of women like Claudia Hampton who have forged paths in education administration, and praised Hampton’s dedication to the campus.
Also in attendance were Sam Wiley, acting provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, Greg Saks, associate vice president of Development, Mary Ann Rodriguez, vice president of administration and finance, Boice Bowman, vice president for Student Affairs, Janet Levine, vice president of University Advancement and Brenda Knepper, director of development communications and public affairs.
Carter, who served as interim president of Dominguez Hills from 1998 to 1999, underscored the special relationship that Hampton had with the Carson campus.
“Over the course of her tenure on the Board of Trustees, she always felt very close to Dominguez Hills,” he says. “This was one of her favorite campuses and she was always concerned about its welfare whenever there were board policies discussed that would impact the campus. She was also very supportive when the chancellor and I had the idea of putting a special high school on our campus (The California Academy for Math and Science) and supported it in our board discussions. As a former educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District, she was particularly interested in the quality of preparation of future teachers and had a very keen interest in the school of education at Dominguez Hills.”
"My mother dedicated her entire career to education in various forms," says Wallace, who retired from working with youth in corrections, probation and parole. "She had a special love for Dominguez Hills and focused it here. She enjoyed watching it grow from its beginning. I know that she would be so honored by this day."
“This event was a labor of love, as Claudia was a personal friend of mine as well as a great friend of this university,” says Margaret Blue, dean of undergraduate studies, who organized the ceremony and luncheon in the campus’ Club 1910 restaurant that followed.
Hampton’s support of the campus is further evident in the Claudia Hampton Endowed Scholarship. The $3,000 annual award assists first-time freshmen who are graduates of a California high school, meet CSU admissions requirements, are eligible for financial aid and demonstrate their commitment to a university education with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The scholarship is renewable for four years and is contingent upon full-time enrollment.
The commemorative photo and plaque will be seen by students who attend classes in the technologically enhanced lecture hall named for Hampton. The 250-seat facility features state-of-the-art “smart” classroom equipment and has been used for numerous conferences, meeting and presentations, including a speaking appearance by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Diana Ossana prior to her winning the Academy Award in 2006 for “Brokeback Mountain.”
- Joanie Harmon
Photo above: Friends and family of Claudia Hampton celebrated her achievements and legacy last week in Welch Hall by installing a commemorative photo and plaque. (L-R): Rev. Margaret Hudley Mc Cauley, Hampton's niece, Kathryn Wallace, Hampton's daughter, CSU Dominguez Hills President Mildred García and Cynthia Hudley and Genethia Hudley Hayes, Hampton's nieces.