Alumni Association History

As the University has grown from its beginnings as the state normal school, the Alumni Association has changed to reflect the diverse and vibrant community to which all San José State graduates are connected.

It all began in 1873, at the eleventh commencement ceremony of the State Normal School of California. A few far-seeing alumni organized the Society of Graduates and claimed title to the earliest alumni organization in the university's history. Twenty years later, the renamed State Normal Alumni Association embarked on an aggressive membership campaign and an expanded activities calendar. Receptions were held for the famous alumni of the time, including U.S. Commissioner of Education William Torry Harris, and annual reunions were initiated—a tradition that continues in today's Golden Grad reunions.

As the college grew, so grew the Alumni Association. The first Santa Clara County Alumni Chapter formed in 1939, and in 1948, alumni returned to their alma mater to participate in the first official homecoming festivities. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, an editorial committee composed of faculty and alumni published The Alumni Bulletin, an early precursor of the current SJSU Washington Square.

The decade of the 1950s proved to be a time of dramatic changes as the Association extended its scope and goals. By 1951, a full time director was required to oversee its broadening operations, and a permanent alumni office was established on campus in recognition of the organization's integral link with the university. The development of the Dee Portal Memorial Scholarship heralded the beginning of another important, ongoing tradition: the awarding of scholarships to deserving students. The Alumni Association became incorporated as a nonprofit enterprise in the fall of 1955 and formally defined its purpose: to promote the common interests of the college and its graduates.

During the 1960s the Association and its members assumed a much more visible role in supporting university causes. In 1963, to save Tower Hall from demolition, the Association organized alumni testimonials before the State College Board of Trustees, sent telegrams, and provided member-signed petitions. As a result of those efforts, the Tower, a prime campus landmark and symbol, was refurbished and reopened in 1966 (it was again renovated and restored in 2007). In 1972, Association members successfully lobbied to change the official name of the institution from "California State University, San José" to the current "San José State University." The Alumni Association continues to rally behind worthwhile causes, such as the Paseo de San Carlos project that transformed East San Carlos Street into a pedestrian mall of grassy lawns and towering palms.

Today, the Alumni Association of the twenty-first century continues to serve the university's 226,000+ network of graduates. The Association annually hosts a variety of social and recreational events, including Homecoming Weekend, the Golden Grad Reunion, and many other regional programming events. The Association offers members an assortment of benefits that range from medical insurance to life insurance to merchandise and travel discounts to free access to the SJSU Career Center and CareerBeam.