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CAL STATE UNIVERSITY, FULLERTON

By Jerry HicksPublished: April 01, 2010

Founded: 1957
Headquarters: Fullerton
fullerton.edu
It was 1959 when Cal State Fullerton opened as Orange County State College. (The current name came in 1972.) But it wasn’t its positioning as California’s 12th state college that made it famous. It was, would you believe, elephant races. Cal State Fullerton President Milton Gordon laughs about it now.
 
“Those elephant races put us on the map,” he says.
 
You can still find pictures of the races scattered around the campus. The first race was held in 1962, just three years after the campus had opened. A cornfield across State College Boulevard – about where the Western School of Law is now – was converted to “Dumbo Downs.” Schools came from all over to participate – who would have thought that Harvard would have a top entry?
 
Only one elephant went out of control, giving the crowd of 10,000 something to talk about. In its annual roundup, the Associated Press listed it as one of the Top Ten Stories of the Year.
 
Today, Cal State Fullerton’s campus is sprawling, bustling with some 37,000 students.
 
The university prides itself on being affordable – at least less expensive than the UC schools. And in these tough economic times, that’s an important consideration for many prospective students. It shows in the numbers.
 
“We have more applications for our freshman class than at any time in our history,” Gordon says.
 
The school’s highest mark came in the category of consistency, with a score of 4.13 out of 5.