John M. Pfau will always be remembered in Cal State San Bernardino’s history as a visionary dedicated to providing a quality education to students. But he is also remembered as a man of firsts.
Pfau, who died earlier this year at the age of 93, was the university’s first president. He hired the first faculty and staff. He was the first to greet the first class of students and faculty of then California State College at San Bernardino when it opened in 1965. He was also the first person to have a building on campus named after him. The library has since been known as the John M. Pfau Library.
On Thursday, Nov. 8, at a reception to mark the 50th anniversary of Pfau’s hiring as the university’s first president in 1962, his two daughters, Madelaine and Elly Pfau, contributed to that tradition and legacy with a $100,000 gift to create Cal State San Bernardino’s first endowed professorship, which will bear his name – the John M. Pfau Endowed Professor.
Madelaine Pfau, the eldest of John and Antreen Pfau’s two daughters, told the gathered audience of students, faculty and staff, many of whom were part of Cal State San Bernardino’s first years, that her parents’ dedication to the university was strong for the rest of their lives, even when they moved to Napa in 1999.
The university’s growth from humble beginnings when it opened with only three buildings, its excellence in education, its standing in the community and its dedicated faculty and staff were all part of the legacy that John Pfau left.
“John was a true believer in learning, and what we would like to do is create one more first,” Madelaine Pfau said. “We want to create the John M. Pfau Endowed Professor.”
Cal State San Bernardino President Tomás D. Morales praised the family’s generosity, saying the Pfau family’s “vision and foresight will have a profound impact on the university for generations to come.
“At a time when resources are stretched, the faculty will benefit dearly from this fund that will assist with scholarly research and professional development,” Morales said. “And this is just the beginning – the university will launch an additional fundraising effort to grow the fund to $250,000. The John M. Pfau Endowed Professorship will be a distinct honor that will be rotated among the academic colleges at CSUSB.”
The contribution is part of the Pfau family’s legacy plan for the university in tribute to remember John Pfau and his wife, Antreen, who was a strong advocate for the university and active in the community. Previous funds established the John M. Pfau Family Scholarship and the Pfau Book Fund for the library, said Cindi Pringle, CSUSB associate vice president for development.
Pfau died March 18, 2012, seven months after Antreen passed away on Aug. 17, 2011. Both were 93 at the time of their deaths. John and Antreen were born within one day of each other.
The couple had relocated with their two daughters to San Bernardino after Pfau was named president of the new California State College in January 1962. He worked out of offices in downtown San Bernardino to put the pieces together for the opening of the new campus in northern San Bernardino. Antreen then became active in the community with the Valley Charity League and the Arrowhead Allied Arts Council, among other nonprofits.
When California State College at San Bernardino opened its doors on Sept. 28, 1965, President Pfau greeted the first class of 293 students and 33 faculty and staff.
Pfau’s vision for the new California State College was to emphasize liberal arts, based on the best traditions of the great Ivy League schools and the small elite private liberal arts colleges in the East. Activities both in and out of the classroom were designed to build on that intellectual focus, and he fielded an instructional staff of high-ranking academicians.
The university library, completed in 1970, was dedicated in John M. Pfau’s honor in 1982. Pfau said in 2005, “In retrospect my most important achievement over a period of 20 years was bringing together a first-rate faculty and staff to provide our students with an excellent learning experience.”
After his retirement, he and Antreen stayed in San Bernardino, where they continued to live for 17 years until relocating to Napa in 1999.
In the early 2000s, scholarship and book funds were established in the name of John Pfau, efforts that rose from the family’s firm belief in the power of education.
Today, the Pfau Family Scholarship Fund and the John M. Pfau Book Endowment continue to provide scholarship opportunities for students, as well as funding for university library resources. Donations should be directed to the John M. Pfau Endowed Professor, c/o the CSUSB Philanthropic Foundation, Pfau Family Scholarship Fund, John M. Pfau Book Endowment, California State University, San Bernardino, Office of Development, or visit the CSUSB development website.
For more information on the celebration of the life and leadership of John and Antreen Pfau, call the university advancement office at (909) 537-5004.
For more information about Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.