Campus: CSU Northridge -- November 2, 2005
CSUN Names Lobby After Pair who Believed that Everyone is Obligated
to Help 'Repair the World'
Cal State Northridge officials have dedicated a lobby in the Student Services
Building/Bayramian Hall in honor of a San Fernando Valley man, and his wife, who was a
quiet supporter of the university's Center on Disabilities.
The Witkin Lobby, named for the late Gloria and Marty Witkin, is located in CSUN's Center on
Disabilities on the first floor of the building. Marty Witkin, who passed away in March 2004,
bequeathed a $350,000 portion of his real estate holdings to the center. The center each
year hosts an international conference featuring assistive technology for people of all
ages and with a variety of disabilities. Gloria Witkin died in 1987.
"We were very touched and impressed with generosity of the Witkins," said Mary Ann
Cummins-Prager, director of CSUN's Center on Disabilities. "Their bequest is a living gift
that will enable us to continue our efforts to enhance the services we provide our students."
The university created an endowment with the Witkins gift. Cummins-Prager said the center
plans to use the money to support the center's efforts to encourage students with disabilities
to go to college and to help provide those students, once they are at Northridge, with the
resources to ensure they can obtain their degrees.
"We will use the money where we see the greatest need for our students, she said. "The money
from this gift can truly make a difference in a student's life."
Gloria and Marty Witkin grew up in Chicago during the Depression and married when Marty
completed his overseas service with the Navy in World War II. They started a family in
Chicago, and later moved to California. Marty Witkin opened a hardware store in San Fernando
and worked hard to make his business a valuable mainstay in the community. After a few years,
Gloria Witkin opened Oak Tree Travel in Encino, which also grew into a thriving business.
Cummins-Prager said the Witkins believed deeply in the Jewish concept of "Tikkun Olam"--that
everyone is obligated to help "repair the world." This understanding led Marty Witkin to
Cal State Northridge's Center on Disabilities and its annual assistive technology conference.
The internationally-acclaimed gathering takes place each spring at hotels near Los Angeles
International Airport. It features assistive technologies for people of all ages and with a
variety of disabilities. The conference also includes workshops and informal opportunities
to explore how cutting-edge technology can help people with disabilities.
University officials said they were surprised to learn of Marty Witkin's bequest. Marty
Witkin had visited the assistive technologies conference over the years, but never indicated
that he intended to leave the university or the center anything after he died.
"I guess he was impressed by the good things we are doing," Cummins-Prager said.
Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130,