Campus: CSU Northridge -- November 16, 2001

CSUN to Honor Memory of Former Employee Who Left Northridge $500,000 in His Will

Cal State Northridge will hold a special ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 27, to honor the memory of former employee Clendon Robert "C.R." Johnson, who left more than $500,000 to the university when he died last year.

A memorial service and building dedication in honor of Johnson and his late wife, Ila, will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the College of Engineering and Computer Science near the center of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge. The auditorium will be renamed in their honor.

When Johnson passed away late last year, university officials were honored to learn that an everlasting trust Johnson created was funding an endowment at the university for more than $500,000. The money will be used to provide scholarships in the memory of both Johnson and his wife, as well as support energy-related projects within the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

"C.R. Johnson's gift is an example of the commitment the people who work at this university have to our students," said Diane Schwartz, interim dean of the college. "His generosity will provide opportunities for students who might not otherwise have them and continue research in a field he was so passionate about and is so vital to the future of this state and country."

During his more than 20 years in Cal State Northridge's Physical Plant Operations, Johnson would often work with teams of students in the College of Engineering, exploring various forms of energy and conservation. That relationship continued even after Johnson retired from the university in 1983 and worked as an energy conservation consultant to various state facilities, including CSUN.

"C.R. enlightened and enriched the senior design experience for many mechanical engineering students," said Timothy Fox, a professor of mechanical engineering who worked closely with Johnson over the years. "Through his participation, C.R. was able to share real-world experiences, and in the process exposed students to the inner workings of the campus mechanical and electrical infrastructures. These experiences could not have been gained through textbooks."

Johnson was born in Oklahoma on Dec. 12, 1925. Upon his high school graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the Pacific during the height of World War II. He was wounded and was awarded a Purple Heart.

Following the war, he married Ila and traveled to the Middle East, where he worked on U.S. oil fields. They returned to the United States in 1962 and settled in California.

Johnson obtained his California Boiler Operator license and joined the staff of what was then known as San Fernando Valley State College, now California State University, Northridge. He started in the campus boiler house and worked his way up to head of the campus' mechanical services. He eventually was named assistant director of CSUN's Physical Plant Operations.

His passion for education and conservation always brought him in contact with the students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. In 1980, he began working directly with student teams in the Mechanical Engineering Senior Design program. He worked with them to explore ways in which the university might develop and refine energy conservation. His dedication to this academic program earned him the appointment of adjunct lecturer to the Department of Mechanical Engineering by then CSUN President James Cleary.

After his wife, Ila, passed away in 1990, Johnson established a scholarship in her memory. The Ila V. Johnson Memorial Scholarship has benefited a CSUN student with an interest in energy-related issues annually for more than 10 years.

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