Campus: CSU Northridge -- March 07, 2003

CSUN Alumna Leaves University $850,000 in Will


Barbara Ann Ward, who graduated from what was then known as San Fernando Valley State College, has left more than $850,000 to Cal State Northridge.

When Ward passed away more than a year ago, university officials were honored to learn that she remembered Northridge in her will.

"Barbara's legacy is the largest ever received for any program in the College of Humanities," said Alden Reimonenq, interim dean of the college. "It will fund as many as 20 scholarships every year for generations."

In 2000, Ward established a scholarship at CSUN for students studying Spanish.
At that time, Ward said it had been difficult for her to make ends meet when she was a student. She wanted to ensure that future students would be able to focus on their studies instead of worrying about money.

"That notion is very important," Reimonenq said. "The fact is many of our students come from households with such a small family income that this scholarship can mean that they can go do school without worrying about family finances as much."

By the time Ward enrolled in 1964, she had already lived what seemed to be quite a full life.
Ward was born in Ohio in 1924, and moved with her family to California as a child. Her family settled in Woodland Hills. She graduated from Fairfax High School in 1942.

By the 1950s, Ward had lost her parents, married and divorced. She flirted with going back to school, taking classes at Los Angeles Community College and Cal Poly Pomona and discovered a passion for studying the Spanish language. She eventually headed to the University of the Americas in Mexico City to study Spanish.

Shortly after she returned to the United States, Ward enrolled at San Fernando Valley State College (which became California State University, Northridge in 1972) to continue her Spanish studies in 1964. About that same time, she earned her pilot's license.

Ward once commented that she was just one of many older students entering the college at the time. She laughed that they all were in school because they loved it and they "held up the curve."

After graduating from Valley State, Ward worked as a counselor for California's Department of Rehabilitation, assisting people with a variety of needs. She retired after 16 years.
Ward took advantage of her retirement to travel the world and continue her second passion — flying. In 1995, at age 71, she took up skydiving. Her last jump was made when she was 74.
She contacted Cal State Northridge in 1990 and expressed an interest in establishing an endowed scholarship for students studying Spanish, which would become available upon her death.

A few years later she decided she wanted to fund the scholarship while she was still alive, and established the endowment. The $2,000 Barbara Ann Ward Spanish '67 Scholarship in Spanish Studies is awarded to a student annually.

Ward passed away in March 2001, and it wasn't until late last year that university officials learned that she has left more than $850,000 for her scholarship program.

University officials are planning a special recognition to honor Ward's memory later this year.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu


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