Campus: CSU Northridge -- March 26, 2004

$100,000 Scholarship Endowment Created in Honor of Retired CSUN Professor

The family of retired Cal State Northridge engineering professor John Guarrera has created a $100,000 scholarship endowment in his honor at the university.

Guarrera, 82, who served as director of the Center for Research and Services in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, retired last semester.

Family and friends created the endowment late last year as a tribute to Guarrera and his wife Jo’s tireless efforts, during his nearly 30 years at the university, to ensure that students had every opportunity to get first-hand experience with the latest in technology so that they had the skills to succeed in engineering careers.

Guarrera noted that his nephew, Jon Ferrara, a CSUN alum, made a contribution of $75,000 that started the endowment. Guarrera and his wife decided to add an additional $25,000 to round out the endowment to $100,000.

“My nephew made the largest, initial contribution, I guess to honor his old uncle,” Guarrera said. “I funded it further because I feel that it is important to provide help to any student trying to get a college education.”
S.T. Mau, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, said Guarrera’s impact at the college has yet to be fully realized.

“Even in his retirement, John serves as a volunteer advising me on matters related to the Center for Research and Services, which he headed for 30 years,” Mau said. “This endowed scholarship represents the Guarrera family’s never-ending love for and dedication to CSUN.”

University officials credit Guarrera with helping to save the College of Engineering and Computer Science more than 30 years ago, when the CSU Chancellor’s Office threatened to eliminate it in an effort to streamline the campus.

Guarrera, then president of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, the largest professional society in the world, rallied professional support for the college and was instrumental in convincing the CSU Board of Trustees that Cal State Northridge needed a College of Engineering and Computer Science, said dean emeritus Rick Ratcliffe, who headed the college from 1981 to 1992.

Ratcliffe said the experience with the Chancellor’s Office convinced former dean Charles Sanders that the college needed to strengthen its ties with local industrial and professional communities, and in 1976 he created the Center for Research and Services. Guarrera was appointed its first director.

“Through more than two decades serving in that capacity, John was always ready to assist faculty throughout the campus in getting grants and in finding ways to administer those grants to the advantage of the faculty, college and university,” Ratcliffe said. “He brought with him significant professional experience and thus contributed to strengthening our academic program through his own participation. In addition, through his efforts, many senior professionals in the surrounding community have joined our program as guest lecturers and adjunct faculty.”

Guarrera played a key role in developing a design program in the college that enables students to work with industry professionals, providing hands-on experiences that make what they learn in the classroom relevant.

The first Guarrera scholarship is expected to be awarded next year to a student in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130,

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