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John F. Kennedy, 1963

Scroll down to access recordings of guest speakers on the SDSU campus, or click the name of the individual.

View more images below.

Image credit: President John F. Kennedy speaking on campus in 1963. University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections & University Archives.


President John F. Kennedy (1963):


On June 6, 1963, President John F. Kennedy delivered San Diego State College's commencement address before approximately 30,000 people at the Aztec Bowl. He was awarded an honorary doctor of law degree during the commencement exercise at San Diego State University. It was the first honorary doctoral degree awarded by any California State University campus.

Download the PDF transcript.

Video footage of President Kennedy's visit to San Diego, shot by the KFMB-TV news crew, is also available for viewing below. More information on this video is available from the University Archives Multimedia highlights page.

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Weir was San Diego State College class president in 1963. Interview pertains to Weir's memories coordinating the visit to SDC of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. 

Download the PDF transcript of the complete interview.

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George Lincoln Rockwell (1962):


George Lincoln Rockwell was the founder and leader of the American Nazi party, an organization which attacked and ridiculed Jews, blacks, homosexuals, and the organization which they felt represented all three of these groups, the communists.

On March 8, 1962, the controversial Rockwell was invited by the Committee for Student Action to speak at the Open Air Theatre on campus to a crowd of about 3,000 people. After speaking for a while, Rockwell invited anyone whose views differed from his to come on stage and use the microphone.

Ed Cherry, a 22 year old physical education major and football player of Jewish descent, accepted this challenge. Rockwell verbally chided him and told him to go away. (Cherry claims he elbowed him.) Cherry then punched Rockwell twice in the face, breaking his sunglasses and knocking him to the ground. Rockwell retreated to the back of the stage as Cherry was wrestled to the ground (by Leonard Holstein, Jay Rasmussen and Andy Hanson), then led off stage.

By this time the crowd was quite agitated. Rockwell tried and failed to continue his speech. As he turned to leave the stage, the crowd surged after Rockwell, throwing rocks and eggs at him. Rockwell then made his way into a building on campus and gave interviews to the local media there. There was still a crowd causing a disturbance outside, later attacking his car when he tried to leave, smashing its windows and damaging the grill. Later that day there was a bomb scare on campus.

These events are captured in the following fascinating recording, an excellent example of the power of audio to bring history to life.

For a photo of this incident, check the images section below.

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Lionel Van Deerlin (International Student Center Groundbreaking Ceremony, 1991):


Lionel Van Deerlin served as a Democratic United States Representative from California representing San Diego's 37th district from 1963 to 1981. He later became involved with the San Diego news media and served as a Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in the SDSU department of telecommunications and film. The campus created a special position, the Lionel Van Deerlin Endowed Chair of Communications, in his honor.

On March 2, 1991, Van Deerlin gave a tribute to renowned journalist Harold Keen (of KFMB television and San Diego Magazine fame) as part of the groundbreaking ceremony for SDSU's International Student Center. Other speakers included Ron Johnston of the SDSU Parents' Development Board, SDSU President Thomas B. Day, Associate VP for Student Affairs Carl Emerich, and a musical finale sung by Lynda West.

Download the PDF transcript: Part 1; Part 2.

For photos of Lionel Van Deerlin and the International Student Center, consult the images section below.

Special Collections holds the Harold Keen Papers. Access the finding aid for the collection here.

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Owen Gingerich (1988):

Dr. Owen Gingerich was a Professor of Astronomy and History of Science at Harvard University, and an Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. On January 23, 1988, Dr. Gingerich attended the dedication of the Special Collections Room of the Love Library, a luncheon given by the Friends of the Library, and gave a talk entitled, "Circles of the Gods: Copernicus, Kepler, and the Ellipse." Introductory speakers are University Librarian Don Bosseau and Professor Ned Joy.

Download the PDF transcript.

For a photo of Dr. Gingerich, consult the images section below.

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Mark Littmann (1989):


Dr. Mark Littmann was the Director of Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City, Utah, for 18 years, and taught astronomy at Loyola College in Baltimore, the University of Utah, and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. On June 3, 1989, Dr. Littmann gave a talk to the Friends of the SDSU Library entitled, "The Voyager Guide to Giant Worlds," discussing the completion of NASA's Voyager mission on its 12-year tour of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Download the PDF transcript.

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Chuck Valverde (1989):


Chuck Valverde was the late proprietor of the legendary San Diego bookstore Wahrenbrock's Book House, which is now closed. On February 4, 1989, he gave a talk to the Friends of the Library entitled "Ramblings and Reminiscences of a Southern California Book Dealer." Introduction by Murney Gerlach. Part 2 includes a Q&A session with the audience.

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