News @ the Beach

A Piece of the Berlin Wall on Display 25 Years Later

Cal State Long Beach Geography professor Tom Frazier knows the Berlin Wall intimately. In fact, he’s got several pieces of it at home.

The Wall, which “fell” 25 years ago on Nov. 9, 1989, did so while Frazier was in Germany, though he was not in Berlin at the time. The fall of the Berlin Wall paved the way for German reunification, which was formally concluded on October 3, 1990. Much of the wall was demolished quickly — though a few sections still remain today at their original sites.

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Tom Frazier with some of his artifacts currently on display in the University Art Museum.

Fast forward 25 years and Frazier is excited to have many of his artifacts, including some of those shipped pieces, on display in campus’ University Art Museum (UAM) during the “Barbara Klemm: Light and Dark” photo exhibition. The exhibit, which runs through Sunday, Dec. 14, features 124 iconic black-and-white photographs by one of Germany’s most distinguished photojournalists.

“No one knew the Wall was going to fall that day. It fell by accident,” he said. “Had I known, I would have certainly made the effort to be there.”

According to Frazier, who was living in Munich at the time, leading up to that historic day there were a series of demonstrations in various German cities and freedom movements taking place in nearby countries such as (then) Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

“The Iron Curtain was kind of ripping a little bit,” he said, “and in Berlin on the night of Nov. 9 there was a big committee meeting where they were discussing travel freedoms for East German citizens. There were some proposals, there were some directives and then a reporter just innocently asked, ‘When would that take affect?’ One of the bureaucrats looked at some papers and said, ‘Well, it doesn’t say, so I suppose immediately.’” And the rest is, quite literally, history.

The word spread quickly, of course, and immediately individuals began gathering at the wall—both sides of the Wall.

“Surprisingly, the East German guards who were at checkpoints on the Berlin side of the Wall said, ‘Okay, you can go through,’” said Frazier, “and they just opened the gates. It was overwhelming people, social and cultural power. The previous day you could have been shot and killed for trying to cross and within a 24-hour period it was completely different. Right after the Wall fell, Berlin became kind of a wild, wild east place.”

And now, a generation later and somewhat ironically so, sections of the Wall need to be protected because individuals, including tourists, continue to chip away at it. In addition, the Wall is protected due in part because it stands in the heart of Berlin which is the most expensive real estate and the most important part of the city geographically.

The following June after the Wall came down, Frazier was able to visit the will first-hand.

“I, like a lot of other people, went to Berlin to see for myself all the changes and to go see East Berlin again,” said Frazier. “I had been there before when the Wall was in effect, but no one thought the Wall was ever going to fall.”

So, like many others, Frazier took it upon himself to garner a piece of history. In fact, quite a few pieces.

“There were typically people near the Wall with little tables or blankets with picks that looked like railroad spikes and sledgehammer mallets and they would rent them to you for a couple of Deutschmarks,” said Frazier, noting the original Wall consisted of steel-reinforced, concrete aggregate panels that stood 12 feet high. “It was difficult to chip away at it and the best parts were those with graffiti, which came almost entirely from the west side of the Wall because that’s where people had the freedom to approach it safely. From the east side you could not even get close to the Wall. That area was called the ‘no man’s land’ or ‘death strip.’”

Frazier spent about an hour chipping away in what he described as a carnival-like atmosphere all along the Wall.

“People were really inventive,” he said. “Out of nowhere someone would come up with a giant sledgehammer. Early on, some people would even drive their vehicles up into the Wall to break it up.”

With cement being heavy, of course, Frazier knew he couldn’t really lug his pieces of the Wall around, but wasn’t quite sure what to do with them.

“I went to the German post office,” he said. “I got a pack box, wrapped stuff in the newspaper of the day, threw in the map of Berlin I was using at the time and shipped it back to California.”

His foresight is the reason people are now able to see his those historic objects on display at the university.

“I was very honored when museum Brian Trimble contacted me and asked very innocently if I had any materials on Germany,” said Frazier. “As a geographer and an academic I was thrilled by his team that came to my home and took a lot of materials, including pieces of the Wall and documented them by photographing and measuring them. That thrilled me to see this being scientifically documented and given a real provenance. I have so much stuff so we had to choose what was appropriate. I think it should be displayed if people are interested in seeing it. It doesn’t do any good sitting in a box.”

And, for students and community members looking to learn more, every other summer Frazier offers a short-term study abroad program to Berlin. He works with the College of Continuing and Professional Education to coordinate the class called “The Urban Scene Case Study Berlin.”

“I’m really honored that people are interested in what I have to say about it,” said Frazier. “I’ve immersed myself in the topic for so long and I forget that it’s very exotic sometimes and it’s such a fundamental part of our history and what it represents.”

Tom Frazier’s interview with California Edition’s Brad Pomerance.

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Lindgren Gift Secures Legacy

To many, Ken Lindgren was a nationally renowned water polo coach who directed the men’s program at Cal State Long Beach for 24 years and won Olympic medals as the USA coach with both men’s and women’s water polo, the only coach to ever do so. To others, he was an outstanding math instructor who challenged his students, yet kept a very positive learning environment.

In reality, he was very much both and equally proud of each.

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Ken Lindgren (r) was equally proud of his success in the pool and classroom.

Lindgren passed away on Oct. 11, 2013, but his legacy will live on at CSULB through an endowment totaling $750,000 split between his two passions.

On Nov. 5, Lindgren was  honored with a pair of recognition events on campus, first with the dedication of the Kenneth E. Lindgren Math Tutoring Center followed by a dedication of the Kenneth E. Lindgren Aquatics Center (University Pool).

To benefit the tutoring center in the department of mathematics and statistics, with the Lindgren endowment’s help, a stipend will help pay for a permanent tutor to staff the center. In addition, an annual scholarship in Lindgren’s name will be awarded to a top math teacher’s assistant who plans on teaching math as a career.

“Ken knew all the students and engaged them constantly—making them think and process the learning, which is the key to good mathematical teaching,” said Robert Mena, former chair and a colleague of Lindgren’s in Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “Ken and I talked about mathematics teaching several times and I know he cared a great deal about helping young people to attain success and meet his challenging high standards.”

The 49er aquatic complex, where he spent much of his career, has been renamed the Kenneth E. Lindgren Aquatics Center, and several capital improvements are underway. Kinesiology classes and programs held in the aquatics center will also benefit from the renovations made possible by this gift. He also endowed an annual scholarship for an eligible CSULB men’s water polo player.

“Ken was an outstanding educator, coach and mentor to so many in the Long Beach community,” said Vic Cegles, CSULB’s athletic director. “His generosity and legacy will impact countless young men and women who participate in The Beach water polo program in the years ahead.”

Lindgren, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university, was probably best known for his success in water polo, first as a collegiate player before returning in 1975 to serve as head coach. During the next quarter of a century, he led the 49ers to seven NCAA appearances and coached 34 All-Americans and eight Olympic Team members.

Additionally, Lindgren was a force in the international game. After an assistant coaching stint with the 1980 USA men’s team that boycotted the Olympics, he returned as an assistant for the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and helped lead the Americans to a silver medal. Lindgren was an official for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and then assumed a role as an assistant coach with the women’s national team as the USA claimed a silver medal during the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

After leaving his position as the men’s water polo head coach in 1998, Lindgren returned to serve as the interim head coach of the women’s program in 2006. He was inducted into the Long Beach State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 and the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1993.

Outside of his coaching duties, Lindgren spent more than three decades as a highly regarded mathematics instructor. He joined the campus’ Department of Mathematics and Statistics in fall 1985 and continued teaching there until he retired following the fall semester in 2008.

“My brother dedicated his life to water polo but math was really important to him, too,” said Lindgren’s brother James, also a CSULB alumnus. “He loved teaching and he loved his years at CSULB.”

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Help Available for Campus Veterans

If military veterans on campus need assistance deciphering a vast array of benefits or guidance as they pursue a college degree, the Cal State Long Beach’s Veterans Services office is at the ready. Located in the Foundation Building on campus, the office helps student veterans with benefit certification and advocacy issues, along with accessing the educational benefits they earned by serving in the armed forces of the United States.

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Working in Veterans Services are (l-r) Marshall Thomas, Lynisha McDuel and Lois Daz.

Marshall Thomas, director of the Veterans Services office, also provides assistance through the Veterans Affairs VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) with the help of counselor Lois Daz and Veterans Services advisor Lynisha McDuel.

“Our partnership with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a comprehensive set of services to our student veterans and their dependents,” said Thomas. “Of course, no partnership is complete without the right people. Lois Daz and Lynisha McDuel, two of the most knowledgeable people I know, collaborate to provide information and services across the full range of state and federal benefits.”

“The purpose of having a VSOC counselor is to help veterans and service members make the transition to college life,” said Daz. “To assist with that transition, some of the services provided include VA medical referrals, career and adjustment counseling, assistance in applying for other VA benefits, job placement assistance and coordination with local Disabled Veterans’ Outreach Program specialists and local Veterans’ Employment representatives.”

Daz splits her time between CSULB and Long Beach City College (LBCC), spending three days a week at the latter simply because its veteran population is larger. In general, LBCC’s veterans are beginning the transition out of military service and trying to figure out their next career path.

When the VA approached the university about this opportunity, it indicated that they would like to provide a counselor on campuses that had between 800 and 1000 veterans and eligible dependents. CSULB had about 600, so it partnered with Long Beach City College to participate as a partner in the VetSuccess program. Between the two campuses, they meet the numbers the VA wanted to serve and further solidify the partnership between the two institutions.

 

“They’re trying to take their next step in life,” she said. “By the time they get here (CSULB) they’ve gotten into that education rhythm and know what they need to do and are comfortable with the academic environment.” According to Daz, often times veterans ask questions just to clarify the issue at hand. Her knowledge and experience of VA related matters often enables her to provide an immediate answer. When the inquiry requires research, she makes sure to follow up with an answer and provide assistance. The most common request from veterans is how to apply for service connected compensation. She also spends part of her time clearing up some myths.

“People think, for example, ‘It’s been five years since I’ve been in service so it’s too late for me to apply.’ That’s not true,” she said. “It’s easier to apply for benefits the closer to the date you separate, but it’s not a one-time deal.”

Daz also assists veterans with claims, particularly helping them understand unfavorable decisions. “Sometimes they don’t understand why their claims were denied,” said Daz. “We can take a look at the decision and I can explain it to them. From there they can decide if it’s to their advantage to have that claim reopened and submit additional evidence.”

Also in the office is McDuel, who, like Daz, assists veterans as they navigate the system.

“I’m not an academic advisor, but I have to understand academic advising and the policies and I have to understand the G.I. Bill,” said McDuel, “so my job is to figure out for the students how they intertwine and sometimes don’t. It’s my job to know the little nuances.”

McDuel helps them in understanding their benefits, particularly how the G.I. Bill works on campus. They also come to her for academic advising, especially when it comes to general education.

“I do go to the advising council meetings so I think I’m equipped to help them academically,” she said, “but not officially, so I give them lots of referrals. I always send them to our on-campus services first.”

McDuel says it’s never too late for veterans to ask for assistance. In fact, she encourages anybody who has any questions about their V.A. benefits to stop by.

“They may find out they weren’t aware of something that might make a difference for them,” she said. “I’ve had a number of people who have said, ‘Wow, I wish I had known this sooner’ and that’s what we’re trying to prevent.” And McDuel has her own education tale she shares with veterans. A graduate of Loyola Marymount University, she changed her major seven times and still got out in four years.

“I tell the vets, ‘Don’t do what I did,’” she said, though she make sure the classes she took counted somewhere. “I was my own advisor and I tell them to take things into their own hands. Don’t wait for someone else to do something for you.”

Both Daz and McDuel take great satisfaction knowing they are making a difference.

“I like being able to provide assistance that truly benefits the veterans,” said Daz. “My assistance reduces a lot of stress for veterans and service members, which means they can focus on more important things like their education and moving towards their career path.”

“The past two presidents (F. King Alexander and Donald Para) had a barbeque at the Miller House for graduating veterans,” said McDuel. “Some of the veterans get up and tell me what an impact I’ve had on their lives and that always make me feel really good, but I tell them they still would have gotten through without me because I didn’t do the work. I don’t go to classes or take tests for them. I just try to assist them with finding resources that help them through school.”

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A President’s 100-Day Search for Aspirations

When Jane Close Conoley officially took office on July 15 as the newest president of Cal State Long Beach, she began a 100-day search for aspirations that has taken her around the campus and community. “I’ve been busy,” she said. “I’ve met with many faculty and student groups on campus and every combination of chairs and deans. I’ve heard the aspirations of many. A few of those aspirations are very clear.” Upon listening to the diverse voices of The Beach community, a few presidential priorities are beginning to emerge.

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Jane Conoley

High on her list is engaging others in a dialogue on what it means to be an “elite” university. “To be elite in the 21st century, a university must transform the educational, social, professional and civic possibilities for its students,” Conoley said. “You’re not elite just because you get affluent students who come in with many advantages and graduate with a few more. We offer an education that leads to many career opportunities and respected graduate schools for students from all walks of life. I’m especially proud that about 40 percent of our students are the first in their families to attend college. Faculty members who offer those kinds of transformational opportunities are elite faculty. The university that commits itself to that vision represents the new elite university for the 21st century. The majority of children under 18 in California now live in poverty. What will we do about that? The best pathway from poverty to economic stability is education.”

In addition to her bold notion for shifting the conversation on what it really means to be elite, Conoley frequently speaks to the need for building a robust faculty that responds well to today’s student. “We need more full-time, tenure-track faculty and we’ll be looking at that as a top priority as we budget for next year. The provost’s initiative to ensure that our candidates have some record of success with diverse learners before we hire them is right on. I’m extremely supportive of that.” Not only is the president proud of faculty, she’s spent countless hours visiting with staff, complimenting them on their efforts.

Conoley’s admiration and support of CSULB’s partnerships with the community is highly evident. “I’ve met with industry partners of the Colleges of Continuing and Professional Education, Engineering, Business Administration, Education and the School of Nursing,” she said. “These are win-win relationships. I want to find out more about the unique partnerships, such as the proposed AltaSea Marine Biology Center in San Pedro where we hope to turn the Port of Los Angeles’ former City Dock No. 1 into a world class science research and business facility. We are trying to put together a financial package that will make it happen. What we are doing now with this project will be the more common way of getting our work done in the future. It will be in-kind support from industry, such as building new labs to help our students learn and public-private partnerships.”

The president views the university’s first comprehensive fund-raising campaign, DECLARE, as an opportunity to bolster support for fully achieving the university’s collective aspirations for transforming student’s lives and serving our greater community. “We must extend limited state support through philanthropy, for example, our DECLARE campaign and many mutually rewarding partnerships throughout our region. We will be holding hands with a lot of people in the community to offer a distinctive education to our students and scholarly and creative opportunities to our faculty,” she added.

There have been surprises. As far as the bad ones go, Conoley’s first eye-opener concerned faculty office spaces. “I was taken aback by how many faculty have to share offices or stagger their office hours so there is enough room for a student to come in. That was a bad surprise,” she said. “But there were many more good surprises, such as Dr. Carl Lipo’s taking students to Easter Island and the student internships coordinated by all our colleges. These are effective ways of connecting our students to the community. Faculty here are committed to student success.”

Parking was a mild shock. “We try to be a more sustainable campus, yet there seem to be too many cars,” Conoley said. “Nearly 60 percent of the university’s carbon footprint comes from commuting.  We have a goal of becoming carbon neutral. It would be wonderful if we could handle the car challenge.”

The campus’ charm was a standout in the president’s first 100 days. “When I first got here, part of my plan was to learn where all the buildings are located. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the campus. There are little spots around campus that are just perfect. The Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden is spectacular, but so are the little courtyards and alcoves I’ve found,” she said.

Conoley has found friendly faces, too. “I have met many community groups and elected officials in my first 100 days. Naturally, that includes Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia,” she said. “I’ve tried to talk to the whole range of people who have some stake in the university. They are proud and positive about their university and their aspiration is for whatever we do, to do it better. It’s rather daunting. I hear them urging Cal State Long Beach to be an even better university in every way. The good news is that our university stakeholders are hopeful about our future success. They want that. To be continuously improving is in line with our own aspirations.

Conoley feels she is beginning to settle in at CSULB. “There are small clues, like not getting lost all the time,” she laughed. “I’m finding my way around campus and around Long Beach. I’ve even had a few successful trips to downtown Los Angeles. Hassles go away with experience.”

 

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