Mar 01

Ft. Ord becomes CSU Monterey Bay

The sign lists it as "Central Campus Meeting House" but it looks like the chapels from military bases. CSU Montery Bay was built on the site of Fort Ord. © 2010 David Middlecamp

CSU Montery Bay library. ©2010 David Middlecamp

By far the most commented post on Photos From the Vault is "Vietnam basic training Ft. Ord". As of this writing there are 288 comments. No other post has reached the triple digit mark for comments. It speaks to the impact that time had on so many young lives.

Last spring we were touring college campuses and California State University- Monterey Bay was on the list.
It is built on the site of Fort Ord. According to the university website the land was purchased to become an artillery training field in 1917 and in the 1930s horse cavalry units rode the dunes.
In 1941 it became the primary basic training facility for the Army. About 1.5 million troops bound for battlefields in World War II, Korea and Vietnam all began their training on the roughly 44 square mile facility north of Monterey.
Three names you may know who trained there, Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood and Jerry Garcia.
Up to 35,000 people lived and worked on the base.
In 1976 the base ceases primary basic training and after a series of steps the base was officially closed in 1994, the largest base to close at the time. The Pentagon was involved in a series of base closures at the time to save money.
Part of the base was declared a Superfund site due to toxic waste.
In the early 1990s the California State University system made plans for a new campus on the site and 1,387 acres of land and buildings were requested to be transferred as surplus property.
Area congressman Leon Panetta took a role under President Bill Clinton as director of the Office of Management and Budget where he was able to continue pressing his support for the project.

HAPPY CREW: White House chief of Staff Leon Panetta,center, introduces President Clinton on Monday at the dedication of California State University Monterey Bay; at right is CSUMB President Peter Smith. © Jim Weber/Telegram Tribune 9-4-1995

Both visited on September 4, 1995 for the dedication ceremony.
Today the enrollment is listed as 4,790 with the three biggest majors being business, biology and liberal studies.
You can still find military era buildings on campus, like the chapel that is used as a meeting hall. Walking around the grounds the campus had the smaller feel of a community college with a world class university library. Students we talked to were all positive and said students did not get lost in the crowd there.
For me the campus was too far out of town and still in a young, growth mode but students were excited about creating the traditions for a new institution.

I'm sure the new institution is helping people grow into their lives, yet I doubt this post will generate as many heartfelt comments as the the one about basic training at the Fort.

Related posts:

  1. Vietnam basic training Ft. Ord
  2. Remembering Major David Kingsbury
  3. Monterey Street 1959
  4. Monterey Street closed
  5. 1964 Christmas Parade, Monterey St.