Hail Montezuma! The Hidden Treasures of San Diego State

Aztec Timeline: A Chronology of All Things San Diego State > 1960




Aboard the Trieste, a deep-diving research vessel, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh (class of 1968) and Jacques Piccard reach the ocean floor in the Mariana Trench near Guam, the deepest part of the ocean on the earth (35,797 feet below sea level). Walsh and Piccard were the first individuals to reach this record depth and remained the only people to have ever visited the planet’s nadir until 2012. (January 23, 1960)

San Diego State becomes part of the newly created California State College system.

Suzanne Reamo (attended 1958-1960) is first runner-up in the Miss America pageant.

SDSC begins to use plastic identification cards.

KEBS, San Diego’s inaugural public broadcasting entity, is the first radio station licensed to a California State College campus. (September 12, 1960)


Professional golfer Gene Littler (attended 1952) wins the U.S. Open.

Alumnus Larry Penacho wins the World Water Ski Jump championships.  In 1963 and 1965, he will win additional world water ski titles.

SDSU competitive physical education instructor Gene Fisher sets a world record for a two-arm curl at 202 ½ pounds.  Defying the sands of time, he will set a new record in the same event 20 years later.


Gregory Peck (attended 1936) wins a Best Actor Academy Award for his role as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird.  In 2003, the American Film Institute votes Peck’s performance as Finch to be the greatest hero of all time in American film.


President John F. Kennedy San Diego State speaks at commencement and receives the first honorary doctorate conferred by a California State College.  He is awarded the honorary Doctorate of Laws degree by Chancellor Glenn S. Dumke. (June 6, 1963)

The Aztecs take the football field in their all-black uniforms for the first time. (October 12, 1963)


The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks at SDSC’s Open Air Theater. (May 29, 1964)


San Diego State College Anthropology Professor Paul Ezell begins archaeological excavations at Presidio Park.  His work will uncover multiple foundations and thousands of artifacts from Spain’s earliest permanent settlement in California.


The Carnegie Corporation names San Diego State’s President Love as one of the best college presidents in the country.

San Diego State is the #1 small-college football team in the nation.

Raquel Welch (attended 1958-59) stars in the fantasy film, One Million Years B.C.  She quickly becomes an international star.


Robert Edwin Kennedy (class of 1938) begins his 13-year reign as President of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly).


Alumnus Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, the international pop music sensation clad in Civil War attire, score their biggest hit, “Young Girl.”

Zura Hall, the first state-built coeducational residence hall at San Diego State, opens at the start of the fall semester.

Suzy Spafford (class of 1967) establishes Suzy’s Zoo Studios, an incredibly successful greeting card company that will do tens of millions of dollars in annual business in the decades to come.

Mount Laguna Observatory, one of the top overall observatory sites in the continental U.S., is dedicated.  Ron Angione (class of 1962 and 1964) helped build the observatory; it continues to be operated by the SDSU Department of Astronomy. (June 18, 1968)


Alumna Audrey McElmury becomes the first American woman to win a world cycling event and the only San Diegan to have won a world cycling championship. (August 1969)