Hail Montezuma! The Hidden Treasures of San Diego State

Aztec Timeline: A Chronology of All Things San Diego State > 1980




Alumnus Brian Sipe wins the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player award.  Sipe, who won a little league baseball world championship as an 11-year-old in El Cajon, also starred at State as one of the school’s finest quarterbacks.

Dennis Conner (attended 1964) skippers the Freedom to a successful defense of the America’s Cup.  In 1987, Dennis Conner will lead Stars and Stripes to victory over the Kookaburra III in the America’s Cup.

Scott Tinley (attended 1974) wins the Kona ironman.  He will again win the premiere ironman-length triathlon in 1985.

San Diego State University student Lanford Wilson wins a Pulitzer Prize for the play Talley’s Folly.


The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) awards SDSU’s Dr. Mary E. Clark as its first national “Professor of the Year.”  Clark, a biology professor specializing in applying biological knowledge to daily life, wins this prestigious honor out of nominees from 2,000 colleges and universities. 

Alumnus Tony Gwynn is the first and only person ever to be drafted for both professional baseball and basketball on the same day.  Gwynn, a San Diego icon and member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, is currently the head coach of the SDSU baseball team. (June 16, 1981)


Kathleen Kennedy (class of 1979) produces the blockbuster movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Former SDSC physics professor Fred Alan Wolf wins the American Book Award for Taking the Quantum Leap—The New Physics for Non-Scientists.  Wolf strives to make the world of science understandable, accessible, and entertaining to a broad audience; his 1982 book becomes a Book of the Month Club main selection.


Former Aztec football standout Fred Dryer stars in the television show Hunter.  He will continue in the title role for six years.

Greg Bear (class of 1973) wins both the Nebula and the Hugo awards in 1984 for his science-fiction story, Blood Music.

California Higher Education magazine ranks SDSU as the top CSU and the fourth best university in the western United States.


SDSU professor of art Arline Fisch, internationally known for her jewelry designs, is declared “a living treasure of California” by the state legislature.  Fisch founded the jewelry program at SDSU and also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

San Diego elects its first female mayor, Maureen O’Connor, a native San Diegan and an SDSU graduate (class of 1971).  She serves the city for many years as a council member, port commissioner, and mayor.


Senior U.S. District Judge Edward J. Scwartz rules that a CSU policy barring unsigned editorials violated the First Amendment.  SDSU President Thomas Day had previously suspended Daily Aztec Editor Andrew Rathbone for running the piece. (March 9, 1987)

Prolific author Sid Fleischman (class of 1949) wins the Newbery Medal, the American Library Association’s coveted prize for the year’s most distinguished children’s book, for The Whipping Boy.

Julie Kavner (class of 1973) first lends her voice to the character of Marge Simpson on The Tracey Ullman ShowThe Simpsons will get their own show in 1989, and Kavner’s character continues to have one of the most recognized voices in all of American popular culture.

Alumna Doris Alvarez is named the national principal of the year.


Rulette Armstead (class of 1973 and 1979) becomes the first woman and the first African-American to be appointed to the rank of police captain in the 100-year history of the San Diego Police Department.

Dr. C. John Tupper (class of 1943) is named the President of the American Medical Association.


Alumna Evelyn Roy Kooperman, reference librarian for the San Diego Public Library, publishes a comprehensive San Diego trivia book.  Four years later, she will build on the success of her first text with a second volume; together, the two books include over 1,100 pages of essential San Diego facts.

Alumna Kathy Najimy and Maureen Gaffney win an Obie, the top award for off-Broadway plays, with their play, “The Kathy and Mo Show: Parallel Lives.”