A dedication ceremony was held April 12 to honor the establishment of the Linda Nichols Joseph English Merit Scholarships and the naming of the Linda Nichols Joseph English Reading Room, where the event was held. Both are the result of a generous bequest made by CSUN alumna Nichols Joseph, née Linda G.I. Nichols, who graduated cum laude with a degree in English in 1981, at age 40, after having initially interrupted her studies at San Fernando Valley State 20 years prior to help her family after her father’s death.
Linda returned to college to complete her degree after her marriage to James Joseph in 1978. James notes that Linda, who was also deeply committed to architectural planning in the Laguna Beach community where they spent much of their time, was an “avid reader” of all sorts of literature—fiction, nonfiction, serious, popular—and that her positive experiences studying English literature at CSUN remained prominent throughout her life. James recalls her speaking particularly fondly of several faculty members who helped and inspired her, including Richard Abcarian, Larry Gibson, and Warren Wedin. When Linda passed away in 2011, she left her entire estate to the English Department. The department and the College of Humanities, in which it is housed, learned of the bequest only upon Linda Nichols Joseph’s passing.
“As we assimilated the surprising news of Linda’s bequest, our ad hoc committee thought long and hard about how best to make use of it in ways that would reflect Linda’s own achievements and struggles as a student,” says Dr. Jackie Stallcup, chair of the English Department. “She graduated with honors and was clearly a high achiever in many aspects of her life, but she also knew firsthand what it meant to have to put her plans and her studies on hold and work to help care for her family. These are issues that resonate deeply with many of our students and it is these students in particular whom we will now be able to help.” To honor the donor’s legacy, the committee resolved to establish and endow the Linda Nichols Joseph English Merit Scholarships. Up to four scholarships of $2,000 apiece will be awarded each fall to high-achieving undergraduate English majors who demonstrate need for financial assistance to complete their degrees.
To show their deep gratitude for Nichols Joseph’s generosity, the English Department will also attach her name to its Reading Room, a spacious, book-lined suite in Jerome Richfield Hall that acts as a locus for all manner of gatherings in the department, including celebrations, readings, awards presentations, meetings, and memorials. In addition to the classics of English literature, the Linda Nichols Joseph English Reading Room’s library houses faculty publications dating from the founding of CSUN. It also contains hardcover volumes of graduate students’ master’s theses and undergraduate students’ honors theses from 1974 forward.
The English Reading Room has always served as a place of honor and recognition, and dedicating it in Nichols Joseph’s name is a strong tribute to the meaning the department attaches to her legacy gift. “I hope she had some idea of how much we would be touched and moved by her remembering us in this way more than 20 years after she graduated,” says Dr. Stallcup. “If I could have said anything to her, I would like to say ‘Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts and on behalf of the many, many students who are going to be helped, thank you.’ ”