July 26, 2005
To the CSUN Community:
I am saddened to announce that Ralph Prator, our institution’s founding president, passed away on Monday, July 25, in his retirement hometown of Camarillo in Ventura County.
Dr. Prator was the president of San Fernando Valley State College from its founding in July 1958 until his retirement in September 1968. The college was renamed California State University, Northridge in 1972.
As a campus community, we should be proud of and appreciate Dr. Prator’s legacy. Under his leadership and vision during the institution’s first 10 years, the original physical core of the campus as we know it was built, the size of the student population more than quadrupled to 16,000, and he oversaw the land acquisitions that developed the campus into its present size of 356 acres. And, of course, he recruited many of the early faculty and established the institution’s academic programs and curriculum. His presidency here capped a distinguished 30-year career as a higher education administrator. When he retired, he was named professor emeritus in the department that is now known as Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.
I had the great fortune to know President Prator personally. He maintained a keen interest in the university and occasionally sent me notes that were always encouraging and generous. He clearly was proud of what the institution had become, and I am pleased to honor and advance his pioneering work here.
President Prator is survived by a sister, three adult children, and four adult grandchildren. His children are all California State University alumni, including one who is a CSUN alumna. Dr. Prator’s wife of nearly 60 years, Lois, passed away in 1996.
In keeping with Dr. Prator’s wishes, no public funeral or ceremony is planned. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to the student scholarship fund that was established by President Prator and his wife, the CSUN University Women’s Club Lois and Ralph Prator Scholarship Fund. Checks can be made payable to the California State University, Northridge Foundation, 18111 Nordhoff St.,Northridge, CA 91330-8275.
Note: The formal university press release about President Prator’s passing and his distinguished career may be found by clicking here.