March 1, 2004 Vol. VIII, No. 11

News Briefs

Campus Mourns Alumnus Frank del Olmo

Los Angeles Times editor and columnist Frank del Olmo, a friend of Cal State Northridge whose stellar career in journalism began at the university, died Thursday, Feb. 19, of an apparent heart attack. Del Olmo, 55, was pronounced dead at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.

Raised in Pacoima, Del Olmo graduated magna cum laude from Northridge with a degree in journalism. "He wanted to be an engaged journalist," recalled Jorge Garcia, CSUN Chicano/a Studies professor and Del Olmo's close friend since 1970.

Garcia said Del Olmo chose the journalism program at Cal State Northridge—then San Fernando Valley State College—after an afternoon spent in conversation with DeWayne "Doc" Johnson, now journalism professor emeritus. Del Olmo, who wrote for the El Popo publication at CSUN, went to work for the Los Angeles Times in 1970, the same year he graduated from the university. Only 14 years later, he shared a Pulitzer Prize for a series on Southern California's Latino community.

The journalist's career at The Times spanned nearly 34 years, during which he rose from intern to assistant editor, making history as the first Latino in the top tier of Times editors. Del Olmo became the paper's associate editor in 1998.

A winner of a Northridge 1999 Distinguished Alumni Award, Del Olmo wrote columns that made him a highly respected "voice for Latinos in Southern California," delving into a multitude of issues affecting that community. He won an Emmy for his work on a 1975 KNBC documentary called "The Unwanted," which dealt with illegal immigration.

Named Outstanding Senior and Outstanding Senior in Journalism at Cal State Northridge, he was a 1970 Wolfson Scholar, the highest academic excellence award for a graduating senior. He has been a Northridge commencement speaker, maintaining close ties with the university.

The veteran journalist is survived by his wife, Magdalena Beltran, a CSUN alumna; a son, Frankie; and a daughter, Valentina.

"He was," said Garcia, "a fantastic individual."

Professor Plans Hike to Raise Scholarship Funds

Retired Cal State Northridge geology professor Gene Fritsche will lace up his hiking boots on March 13 for a trek with a special purpose: raising money for student scholarships in his old department.

Fritsche and his wife, Sue, will take seven days to hike nearly 80 miles across the Santa Monica Mountains, from the Los Angeles Zoo to Point Mugu, to benefit CSUN's Geology Scholarship Endowment Fund and the Coast Geological Society Scholarship Fund.

"Many geology students today need financial aid if they are going to complete their degrees in a timely fashion," said Fritsche, who retired from Northridge in 2000.

For the hiking schedule and more information, visit the Geological Society Web site at

To contribute to the scholarship fund at Northridge, contact Mari Flores in the Geology Department at (818) 677-3541 or via e-mail at Checks should be made out to the CSUN Foundation, with Geology Endowment in the memo line, and can be sent to the Department of Geological Sciences, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, CA 91330.

To contribute to the Geological Society fund, contact Scott Moors at, or at P.O. Box 3055, Ventura, CA 93006.

@csun | March 1, 2004 issue
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