Educators’ Bequest Benefits Education

February 24, 2015

California State University, Northridge has been part of almost every aspect of Jeanne Adams’ professional life.

She first came to campus as an undergraduate student majoring in education and continued on for her teaching credential and master’s degree. After a successful career, Adams returned to CSUN as a faculty member.

In recognition of the role the university played in their lives, Adams and her late husband, Ron Adams, decided to bequest their home in Camarillo to the university. The couple credits CSUN for both of their successful careers in education—Ron was also a CSUN alumnus and went on to be a German linguist and teacher. “Two educators don’t make a great deal of money,” said Adams, “but, when we started talking about logical beneficiaries for the house we built almost 40 years ago, we talked about a great debt of gratitude to this institution.”

The bequest of the Adams’ home will support not only scholarships for students pursuing teaching credentials, master’s degrees and doctoral degrees in the College of Education, but it will also fund the Ronald and Jeanne Adams Professorship in Educational Leadership, the first such endowed chair in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department.

“It’s clear that universities—especially state universities—really need to depend on outside support from people who understand what it takes to keep a university running and growing and flourishing on the cutting edge of academics and science,” said Adams.

The Adamses met as high school students in Ventura County. They were married shortly after high school graduation, and both knew they wanted to pursue education has a career, starting courses at Ventura College while working to pay tuition. Just before she was set to transfer to the University of California, Santa Barbara, Jeanne Adams was offered an unexpected opportunity. One of her classmates turned out to be a personnel director for Ventura County, where all the school districts were desperate for teachers. Through him, Adams was offered a position to teach first grade, even though she did not have a bachelor’s degree or credential. The school district would get the proper waivers and oversee her work. But, her university would have to partner with the district in overseeing her. Adams proposed this to her counselor at UCSB, who flatly refused to work with the district. Through a recommendation, Adams contacted what was then San Fernando Valley State College (now CSUN). The Cal State Northridge administrators were happy to work with her, allowing Adams to start her teaching career while working on getting her bachelor’s degree and teaching credential at the same time that her husband was earning his bachelor’s degree at the university.

“I don’t know if I realized how grateful I should be at the time I started teaching while earning my degree,” said Adams, “but, I’ve certainly recognized that in years past.”

While working as an assistant superintendent in a local school district, Adams began teaching at CSUN as an adjunct professor before she joined the university as a full professor in the College of Education’s Educational Leadership and Policy Department. Although she has retired from the majority of her teaching responsibilities, Adams—who was named California Professor of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators in 2002—still mentors students in the educational leadership doctoral program, which she helped develop. Adams was also instrumental in the creation of CSU Channel Islands. She founded charter elementary and middle schools for the University and forged a professional development partnership between the University and the charter schools’ Board of Directors.

Through her work and her family’s thoughtful contributions, Adams exemplifies so many of the ways that CSUN shines.