Magazine

Volunteers Emulate Granny

The Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award is CSUN’s pinnacle Volunteer Service Award and recognizes significant and sustained leadership by a CSUN alumnus. The award is named in honor of Heitz ‘69 (General Sociology, pictured at right, with CSUN students), who passed away in 2007 and whose enthusiasm and loyalty to the university spanned decades. In 1966, Heitz, then 50 years old, set out to continue a college education cut short by the Great Depression, 31 years earlier. A sophomore, but senior in age to most of the campus professors — and nearly 30 years older than the average student — Heitz fully embraced the college experience, at what was then San Fernando Valley State College. One day, as students gathered at “The Tub” (the original Student Union), her younger classmates were searching for someone to take the lead in improving school spirit. A young man turned to Heitz and said, “You should go for it, Granny!” Challenge accepted: Heitz embraced her new Matador nickname, Granny, and a tradition was born in 1967. Within a few weeks, Granny had formed a spirit squad. The “Granny Girls,” dressed in bright red outfits, became unofficial campus ambassadors. They were the highlight of area parades and became local celebrities, “trending” (long before social media) across Southern California airwaves, with guest appearances on the radio and eight TV appearances. Throughout the years, Granny also embraced her role as an alumna spirit leader. At CSUN, her Matador spirit lives on.