President's Office

From the President's Desk December 18 2000

December 18, 2000

Restored Campus Carillon to Provide Holiday Music Cheer

As the fall semester winds to a close and the holiday break approaches, I am exceptionally pleased to announce that the university community is receiving a very special gift this year. After some years of sporadic use, Cal State Northridge's historic campus carillon ‹ a gift to the institution from the Class of '66 ‹ will once again serenade the full campus starting this week with the grand sounds of bells. As in the past, the distinctive bell sounds of Westminster Chimes will mark the hour and half-hour points of each day. And, the restored music playing capability of the carillon will sound three times a day with brief, several-minute interludes, beginning very appropriately during this season with selections of holiday music.

For many of us, there is nothing quite as special as the atmosphere and rhythms of a university campus. Those who have been here in recent years have faithfully endured the difficulties brought by the 1994 earthquake and the resulting disruptions in the pace, look and even sound of the university. As we now near completion of the university's new buildings and the beautification efforts that will follow, it is my sincere hope the soothing sounds of the campus carillon - known to some as the "voice of the campus" - will help give us all a renewed sense of peace, presence and pleasure befitting a great university.

Cal State Northridge's electronic carillon produces its deep, rich tones from amplified miniature bells housed in a small room, instead of from huge bells hung in a tower. Each small, individually tuned bell in CSUN's Grand Symphony Carillon produces its sound when struck. Those vibrations are then picked up by a device that sends that electronic signal to powerful amplifiers and then out to the campus via rooftop speakers. The veteran company that built CSUN's carillon - Maas-Rowe Carillons in Escondido - has installed similar instruments at many Southern California locations, including universities such as UCLA, USC, Long Beach State and Pepperdine, Ventura City Hall, and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion downtown.

CSUN's carillon has quite a history: Installed in 1966, the original 54-bell system was housed in the former Administration Building (now Student Services), playing from rooftop speakers there both clock tones and brief musical selections for many years through the 1980s, when age finally hobbled the system. In 1988, the campus community joined to fund an $80,000 overhaul and upgrade of the carillon system. That installed most of the carillon's current features: the expansion to a full 222 bells, added roof speakers on Monterey Hall, the Kinesiology Building and the Music Building to broaden its reach; two keyboards to permit the carillon to be played live like an organ, and a microphone enabling it to serve as the university's emergency broadcast system. The new carillon then continued to grace the campus until the 1994 earthquake, when damage first silenced its music and then left the system in sporadic operation in recent years.

Now, that period has ended with the full repair and restoration of the carillon in a newly constructed home on the second floor of the Music Building. The project was overseen with great dedication by Mr. Jeff Craig, director of network administration in Information Technology Resources (ITR), who for many years has been the unofficial official caretaker of the campus carillon. Starting this week, both the clock tones and the musical interludes - such as White Christmas, Silver Bells and even Jingle Bells for the holidays - once again will sound throughout the campus, heralding what I hope will be a very positive and rewarding year ahead for us all.

California's Electrical Power Shortage

With news headlines filled lately with reports of electrical energy shortages and curtailments in California, some campus community members may be wondering how those issues could affect Cal State Northridge. >From all indications at this point, the very good news is the university should be protected from any mandated electrical power cutbacks or outages that might occur elsewhere in the state.

One major reason is that CSUN, located in the city of Los Angeles, is served by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP). In recent times when real power shortages have been plaguing the private utilities that serve about 75 percent of California, the municipal L.A. DWP with its own energy sources actually has had a steady surplus of electrical power and expects that status to continue. Thus this university and other DWP customers are unlikely to experience any directed power curtailments, even when energy alerts are called at the statewide level.

Because Cal State Northridge is such a large university, energy conservation has been an objective here long before the recent difficulties. With about 25,000 indoor light fixtures and more than 1,000 outdoor lights, the university's annual energy usage equals that of about 7,000 homes. The university is indeed a small city, as we have often said. Thus in past years, Physical Plant Management staff has retrofitted most of the campus' light fixtures to modern, energy-efficient models. The new buildings soon to be completed on campus all have been designed to comply with state energy efficiency standards. And, the Central Plant complex completed in recent years saves the university hundreds of thousands of dollars each year by shifting much of our power use for heating and cooling buildings to less expensive, off-peak hours.

Elsewhere, however, some schools and colleges in areas not served by municipal utilities such as DWP may continue to face real difficulties because of the state's energy problems, brought on by a combination of deregulation of private providers, cold weather and power plant shutdowns. Thus far this year, California's investor-owned utilities, including Southern California Edison and others, have sought voluntary power curtailments from large users such as schools on more than 20 different days. So while CSUN's power supply through DWP appears secure, there still is a very legitimate need for all of us to practice reasonable energy conservation both at work and at home.


Jolene Koester