The Department of History, California State University Northridge is saddened to announce that Dr. James E. Sefton, Professor of History, passed away last week at age 79.
Dr. Sefton joined the History Department in 1965. He published two scholarly books The United States Army and Reconstruction, 1865-1877, and Andrew Johnson and the Uses of Constitutional Power. He taught courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, the History of the US Constitution, the History of the Second World War, Photography as a Historical Resource, as well as surveys of US History.
Dr. Sefton was a teacher to the bone, who loved to be in the classroom, and cared deeply about students. Those who moved beyond his sometimes gruff exterior to visit him in office hours found a mentor who not only assisted them academically, but cared about them as people. Many remained in close touch with him for decades after they graduated.
Within the History Department, Dr. Sefton was instrumental in administering the scholarship and awards programs for students, and served for many years as the chair of the Department’s Personnel committee, assisting a new generation of faculty move forward in their careers. Dr. Sefton’s fairness, and careful attention to doing things correctly were legendary.
Dr. Sefton was a local product. He grew up in Hollywood attended local public schools, and graduated from Hollywood High. He went to college and then graduate school at UCLA, where he received his PhD.
Dr. Sefton was also an accomplished art photographer whose work was featured in several exhibitions on and off campus. He had completed a book manuscript of his photographs entitled “Remote Roads: Photographs Along the Way,” which explores the meanings of remoteness in an increasingly interconnected world.
Dr. Sefton was also a great supporter of CSUN athletics. He served as the University’s NCAA faculty representative in the 1980s, and he encouraged CSUN athletes to pursue excellence in the classroom as well as in sports. He regretted the demise of CSUN football, and in recent years took great pleasure in photographing the CSUN men’s volleyball team.
A presence on campus for more than five decades, Dr. Sefton will be missed.