TBT (Throwback Thursday) Dr. Ralph Petrucci – CSCSB’s First Natural Sciences Division Chairman

Dr. Ralph Petrucci

Duplicate Copy-Cal State San Bernardino historical photo — Dr. Ralph H. Petrucci, Professor of Chemistry and Dean of Public Planning. 1973

In an oral history interview, Dean Ralph Petrucci told us about his first meeting with John Pfau. President Pfau went to Western Reserve University in Cleveland Ohio, where Ralph was working, to interview him.  Dr. Petrucci showed President Pfau around Western Reserve, they had new facilities there, and the conversation moved to theories of teaching and the impact the physical space can have on learning. Soon after, Dr. Petrucci was sent an offer to join CSCSB’s founding faculty. He signed the papers and he, his wife Ruth, and their children, moved to San Bernardino.

Ralph spoke about his first view of the site for the campus. It was impressive in its emptiness. There was this large field – of bushes. But he said that John Pfau looked over the site and pointed to where the library would, eventually, stand and said “the library will be right there.” Ralph said that such was Pfau’s certainty and integrity that Ralph felt he could almost see it.

The students’ nickname for Professor Petrucci was “Dr. Glow” because of the way his face lit up when he talked about chemistry. He ended up writing the nation’s leading undergraduate textbook for Chemistry and then updated it through ten editions. He was known for making abstract, complex information accessible.

Beverly Dyer, who used to work in Student Services told us that Ralph would come in to the offices at the beginning of the school year. They would talk about people who had passed the previous year, and Ralph would pull out his checkbook and write out “scholarship” checks in the names of those who were gone, for students who needed a little financial assistance. He quietly helped dozens of our students financially, and thousands of our students academically.

President Pfau chose some amazing people to serve as CSCSB’s founding faculty!

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Posted in 50th Anniversary, Special Collections