It was 40 years ago that a major student landmark – the University Student Union – opened at California State University, Fresno, and the USU has served since then as the center for Fresno State student life.

A 40th anniversary celebration Nov. 12 through 14 will commemorate the three-level building that houses student government and student activities offices; food venues; a recreation center with bowling alley, billiards and video games; as well as banking, grooming, parking, Internet and postal needs for the university community.

The celebration’s first event Nov. 12 begins at 11 a.m. with birthday party games, student activities and bands in the USU Pit in the South Patio on the lower level, as well as the Free Speech Area that surrounds the structure.

On Friday, Nov. 14, a Bowling Tournament Scholarship fundraiser and social will begin at 6 p.m. Past and present bowling teams and alumni also will be recognized. Awards will follow.

The activities are free and open to the public.

Sally Ramage, director of Student Involvement, said the 40th Anniversary of the USU will celebrate leadership, past and present.

“We will honor those visionary students, faculty and staff who recognized the importance of creating a gathering place for the campus community,” Ramage said. “We will honor their commitment of time, energy and leadership to ensure the USU provides the programs and services that support students and the campus community.”

The $1.2 million 55,000-square-foot building opened Nov. 11, 1968, after construction financed by a referendum in which students assessed themselves $8 a semester. Today, the USU Productions board of directors – 11 voting student positions and three voting administrative positions – governs the USU.

It once housed the student newspaper, the then-Daily Collegian, and the Fresno State Alumni Association as well as many pre-Save Mart Center concerts. It was where the popular four-day Vintage Days spring celebration was hatched in 1974 under its first director, Gary Bongiovanni, who now is the editor-in chief of Pollstar – The Concert Hotwire. The Vintage Days celebration has been nourished under the USU roof ever since.

The USU’s 15,000 square-foot Student Lounge is still present, providing students place to relax, study or visit.

Many students who lounged here in the past will return for the big birthday celebration. Past student presidents and student board members are expected to attend the anniversary festivities.

“The USU has long been recognized as the living room of the campus,” Ramage said. “It is a place where students can get involved and make a difference outside of the classroom, a place where opinions and debates on issues can be expressed and explored, a place that supports and encourages diversity and a place that develops campus leaders and future leaders in our community.”

In addition to the public activities, a “Celebration of Leadership: Past and Present” reception will be held for student leaders, student leadership scholars, University guests and alumni of the USU Board, USU Productions, USU Bowling Teams and Associated Students Inc.

For more information about the anniversary, call the Student Activities/Student Union office at 559.278.2741.