The San Diego State campus War Memorial on Aztec Green. Photo credit: Frank Villalpando

San Diego State University kicks off an expansive celebration of its 125th anniversary Monday with an open house, music and more.

The celebration, to continue throughout the year and for most of 2023, marks the period between SDSU’s founding, on March 13, 1897, and its first day of classes, on Nov. 1, 1898.

The 10 a.m. open house, at Montezuma Hall in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, highlights “SDSU Over the Decades” through vignettes showcasing rare campus artifacts, multimedia and more.

At noon, the celebration expands to Goldberg Courtyard, outside the student union, with a short program, music and treats.

The university, according to a timeline on SDSU’s anniversary site, opened as San Diego Normal School, then in 1921, was rechristened San Diego Teacher’s College. By 1935 it became San Diego State College, before finally being renamed San Diego State University in 1974.

The campus, which initially offered instruction only in history, math and English, according to the site, now issues degrees in 203 different programs.

The campus opened with seven faculty and 91 students meeting in space located over a downtown drugstore. SDSU, for almost a century at home on a sprawling campus in the College Area, now has nearly 7,000 staff and faculty serving almost 36,000 students.

Samuel L. Black, a former state superintendent of public instruction, served as the university’s first president from 1898-1910. Adela de la Torre took over as SDSU’s ninth president in 2018, becoming the first woman in the role on a permanent basis.

Prominent alums include luminaries of both Hollywood and the sports world, along with those who have made an impact in the military, politics and business, and even space.

Astronaut Ellen Ochoa attended SDSU, as did former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, golden-era movie star Gregory Peck and Ralph Rubio, founder and chairman of Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill.