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Sacramento State News - California State University, Sacramento
September 14, 2007

Sacramento State exhibit highlights life and times of Joe Serna

The crowd flipped for the new Hornet Bookstore during its Sept. 12 dedication.
Joe Serna

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The public will get a chance to see the many official papers, personal correspondence, and other items covering the life of former mayor and Sacramento State professor Joseph Serna when Sacramento State’s Serna Collection opens for a special exhibit at 1 p.m., Monday, Oct. 1.

The exhibit is in the library’s Special Collections and University Archives and will be open from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, through Feb. 29, 2008. Items document Serna’s life from his early years as the oldest child of a farm worker family. He joined the Peace Corps after graduating from Sacramento State in 1966, and began decades of public service upon his return. Serna joined the Sacramento State faculty in 1969, receiving a Distinguished Faculty Award in 1992. He was elected mayor in 1992 and was re-elected four years later. He died in 1999.

The Serna Collection was donated by the family of Joe and his wife, Isabel Hernandez-Serna, who was at Sacramento State from 1970 until 1999, first as a professor then an assistant vice president. She died in 2000.

In addition to items dealing with Joe Serna’s political career, the pieces contain extensive information about his private life. “The collection has personal biographical information from the time he was a young boy growing up in Lodi, through his funeral,” says Sheila O’Neill, head of Special Collections and University Archives. The exhibit explores Serna’s life and contributions against the backdrop of the history of the farm workers’ movement, particularly Serna’s close relationship with movement leader Cesar Chavez.

The initial donation in 2004 was comprised of 119 boxes of items which are now part of Sacramento State’s permanent collection. They are available for research.

Serna reflected on his life in the year of his death, saying, “I was supposed to live and die as a farm worker, not as a mayor and a college professor. I have everything to be thankful for.”

For more information on the exhibit, call University Special Collections at (916) 278-6144. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.


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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
6000 J Street • Sacramento, CA 95819-6026 • (916) 278-6156 •