California State University, Fullerton

A-Z Index

News and Information
CSUF Home   »   News Front

Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, a Class of '89 CSUF grad, stands alongside CSUF President Milton A. Gordon at Tuesday's meeting of the Orange County Board of Supervisors holding pieces from the county's Archaeological/Paleontological Collection. The board approved an agreement with the university to preserve and curate the vast collection.

Cal State Fullerton to Manage Orange County's Archaeological and Paleontological Collection

OC Parks Director Mark Denny and CSUF President Milton A. Gordon flank Nancy Cooper, widow of John D. Cooper, emeritus professor of geological sciences, outside the countyís Hall of Administration. The countyís John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center is named in honor of her late husbandís dedication to preserving the collection. Photo by Kelly Lacefield

The Orange County Board of Supervisors today approved an agreement with California State University, Fullerton to preserve and curate some of the county’s oldest artifacts and resources.

The board’s action authorizes the university to assume day-to-day management of the county’s Archaeological/Paleontological Collection and provides funds to underwrite that work through 2013.

Previously, the board had selected Cal State Fullerton to manage the collection in 2008, following a competitive process. Today’s action provides the operating agreement. CSUF will provide separate professional archeological and paleontological curatorial teams supplemented by volunteers to study and prepare items for eventual public display with a partner to be determined at a later date.

The collection will remain at the county’s John D. Cooper Archaeological and Paleontological Center, owned by OC Parks in Santa Ana. The county will provide funds to establish a collection facilities laboratory and manage the day-to-day operations. The Board of Supervisors named the facility last May after the late John D. Cooper, emeritus professor of geological sciences at Cal State Fullerton, who championed the importance of preserving Orange County’s paleontological legacy, and was long the collection’s earliest and most persuasive public advocate.

Over the last 35 years, the county has collected hundreds of thousands of artifacts, specimens and objects associated with archaeological and paleontological investigations throughout Orange County. The county has the responsibility, under federal and state law, as well as its own resolutions, to care for and preserve the collection for current and future generations.

“Orange County has a rich history, dating back to prehistoric times,” OC Parks Director Mark Denny said. “Projects throughout the county have unearthed rare and fascinating finds like whale skulls millions of years old and stone tools used by early natives. With the help and expertise of Cal State Fullerton, we hope to share our most significant artifacts with the public.”

This initiative is key to preserving Orange County’s significant paleontological legacy, specifically the artifacts and specimens constituting what John Cooper characterized as “the largest raw collection of fossils on the planet.”

“This is the kind of win-win collaboration that benefits all parties,” CSUF President Milton A. Gordon said. “Serving as a resource and catalyst for partnerships with public and private organizations is central to the university’s mission.

“And it’s a win for our students, as well, providing another promising avenue for our students to develop the habit of intellectual inquiry, prepare for challenging professions, strengthen relationships to their communities and contribute productively to society,” Gordon said.

California State University, Fullerton

A comprehensive, regional university with a global outlook, Cal State Fullerton enrolls more than 36,000 students and offers 105 degree programs in eight colleges. Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Cal State Fullerton is sixth in the nation for the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority students and second in California for the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to Hispanics.

OC Parks

Thanks to a wealth of natural resources and visionary land management, millions of Orange County residents and visitors enjoy year-round access to nearly 40,000 acres of spectacular land and water where they can experience a number of activities and attractions. The OC Parks system encompasses some 26 regional, wilderness, historical and coastal facilities. For more information about OC Parks, log on to or call 1-866-OCPARKS (627-2757).

Media Contacts:
For Cal State Fullerton
Christopher Bugbee | Public Affairs | 657-278-8487 or

For OC Parks
Marisa O’Neil | Public Information Officer | 714-973-6870 or