Photo courtesy https://www.fullerton.edu/
Jewell Plummer Cobb. Photo courtesy https://www.fullerton.edu/

Funeral services were pending Wednesday for Jewel Plummer Cobb, the third president of Cal State Fullerton.

Cobb, the granddaughter of a freed slave and the first black woman to head a major university west of the Mississippi, died on New Year’s Day at the age of 92, according to CSUF.

Cobb headed the California State University campus from October 1981 to August 1990.

She was credited with securing funds to build several new facilities on campus, including a science lab, computer science buildings and the Ruby Gerontology Center, which was the first structure on the campus paid for by donations.

Cobb helped finance the first on-campus student residence halls that are named after her. She also brokered a deal with hotelier Marriott and the city of Fullerton for the construction of a hotel on the campus, which was a first for Cal State Fullerton. That agreement financed a sports complex at the university.

While Cobb was president, the university also hosted events for the 1984 Summer Olympic games.

Cobb grew up in Chicago. After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology, she taught and studied cell biology at New York University, where she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in cell physiology.

After her stint at Cal State Fullerton, she served as a trustee professor at Cal State Los Angeles.

In 1990, she told an interviewer, “I think I’d like to be remembered as a black woman scientist who cared very much about what happens to young folks, particularly women going into science.”

Cobb is survived by her son, Roy Jonathan Cobb, granddaughter Jordan and daughter-in-law, Suzzanne Douglas Cobb.

In lieu of flowers, her family asked that donations be made to the Jewel Plummer Cobb Scholarship Endowment.

—City News Service

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