California State University, Long Beach
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Lindgren Gift Secures Legacy

Published: November 3, 2014

To many, Ken Lindgren was a nationally renowned water polo coach who directed CSULB’s men’s program for 24 years and won Olympic medals as the USA coach with both men’s and women’s water polo, the only coach to ever do so. To others, he was an outstanding math instructor who challenged his students, yet kept a very positive learning environment.

In reality, he was very much both and equally proud of each.

Lindgren, who passed away on Oct. 11, 2013, will see his legacy live on at CSULB through an endowment totaling $750,000 split between his two passions.

On Wednesday, Nov. 5, Lindgren will be honored with a pair of recognition events on campus. At 4 p.m., there will be the dedication of the Kenneth E. Lindgren Math Tutoring Center in Liberal Arts Building 5 and, at 6 p.m., a dedication of the Kenneth E. Lindgren Aquatics Center (University Pool) will take place.

The 49er aquatic complex, where he spent much of his career, has been renamed the Kenneth E. Lindgren Aquatics Center, and several capital improvements are underway. Kinesiology classes and programs held in the aquatics center will also benefit from the renovations made possible by this gift. He also endowed an annual scholarship for an eligible CSULB men’s water polo player.

“Ken was an outstanding educator, coach and mentor to so many in the Long Beach community,” said Vic Cegles, CSULB’s athletic director. “His generosity and legacy will impact countless young men and women who participate in The Beach water polo program in the years ahead.”

In the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the tutoring center is being renamed the Kenneth E. Lindgren Math Tutoring Center. With the endowment’s help, a stipend will help pay for a dedicated faculty director to ensure quality tutoring and to continually improve services to meet student needs. In addition, an annual scholarship in Lindgren’s name will reward the top graduate teaching assistant in the department each year to encourage teaching math as a career.

“Ken knew all the students and invited vocal responses from the students constantly—making them think and process the learning, which is the key to good mathematical teaching,” said Robert Mena, former chair and a colleague of Lindgren’s in Department of Mathematics and Statistics. “Ken and I talked about mathematics teaching several times and I know he cared a great deal about helping young people to attain success and meet his challenging high standards.”

Lindgren, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university, was probably best known for his success in water polo, first as a collegiate player before returning in 1975 to serve as head coach. During the next quarter of a century he led the 49ers to seven NCAA appearances and coached 34 All-Americans and eight Olympic Team members.

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The memorial plaque honoring Ken Lindgren.

Additionally, Lindgren was a force in the international game. After an assistant coaching stint with the 1980 USA men’s team that boycotted the Olympics, he returned as an assistant for the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and helped lead the Americans to a silver medal. Lindgren was an official for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta and then assumed a role as an assistant coach with the women’s national team as the USA claimed a silver medal during the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

After leaving his position as the men’s water polo head coach in 1998, Lindgren returned to serve as the interim head coach of the women’s program in 2006. He was inducted into the Long Beach State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1991 and the USA Water Polo Hall of Fame in 1993.

Outside of his coaching duties, Lindgren spent more than three decades as a highly regarded mathematics instructor. He joined the campus’ Department of Mathematics and Statistics in fall 1985 and continued teaching there until he retired following the fall semester in 2008.

“My brother dedicated his life to water polo but math was really important to him, too,” said Lindgren’s brother James, also a CSULB alumnus. “He loved teaching and he loved his years at CSULB.”