Seth Mallios is on a mission to uncover the mysteries and history of San Diego State University.
Since 2000, the anthropology professor has dedicated countless hours to scouring the campus for hidden gems, revealing the prolific history of SDSU. He later compiled all his findings into a book, "Hail Montezuma!: The Hidden Treasures of San Diego State."
"Hail Montezuma!: The Hidden Treasures of San Diego State"
Mallios was recently recognized at the San Diego Book Awards, where he was honored with the Best Local Interest book award.
"Hail Montezuma!" explores important people, ideas, events and cultural products of SDSU's 115 year history. It also provides extended historical context for artifacts that Mallios discovered across campus.
A communal effort
Mallios attributes the success of the book to members of the SDSU community.
"It's fun to receive this award, but so many people helped me through this," Mallios said. "The community was so involved with it."
Alumni, former and current faculty and staff, as well as friends of the SDSU community donated memorabilia, photos and personal stories to the project.
"I could see all the things begin to tell the history of the university," Mallios said.
When Mallios finished compiling information for "Hail Montezuma!" he had more than 700 pages of SDSU history. Despite the fascination with the university, he realized the length might be off-putting to potential readers. Although Mallios had to cut about two-thirds of the book, he saw an opportunity to create the perfect follow up.
The Ramones made their San Diego debut in 1977, playing two shows at SDSU in support of their second album “Leave Home.” (Photo courtesy of Chris Stokes)
Mallios is currently working on a book that chronicles the vibrant music culture at SDSU, specifically rock 'n' roll. Artists such as The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and The Ramones have graced the campus, and there are ticket stubs, pictures and band posters to prove it.
"SDSU has such an amazing rock 'n' roll history," Mallios said. "The campus has been changed by some of the acts that played here. There's a room off of the Open Air Theater called the 'Madonna Room,' because she insisted that it meet her specifications, so they were forced to transform it."
Although "Hail Montezuma!" is complete, Mallios' curiosity for the university is far from peaked.
"It's really cool for me to go around campus and see where the original cistern was or how the bookstore was created over the former handball courts," he said. "These artificats tell the story of the university's history."