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San Diego State University

Office of the President

About the President

Elliot Hirshman


Dr. Elliot Hirshman has served as president of San Diego State University since 2011 – a period in which SDSU has raised its profile as a major public research university. SDSU ranks in the top 10 for students studying abroad and for ethnic and racial diversity; Forbes, Fortune and U.S. News & World Report rank it in the top 25 for entrepreneurship; and the university has produced 85 Fulbright student scholars in the past decade.

San Diego State's 36,000 students pursue real-world challenges under the guidance of internationally recognized mentors in innovative on-campus labs, entrepreneurship centers and business incubators. SDSU is a R2 doctoral university with higher research activity and also has earned the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification. 

In early March, Dr. Hirshman announced in a statement to the university community that he will leave SDSU on June 30 to take over as president of Stevenson University in Maryland. 

Leadership Starts Here

Under President Hirshman’s leadership, SDSU has implemented an integrated budget and financial strategy, created a new strategic plan, raised over $800 million in private philanthropy for scholarships and new initiatives and programs, established and endowed its Honors College, and built and remodeled facilities across campus. The Campaign for SDSU's final phase is raising additional funds to endow scholarships, professorships, programs and research and to build a new Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences complex.

President Hirshman is committed to ensuring that students from all backgrounds achieve excellence and go on to personal and professional success. The university is recognized nationally for increasing retention and graduation rates – rates that are equal across ethnic and racial groups. It is among the nation’s leaders for graduating students of color.  


Dr. Hirshman is a member of the NCAA Board of Directors and former chairman of the Mountain West Conference Board. He is president of the SDSU Research Foundation Board and a member of the university's Campanile Foundation Board. Dr. Hirshman co-chaired the Chancellor's Task Force for a Sustainable Financial Model for The California State University system. He also serves on the boards of the San Diego Economic Development Corporation and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Prior Experience

Prior to Dr. Hirshman's appointment at SDSU, he served as provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He also had been chief research officer at the George Washington University and chaired the Department of Psychology there and at the University of Colorado at Denver. He began his academic career, rising to the rank of full professor, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Academic Background

Dr. Hirshman earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in economics and mathematics from Yale and his master's degree and Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from UCLA. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association. His research and teaching focus on the psychopharmacology of human cognition, using an interdisciplinary approach that involves collaboration among psychologists, medical doctors and statisticians. Dr. Hirshman has served as associate editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition and Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.


Dr. Hirshman is married to Jeri Hirshman. Their daughter, Wendy, graduated from Muhlenberg College and works for George Mason Mortgage, LLC. Their son, Nathan, is a student at the Duke University School of Medicine.

Curriculum vitae available for download 

High resolution image available for download 1

High resolution image available for download 2

Three-year review closure letter 


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Contact the Office of the President

Mailing address:
Office of the President
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-8000

Phone: 619-594-5201