Wednesday, December 7, 2016

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An artist's depiction of the Aztec Student Union, now under construction An artist's depiction of the Aztec Student Union, now under construction

Champions for Student Success

Goldbergs' close encounters with student leaders results in a gift to Aztec Student Union.
By Coleen L. Geraghty

The first time Frank and Lee Goldberg returned to the San Diego State campus—nearly 60 years after his graduation—they saw a group of engineering students with an 18-foot rocket.

SDSU alumni and donors Lee and Frank Goldberg
SDSU alumni and donors Lee and Frank Goldberg

“The students told us they had built the rocket, then launched it in the desert and recovered it,” Frank Goldberg said. “We were impressed.”

Equally impressive were two Associated Students leaders the Goldbergs met at a fundraising event on campus. Lee remembered that one was a young man who had successfully navigated a difficult life in the foster care system to earn a spot at San Diego State.

Since their visits, the Goldbergs have made a major gift to fund scholarships for SDSU students like those they met. Thanks to them and many other generous donors, support for students has reached $54 million through The Campaign for SDSU.

In recognition of the couple’s commitment to students, the center courtyard of the new Aztec Student Union will be named in their honor.

Funding scholarships

The Goldbergs married young. Frank enrolled at SDSU in 1949. Lee became an Aztec the following year. While still in college, they opened a retail furniture store in Chula Vista. The business prospered, and Lee left San Diego State to manage daily operations.

Frank continued his studies, graduating in 1953 with a major in business management and minors in economics and accounting.

The Goldbergs’ business, United Furniture, grew to 10 stores in California and one in Las Vegas. They became philanthropists, donating to medicine, education, religion and the arts.

But they lost touch with San Diego State until Frank saw SDSU President Elliot Hirshman speak at a Hillel of San Diego luncheon last year. They were introduced, and Hirshman invited the Goldbergs to campus.

First in the CSU

Both Lee and Frank plan to stay connected to SDSU in the future, and to be on hand in January 2014 for the official opening of the new Aztec Student Union. The building will open to students in fall 2013.

Located in the middle of campus, the 206,000-square-foot structure replaces Aztec Center. It is designed and built to achieve LEED Platinum certification, the highest level of certification in sustainable building from the U.S. Green Building Council. It will be the first such facility in the California State University system and the first of its kind at a major American university.

“A student union is a very important element of a university campus,” Lee Goldberg said, “and we are pleased to support it.”

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