Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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De la Torre’s First 100 Days: “Listening and Learning”

The president–designate praised SDSU’s innovative spirit and the “Leadership Starts Here” ethos.
By Coleen L. Geraghty
 

“My first 100 days will be focused on listening and learning from those who’ve been here quite a long time, and that includes community members, students, faculty and staff.”

Video: Welcome Reception for President-Designate Adela de la Torre

Adela de la Torre
shared her guiding principles and priorities with the San Diego State University community during her first visit to campus Feb. 8-9 as president-designate.

During a whirlwind schedule that included a public welcome reception and small group meetings with students, faculty, alumni, donors and administrative staff, de la Torre pledged support for key university initiatives and spoke of her natural affinity for SDSU.

“This is a campus known for its interdisciplinary research work, and that has been my lifetime passion as illustrated [by my] research and publications,” she said in a videotaped interview.

De la Torre will be the ninth permanent president of SDSU and the first woman to serve in that role when she officially joins the university in late June 2018. Sally Roush currently serves as president, succeeding Elliot Hirshman, who resigned to take the helm at Stevenson University in Maryland.

Critical role
President-Designate Adela de la Torre
President-Designate Adela de la Torre

“It’s my pleasure to welcome Dr. Adela de la Torre to our San Diego State University community,” Roush said. “Her dedication to student success, her administrative experience in California’s university systems, and her scholarship and research expertise will be great assets as she works in our tradition of shared governance and builds on our 120-year record of commitment to academic excellence for the public good.”
 
De la Torre, 63, joins SDSU from the University of California, Davis, where she has served in several leadership roles, culminating in vice chancellor, student affairs and campus diversity.

“My first 100 days will be focused on listening and learning from those who’ve been here quite a long time, and that includes community members, students, faculty and staff,” she vowed. “The importance of that is to build the strategic plan moving forward for the next few years.”

De la Torre expressly praised SDSU’s “academic reputation and high-impact student success practices,” adding, “I realize that my role will be critical to bolstering the funding that supports this innovative spirit.”

Support for expansion

De la Torre said she looks forward to meeting with SDSU alumni, whose strength in numbers and influence power the San Diego region. “These dedicated individuals are committed to the institution,” she said.

The president-designate also voiced support for SDSU’s hopes of expanding the campus to Mission Valley, calling it once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“Expansions are complicated and require dedicated long-term efforts,” de la Torre told an enthusiastic audience at her welcome reception. “I’m here today to pledge my support and commitment to this important opportunity.
 
“We will build a world-class university campus with a stadium venue and a research center that spurs new discoveries and economic development.”

Regional strength

De la Torre outlined her vision of strategic excellence for SDSU, which involves leveraging the university’s geographic location as well as its existing student, faculty and staff commitment to social justice.

SDSU’s regional presence, she said, “requires us to think about how we can build pathways for understanding and cooperation, not only within [San Diego], but also bi-nationally and globally.”

Later in the address, she added, “I also want to highlight that I support our faculty, staff and students in accessing the American dream, regardless of their immigration status…our diverse enrollment will be our strength.”

Leadership style

The president-designate identified her grandmother, mother and several women colleagues and mentors as major influences on her leadership style.

“[Some] Very strong women along my pathway have created the kind of leadership style that I have today, which is based on developing strong relationships; recognizing that relationships are important to build trust; recognizing that with trust you can improve on communication; and recognizing that it takes a village to build success.”

She also referenced SDSU’s ethos statement, Leadership Starts Here, as a point of solidarity with the university community.

“What I want to say from the heart is leadership starts with all of you,” she told faculty, staff and students at the welcome reception. “I want to ask you to be generous with your leadership, and I look forward to working with you in this new chapter in San Diego State University’s history.”

Video: Welcome Reception for President-Designate Adela de la Torre