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University Update

University Update

University Update header
February 27, 2017
To: All SDSU Faculty and Staff
From: President Elliot Hirshman
Provost and Senior Vice President Chukuka S. Enwemeka
Vice Presidents Mary Ruth Carleton, Tom McCarron and Eric Rivera
Vice President and Dean of Graduate Affairs Stephen Welter

University Update

As the spring semester unfolds, we are pleased to report on our community’s achievements and initiatives. Collectively, this communal work is enhancing SDSU’s national reputation for quality education, achievement in research and creative endeavors, and engagement with our community.

San Diego State is once again one of the most sought-after universities in the nation. We received more than 83,000 applications for fall 2017, and a record number of students applied to our Susan and Stephen Weber Honors College. Its applicant pool is the most academically accomplished – average weighted GPA 4.14 – and geographically diverse in university history.

SDSU now ranks No. 9 among public research universities for the number of students studying abroad; a record 2,660 students participated last year. Our entrepreneurship efforts are also receiving significant recognition. Our undergraduate program was recently recognized as the nation’s model program by the U.S. Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and Lonnie Ali – who heads her late husband’s business enterprises – was the featured speaker at our first Women in Entrepreneurship Lecture in early February. Alumni Braydon Moreno and Coby Kabili were recently named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list for founding Robo 3D – a company born at SDSU that manufactures desktop 3-D printers.

Student Success

Our fall-to-spring continuation rates remained at 96 percent for freshmen and transfer students, and we are pursuing multiple initiatives to further increase retention and graduation rates. These include a pilot program to determine how we can help seniors taking a leave of absence persist to graduation, increasing the number of students participating in learning communities and peer mentoring, and supplemental instruction programs to boost academic success.

A university-wide task force is working on a new Sophomore Success Program to improve sophomore continuation rates and reduce the time for students to earn a degree. The program will include advising and career counseling, a requirement for sophomore students from outside San Diego to live on campus, and a focus on increasing sophomore students’ participation in high-impact practices.

Strengthening Academic and Research Programs

We are completing the fourth year of our five-year effort to hire 300 new tenure-track faculty members. With searches for 66 new tenure-track faculty underway, we are on target to have hired a total of 240 new tenure-track faculty in the last four years. These efforts are already paying dividends. As just one example, new faculty hired as part of our Areas of Research Excellence effort have already received $3.7 million in external funding to support research efforts on our campus. We are fostering professional development for all faculty through our membership in the National Center for Faculty Diversity and Development, which has supported 200 faculty members, and our Grants and Research Enterprise Writing (GREW) Seminar that has enrolled 61 faculty members.  The latter group of faculty members has already received $13.7 million in external funding, and these efforts contribute to a $9.8 million increase in research awards so far this year.


Our 2016-17 budget is stable with revenues meeting and, in some cases, exceeding expectations. Governor Brown has proposed allocating an additional $157.2 million for 2017-18. The CSU is participating in efforts to augment the proposed increase in state appropriation, and the Board of Trustees is also considering the prospect of a tuition increase. The latter possibility will be discussed further at the March Board of Trustees’ meeting, and we will learn more about increases in state appropriation for 2017-18 when the governor presents his revised budget in May. Given these uncertainties, we continue to pursue the conservative approach that has helped us maintain budget stability in the recent past. Among other strategies, we will retain some one-time revenues this year in the event they are needed to support costs in the 2017-18 budget.

Final Phase of the Campaign for SDSU

The Campaign for SDSU has been critical in supporting the stability of our budget and many of the initiatives in our strategic plan, “Building on Excellence.” It has raised over $785 million for student success, research and creative endeavors, and community and communication. Now in its final phase, the campaign surpassed its $750-million goal with Ron and Alexis Fowler’s challenge gift of $25 million – the largest gift in university history – to endow scholarships, professorships and programs and to match similar gifts to the Fowler College of Business. With the success of the campaign, the university’s endowment has grown to $231 million. Endowment distributions are now providing support for approximately $9 million in annual expenditures, and we will be pursuing additional efforts to prudently maximize endowment returns. While the Campaign for SDSU will soon end, we anticipate that private philanthropy will continue to play a key role in the university’s overall success.

Facilities Construction and Redevelopment of the Qualcomm Site

The student housing at South Campus Plaza is now open, while the Campus Green on College Avenue will be finished this semester and the plaza’s restaurants and stores will be completed this spring and summer. Our new Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex is scheduled to open in less than a year, and it will more than double our engineering instructional space and provide new labs and collaborative spaces for student, faculty and staff researchers. The EIS complex also will serve as a home for our entrepreneurship centers. Looking to the future, our Sophomore Success Program (see “Student Success” above) will require more student housing on campus. To accomplish this objective, we are currently in the planning stages for a new freshman student residence hall on the west side of campus, next to Chapultepec Hall.

The departure of the Chargers football team has opened possibilities for the redevelopment of the city-owned Qualcomm Stadium site. We are engaging in conversations with multiple parties who are interested in developing the site. We have not made a commitment to partner with any specific party. We endorse a transparent process that will provide opportunities for our academic and athletic programs, including a stadium for our top 25-ranked football team, and we look forward to working with our elected officials and other regional leaders in this process. We will continue to share information and receive counsel from participants in our university’s system of shared governance, as well as our broader community, as this complex process proceeds.

In Appreciation

All of the foregoing successes and accomplishments reflect the dedication of our community. We are grateful for the hard work, ingenuity and efforts of our faculty, staff and students and the support of our alumni and community members that are helping SDSU fulfill its destiny as a leading public research university. We wish all members of our community a productive, enjoyable and satisfying spring semester.

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