San Diego State University welcomed its eighth president, Elliot Hirshman, Ph.D., on July 5. Hirshman was formerly provost and senior vice president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Hirshman spent most of his first day meeting members of the SDSU community on and off campus and vowed to continue building relationships during the coming months.
The California State University Board of Trustees named Hirshman president in May.
Out in the community
On a hot, humid morning uncharacteristic of San Diego, Hirshman arrived early to salute the raising of the American flag in front of Hepner Hall alongside members of SDSU’s ROTC and veterans communities.
Immediately afterward, he witnessed a microcosm of America’s immigrant diversity in the San Diego neighborhood of City Heights. At Rosa Parks Elementary School, Hirshman visited classrooms, spoke to teachers and met a group of parent volunteers.
Rosa Parks is part of the City Heights Educational Collaborative, an initiative that partners three San Diego Unified School District schools in City Heights with SDSU’s College of Education, the San Diego Education Association and Price Charities with the aim of improving student achievement.Educational collaborations
In one classroom, Hirshman listened as two visiting SDSU student interns urged the fifth graders to plan for college. Later he told reporters he was excited to learn about SDSU’s educational collaborations within the San Diego community. He credited former SDSU president Stephen Weber with creating that momentum.
“I’ve been impressed by how many lives the university touches on a daily basis,” Hirshman wrote in a blog entry.
Hirshman’s wife, Jeri, a former nurse, joined the new president for lunch with the student advisory board of SDSU’s Educational Opportunity Program and for tours of the university's WPA murals restoration project and Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center.
BioScience Center tour
Center director Roberta Gottlieb led the Hirshmans and invited members of the news media through the third- and fourth-floor research labs and then to the second floor, which will become a space for commercializing the bioscience technology developed at SDSU. A $5 million gift from Darlene Shiley in honor of her late husband, Donald, will finance the construction.
Just before speaking to a group of prospective parents and students, Hirshman had a chance encounter with Brian Carlwell, a center for the Aztec men’s basketball team, which last year won a school-record 34 games and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
“I have to ask you this because it’s what people are going to be asking me soon,” Hirshman said. “How do we look for next season?”