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Saturday, December 2, 2023

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Rachael Bailey, a political science senior, aspires to practice law and represent the interests of the hearing impaired.

The Campaign Hits $300 Million

Gifts from nearly 34,000 donors take SDSU closer to its $500 million campaign goal.

What happens when thousands of San Diego State alumni and friends decide to support the university’s pursuit of excellence? 

The Campaign for SDSU achieves the $300 million mark.

SDSU’s first university-wide fundraising campaign recently reached this milestone, thanks to nearly 34,000 donors whose gifts strengthen the university’s ability to educate tomorrow’s leaders.

Since it was launched in 2007, The Campaign for SDSU has transformed San Diego State, providing new opportunities for students through rigorous academics, experiential learning, faculty mentoring and professional internships. 

With an overall goal of $500 million, the campaign has so far raised $144.5 million for SDSU’s academic programs and the university library, including $9 million to support endowed chairs and professorships. 

“Reaching the $300 million milestone is a testament to the university’s momentum and the generosity of our numerous supporters,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. “Scholarship support for our students and for the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff is moving our educational, research and community service programs forward at a pivotal time in the university’s history.”

Fueling potential

Destin Cretton
Destin Daniel Cretton

Students are the prime beneficiaries of The Campaign for SDSU. To date, nearly $33 million has been contributed to Fuel Potential, the campaign’s scholarship initiative. 

This giving supports students like Jennifer Keliher-Venegas, whose conservation-based research has the potential to influence the management of small-scale fisheries around the world, and Destin Daniel Cretton, winner of both the top prize for a short film at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and a $30,000 Nicholl Fellowship for aspiring screenwriters from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Campaign for SDSU has also raised $4 million for the Guardian Scholars program, which provides year-round room and board, as well as academic mentoring, for students exiting the foster care system.

“It’s amazing to see what’s been accomplished in just a few years,” said Christoper (Kit) Sickels, chairman of the Campanile Foundation. “Donors clearly understand the impact of support, and they have responded.”

Transforming SDSU

An early success of The Campaign for SDSU was the 2009 opening of the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.  Built with support from SDSU’s friends and alumni, the 30,000-square-foot facility serves as a venue for events, meetings and other Aztec gatherings.

Other examples of this transformation include:

Leadership starts here

Since launching the “public” phase of the campaign last fall, SDSU has seen increased support for Aztec leaders, including veterans, student-athletes and outstanding scholars.

Gifts to the Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center secure SDSU’s ability to meet the specialized needs of our 1,100 returning vets, active-duty personnel and reservists, as well as 2,000 military dependents, ROTC cadets and midshipmen.

The Fowler Challenge is a $5 million matching gift to support SDSU Athletics, including scholarships for student-athletes. In a single year, the Athletics Excellence Fund established by Ron and Alexis Fowler’s gift raised an additional $3 million for athletic facility upgrades and student support. 

Gifts exceeding $1 million from Keith Behner, ’71, and Catherine Stiefel, ’92, will benefit hundreds of students in her alma mater, the College of Business Administration, and his, the College of Arts and Letters. The gift will expand curricula and fund scholarships, while establishing endowments to ensure SDSU’s ability to educate future generations of students.

Reaching the $300 million milestone is a testament to the university’s momentum and the generosity of our numerous supporters. 

Every gift counts

Equally important to The Campaign for SDSU are smaller gifts from parents, alumni and friends who support higher education and understand how philanthropy at all levels can enhance the college experience.

The Aztec Parents Fund, for example, has grown to more than $1.4 million during the campaign.

“Since The Campaign for SDSU was launched, we’ve seen a big increase in support from Aztec parents,” Sickels said. “They are among our most passionate donors because they know firsthand the positive impact that SDSU can make in a young person’s life.”

To learn more about The Campaign for SDSU, visit