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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

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President Hirshman congratulates Asfaw Beyene. Hirshman's speech begins at the 27:49 mark of the video.

Focus on Strategy for Long-Term Success

All-University Convocation also included the presentation of Awards for Outstanding Faculty Contributions to the university, more commonly known as Montys.
By Catherine Snapp

SDSU President Elliot Hirshman laid out a strategy for the university’s long-term success at Thursday’s All-University Convocation.

The morning ceremony in Viejas Arena, which marks the beginning of the new academic year, also honored the seven winners of this year’s Awards for Outstanding Faculty Contributions.

"We have to build on these successes
and meet significant challenges."

Reflecting on the university community’s achievements of the past year, Hirshman praised successes that “are a testament to the innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of our students, faculty and staff.”

He cited SDSU’s nationally recognized graduation and freshman-to-sophomore retention rates – nearly equal across racial and ethnic groups – internationalization initiatives and its federal recognition as a Hispanic-serving institution.

Hirshman's presentation begins at the 27:49 mark of the video.

Recognizing success

Hirshman also noted a wide range of individual “firsts” and accomplishments from students, faculty and staff.  The past year saw everything from the campus’s first Engineering Research Center grant and Udall scholar to a critically acclaimed book and discoveries of a protein that fights the flu, genetically engineered stem cells that repair damaged hearts and two new planet systems where planets orbit two stars.

“Every student, faculty and staff member can, and should, be proud of all of these accomplishments,” Hirshman said. “In the coming year we have to build on these successes and meet significant challenges.”

The university’s state appropriation has decreased from $221 million to $103 million since 2008, and Hirshman said “we cannot accommodate a decrease of this magnitude solely by reducing costs.”

Strategic vision

He outlined three aspects of a strategy for SDSU’s long-term success:

  • Pursuing financial stabilization and strength by pursuing multiple approaches to enhance revenue.
  • Focusing resources for results by building on areas of strength.
  • Raising awareness of SDSU excellence.

Hirshman said the campuswide Campaign for SDSU – one of the revenue approaches – raised $72 million in the last fiscal year, and the current campaign total is now at more than $340 million of the $500 million goal.

He said the university will begin a broad-based strategic planning process this fall to help focus campus resources and efforts.

“We are at a pivotal moment, and there is a clear path forward. … We can control our own destiny and continue our development as a leading public research university.”

In his closing, Hirshman referred to the groundwork for today’s successes that were laid during the Great Depression. Among other things, the era saw the hiring of legendary history professor Abraham Nasatir and a do-it-yourself move when students, faculty and staff loaded trucks and drove the school’s assets to Montezuma Mesa,

“What we can know with complete certainty,” he said “is that, as in the past 115 years, the work we will do together this year will advance our missions of education, research and service – and lay the foundation for our future success.”


Also speaking at All-University Convocation were Bill Eadie, chair of the University Senate and a professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies, and Associated Students President Rob O’Keefe. Emcee was Andrea Rollins, chief of staff in the President’s Office.

Eadie noted that despite discouraging budget news in the last few years, students at SDSU are achieving remarkable things. “Faculty, staff and students have worked separately and together to produce some of the most significant scholarship ever generated here,” he said.

O’Keefe, who is double majoring in political science and international security and conflict resolution, praised the success of shared governance at SDSU.

“I am confident that my final year at San Diego State will be one of momentum, change, and unity,” he said. “I believe we can fight our way through this budget crisis and lay the foundation for generations to come.”  

Faculty Montys

The SDSU Alumni Association’s Awards for Outstanding Faculty Contributions to the University  – commonly known as the “Faculty Montys” – were presented to one awardee from each of SDSU’s seven colleges.  Provost Nancy Marlin and Tim Young, president-elect of the Alumni Association, presented replica Monty statues and checks to these honorees:

  • Stuart Aitken, Department of Geography, College of Arts and Letters
  • Donald Sciglimpaglia, Marketing Department, College of Business Administration
  • Cynthia Park, School of Teacher Education, College of Education
  • Asfaw Beyene, Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Jessica Barlow, School of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, College of Health and Human Services
  • Brian Spitzberg, School of Communication, College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts
  • Vanessa Malcarne, Department of Psychology, College of Sciences