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Friday, March 24, 2023

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Looking for ROI?

The President's Leadership Fund has an 11-year record of success.

This story is featured in the summer 2014 issue of 360:The Magazine of San Diego State University.

A record 47 Aztecs graduated from the University Honors Program in May and, in a sense, the program itself is graduating too.

In another year, it will have completed the transition from honors program to a full-fledged Honors College, thanks in no small part to an early financier, the President’s Leadership Fund (PLF).

With support from an expanding circle of donors, the PLF invests in new and strategic programs or projects that often grow to become major university initiatives. PLF benefactors have given more than $500 million over 11 years to fund 254 initiatives.

The fledgling University Honors Program was one of PLF’s first investments in 2003, receiving $250,000 over five years to develop honors courses and support a faculty adviser.

The funding also enabled seven students, including Joaquin Ortega, ’06, to attend the National Honors Council Conference in Chicago. Ortega said that opportunity and the guidance he received from honors adviser Jung Choi were crucial to his SDSU education.

“The positive and uplifting experience of the honors program was a big factor in my decision to give back to the PLF,” said Ortega, currently a mechanical engineer with SANDAG. “PLF has the flexibility to support unique programs and experiences for students.”

Members of the President’s Leadership Fund make annual unrestricted contributions to provide seed money for investment in innovative programs or projects that state funding does not support.

Recent projects that have grown and developed with PLF seed money are:

•    A prototype developed by engineering professor Mahasweta Sarkar that links wireless devices to connect people with similar interests at large conventions or job fairs
•    A program to increase students’ understanding of the concepts introduced in introductory calculus by incorporating technology into lessons and providing peer tutors
•    Aztec Entertainment, a web streaming channel operated by professor Timothy Powell’s television production class to host live-streamed and recorded events, including performances by SDSU students and the KPBS series “Live at the Belly Up.”

The PLF can help launch new ventures, recruit and retain distinguished professors and students, increase on-campus and off-campus learning opportunities and deepen SDSU’s commitment to serve the San Diego community.