“Given the number of alumni we have here, we want to build a program that will feed students into San Diego State and feed San Diego State graduates into professional careers in DFW.”
Following the example of its efforts in regions ranging from the Pacific Northwest to New York, San Diego State University has set its sights on the Dallas/Fort Worth “Metroplex” (DFW) as an area to cultivate expansion of the university’s growing national reputation. Recent formation of an SDSU DFW Regional Leadership Council is solidifying SDSU’s efforts to organize alumni in North Texas and help raise SDSU’s profile there.
Currently, more than 6,600 SDSU alumni live in Texas. The largest concentration of those – almost 2,200 counting degree and non-degree holders – is in the DFW area, although sizable numbers of SDSU alumni can be found in Austin and San Antonio as well.
In recent years, DFW has been among the most rapidly growing areas of the country. For both SDSU alumni and students, that growth represents opportunity.
"It's building a community and then building partnerships in the area for current students, parents and alumni," said Channelle McNutt
, (’13), SDSU’s assistant director for regional development in Texas.
One of the hotspots
Among the Aztec alumni helping to strengthen that community are DFW Regional Leadership Council Members Kristin O’Neal
, (’07), Albert Tan
, (’89), and Stephen Coslik
, (’71). Tan and Coslik serve as co-chairs of the council and O’Neal is president of the DFW Alumni Chapter.
Coslik, who is chairman of the Fort Worth-based Woodmont Company dealing in commercial real estate, sees potential for SDSU students and alumni 1,300 miles from campus.
“Texas right now is one of the hotspots,” he said. “Given the number of alumni we have here, we want to build a program that will feed students into San Diego State and feed San Diego State graduates into professional careers in DFW.
“Our graduates who want to either come to Texas or come back to Texas should be able to have a connection with the university and the opportunity to grow with San Diego State when they are in DFW."
A bright future
The SDSU Office of Admissions reports a record 197 students from the Lone Star State are admitted to SDSU for the fall semester of 2017. That number places Texas among the top states outside of California sending students to Montezuma Mesa.
That’s no surprise to Tan, a partner with Haynes and Boone LLP in Dallas, where he has worked for the past 24 years. The DFW Regional Leadership Council co-chair said he had followed SDSU’s progress from afar for many years, but a campus visit last November helped him understand why the university is attracting record numbers of students from around the world.
“I hadn't seen the campus in 20-some years,” Tan said. “It is transformed. There are all these new buildings that are much more conducive for students to achieve and all the programs that the university is promoting didn't quite exist when I was there.
“The research focus of the university is huge, the caliber of students is terrific, and I feel like the future for SDSU is bright."
Both Coslik and Tan mentioned the recent success of Aztec athletics in helping to elevate SDSU to a national stage. The football team’s Las Vegas Bowl trouncing of the University of Houston and subsequent top 25 ranking
specifically got the attention of football-focused Texans.
Recent DFW visits by head men’s basketball coach Steve Fisher
and football head coach Rocky Long
attracted good crowds of proud alumni. O’Neal, who is a financial planner with her own practice, has also organized watch parties for some Aztec football games.
As alumni chapter president, O'Neal tries to organize some form of social event every quarter. She will also seek alumni volunteers to staff high school recruiting events in the area and help attract potential SDSU students.
"The alumni group is social opportunities, networking and keeping people connected to the university,” the former SDSU ambassador said. “The DFW Regional Leadership Council is people who are more established in their careers and looking for an opportunity to give back to the university and are more interested in higher levels of engagement.”
O’Neal got involved a few years ago by contacting the university and asking about ways to connect with other Aztecs. She started by contacting alumni in her area and organizing get-togethers.
“I'm really excited about the progress we've made in the past year or two,” she said. Still, she wants to help take the network to the next level by working with DFW alumni to arrange mentorships and internships for SDSU students from Texas and solicit businesses for student scholarships.
“There are so many Southern California companies moving to Dallas that I think the opportunity to grow our visibility here is really endless,” O’Neal said.
To learn more about SDSU alumni in DFW, check out Dallas-Ft. Worth Aztecs on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SDSUDallas