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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

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View of Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union (Photo: Jim Brady) View of Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union (Photo: Jim Brady)

Above and Beyond

Gifts from faculty and staff enhance the SDSU student experience.
By Coleen L. Geraghty

This story appears in the summer 2018 issue of 360: The Magazine of San Diego State University

The Campaign for SDSU finished with a bang in 2018, but faculty and staff continue to support San Diego State University with significant and generous gifts. 

Over 10 percent of the $815 million raised during The Campaign for SDSU came from university faculty and staff. Not surprisingly, most give to support the students and programs they work with every day.

Transformational experiences

Joyce Gattas is one of SDSU’s most generous donors among faculty and staff. She has served as dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts (PSFA) for nearly three decades after several years in Faculty Advancement.  

Her giving affords students the kinds of transformational experiences—such as study abroad and internships—that enrich their education. 

“I love this university. I’ve devoted my life to it, and I see the value of the education students get at SDSU,” Gattas said. “I want to provide them with those extraordinary kinds of experiences that add value to their education and their own growth.”

As dean, Gattas has connected SDSU to the community through her involvement with San Diego institutions. She has served on numerous boards and committees, including the San Diego Public Library Foundation Board of Trustees, the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture Advocacy Committee, the Balboa Park Conservancy and the San Diego Women’s Foundation. 

She has also worked with alumni and friends of SDSU donors to raise scholarship support for students whose professional internships are not funded. 

“I believe one of the pillars of PSFA is internships,” she said. “They really get to the core of these professional disciplines.” 

Scholarships for athletes

Ryan Donovan understands the importance of athletic scholarships. Before he was head coach for the SDSU men’s golf team, Donovan played for the Aztecs. He was recruited on scholarship, but some of his teammates weren’t so lucky. Donovan’s planned gift will make it possible for SDSU to offer more golf scholarships and recruit better players.  

“We want to be competing against the best programs in the country, to say we had a piece of it,” said Donovan. “Scholarships are an important part of winning national championships.”

With Donovan as coach, the Aztecs have advanced to the NCAA regionals every season with an active streak of 20 straight postseason bids. Two of his players—J.J. Spaun and Xander Schauffele—are currently on the PGA Tour.

Donovan is the type of coach who knows his players well and keeps in touch with them long after they leave SDSU. He attends their weddings, writes them professional references and even hires some of them to be his assistant coaches. 

“The most important thing to remember is where you came from and the opportunities you were given,” Donovan said. “If you can return the favor by giving back, that’s the best.” 

Honoring family

Norah Shultz is a newcomer to SDSU. She joined in 2016 as associate vice president for the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement. 

From the beginning, Shultz resolved to support high-impact practices such as service learning and international experiences for SDSU students. The resolve became a plan when her husband Jeff, who had accompanied her to San Diego, passed away from side effects related to Parkinson’s disease shortly after they arrived.

Jeff Shultz was an educational anthropologist and former dean of international programs at Arcadia University. He focused his research and publications on sociolinguistics, multiculturalism, diversity and internationalization in higher education, and was co-author of “The Counselor as Gatekeeper: Social Interaction in Interview,” a seminal book in the field of interactional sociolinguistics.

“Jeff was student-centered. He was deeply involved in social justice and worked to promote multiculturalism at Arcadia, where he was recognized as a professor emeritus,” Shultz said. “I know that creating the Jeff Shultz Endowed Scholarship is a good way to honor him.”