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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Rivera (far right) poses alongside former SDSU President Sally Roush and colleagues at the Undocumented Resource Area formal opening in May 2018. Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Rivera (far right) poses alongside former SDSU President Sally Roush and colleagues at the Undocumented Resource Area formal opening in May 2018.
 


Vice President Eric Rivera to Retire

His leadership over two decades has helped redefine the Aztec Experience.
By SDSU News Team
 

Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Rivera will retire from San Diego State University – a place he notes is far different from when he arrived more than two decades ago.

At the helm of Student Affairs since 2012, Rivera has worked with four SDSU presidents to improve graduation rates; expand opportunities for student internships, mentorships and study abroad; and redefine the Aztec Experience.   

"Vice President Rivera has been a national leader in Student Affairs during his tenure at San Diego State,” said former SDSU President Elliot Hirshman, who worked closely with Rivera for six years. “Eric brings a unique combination of analytical ability, strategic insight and deep concern for students' welfare to his work as a university leader.” 

As head of Student Affairs, Rivera’s primary focus has been to facilitate academic success, personal growth and well-being of SDSU students. Colleagues say his calculated and intentional investments played an important role in the university’s performance in increasing graduation rates for all students, while nearly eliminating achievement gaps among all ethnic and racial groups.

SDSU now ranks No. 1 nationally in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News & World Report. The measure compares a university’s six-year graduation rate to the rate expected given its financial resources, admissions data, proportion of economically disadvantaged students, STEM orientation and social mobility. 

“The hallmark of Vice President Rivera's leadership has been his uncompromising belief that each student is capable of success,” said former SDSU President Sally Roush. “He introduced an emphasis on data analysis and continual program improvement into intentional programs, based on his belief in capability and achievement. Eric’s contributions will benefit students for years to come.”  

During Rivera’s time at SDSU, the university expanded learning communities and facilitated the introduction of student support centers such as the Commuter Resource Center, the Pride Center, the Women’s Resource Center, the Black Resource Center and the Undocumented Resource Area

“Through Eric's collaborative leadership, San Diego State University has achieved extraordinary milestones in retention and graduation rates for students from all backgrounds,” Hirshman said.
 
Other transformative changes include: collaborating with the San Diego Housing Commission to fund housing for SDSU Guardian Scholars; developing the Harambee and Elymash Yuuchap programs to recruit and support African American and indigenous students; creating the Economic Crisis Response Team (ECRT) to address food, housing and financial insecurity among students; and growing the Aztec Parents Association from 700 members to more than 20,000.

“We will miss Eric’s determination to create a campus culture that supports the success of all students and his passion for nurturing the academic careers of our first-generation and low-income students,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre

Rivera said he’s been honored to be part of a team that’s committed to ensuring that all students feel like they belong, are connected, and know that they matter at SDSU.

“There is no one program that really made it happen,” he said. “This change and focus on success and achievement happened over a 15-year period. We stand out, not only for increased graduation rates overall but also for the students we graduate. Something is happening here that is really special.” 

Christy Samarkos, an associate vice president for Student Affairs who has worked in the Division of Student Affairs since 1999, will serve as interim vice president for Student Affairs until Rivera’s successor is chosen.

Rivera’s retirement ceremony will be held this December.