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Monday, March 20, 2023

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SDSU inaugurations are well-attended public celebrations that united the institution and the community. SDSU President Adela de la Torre's inauguration will be held April 11. Photo: Sandy Huffaker SDSU inaugurations are well-attended public celebrations that united the institution and the community. SDSU President Adela de la Torre's inauguration will be held April 11. Photo: Sandy Huffaker

Community-Building Event to Honor SDSU President, University History

All are invited to attend the April 11 inauguration and investiture of President Adela de la Torre, a “once-in-a-generation event.”
By La Monica Everett-Haynes

April 11 will mark a historic familial and community event at San Diego State University designed to honor the institution’s legacy and trajectory while formally charging SDSU President Adela de la Torre with the responsibilities of her administrative station. 
The day-long inauguration, to include a special investiture ceremony – both of which are open to all – will be the first time SDSU has held an event of this type in more than two decades. It will also be only the fifth time the university has organized a presidential inauguration.
Such a rarity makes the inauguration a “once-in-a-generation event,” said anthropology professor Seth Mallios, the University History Curator.
“This ceremony and ritual mark a rite of passage; it is about an important transition. It is symbolic, and it is also very meaningful,” said Mallios, who will emcee the investiture. “These events are worth our time and effort, and these are the types of events where you bring your family. One day, you will say, ‘I was there.’”
All members of the on- and off-campus community are invited, and alumni are also encouraged to attend. Event details are available online, along with RSVP details.  
April 11 will include three major events, all of which are free and open to the public:
The Open House will be held 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., featuring a Student Research Symposium Showcase. The event will take place in the Fowler Family Ballroom of the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.
The Investiture of Adela de la Torre will be held 2-4 p.m. at Viejas Arena. This formal, centuries-old traditional ceremony grants authority to the new president.
The Campus and Community Celebration will be held 4-5:30 p.m. at Hepner Hall on the Campanile Walkway.
Material in the University Archives indicates only four of SDSU’s eight previous presidents received a formal public inauguration ceremony, Mallios said.
The last inauguration ceremony held on campus welcomed then-SDSU President Stephen L. Weber, who entered the administrative role in 1996, remaining until 2011 (former SDSU president Elliot Hirshman did not have an inauguration after his appointment in 2011).
In addition to marking  SDSU’s important leadership change and honoring de la Torre, the inauguration and investiture are important signature events highlighting the university’s history and future.
SDSU is designated as a top research institution in the U.S. with more than 400,000 alumni around the world, and generates $5.67 billion in annual economic activity for the region. Also, the university ranks No. 1 nationally in graduation rate performance and ranks No. 5 in the nation for the number of students studying abroad, according to U.S. News and World Report. 

The university  also is nationally lauded for its campus diversity and, in 2018, was named a Top 100 degree producer by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, recognizing SDSU’s strengths in supporting and graduating minority students. The university was also ranked No. 9 for the most bachelor degrees awarded to Hispanic students. 

SDSU is preparing for a golden era of expansion and innovation as it is making progress in discussions with the City of San Diego toward the purchase of the Mission Valley stadium site. The university’s plan is to build a world-class research and innovation district, a community river park and housing that will provide expanded educational and economic opportunities to the San Diego region. The university is preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), and the California State University Board of Trustees is expected to consider its approval at its first meeting in 2020.
“We are at a unique moment in the university’s history, and this moment marks a new paradigm for SDSU and for our city” de la Torre said. “We are making a major difference in our community, and I am pleased to be part of that.”

De la Torre spoke recently with Mallios about inaugurations for Fireside Charla, the president’s newly launched podcast series. 

Mallios noted parallels between de la Torre’s inauguration and similar historical events  such as the “Dedication Day” the university hosted on May 3, 1931.  During that 1931 event, U.S. Commissioner of Education William John Cooper, surveyed the barren mesa that is now SDSU’s expansive footprint, saying: “It is inevitable that this city will someday extend beyond this campus. I may not live to see it. Perhaps you will not. It will take a half century of development. Nevertheless, it is to be, and we must look ahead to make progress.”

A few years later, Walter R. Hepner, who served as president from 1935 to 1952, attended a series of inaugural celebrations, including a dinner, freshman dance, football scrimmage, campus tour and reception at Scripps Cottage.   
Hepner’s predecessor,  Edward L. Hardy, was the second San Diego State president (1910-1935) and the first to hold an inauguration. His coincided with the opening of the San Diego Normal School’s new Teacher Training Building. 
“Think about what SDSU has been and where it is going. Consider the key issues: Mission Valley, our global focus, discussions about the border and migration,” Mallios said. “I cannot think of a more important time to have this ceremony. We’re embarking on this together.”