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Monday, May 29, 2023

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SDSU President Adela de la Torre spoke at the 2021-22 All-University Convocation. At left, the Alumni Distinguished Faculty Awards statuettes. (Photo: Scott Hargrove) SDSU President Adela de la Torre spoke at the 2021-22 All-University Convocation. At left, the Alumni Distinguished Faculty Awards statuettes. (Photo: Scott Hargrove)

Hundreds Gather for All-University Convocation

About 500 SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley faculty and staff attended the official fall welcome event in person.
By SDSU News Team

San Diego State University President Adela de la Torre welcomed the SDSU community back to a mostly in-person campus for fall 2021 in her fourth All-University Convocation.

The event, with about 500 in attendance and other joining via an online livestream, marked the beginning of the university’s 124th academic year and served as an occasion both to look ahead and to honor outstanding faculty and staff.

Convocation moved back to its traditional spot in the Montezuma Hall at Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union after last year’s online ceremony, which was prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and public health restrictions.

“When I reflect on the last year and a half, I can honestly say that our willingness to collectively break down barriers in teaching and research allowed us to survive and thrive during this period,” de la Torre said.

“We embraced new ways to collaborate and support each other,” she said. “We were fluid as we came together through ever changing environments. And we transformed work and teaching in ways we could not have imagined before the pandemic.”

SDSU’s top achievements of the past year, de la Torre said, included a partnership with the County of San Diego Department of Health and Human Services and community organizations to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccines and to promote awareness of the resources, particularly in underserved communities.

“That collaboration directly helped our university and the region make real progress against the virus, and save lives,” she said.

SDSU also excels as the transborder university of the region and state, de la Torre said. “We know in our hearts and minds the importance of bridging divides and bringing people and ideas together for the greater good.”

The university’s presence in two other locations in particular show a promise to come, de la Torre said.

The vision for SDSU Imperial Valley includes an increased capacity to meet the region’s needs for a professional, highly skilled workforce, enhanced by a new STEM major in  mathematics and new graduate programs that begin this fall. The university also is exploring a 200-acre buildout in Brawley, connected with the development of an innovation district.

And SDSU Mission Valley, where the final steel beam for the under-construction Aztec Stadium was hoisted into place in July, presents a “dynamic new future, rich with opportunities” for additional research and innovation, more students, new housing and thousands of jobs.

De la Torre also pointed to a variety of new programs at SDSU Global Campus, new microsites to expand access to degree programs, and expanded resources for graduate students.

In an annual highlight of convocation, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Salvador Hector Ochoa and Charlotte Ochiqui, president of the SDSU Alumni Board of Directors, presented the annual Alumni Distinguished Faculty Awards.

“SDSU is an extraordinary university, in large part because of our extraordinary faculty,” Ochoa said. “Among them are masterful, inspirational teachers; phenomenal researchers; committed and engaged citizens of our university community; passionate leaders of their scholarly disciplines (both nationally and internationally); compassionate servants of our SDSU community and many who excel in all areas of their professional endeavors.”

This year’s honorees are:

•  Anne Donadey (College of Arts and Letters)

•  Chamu Sundarmurthy (Fowler College of Business)

•  Marjorie Olney (College of Education)

•  Thais Alves (College of Engineering)

•  Carol Mackersie (College of Health and Human Services)

•  Denitsa Bliznakova (College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts)

•  Robert Zeller (College of Sciences)

•  Mark Wheeler (SDSU Imperial Valley)

Also recognized were the Presidential Staff Excellence Award recipients. The awardees for 2021 are Peter Delaney, Dominiko Villa, Greg Elliott, Libby Skiles, Shareka White, Cathy Chavez, Julie White, Chris Clements, Sean Hauze, Leo Lopez, Michelle Peterson and Aurora Velasco. The university’s first Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Jim Herrick.

The 2021-22 academic year opens with 50 new faculty members, 20 new academic advisers and eight additional mental-health counselors for the office of Counseling and Psychological Services.

In an SDSU tradition, the program opened with a Kumeyaay Land Acknowledgement delivered by SDSU Tribal Liaison Jacob Alvarado Waipuk.

University Senate Chair Wil Weston and Associated Students President Ashley Tejeda also participated.