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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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University Senate Chair Nola Butler Byrd addressed the campus community at SDSU's annual All-University Convocation. (Photo: Scott Hargrove)

All-University Convocation Spotlights SDSU’s ‘Clarity of Purpose’

Faculty and staff gathered for the official fall welcome event prior to the first day of classes.
By Jeff Ristine

San Diego State University President Adela de la Torre welcomed the SDSU community to a new academic year at the annual All-University Convocation on Thursday.

More than 700 faculty and staff attended the event in Montezuma Hall at Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, marking the beginning of the university’s 125th academic year and continuing an annual tradition of honoring outstanding faculty and staff.

De la Torre began her fifth convocation as SDSU president by looking back across the history of the university.

“Just think of the lives that have been enriched, the careers inspired, the intellectual curiosity sparked and the research and teaching milestones that have been achieved,” she said. “Over the decades, SDSU has become a pillar of this community and region, and our connections become stronger and more meaningful by the day.”

De la Torre spoke extensively of the “clarity of purpose” rooted in the mission, values and goals of SDSU and its importance in a shared vision to transform students’ lives through education and community.

This sense “will allow us to move forward beyond the pandemic, the social upheaval, grief, as well as the uncertainty we have often faced in our daily lives over the last two and a half years. Together, we can and should enter this year with greater optimism and hope,” de la Torre said.

Highlights will include the Sept. 3 opening of SDSU’s 35,000-capacity Snapdragon Stadium in SDSU Mission Valley, “one of the prime economic engines of the site,” de la Torre said. “The stadium is designed to serve the entire community and will continue to reinforce the already strong bonds between SDSU and the greater San Diego region and its residents.”

Also on the horizon, de la Torre noted, is a state-funded, $80 million expansion of STEM programs at SDSU Imperial Valley, which is tied to the region’s aspirations for becoming California’s Lithium Valley. “SDSU students and faculty will be part of this exciting future thanks to the state of California’s confidence in our university.”

SDSU’s impact is impressive and growing, she also said.

“Today, as the only truly transborder university in the region, the state and in the nation, we are highly regarded for our research, innovation, and workforce training for a highly diverse student body, where we embrace and engage our multiple identities and communities with compassion and concern,” she said.

“We not only claim stewardship of the complete border region of the state but also, we see beauty and hope for this region.”

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Salvador Hector Ochoa and Risa Baron, president of the SDSU Alumni Board of Advisors, presented the annual Alumni Distinguished Faculty Awards.

“SDSU is an extraordinary university, in large part because of our stellar 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 internationally and nationally; compassionate servants of our SDSU community and many who excel in all areas of professional endeavors.

“Additionally, we have outstanding librarians who are committed to student success and who assist our faculty in their professional endeavors,” Ochoa also said.

This year’s honorees are:

Elisa Sobo, College of Arts and Letters
Kamal Haddad, Fowler College of Business
Frank Harris III, College of Education
George Youssef, College of Engineering
Sonja Pruitt-Lord, College of Health and Human Services
Sherry Ryan, College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts
Richard Levine, College of Sciences
Gloria Rhodes, University Library
Magdalena Altamirano, SDSU Imperial Valley

Also recognized were the Presidential Staff Excellence Award recipients for 2022:

Angelica Banaag
Todd Rehfuss
Kimberly Kennelly
La Monica Everett-Haynes
Courtney Harmon
Gabriella Ruiz
Team: Dustin Adkins, Keiara Allen, Georgette Astorga, Evie Baez and Chelsea Payne.

The university’s second annual Lifetime Achievement award recipient was James Frazee.

University Senate Chair Nola Butler Byrd and Associated Students President Shawki Moore also spoke at convocation.