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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Christine and Fred Pierce Christine and Fred Pierce

Giving Forward

A philanthropic gift from Fred and Christine Pierce to support SDSU’s Stadium Excellence Fund is the latest in a series of Pierce commitments designed to propel the university well into the future.
By Tobin Vaughn

Less than four years.  That’s the time between the November 2018 Measure G public vote to sell San Diego’s Mission Valley stadium property to San Diego State University, and the Sept. 3 opening game of the school’s 2022 football season at its new Snapdragon Stadium.

At kickoff, when the Aztecs take on the University of Arizona Wildcats, perhaps no one in the stadium will be happier than Frederick W. Pierce IV (’84, ’88), president and CEO of Pierce Education Properties (PEP). Since the outset of the effort to expand SDSU’s campus, Pierce, who holds both a finance degree and an MBA from the university, has worked tirelessly promoting its plans to develop facilities for research and technology, housing, commercial development, a river park, and a new stadium to accommodate sports, concerts, and other entertainment events. 

PEP buys, plans, develops, and builds student housing operations across the country, although the company is not involved in development of SDSU Mission Valley. As someone familiar with large-scale projects, Pierce admits to being astonished by how fast the SDSU extension is progressing from vision to reality.

“To win that election and less than four years later we are opening a brand-new stadium, that is nothing short of miraculous,” Pierce said. “It's unprecedented in California to have a project of that magnitude happen in this time frame.”

Delivering a new stadium on time, within budget, and during the COVID-19 pandemic is “truly a testament to the quality of the project and everybody involved in it,” he said. “My hat is off to all of the university leadership from the campus to the chancellor’s office to their board of trustees.”

Pierce knows a great deal about leadership and service.  He is a member of The Campanile Foundation Board of Directors, has held positions as SDSU Alumni president, chair of the Fowler College of Business Advisory Board, and also served a six-year term as a trustee of the California State University System. 

He and his family have donated millions to SDSU including the Fowler College of Business, the Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences Complex, the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center, SDSU Athletics, scholarship endowments and continuing support for a variety of student scholarships.

A World of Opportunity

Most recently, Pierce and his wife, Christine, donated more than $900,000 to support the Stadium Excellence Fund. In appreciation, the university named the stadium level  in the west stands where his luxury suite is located the Pierce Pavilion, installing a plaque that reads:

The Pierce Family is synonymous with support for SDSU.  With three generations of Aztecs, starting with Patriarch Carl Folsom, and continued through Fred, Christine, Riley, Peyton and husband Mat, as well as cousins and nieces, there are 13 Pierce Aztecs and counting.  The gateway of opportunity for Fred’s life success was SDSU, so it is important the family give forward so others have those same opportunities.  Fred was a leader in the effort that resulted in the success of “Measure G” – the SDSU West Ballot Initiative.  So, when it came time to name one of the premier suite levels of Snapdragon Stadium, it only made sense that it become the “Pierce Pavilion.”

Although Pierce is grateful for the sentiment, he hopes the plaque will provide inspiration for others.
“We hope people will read the testimonial and realize that this is all about giving forward,” he said. “I like the idea of giving forward as opposed to giving back because we are moving forward.” 

Pierce cites SDSU Mission Valley as a physical example of the university’s forward momentum. As its first completed project, the stadium “massively exceeded my expectations,” he said. “It's a transformational happening that’s changing the trajectory of San Diego State for the next century.”

And If there’s any way to further that momentum, Pierce believes in lending his support.

“Higher education changes people‘s lives. It certainly changed my life. 

“Without San Diego State, I think it is fair to say I wouldn’t be where I am now professionally. I wouldn’t have the same expanded group of friends, so many of whom have SDSU connections. 

“SDSU opened up a world of opportunity for me, so I want to help try to make SDSU more accessible by helping facilitate the continued growth of the university to benefit future generations.”