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Thursday, December 7, 2023

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SDSU President Adela de la Torre speaks during festivities celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs. (SDSU) SDSU President Adela de la Torre speaks during festivities celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs. (SDSU)

SDSU’s Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs Celebrates 80th Anniversary

Campus and community join to recognize the Institute’s legacy of facilitating robust intellectual discussion on challenging international issues.
By John Chier

Audiatur et altera pars. It’s Latin for “Let the other side be heard” and is the motto of San Diego State University’s Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs. Founded in 1942 in the midst of World War II, the Institute was created as a venue for spirited intellectual engagement on international issues. While the issues of the day have evolved through the decades, the Institute has never wavered from its focus on facilitating robust critical debate, especially relating to highly controversial themes.

Speakers from around the world have included ambassadors, Nobel Laureates, and world leaders addressing areas ranging from international diplomacy and academia to national security and protest politics. Recent topics of discussion have included drone warfare and targeted killings, international war crime courts, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, U.S. foreign policy and Brexit.

On Sept. 29, SDSU President Adela de la Torre joined faculty, staff and members of the community at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center’s Fowler Family Ballroom to honor the Institute’s 80th anniversary. 

The event featured a panel discussion, moderated by Institute director Nancy Nicholson, in which three panelists each presented a retrospective on a segment of the Institute’s 80-year history.

“It's a privilege to carry on the legacy of such a venerated piece of SDSU's history," said Nicholson. "The Hostler Institute's mission is more important today than ever. We are committed to fostering global conversations with the greater SDSU community, which makes me very proud of our work."

In 2004, the Institute was endowed by Ambassador Charles W. Hostler, a former adjunct professor of political science at SDSU, and his wife Chinyeh Hostler, an SDSU alumna. Charles Hostler was a decorated veteran, whose unit landed on Utah Beach in Normandy, France on D-Day in 1944. Following his retirement as a colonel in the Air Force, he went on to serve in appointed positions for three California governors, and as deputy assistant secretary for international commerce in the Nixon and Ford administrations. In 1989 he was named U.S. ambassador to Bahrain by President George H.W. Bush, a position he would hold for four years.

Ambassador Hostler died in 2014 and Chinyeh Hostler, who attended the 80th anniversary celebration, carries on the family’s legacy of generosity. Originally from Taiwan, Chinyeh Hostler is a successful businesswoman, having worked for large financial companies and later running her own import and export business. Her work experience and business travels led to a passion for learning about different people and their cultures.

“We are grateful to the Hostlers for their visionary leadership, along with the Institute’s leaders and speakers for carrying on this important, longstanding tradition on our campus,” said de la Torre. “In our increasingly polarized society, I cannot overstate the importance of the Institute’s role in creating opportunities for healthy critical discussions.” 

The Hostler Institute is today located in SDSU’s Fowler College of Business. It hosts two lectures annually in collaboration with the President’s Lecture Series, which are open to the SDSU and greater San Diego communities. 

For SDSU students, the Institute created a course in Global Business and Diplomacy (MGT 403). There is also an opportunity for a student to be selected as the Charles W. Hostler Institute on World Affairs Scholar, and students enrolled in the Fowler College of Business or pursuing a major in international business can apply for merit-based Hostler Study Abroad Scholarships. Current Hostler Study Abroad Scholars are in Switzerland, Canada, France and South Korea. 

“SDSU is a transborder university that understands its wide-reaching responsibility to global society,” said Nicholson. “It’s fitting that the Charles W. Hostler Institute has spent 80 years building international awareness, encouraging critical thought and seeking diplomacy through education. I’m confident it will continue to contribute to our community and to the world for many years to come.”