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Saturday, February 4, 2023

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SDSU President Emeritus Stephen Weber SDSU President Emeritus Stephen Weber
 


What Stephen L. Weber Wants You to Know

Facing a terminal diagnosis, the former SDSU president explains why he is creating an endowment to ensure faculty support in the College of Arts and Letters.
By SDSU News Team
 

In addition to a sound analytic mind and a contemplative nature, what you always get from Steve Weber is honesty. That was true when he was president of San Diego State University and it remains true as he faces a terminal illness.

In October of 2021, Weber was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In the time he has remaining, he is working to create an endowment that will support faculty members in SDSU’s College of Arts and Letters.  

During a Dec. 15, 2022 phone conversation from his new home in New Jersey, Weber addressed both with the candor for which he is known. His illness, he said, is no secret.

“I am perfectly happy to let people know that I have ALS,” he said. “The truth is I am in pretty bad shape. That is the nature of the disease.”

A student of philosophy, Weber naturally takes a philosophical approach to his ALS diagnosis. “Philosophy does not allow me to feel sorry for myself,” he said.

“I do not get depressed. I don't get discouraged. I believe I have had a full and privileged life and it is hard to suggest that ALS is somehow unfair.”

PROVIDING OPPORTUNITIES

Weber’s circumstance, however, prompts a sooner-than-later approach to a project that is close to his heart: the President Stephen Weber Fund for Excellence. He has provided $100,000 and is working with a University Relations and Development (URAD) team to grow the endowment.

“Steve Weber understands very well the opportunities a fund like his can provide faculty members and their students in the College of Arts and Letters,” said SDSU University Relations and Development Vice President Adrienne Vargas. “We are grateful on behalf of those who will benefit from his vision and leadership in establishing this endowment.”

Early in his career, Weber served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Connecticut’s Fairfield University. There, he learned first-hand how much faculty can benefit if they have the resources necessary to present papers at professional conferences, travel to pursue exciting research opportunities or attend an out-of-state meeting on best teaching practices.

“I would like future deans in the College of Arts and Letters at San Diego State to be able to say, ‘Yes, I will invest in you. That is a worthy project. Let us help you on your way,’” he said.

“Just a little bit of flexibility that you can give the dean of the College of Arts and Letters can do amazing things. The freedom and the creativity that we can encourage through this fund will pay wonderful dividends for San Diego State for years to come.”

MAKING A REAL CONNECTION

Weber’s effort to create the fund comes as no surprise to Robert Price, president of the San Diego-based Price Philanthropies Foundation. Price met Weber in the 1990s when his father, Sol Price, spearheaded a comprehensive initiative in the City Heights community, part of which included a collaboration between SDSU and the San Diego Unified School District to promote education opportunities at three schools in the neighborhood.

The initiative was forward-thinking, with the community’s public schools and its closest public university joining forces to the benefit of both. Price was impressed by Weber’s leadership qualities.

“He is just a tremendous person,” Price said during a recent interview. “I respect him as a leader, as a man of great ethics and moral character, and I was always honored to be able to work with him.

“From my point of view, Steve Weber was very successful in bringing San Diego State into the community that we were dealing with and making more of a real connection, not being some separate, isolated educational institution, but a real integrated educational institution for San Diego.”

MOVING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK

Although he departed SDSU almost a dozen years ago, Weber said he still closely follows the latest developments at the university. He is pleased with the school’s continuing success, and through the President Stephen Weber Fund for Excellence, hopes to remain a contributor.

“I believe in moving the university forward,” he said. “The initiative in Mission Valley is incredibly important.  We had been talking about such things while I was there, but nothing beyond talk. Look what happened:

“Ultimately, there was a public referendum… and the community of San Diego trusted San Diego State.  I think that’s a wonderful expression of the real synergy between San Diego State and the broader community of San Diego. We are a better university because of our presence in San Diego and San Diego is a better, more prosperous community because of SDSU.”

It's a synergy he intends to help extend in perpetuity.

“I look back with a great deal of pride and satisfaction on the time I was privileged to spend at San Diego State. I had great colleagues. They had real ambitions for the university, for their students and for the larger community.

“I am so proud of San Diego State and what it has done. It’s important that healthy organizations continue to evolve and move forward. I see San Diego State as a vital, living institution that is reinventing itself regularly, sometimes in ways I could not have imagined, but always in ways I respect and applaud.”

To support this endowment with a gift, donate online at philanthropy.sdsu.edu/PresidentWeber. To learn more about making a major gift, please contact Keely Bamberg, kbamberg@sdsu.edu.