Welcome Reception for President-Designate Adela de la Torre

Welcome Reception for President-Designate Adela de la Torre

It is now my honor and privilege to
introduce the ninth president of San Diego State University, Dr. Adela de la Torre. (Applause) Thank you, Chimezie. Good morning San
Diego State University. Buenos días San Diego State University! I have to say, this is a university that’s blessed with bright and articulate and
thoughtful students. I look forward to working with the students and faculty
and staff and recognize fully the importance of shared governance, and I
believe it was President Black that was at the forefront in really developing
this important model here at San Diego State. I need to thank all of the search
committee members. Thank you. The advisory committee members, and I’d like to echo what Chimezie said about President Roush. Thank you!
Your service at San Diego State University over the last 30 years, over
the last three decades, has been impressive. I could not walk onto this
podium without the leadership of President Roush and her willingness to
serve. Most important today, I think what has really struck me about San Diego
State is its can-do spirit. In fact there are two reasons why I was attracted to
San Diego State. One was with its ethos statement: Leadership Starts Here. What I noticed was, is that San Diego State in every domain — whether it is its
interdisciplinary Ph.Ds, entrepreneurial programs, its new
building in science and engineering, its goal to really have high-impact classes
that really transform students’ lives — everything they do, everything that they
touch creates a kind of change that we need to create a great society. San Diego
State is a great public research institution. It’s nationally recognized.
It’s recognized in every critical domain that I value and hold dear: teaching,
research and community service. I have to say I was impressed because as an
economist I always look at data, and when I saw the six-year graduation rate of
over 75 percent — just a hair above it — that, in itself, told
me a lot about the issues of access and affordability and opportunity for our
students at San Diego State. And I certainly plan to build on these student
success initiatives. What, moreover, what I really am impressed — and today when I was
walking in the audience I had the opportunity to meet with some faculty,
and they were able to share with me some of the projects that they’re working
with our students — is this real commitment to teacher-scholars. Meaning
they are very, very proud of engaging students in research. And why is that
important? Because until students are in the field and use tools in innovative
ways, we can’t really tackle the global problems of tomorrow — things like global
warming, things like health disparities, many, many areas that are critical to the
success and the future of not only this state, [but} this nation and the world. So I’m
excited by this commitment by the faculty. I’m excited about their
commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship. And I know they will empower
our students for the future. They will become the leaders you know for our
country and for the world. One of the other areas that I’m really excited
about is the creation of the intellectual incubators. So that our
students aren’t isolated in academic silos, away from the real world. This is
going to be key in terms of student success and professional success. I think
what we see today is that — whether it’s in science, social science, humanities and
arts — that we need to expose our students to complex ideas, to complex spaces, to
nurture them so that they can see things in multiple dimensions, so that
they can incubate the new ideas. They can create the new solutions to the problems
of the future. So one of the things that’s important is that when I look at
these great programs, when I look at these great buildings like
the new interdisciplinary science and engineering building, I realize that my
role will be critical in bolstering the funding which supports this innovative
spirit and these programs. Again, walking in the audience I was talking to the
faculty. We have these wonderful NSF, NIH grants; we can get more. We’re a Hispanic-Serving Institution; we can get more. We have an opportunity to partner with
UC’s with strategic doctoral programs, so that the pathway of graduate
education is not for unique few but for many. And San Diego State can be the
innovative leader in these areas. I think we’re at another point that is
remarkable and that is the commitment of our students, faculty and community to
issues regarding social justice. When I looked at the service, the community
service of students not just here in the U.S., but on the other side of the border
as well — they’re providing health services, they’re providing community
support, they’re feeding, they’re clothing individuals who need clothing. They’re creating opportunities for housing. And this is critical in a
binational region, where we need to build bridges not only in a sense of
understanding, but in terms of creating the kind of world that will allow for
diversity of culture, diversity of perspectives, diversity of experience,
[to] have a real value. You should be proud of San Diego State University because
it serves the entire region — not just San Diego Diego County but Imperial County. I can tell you one of the other factors that impressed me were the Imperial Valley
campuses and the promise of, again, greater impact for communities that have
been historically underserved. We are a campus that’s cutting-edge. We are the
most diverse campus in terms of enrollment and, because of that, that will
be our strength. We are incredible in strength because of our alumni. Just in
this region we over 200,000 alum. This makes us
incredibly influential. We have local leaders in government, we have founders,
we have CEOs. We have individuals who are creating startups and heading community
groups. And all of that makes us strong and all this makes it an opportunity for us
to capitalize on these wonderful relationships. I hope you are proud of
all that this university has accomplished because I know I am proud,
and I am proud to serve in this role. But there’s one more thing I have
learned about this university and that is you always, always, always aspire for
greater heights. It’s funny when I spoke to many about San Diego State, before I
even applied, everyone said to me, “San Diego State has broken the mold.” It broke
the mold decades ago in its direction to look at itself as a research institution,
creating the kinds of synergies necessary to get there. And it also
created incredible opportunities for students by focusing on high-impact
areas, such as programs as international programs abroad and internships with
business. The greatness of San Diego State is something that we will always
remember. But the future is even more important. One of the things that I hope
to do is to apply the lessons, listen to the stories, learn from the relationships
and build a future that creates and sustains the greatness of San Diego
State. I’ve been impressed by the strategic plan “Building on Excellence.” It’s clear that
you’ve met many of those goals, but I envision the next plan to be one of
strategic excellence. We know that we’re excellent in many, many ways, but how can
we look at our comparative advantages both in terms of where we’re regionally
placed, in terms of our expertise, in terms of our students, in terms of our
staff? How can we really capitalize on that in creating a growth trajectory so that we can meet our goals? I envision us
working together. I want us to share a vision of student success. I want to make
sure that our community partners are fully on board in what we do. I want us
to understand that we can capitalize on being a Hispanic-Serving Institution, as well as our border location. I think we’re going to have, I
think we’re going to have many, many opportunities to develop unique funding streams, and I
look forward to that. As a faculty member who has developed many, many programs
abroad, that have worked with colleagues who worked abroad, I can attest to
high-impact programs and the transformational nature of those. So
again, I encourage us faculty, students and staff to challenge us to continue in
exploring and developing these high-impact practices, so our students
can continue in having the most important skills, to develop their
professional dreams and aspirations. I also want to highlight that I support
our faculty, staff and students in accessing the American Dream —
regardless of their immigration status. We are here together. (Applause) Aquí en la Universidad de San Diego State todos tendrán la oportunidad de llegar a su propio punto de éxito. And I promise we all — all of our students — will have that opportunity to be successful.
Strategic excellence will mean taking advantage of opportunities like
the new campus in Mission Valley. Expansions are complicated and require
dedicated long-term efforts. I know this from overseeing efforts of expansion of
housing and trying to meet areas of need of our students, such as food
insecurity. The benefits to San Diego State and to San Diego are worth the hard work.
I’m here today to pledge my support and commitment to this important opportunity
for the campus. We will build a world-class university campus with a
research center and stadium venue that will spur new discoveries and economic
development. (Applause) I want to just digress a bit and tell
you a little story because it’s important to me on a personal level. My
mother yesterday turned 95. So before I came … (Applause) before I took the 3:30 flight to,
this morning to San Diego, I drove to Berkeley, and I was there surrounded by
my sister, my nieces, my nieces and nephews, my daughters, her great-, her
great-grandchildren — about six of them — and eight great-grandchildren. And what I
remembered — this is a tradition in my family — we always start with “Las Mañanitas” — and then we sing ‘Happy Birthday” — which is a Spanish song. And in
“Las Mañanitas,” it’s a really wonderful song because in it it talks
about when the sun rises and the birds sing. I don’t know who if those are familiar with it, but what it’s really speaking about is that important day of your
birth and really the importance of the new day. And when we were singing that
song, I had to reflect and I saw my mother there very happy and proud, and
I realized that some important synergies in my life — Leadership Starts Here. Well,
at that moment, leadership started there for my family with my mother at that
95th day. (Applause) And what I want to say from the heart is
leadership starts with all of you. Just as my mother has planted the seed for a
family of daughters, of grandchildren, of great-grandchildren, of in-laws — the
expansion is endless — you, too, are going to plant those seeds and help me in this
new role. I want to ask you to share your leadership. I want to ask you to be
generous with your leadership, and I look forward to working with you in this new
chapter in San Diego State University’s history. Muchísimas gracias –
many thanks! (Applause)

One thought on “Welcome Reception for President-Designate Adela de la Torre

  1. de la Torre made clear that she would not be satisfied with striving just to be an excellent administrator of a great university but also plans to use her position to advance her personal political “social justice” agenda. We can count on her to imply that her positions on state and national political issues are those of SDSU (as her predecessors have occasionally done) and to politicize SDSU as never before. With her tremendous powers of appointment of administrators and formation of committees, for distributing rewards and favors, and for suppressing opinion and information, she can operate below the radar and gradually engineer changes unsupported by the majority of the SDSU community (students, staff, faculty, alumni) before that majority is aware of what is going on.
    We can assume that this indeed was an objective of the search and advisory committees, AND of the administrators who appointed them: get a “social justice warrior” with a pleasant personality on the throne!
    We have been told that there was a “deep pool” of strong candidates for the SDSU presidency. But perhaps there really was no candidate with potential to be “an excellent administrator of a great university” but without such hostility to U.S. and California law. And, indeed, hostility toward that majority of the SDSU community and American electorate opposing use of race and sex preferences and favoring immigration law enforcement and large reductions in legal immigration.

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