SDSU Mission Valley will benefit the region and the university for many years to come

by Stephen Welter and Joseph Johnson

We have many examples of San Diego State University students taking the lead on projects that will leave a lasting impact on students today and in the future.

Take for example the student vote that led to the construction of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union, the establishment of the Black Resource Center and the annual Aztecs Rock Hunger event.

And in about the last year, students have joined faculty, staff, alumni and community members in discussions around a possible SDSU campus expansion in Mission Valley.

At SDSU, we have taken the proposed campus expansion as an opportunity to highlight our university’s existing impact in the region – $5.67 billion annually – and to share how we would multiply that impact by growing our research and innovation initiatives, which provide fertile ground for student learning opportunities.

A significant part of our shared vision is to provide more access to the many students who apply to SDSU, and to also support them so that they may be successful as students and after they graduate. 

If we are able to build a Mission Valley campus, future generations of students, faculty, staff and community members would benefit significantly.

As you continue to learn about the university’s site plan, keep the following in mind: 

1) The plan does not rely on student tuition or fees.

SDSU plans to finance the  Mission Valley development like other university public-private partnerships that have been executed in places like Arizona State University and the University of Illinois.

Such innovation districts have created hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact while also providing tax revenue to the regions they serve.

2) The plan would expand impact-driven research and workforce development efforts.

Every day, SDSU faculty and staff work hard to provide a high-quality education to students and deliver graduates who are ready to contribute to the workforce and the economy, giving back to the community in which they live.

With that in mind, it is important to look beyond the short-term dollars and cents of redevelopment, and look to the larger economic value in having a stronger, more educated workforce.

Sixty-one percent of SDSU alumni put their degrees to work in San Diego.

For every 10,000 additional SDSU graduates, $200 million in annual economic impact is generated for the San Diego region.

Those are tax-paying citizens who have a greater capacity to participate in the local economy, create thousands of additional jobs and enhance San Diego’s economic growth for generations to come. 

3) The plan creates a hub for housing, social engagement and new, solutions-oriented ideas.

Universities have always been anchors in their community, and SDSU is no different.

Today however, more universities are also focusing on their roles of transforming student lives through educational opportunities, and also in serving as creators of novel solutions to issues facing our society and as engines for

positive change as part of a city’s economic development efforts.

If we are allowed the opportunity to develop the Mission Valley site, we plan to build affordable housing, an expansive river park and community parks and an innovation district that would situate the private-sector next to faculty where they can collaborate on ideas and generate new commercial enterprises.

Afforded that opportunity, every single dollar we invest in Mission Valley will go back to our public university, our students and the city through the economic return of higher education.

Through our shared vision and plan, we have the opportunity to ensure future generations of SDSU students will have the opportunity to excel and pursue their academic and professional potential.

Stephen Welter is San Diego State’s vice president of graduate and research affairs, and Joseph Johnson is San Diego State’s interim provost.

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