$500 million campaign unveiled

by Bill Crotty

Aztec football’s kicker Able Perez said he was honored to be chosen to “kick off” the event yesterday by kicking a football over Hepner Hall, Antonio Zaragoza/photo editor
Aztec football’s kicker Able Perez said he was honored to be chosen to “kick off” the event yesterday by kicking a football over Hepner Hall, Antonio Zaragoza/photo editor

In 2007, The Campanile Foundation embarked upon a goal of raising $500 million during a seven-year span in the first ever university-wide fundraising campaign in the school’s history. Aptly named The Campaign for SDSU was made public last Thursday and its staggering implication may affect every aspect of Aztec life on campus.

“The Campanile Foundation set a goal,” Kit Sickels, chair of TCF, said. “We’ve reached the halfway point, and are now taking the effort public.”

The campaign’s primary goals focus on improving the lives of students and strengthening the economy of the local region. According to SDSU President Elliot Hirshman, it will highlight the university by supporting staff and students, and this is a critical campaign because it will ensure SDSU’s ability to continue providing a high quality education for generations to come.

“These funds are necessary to support our extraordinary students,” Hirshman said. “Students from diverse backgrounds; students who face financial challenges; students who have special academic, artistic and athletic gifts; student veterans; and students such as our guardian scholars.”

Hirshman, SDSU’s eighth president, and his wife made a $100,000 donation to this campaign.

The four goals highlighted in the campaign are very diverse areas that involve people from every walk of life on campus, in the community and in the region.

 

Engaging the region

By supporting a variety of existing programs, such as initiatives in K-12 education and assisting students veterans, the region as a whole can benefit from the massive pool of funds that will be streamlined into the many local programs supported by SDSU. The Campaign for SDSU is noted to be “A radical stimulus for the innovation of new, progressive policies and events,” which may include linking the community in the area even more closely with the university through philanthropic events, or by finding ways to help San Diego students in the K-12 system be more able to attend college.

“One specific gift will go to fund an endowment focusing on academic enhancement,” Hirshman said. “Funds from the endowment will be used to support scholarships and academic initiatives.”

Hirshman also said additional gifts made this past week include a $500,000 commitment from entrepreneur Irwin Zahn to support entrepreneurship in the College of Engineering, and another $500,000 from Sharp Healthcare for scholarships in nursing. This past week’s donations, as of press time, totaled $1.6 million.

Another way the campaign will promote engagement in the region is through support of the Student Veteran Organization on campus, which Tess Banko, vice president of SVO, said Hirshman is committed to.

“President Hirshman said what we have in place is great, but that we need better,” Banko said. “A really significant way the funds could be used is to build or obtain permanent housing on campus for veterans, because the current home of SVO has a lease which will expire next year.”

 

Leading innovation

Becoming a more prominent research university is another of the primary goals for the campaign. Many education professionals, including professors from other universities who are known as leaders in research, are excited for the possibilities this program may lead to. But, some professors are also skeptical about how the money will be used in specific areas.

“SDSU, even more so than University of California San Diego, is positioned to get students in the field, boots on the ground, solving problems in the community,” Dr. Keith Pezzoli, director of field research and professor in urban studies and planning at UCSD, said.

According to the university, SDSU will be attempting to create additional endowed chairs, thereby attracting leading scholars to enrich the academic life of the campus and enhancing the value of a degree from SDSU.

 

Competing globally

SDSU is located in a precarious region that has many geographical attributes, such as wildfires, earthquakes and unique ecological characteristics shared across a national border. According to the university, another area the campaign focuses on is increasing scholarship opportunities for students seeking to study abroad and to bring in even more internationally recognized scholars.

These resources could allow SDSU’s students and faculty to focus on regional problems within the community, such as issues related to the watershed shared with Mexico, or to work on national issues that may bring SDSU more prominence in the global society.

“If they’re using the money to get more interaction between researchers and the community, that’s a good thing,” Pezzoli said.

 

Fueling potential

Throughout the past 20 years, SDSU has averaged more than 7,200 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees per year. Ensuring the university is able to continue this trend of transforming thousands of students from high school graduates into specialized field professionals is of benefit to not only San Diego, but to the national and global economies. One way the university will continue this trend is through a part of The Campaign for SDSU called Fuel Potential Scholarship Campaign.

According to the university, gifts to this specific part of the campaign will “ensure that SDSU’s most deserving students have access to the transformational power of a college degree.” So far, more than $32 million has already been raised in this area.

 

Donations

Among the highlights of this campaign are those who contribute to it and the reasons they have done so. Many donors choose to contribute to a specific area, but all because of the benefit to SDSU.

“It’s a personal decision to say ‘I’m proud of SDSU,’ period,” Craig Stevens, CEO of Mar West Real Estate and ’82 graduate of the SDSU College of Business Administration, said.

Gwen Notestine, who works with TCF to bring donors in, said it is great to be a part of the campaign, and to be able to facilitate the donor’s philanthropy.

“It’s exciting to watch how it makes an impact and provides more resources for veterans,” Notestine said.

 

The bottom line

The campaign will, as Hirshman put it, support students, as a group, because they will be the future leaders of society. Even more impressive than the benefit to students though, is the resounding impact this campaign has the potential to make. There are many reasons why students should be excited about this new fundraiser, but Associated Students President Cody Barbo said it best at a recent conference.

“The university’s new slogan is ‘Leadership starts here,’” Barbo said. “Those of us on campus, going to school, can’t become the leaders this region needs without the support of the community.”

More information about The Campaign for SDSU can be found at sdsu.edu/campaign. More information on donating to SDSU can be found through The Campanile Foundation.