A new place for SDSU alumni

by Staff

Glenn Connelly / Photo Editor

In the courtyard of the alumni center built on his watch, former San Diego State President Thomas B. Day joined about 250 faculty and alumni yesterday to celebrate the building being torn down. Confetti shot out from cannons mounted on the roof of the old alumni building as the earth was turned at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center, to be built at the corner of 55th Street and Hardy Avenue.”This center will be the expression of the spirit that defines SDSU,” said current University President Stephen Weber. “It symbolizes the results of the collaboration of (the university) and its alumni.”Situated between the SDSU Sports Deck and the Aztec Athletics Center, the privately funded building will feature a “spectacular rotunda,” a lobby with reception area, a multi-purpose outdoor deck overlooking Tony Gwynn Stadium, a ballroom, a state-of-the-art boardroom and 20,000 square feet of meeting and gathering space. “Not only will this be our home, it will be a place for current SDSU students to connect with their future as alumni,” said Michelle Adams, president of the Student Alumni Association.The project will cost $11 million and is expected to be complete by the end of 2009. The money was raised entirely by private donations from more than 600 donors, the largest coming from a group of three SDSU alumni who have been good friends and traveling buddies for more than 20 years. Leon Parma, who graduated in 1951, Robert Payne (1955) and Jack Goodall (1960) gave a joint gift of $2.7 million. In return, the center will bear their names arranged in an order Goodall said was determined by the results of a round of golf.”I’m embarrassed,” Parma jokingly said about his name heading the list. “It looks like the name of a law firm.”All jokes aside, the three made the donation not only to give back to the school, but also to help encourage the alumni to come back to the campus.”It’s a catalyst that sets off a new era for the university,” Payne said. “We used to be called the ‘Street Club College’ ? you go to college, you leave and you never come back. Things have changed since then.”Parma said a new alumni center will greatly help SDSU in its endowment efforts and help the university reach the upper echelon of schools that have become symbols of pride among their alumni.”It will stimulate a lot of interest in the university,” Parma said. “(The center) will be a focal point, being so close to Cox Arena and right on campus.”Associated Students President James Poet said the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center will be an asset for future generations of SDSU students.”I wish there were more students here (at the ceremony) because this is something that really applies to us,” Poet said. “By the time we’re alumni, this building will be built and it will be a great resource for us.”Parma, who was first recruited to play football at SDSU by head coach Bill Schutte in 1948, said his past 60 years of association with the school have been a true blessing.”Today is a culmination of the great things that happened in my life as a result of being at San Diego State,” he said. “Everything good that has happened to me has happened because of San Diego State.”