Two alumni honored with plaza dedication


Mike McDonald

Christopher “Kit” Sickels thanks his wife, Karen, at the Sickels Plaza dedication ceremony.

by Mike McDonald, Contributor

San Diego State’s newest beautification project was officially commemorated in honor of two notable graduates. With the help of SDSU’s band and cheer teams, the Sickels Plaza monument was unveiled on Sept. 14, celebrating the contributions and lives of Christopher “Kit” and Karen Sickels.

Kit graduated from SDSU in 1960, while Karen graduated in 1969.

Vice President of University Relations and Development Mary Ruth Carleton said the two have been extraordinary volunteer leaders at SDSU, serving as advisors to three SDSU presidents and contributing to numerous university programs, even hosting events in their home.

The Sickelses also own a winery in Ramona, from which they have previously provided wines to university functions.

“They are emblematic of San Diego State becoming a bit classier, up-scaling our events,” she said. “When the winery really got going, Kit started donating wine to our functions. It really changed our functions because we didn’t have to paste labels over the Two-Buck Chuck anymore.”

Sickels Plaza lays in the Centennial Walkway, the stretch of campus between the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union  and the SDSU Bookstore. The plaza covers what was formerly grass and contains shade trees, water conserving succulents, wicker furniture and benches for students to study and gather.

In the middle of the plaza sits a six-foot bronze medallion honoring the Sickelses. SDSU Interim President Sally Roush said the placement of the medallion in the heart of the campus was fitting.

“It is by design that we are gathered here at the center of our campus. Kit and Karen have been at the center of a wide range of efforts and initiatives that helped build this great university,” Roush said. “Their love and passion for the university is palpable.”

Kit said the placement of the medallion was particularly special to him because it was the starting point for his education.

“In the fall of 1943, I entered kindergarten at the campus laboratory school. And the campus laboratory school was located right over there…in 1943. So we’ve been hanging around here awhile,” he said. “A lot has changed since I first stepped on campus, but what hasn’t changed is the importance of a San Diego State education and the importance of SDSU in the life of the entire San Diego region.”

Monica Algya, a Communications junior, said she appreciates the university’s efforts to beautify the campus with more conservation-minded projects.

“I really appreciate what they did because it’s less water being used and it’s a more sustainable space,” she said. “And it’s just a nice place to sit.”