During the ’40s, San Diego State College students were renaissanceian, well rounded citizens who were likely to simultaneously play the lead in the campus musical, edit Del Sudoeste and captain the baseball team. The ’50s spawned serious business people who shaped San Diego. The ’60s, like the ’60s everywhere, saw chaotic growth on multitudinous fronts. By the ’70s we were a football power but in the ’80s we had too many students and not enough faculty. In the ’90s we began to get serious about the campus on the fronts of work force preparedness, offering of advanced degrees, campus beautification and the overall college experience. Now it is 2010 and we are both academically prestigious and wildly popular.
During this metamorphosis from sprawling commuter school to academic powerhouse, we have amassed 250,000 alumni who are piloting the good ship San Diego and serving as innovative and essential crew members in our world. And as this quarter million graduates has amassed, so to, has State’s need to access their enthusiasm, pocketbooks, expertise and collective resolve. No longer have we much confidence or expectation that California will provide our margin of excellence.
So it was in 2009 that the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center came to be. If we were going to truly count on our grads for energy, money, knowledge and will, we sure as Monty needed a town hall. So, our alumni teamed with our university and bootstrapped an alumni center.
The idea was (and remains to be) that the convening of eclectic groups of individuals who share an appreciation for SDSU will inevitably accelerate SDSU’s excellence. That when people with a shared confidence and belief in the critical relevance of San Diego State congregate face-to-face, we progress.
So, have we progressed in a year in the PPG?
Let’s consider some of the 228 events we’ve had and some of the 22,726 people who have visited since October 17, 2009.
After our grand opening where we appropriately lauded the 600 donors, one of our first events was something called a social media symposium. I was struck by the preponderance of wired young professionals being encouraged to blatantly twitter and Facebook and text and email with impunity during the presentations. The world is certainly changing, I thought. Then I attended a lecture by Tommy Smith of Olympian-fist-in-the-air fame. Pretty cool. We had an enormously successful scholarship luncheon with a full house of donors and scholarship recipients. Quite moving. Our president came over for a luncheon or a reception at the pace of about twice a week. More than once I heard president Weber say, “If you are invited to lunch at the Allan Bailey Library, hold on to your wallet.” I thought that was pretty good. Mark McMillin and the Real Estate group had packed events - first in the library and then ballroom. Our conference room was constantly crowded as Campanile Foundation Board members, Business Advisory Board members, Alumni Board members, of course, and others gushed over the classiness of the building and the convenience.
Surely the oft-heard, “I cannot park on campus” has been debunked.
So, what about these eclectic State-loving alumni and friends convening at the Parma Payne Goodall and subsequently advancing SDSU with increased volunteerism, scientific breakthroughs, bigger donations and accelerated community collaborations and cohesion?
Well, we can point to increases on all of these fronts.
Even the football team is winning.
It’s Aztec time!