What a month! San Diego State, over the past three weeks, has provided an incredibly mind-enhancing array of programs. For the most part they were available to the public. Here is the rundown:April 10th — Blessing Combat Leadership Panel
400 Cadets from four services heard from four incredible veterans who, with exquisite humility, rendered lessons of leadership gleaned from their service in Afghanistan and Iraq. These heroes--all under thirty-- left me and everyone else in the room in awe of the bravery and maturity of our veterans. This panel was made possible by former AS president and former alumni president Mr. Ed Blessing (’60) of Dallas, Texas.
April 11th — Lecture by Campanile Board Member Greg Lucier
Greg is the CEO of Life Technologies and gave a stellar presentation to a packed house in the Fowler Family Ballroom in the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. Life Technologies is a monster San Diego company which, among other things, has done some incredible pioneering in gene mapping and sequencing. Greg raised all sorts of issues which will soon be huge ethical concerns. Who, for instance, Greg asked, should own a baby’s gene-sequenced data which would indicate its likelihood of contracting deadly diseases and conditions? The next day Life Technologies sold for $13.2 billion.
April 12th — Cesar Chavez Celebration Luncheon
Another Fowler Ballroom event, we all got a good history lesson while being marvelously entertained by an army of mariachis. Alex Montoya’s speech about overcoming obstacles (he was born missing 3 limbs) was beyond inspiring.
(Photo courtesy of Daily Aztec)April 17th — The Business of Craft Beer
This was another terrific event put on by our largest alumni chapter. BAN (Business Alumni Network) brought together a stellar panel of local craft beer industry visionaries who regaled a large crowd at the McMilllin Conference Center with their insights into the local craft brew business. San Diego is number one in this field, and the market share for craft beer keeps growing. Afterwards the group flowed across the street to Aztec-owned Slater’s 50/50 where the evenings’ discussed elixirs were vigorously sampled. This is Scot and Karen Blair--owners of Hamilton’s Tavern and the Monkey Paw Brewing Company.
April 19th — Aztecs Take Mars
This was an incredible lecture by seven of our fantastic alumni who played significant roles and made serious contributions to the mind-boggling mission of landing the Curiosity rover on Mars. Jordan Evans (’93), Joey Brown (’05), Doug Clark (’85), Brandon Florow (’05), Mark Ryne (’80), Bonnie Theberge (’86) and Amanda Jeremiah Thomas (’97) described their various roles in the operation and detailed some of the science and engineering behind the mission.
(Photo courtesy of Kevin Serrano, Daily Aztec)April 20th — The Montys
This year's Montys were held in the Hyatt Aventine and featured the aforementioned Mars Rover group along with: Ron Roberts (’65), Catherine Stiefel (’92), Sherrill Amador (’64), Larry Banegas (’87), Terry Atkinson (’69), Kristan Brown (’00), Margaret Calvin (’86), Edward Blessing (’60), and Bryan Ransom (’93). For 41 years the Alumni Association has been awarding Montys to each college, Imperial Valley and for University Service and Alumni Service. The stories (produced through campus-based KPBS) are told via video vignettes after which each individual Monty winner is presented by President Hirshman with the hefty replica of Donal Hord's iconic "Aztec" sculpture. Truly inspirational all, the ending featured University Service awardee Bryan Ransom joining a suddenly-emerging Aztec Pep Band for a rousing finale.
April 23rd — John F. Kennedy 50th Anniversary Celebration and Reenactment
The brainchild of Anthropology Department Chair Seth Mallios, this event in Aztec Bowl offered an inspirational retrospective on a defining moment for San Diego State. Associated Students officers Rob O’Keefe, Channelle McNutt and Tom Rivera each delivered stunning oratory of JFK’s speech on the occasion of his getting an honorary doctorate on June 6th, 1963. Of the 200 gathered, a dozen attendees were actually present 50 years ago. We all were inspired by the students, President Hirshman and Seth, who reminded us of the still-relevant themes of civil rights and the importance of education espoused by John F. Kennedy on our campus 50 years ago.
(AS Vice President Channelle McNutt)
April 24th — Chancellor Timothy White Visits SDSU
On a day when our new Chancellor was featured above the fold of the front page of the LA Times for break dancing with students from CSU Dominguez Hills, Dr. White got serious at San Diego State. During this open forum in the Fowler Athletics Building, Chancellor White demonstrated compassion for students and staff and drilled down into significant academic discourse while continually demonstrating sincere straightforwardness and humor.
(Photo courtesy of Paige Nelson, Daily Aztec)
April 25th — Mayor Bob Filner Speaks to Alumni Association Board of Directors
Alumni Association President Bill Earley and President Hirshman welcomed San Diego’s mayor, Bob Filner, who fondly reminisced about his 20 years on campus as a history professor. Our politically eclectic yet civil-minded alumni board was rewarded with the mayor sharing a scoop regarding San Diego and Tijuana jointly bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games.
April 25th — Aztec Achievement Awards
For two years while the Aztec Union is being built, we have enjoyed the privilege of sharing the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center with the Associated Students executive officers. Done in impeccable style, the evening featured all the goodness you could possibly hope for from a student body. Inspiring stories of overcoming hardship, extreme academic focus, abundant leadership, and even valor were interspersed with comedic emcees, music, hilarious videos and all around fun.
(Five AS Presidents: Cody Barbo (’12), Ed Blessing (’60), Josh Morse (’14), Rob O’Keefe (’13), Grant Mack (’11))
These are just a few high-profile examples of how our alumni, students, faculty and staff engage with each other, the San Diego community, the state and the nation to enhance the SDSU experience and propel the university to the forefront of America’s institutions of higher learning. It is nothing short of astonishing what takes place here on a regular basis and I feel proud and very fortunate to be a witness to it all.