Free Speech at SDSU

Over the last six months, the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment has emerged as an extraordinarily contentious issue on many university campuses.  Last spring, several speakers at commencements across the nation (e.g., former Secretary of State and Stanford Provost Condoleezza Rice at Rutgers University, former UC Berkeley Chancellor Bob Birgeneau at Haverford College) decided not to speak following protests.  This fall, significant controversies arose when a hiring decision at one university may have been influenced by a prospective professor’s tweets and when several university leaders articulated views on the relationship between free speech and civil discourse.  Given these circumstances, it is a fitting moment to review our traditions of freedom of expression at San Diego State and in the American academy, more generally.  They provide important context for understanding these controversies and appropriate responses to them.

Our policy on free expression articulates two essential principles. First, it emphasizes (section 1.1) that freedom of expression is not only protected by the First Amendment, it is essential to our educational and research missions.  It is critical to present a range of perspectives so students can understand issues and develop frameworks for thinking about these issues.  Likewise, researchers and creative artists must be able to consider a range of possible approaches in highlighting and addressing challenges and problems.  In short, freedom of expression has privileged status on a university campus.  It is “integral to the mission of the university” and an “inviolate freedom.”  This view is consistent with judicial interpretations of the U.S. Constitution (e.g., Brandenburg v. Ohio) that provide extensive protections for free expression.

Second, our policy indicates (sections 2.0 and 3.0) that even though freedom of expression is not an absolute right (e.g., “Reasonable regulations may be designed to avoid disruption of the mission of the university.”), any regulation should “maximize opportunities, in terms of time, place and manner, for free expression.”  Our policy emphasizes that regulation should be “content neutral” and “all legal speech, even offensive speech, is permitted.”  This second principle is consistent with a long judicial tradition in which speech and expression may be restricted (e.g., restrictions on speech that incites imminent violence), but such restrictions should be limited and narrow.

These principles provide an important framework for understanding regulation of free expression on campus.  For example, consider the case of proposed speakers and those who wish to protest those speakers.  In our tradition, speakers have a right to speak, even if they present controversial materials, and protesters have a right to protest, even if the motivation for their protest is controversial.

Rainbow Flag-Raising 2014

Jenna Mackey/The Daily Aztec

The principles also clarify how the university should respond to protesters who ask that the university ban invited speakers – which happens in highly publicized cases like spring commencement and in a myriad of lesser-known instances. While many protesters claim that a speaker’s appearance implies that the university endorses the speaker’s views, this is not the case.  We endorse the speaker’s right to express his or her views and the audience’s right to hear these views.  Under the “endorsement” framework, we could never invite speakers the university does not specifically endorse, and this approach would severely restrict potential speakers and our academic discourse.  The claim that we endorse the views of all who speak at the university and its corollary that we should rescind invitations to those whose views the university does not endorse are an immediate threat to our core missions of education, research and service.

There are, of course, many complications.  For example, if a controversial speaker comes to campus, can a group of protesters “shout down” the speaker? While one might claim that one is simply expressing a viewpoint, shouting down a speaker restricts the speaker’s right to free expression and is addressed in the SDSU student code of conduct.  Protesters can ask questions, hold up signs, present alternative speakers and express their own views.  They might even shout out a phrase or two during a speaker’s presentation, but completely preventing an invited speaker from speaking at our university is not within our traditions or policies.

A related question concerns whether a group who invites a controversial speaker can be forced to invite another speaker who presents a contrasting view.  This is often requested and presented as a compromise position designed to foster open discussion.  Forcing someone to invite someone to campus that they do not wish to invite is a restriction of their free expression and inconsistent with our traditions – even if the invitation might accomplish other beneficial objectives.

Important considerations also arise when one considers the relationship between freedom of expression and civil discourse or politeness.  This topic is frequently raised by university leaders concerned with campus climate.  While there is no question that civility or politeness is very important, it is equally important to recognize that, in our American tradition, the right to freedom of expression is unrelated to civility or politeness.  Our university’s protections of expression are “content neutral” and “even offensive speech is permitted.”  There are, as discussed above, regulations and constraints on expression, but a requirement for politeness is not one of them.

Even if one grants that impolite speech cannot be a basis for restricting expression, questions regarding when one person’s expression creates an immediate or pervasive threat to another person (e.g., when speech incites imminent violence) are likely to be continuing sources of disagreement on our campuses. In adjudicating such circumstances, we should follow the principle that, if any restriction of expression is necessary, restrictions should be as limited and narrow in scope as possible.

It is likely that some of what I have said will make some happy and anger others. Similarly, it may clarify some issues but not others.  In all of these cases, it will continue our powerful tradition of free expression – one that we must protect and nurture so our academic community can continue its important work.

 

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Special Moment to Establish SDSU as Leading Public University

As I have shared in a number of blogs, the academic year has its own unique seasons.  The year kicks off with our All-University and New Student and Family convocations and the first day of classes.  It is a time filled with excitement, “welcomes,” promise – and some measure of anxiety. SDSU band marches through campus to collect students for New Student and Family Convocation.

This year brings special opportunities to our university. Universities are not fixed in their missions or identities. They are dynamic institutions, evolving and changing over time.  In the last 117 years, and especially in the past 40 or so when Brage Golding, Tom Day and Steve Weber served as our presidents, we have developed an extraordinary tradition of achievement.  At All-University Convocation, I described many of our achievements in the past year in SDSU student at the Great Wall of China.international programs, entrepreneurship, student success, community engagement, research and creative endeavors, and athletics, among other areas.

More recently, our campus has undergone another fundamental change, beginning with the Great Recession in 2007.  As I described in a prior blog, we have gone from being a state-supported university to being a university that is a public-private partnership.  In this latter model, our funding is dependent on multiple public and private sources.  The combination of our tradition of achievement and our recent transition to a public-private partnership funding model – one that includes philanthropy – creates a unique moment in our history.

As envisioned in our strategic plan “Building on Excellence,” the resources provided by our new funding model create powerful opportunities to support the communal aspirations of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community supporters.  To capture it in a sentence:  This special moment allows us to establish ourselves as one of our nation’s leading public universities.

This fall, we will pursue 42 initiatives as part of the second year of the implementation of our SDSU strategic plan.  These initiatives will support student success, provide our students with transformational educationalLab, laserborder experiences, advance research and creative endeavors, enhance our campus facilities and bring us together as one SDSU community.  In short, they will move us forward as a leading public university.  At the same time, we will continue to build the infrastructure to support the revenue initiatives in our new financial model – initiatives that, in turn, will support further efforts to enhance our programs and our campus.  Our success in these critical areas will lay the foundation for SDSU’s future and determine our progress as a leading public university.

While there are many ways to measure our progress (e.g., our goal of ranking in the top 50 of public universities by U.S. News & World Report), the foundational issue is who we can be and what we can accomplish as a leading public university.  We can continue to establish ourselves as a university of the highest quality where all students achieve success, where faculty, staff and student researchers address pressing societal challenges, where we come together to experience the beauty and power of the arts, and where we harness our knowledge and our talents to serve our community and the broader society.

Thank you to our entire community for supporting our university and our aspirations.  I look forward to a great year.

SDSU campus with Hepner Hall in the background.

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New Model: Public-Private Partnership

At a recent reception, an elderly gentleman approached me.  With some urgency, he grabbed my arm and told me a story similar to one I have heard thousands of times since arriving at SDSU three years ago.  Each of these stories is unique and powerful, and they generally begin with a proud memory of San Diego State.  In this case, the retired faculty member told me how proud he had been to teach at a university where attendance was free (or close to free) and open to students from many different backgrounds. Students climb a canyon path to Hepner Hall at SDSU in 1934. He told me about a time when his department, in a spirit of grassroots activism, came together to build a community garden.  I could see him and his smiling colleagues tilling the soil on a sun-drenched afternoon.

The story then shifted, becoming darker.  The man recounted how, over the years, a series of state budget reductions led to fewer faculty members in his department, a bigger workload and fewer program opportunities for students.  At this point, many of those recounting similar stories share suggestions regarding how the university should move forward given reduced support from the state.  These suggestions are very helpful – and many have already been implemented. In this case, however, the former professor simply asked plaintively, “What are we going to do?”

The answer is simple:  We are adapting and evolving.  We will control our own destiny so we can continue our traditions of excellence, diversity and grassroots engagement.  We will create new generations of proud memories.Hepner Hall at SDSU in 1957 included parking in front.

We are creating a new model, and this process of adaptation and evolution has moved dramatically forward in the last three years.  The need began with decades of reduced state support – the early 1990s, the 2007-13 period and the recent changes in capital funding – but it cannot end with our simple acceptance of the negative effects of lower state support.

Rather, we must move from being a university that depends solely on substantially reduced state support to being a university that is a public-private partnership.  There is simply no other option:  Our state appropriation is now less than 20 percent of the total budget of the university and its auxiliaries.  If we relied only on state support, we would close.

So, what does it mean for San Diego State University to be a public-private partnership?  This concept is well-understood for individual projects, such as a mixed residential and retail development in which a public university might provide land and a private entity constructs the development with the two parties sharing in the responsibilities and revenues.

Moving the entire university to a public-private partnership model goes far beyond this project-based approach.  It means that the core financial model of the university is based on funds from both public and private sources.  A university that is a public-private partnership affirms its relationship with the state and its public mission.  It works collaboratively with elected officials to increase funding support for the university, as well as funding for need-based scholarships like Cal Grants.  The university also recognizes and embraces the critical role of the federal government, both in funding research and in supporting student access through the Pell Grant program.

This type of university, however, differs from most traditional state-supported universities in California.  Funds from private sources are combined with public funds to create a financial model that can support our academic and communal aspirations.  These private sources include philanthropic support from alumni, community supporters and corporate partners.  They also include tuition and fees paid by individual students and their families, from California and beyond. Revenues from auxiliary organizations, such as Aztec Shops, that provide services to students and community members also support the university’s academic mission, as do revenues from continuing education programs that operate without state support.

Our public-private partnership model has made dramatic progress, succeeding in two important ways.  First, our private revenue initiatives have grown significantly.  For example, our fundraising Campaign for SDSU raised a record $90 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year. Other revenue initiatives have also been successful, and combining these funds with public support has allowed us to make major investments in the academic and co-curricular programs identified in our strategic plan “Building on Excellence.”Students study at the SDSU Commuter Center, opened in 2013-14.

We have hired faculty and staff and launched initiatives to support student success, such as the Commuter Center, the Pride Center, the Writing Center and the Honors College.

Second, and equally important, the public-private partnership model has allowed us to build on our campus traditions.  While a commonly voiced fear is that reductions in state support and a movement to a public-private partnership model reduce our commitment to the socio-economic diversity of our students, this has not occurred.  Financial aid allocations have increased by 67 percent in the five years from 2009-10 to 2013-14, and the proportion of enrolled students who face significant financial challenges (as measured by Pell Grant eligibility) was higher in 2013-14 than in 2009-10.  Similarly, one might fear that the impact of reduced state support would reduce access to a degree.  In fact, our six-year graduation rate in 2013 was more than 10 percent higher than our six-year graduation rate in 2007.

None of this is to say that the transition is complete or that a public-private model raises no quandaries.  There are complex issues of policy and planning that must be resolved.  Foremost among them are the complicated relationships that arise between the exercise of authority by the state, the CSU system and the university and the implicit and explicit accountability requirements of our private partners.  Similarly, our reliance on multiple revenue streams substantially complicates all of our financial planning and risk mitigation efforts. There are many issues to be resolved, but we are on our way.  We are already investing revenue from our new public-private financial model to support the excellence of our programs and the success of our students, faculty, staff and community.

No, things will never be the same.  But if we do it right, we will, like prior generations, create proud memories that our community shares for decades to come.

Today's students in front of Hepner Hall at SDSU.

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Building the Future

Our recent commencement weekend was one of pride and celebration and a special opportunity to show the beauty of our campus to the families and friends of our graduates.  Our facilities, custodial and landscaping staff do a great job in showcasing the campus and deserve our thanks.

In its grandeur, our campus is a powerful symbol of our commitment to academic excellence and achievement, and this year was a historic one in the life of our physical campus.  We completed construction on the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union and the newly renovated Storm-Nasatir-Hostler Hall complex.  Two of the largest buildings on our campus, these campus icons are centers of student life and academic programs.

Storm-Nasatir-Hostler halls complex at SDSU

Renovated Storm-Nasatir-Hostler complex

Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union at SDSU

Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union

 

 

 

 

 

This summer, we write another chapter.  We are beginning a top-to-bottom renovation of Zura residence hall, breaking ground on our new Basketball Performance Center with its basketball practice courts and facilities and renovating our College of Business Administration with the addition of the Page Pavilion.  We also will be continuing the work on our heating and electrical systems and the painting and refurbishment of many campus buildings that began last summer.

Two important developments related to campus facilities occurred at the recent meeting of the Board of Trustees of the California State University.  First, the board approved the design for our new mixed use development on College Avenue, just south of the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.

SDSU's proposed housing and retail development on College Avenue.Featuring an urban greenscape and two six-story buildings, the  complex will house over 600  students and provide retail  opportunities for our students,  faculty, staff and the local  community.  The development also will provide much-needed short-term parking for campus visitors.  All of these features will be a significant step forward for our campus and our community.

Second, the board reviewed Governor Brown’s legislative proposal to shift the responsibility for facilities debt service from the state to the California State University, and CSU Chancellor Tim White voiced his public support for this proposal.  Even though the proposal may not pass this year, the landmark change in California’s financing of campus facilities has already been adopted by the University of California and is likely to pass in the near future.

While this change has raised concerns, it also creates possibilities and, for San Diego State, possibilities have always been more important than concerns.  One of the most important aspects of the legislation is that it would allow our university the flexibility to use operating funds to construct campus buildings.

This changes everything.

By combining operating, philanthropic and state funds, we could move from a passive approach of waiting for facilities allocations from the state to a proactive approach of creating funding models that allow us to pursue our academic priorities.  The new engineering and interdisciplinary sciences building that we have dreamed about for many years could move from dream to reality as fast as we could make it happen.

The landscape for public higher education in California continues to be a rapidly changing one.  Yet, within this turbulent environment, there are profound opportunities for building the future. Let’s take them!

Artist's rendering of new Page Pavilion at SDSU's College of Business Administration

Page Pavilion plan

Artist's rendering of Zura Hall renovation plans at SDSU

Rendering of Zura Hall remodel

Proposed Basketball Performance Center at SDSU

Basketball Performance Center

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Honors College Builds on SDSU History

Today, I approved the University Senate’s recommendation that we create an Honors College at San Diego State University.  As I signed, I had a cascade of visions and thoughts of our university’s history and aspirations. San Diego Normal School students on La Jolla beach, 1902. I saw the familiar photograph of young men and women, enrolled at the San Diego Normal School, sitting in a circle on the beach studying – the men in suits and the women in their Victorian-era long dresses. I saw students, faculty and staff members moving furniture and books as we established our current campus on Montezuma Mesa at the height of the Great Depression in 1931.  These visions were woven together with an appreciation for the efforts of the administrators, faculty, staff and students who led us to the university status (and current name) that we attained in 1974 and for those efforts in the ensuing 40 years that have led to progress on every significant measure of academic excellence. Students move furniture to new Montezuma Mesa campus in 1931.The establishment of the Honors College builds seamlessly on this tradition of aspiration and academic excellence.  It will improve our honors education experience, help recruit academically strong students and raise the profile of our culture of achievement.  Looking to the future, the Honors College will support a large, diverse group of high-achieving students who benefit from its focus on inquiry, engagement, and interdisciplinary problem-solving.  These students will, through their campus leadership roles and their participation in the broader intellectual life of the university, strengthen our campus culture and lay the foundation for even greater academic aspirations. The Honors College is, however, about much more than aspiration and academic excellence.  It is also about building a community, a gathering place, for a diverse group of students within a larger university.  In this regard, the establishment of the Honors College is a part of our ongoing efforts to create smaller communities of place and purpose that support student success.SDSU students study on the lawn.  Among other important efforts to bring together members of our community are the Aztec Mentor Program, the Aztec Scholars Program, the Commuter Resource Center, the Price Community Scholars Program, the Pride Center, new residential learning communities, the Writing Center and the Zahn Innovation Center.  In this regard, our aspirations for excellence support the very fabric of our community.  This thread, above all else, ties together our past, our present and our future.

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Fees and Student Success: Historical Context, Current Process, Future Impact

In the “Master Plan for California Higher Education: 1960-1975” and the associated Donahoe Higher Education Act, Californians created an ambitious framework for public higher education in the state.  A central tenet was that the state would support educational programs, while student fees would support services such as housing, food and recreation.  The critical implication was that California residents would not pay tuition for educational programs.

Students in SDSU classroomPractical problems confronted this framework from the start, and they continue to this day.  Understanding these challenges provides perspectives that help us understand the role of tuition and fees at San Diego State today.

First, it was not possible to implement the Master Plan’s no-tuition policy. Rather, tuition and fees were characterized by a staircase pattern in which they did not increase for an extended time (reinforcing the view that there should be no tuition or at least no tuition increases) and then rose dramatically (raising ire that the promise of no tuition had been betrayed). This happened multiple times. For example, from 1975-1980, tuition and fees at my alma mater of UCLA increased from $600 to $685, an average modest increase of 3 percent per year.  However, from 1980 to 1985 tuition and fees increased from $719 to $1,245, an average increase of 15 percent per year.  An identical pattern occurred from 1995 to 2005, when tuition and fees actually decreased an average of 2 percent annually from 1995 to 2000, only to increase a dramatic 16 percent annually between 2000 and 2005.

Second, the fundamental distinction between educational programs and ancillary services slowly, but inexorably, eroded.  This challenge was clear at the outset when course materials, such as laboratory pipettes, were excluded from state funding although they were clearly necessary to the educational program. Technological and academic innovations, such as increasingly powerful and sophisticated computers and Internet connectivity, exacerbated the challenge.  A variety of technology and “instructionally related activity fees” were created across the California State University to support these and other academic program needs.

In 2011, former CSU Chancellor Charles Reed issued Executive Order 1054 to provide a rational structure to understand the “share of the educational costs to be assumed by students and their families,” as well as the putative “state’s fiscal responsibility for providing funding for student access.”  The Executive Order codifies five different categories of fees.  Within these, Category I fees are “systemwide mandatory tuition fees” under control of the CSU Board of Trustees.  Category II fees are “campus mandatory fees,” and each campus president is responsible for ensuring a consultative process prior to the chancellor’s approval of a Category II campus fee.  The president must establish a Campus-Fee Advisory Committee with substantial student representation that includes the democratically elected student body president.  The university president must seek the recommendation of this committee prior to making any recommendation to the chancellor.  To gather student input, the committee may use a referendum or an alternative consultation process that includes campuswide distribution of information and outreach.

Recently, I forwarded, and Chancellor Timothy White approved, a Category II student success fee.  The motivation for this fee, as with most of the fees since the Master Plan’s adoption, stems from limited resources.  Between 2007 and 2011, San Diego State’s state appropriation decreased from $221 million to $103 million.  Since 2011, our state appropriation has increased to $143 million, and we are grateful for this renewed support.  Nonetheless, our state support is still $78 million, or 35 percent, below its 2007 level.  We have addressed this challenge by seeking cost efficiencies and increasing revenues from diverse sources, including private fundraising, non-resident student tuition and our auxiliary organizations.

Our new strategic plan, “Building on Excellence,” recommends the university “work collaboratively with Associated Students to establish a university excellence fee.”  This process began this fall. Following initial meetings and student surveys, the Campus-Fee Advisory Committee recommended that we consider a student success fee through alternative consultation. Ninety percent of the revenues from this fee would support the hiring of tenure-track faculty and the addition of course sections.  The remaining 10 percent would support co-curricular academic opportunities for students.  The committee’s rationale for using alternative consultation, in contrast to a referendum, was that the complexity of evaluating the proposed fee required a full exposition of the benefits and costs of the fee rather than a simple solicitation of a “yes” or “no” vote.  I concurred with the recommendation.

The advisory committee – which has a majority student membership – created information materials and worked with faculty, staff and administrators to host 39 public forums for a broad range of student groups and the University Senate.  They also distributed a variety of letters, pamphlets and videos to inform the campus of the alternative consultation process and to encourage attendance at the public forums.  At the conclusion of each forum, students in attendance were asked whether they endorsed a fee and, if so, at what level –  $200, $300, $400, or $500 per semester.  Over 1,000 students attended forums, and feedback forms were received from 1,015 students.  Of those, 64 percent voted for a fee of $200 or more.  The average fee recommended was $318 per semester.  Following consideration of this input, the committee voted 12-0 (with one abstention) to recommend a $200 fee per semester. Although the primary purpose of the fee is to support the hiring of tenure-track faculty members, the Staff Affairs Committee also supported the fee.  The primary rationale for these votes was that the benefit to students of additional faculty members and co-curricular opportunities outweighed the costs.

The advisory committee members were both sensitive to, and mindful of, the traditions of excellence and access that stem from the Master Plan and have greatly benefited California.  Two important steps were taken to help students whose ability to enroll at SDSU might be impacted by increased fees.  The fee increase will be implemented over a four-year period.  For next semester, tuition and fees will increase by $50 – less than a 1.5 percent increase given our current semester cost of $3,383 for tuition and fees.  In addition, we are creating a hardship fund for the coming year in collaboration with Associated Students – to ensure that no student has to leave San Diego State due to increased fees.  The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will implement a “hardship exception” process, and non-state funds will be used to cover the fee for any students for whom the fee constitutes an undue hardship.  Moving forward, the Division of Academic Affairs will conduct student surveys and interviews on curricular and co-curricular needs that will guide and inform how the fee money is spent.  The Campus-Fee Advisory Committee will develop guidelines for the co-curricular process.

Our campus has had a robust discussion on the student success fee and many of the historical and policy issues that still arise from the Master Plan.  Three principles should guide our future discussions.

First, we must continue to ensure that students from all backgrounds have access to California’s universities.  San Diego State is a national leader in ensuring that students from all economic backgrounds succeed academically. We will continue to lead because this tenet is essential to the success of our society.

Second, we must recognize that the financing model can, and must, differ for students with different financial resources.  Some students and their families will finance their own educations.  Other students will rely on private scholarships. Still others will use a mix of private scholarships, government scholarships and loans.  A variety of models are possible and beneficial.

Third, there must be continued support for, and increases of, Pell grant and CAL grant scholarship programs from the federal and state governments.  Support of, and increased funding for, these programs will ensure the viability of a variety of financing models, as well as the rich socioeconomic diversity of our university.

There is, of course, a sense of sadness that the aspirational framework of the Master Plan faces continuing challenges.  The spirit of California is, however, innovative, and the same spirit that crafted the Master Plan can pursue new approaches.

Let’s move forward. There is much to do.

 

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The Aztec Spirit

SDSU President Elliot Hirshman, left, philanthropist Conrad Prebys and AS President Josh MorseFebruary 5th was an extraordinary day at SDSU. We began the day by announcing Conrad Prebys’ $20 million gift to support student scholarships and naming our new Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.  I ended the day at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center with a group of the university’s dedicated supporters, watching the fifth-ranked Aztecs men’s basketball team come from behind to beat Boise State in the closing seconds.  As we rolled out of the parking lot, I asked my wife if we should stop to buy lottery tickets.  It had been a great day, and I was feeling very lucky.

Our fundraising and athletic successes are just two reasons why it is a great time to be an Aztec.  Due to the dedicated efforts of our faculty, staff, students, alumni and community supporters, we are enjoying enormous success – a record number of applications, academic success and increased graduation rates for students from all backgrounds, important research discoveries, the power and strength of a diverse student body, international programs that have resulted in a record number of Fulbright fellows, national recognition in college rankings, and new initiatives in the arts, where our programs have a tradition of excellence.  In the past two years alone, Aztecs have won an Oscar, a Grammy and 12 regional Emmys.  These accomplishments, and many more, are built on and bring to fruition 116 years of dedicated service by the members of our community.

The university, of course, is not perfect, and we do face significant challenges. Since 2007, we have faced a transition in higher education with reduced state funding for our operations and our facilities.  This has resulted in lower faculty and staff levels and affected our facilities. Our strategic plan, “Building on Excellence,” recognizes that we must address these issues to ensure the university’s long-term success. We have taken significant steps through the strategic plan toward achieving these objectives, and there is more work to be done in the coming year.

Aztec players celebrate win at Boise State.

Brian Losness/USA TODAY

In meeting these challenges, our traditions and history serve us well.  We have faced many difficulties and, each time, we have moved our campus forward.  In 1930-31, amidst the enormous uncertainties of the Great Depression, we moved our campus to Montezuma Mesa and laid the cornerstone of Hepner Hall.  In 2011, our students, facing the deepest recession in U.S. history, followed in this tradition and began construction on the new Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union.  Each of us knows of many, many more examples in which the vision, dedication and investment of the members of our community helped us overcome challenges and create something special.

This Aztec Spirit – this commitment to advancing our campus – is why we will meet our current challenges and achieve even greater success.  This, above all, is why it is – and always will be – a great time to be an Aztec.

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