About President Hirshman

Hirshman.1approved2013Dr. Elliot Hirshman serves as president of San Diego State University – a major public research university that addresses real-world challenges. Its 35,000 students pursue research and learning under the guidance of internationally recognized mentors in innovative on-campus labs, entrepreneurship centers and business incubators. SDSU is characterized by the Carnegie Foundation as a research university with high research activity. It also is designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Leadership Starts Here

Dr. Hirshman is committed to student success and to ensuring that students from all backgrounds achieve academic excellence. SDSU is a regular producer of Fulbright awardees and one of the nation’s leaders in the number of students who study abroad. It is recognized for its ethnic and economic diversity, for the largest increase in graduation rates in the U.S. and for being among the best in the nation for graduating students of color.

Dr. Hirshman implemented an integrated financial strategy and budget, and he is leading SDSU’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. The Campaign for SDSU met its goal of $500 million for student and faculty support and is now raising an additional $250 million in a final legacy phase focused on endowments and support to sustain the university’s excellence. Dr. Hirshman is overseeing implementation of the university’s strategic plan with its initiatives in the areas of student success, research and creative endeavors, and community and communication.


Dr. Hirshman is president of the SDSU Research Foundation Board and a member of the California State University’s President’s Commission for Education and Research in Biotechnology and of its Presidents’ Council for the Council on Ocean Affairs, Science and Technology. He serves on the boards of the San Diego Economic Development Corporation and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. He also is a member of the executive committee of the Commission on Access, Diversity and Excellence for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and a member of the Distinguished Alumnus Award Search and Selection Committee for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

Prior Experience

Prior to Dr. Hirshman’s appointment at SDSU in 2011, he served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. He also had been chief research officer at the George Washington University and chaired the departments of psychology there and at the University of Colorado at Denver. He began his academic career, rising to the rank of full professor, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Academic Background

Dr. Hirshman earned his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in economics and mathematics from Yale and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from UCLA. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association. His research and teaching focus on the psychopharmacology of human cognition, using an interdisciplinary approach that involves collaboration among psychologists, medical doctors and statisticians. Dr. Hirshman has served as associate editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition and Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.


Dr. Hirshman is married to Jeri Hirshman. The Hirshmans’ daughter, Wendy, graduated from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania. Their son, Nathan, is an honors student at the University of Virginia.