During the holiday season, the days are a little shorter, the light a little less brilliant and, even in San Diego, the temperatures are a little bit colder. So, as people have done for thousands of years, we gather together to share our warmth, light and generosity. The last several weeks have been a time for communal gatherings, large and small. Our Department of Geography celebrated its 100th anniversary. We came together for our “Get Together, Give Back” event in support of our military and the Monarch School community.Our School of Theatre, Television and Film and our School of Music and Dance collaborated on an extraordinary concert production of “Les Misérables,” and our athletic teams inspired us with a conference title in women’s soccer, a fifth consecutive bowl game in football and a national ranking in men’s basketball. Add countless department and office celebrations across campus and you appreciate the flurry of activities that accompany the holiday season.
These gatherings illustrate the essential role of community at San Diego State. During the formulation of our strategic plan, “Building on Excellence,” the theme of community and its many meanings arose again and again. People recognized the benefits of strengthening our campus community, the necessity of building relationships with our alumni community and the importance of supporting our regional community. As we have moved forward with implementing “Building on Excellence,” we have initiated the “Get Together, Give Back” program to support faculty and staff morale, the Aztec Mentor Program to bring alumni and current students together, and the Sage Project in National City, in which over a thousand students, faculty and staff work on community projects.
Each of these programs – and others like them – is an important effort in its own right, but each also serves a larger purpose in building our community. Through community, we bring a diversity of perspectives and talents to address our challenges. Equally important, each of our individual efforts takes on a deeper meaning and purpose when it is tied to the common efforts of friends and colleagues in our community. This shared purpose is essential to the Aztec spirit – resolute and indefatigable – with which we meet our challenges, large and small.
The three central themes of “Building on Excellence” are Student Success, Research and Creative Endeavors, and Community and Communication. While we have critical goals in all three areas, our ability to achieve all of our goals rests on our ability to work together as a community. In fact, given the strength and scope of the Aztec family, no aspiration and no goal is beyond our reach when we concentrate our efforts and work together. While life presents many challenges, both to individuals and to universities, this fundamental truth, the power of community, is always essential to addressing them. I look forward to working with all members of our community to continue to make progress and move our university forward in the spring semester.
Best wishes to all for the holiday season and the New Year.