While the San Diego State University, Imperial Valley Campus, in Calexico is a bit of an outpost for its urban-based parent, the university’s new president demonstrated a keen eye for its priorities during an Oct. 24 visit.
"Early on, SDSU-IV was on my radar--it was never an afterthought," said Adela de la Torre, the first woman to hold the position. "We want SDSU-IV to produce global citizens and compassionate leaders. And we're very committed to have all who desire higher education an equal opportunity to access."
Along with strengthening opportunities for faculty research, de la Torre was pleased to announce a four-year program coming in 2020--an interdisciplinary health degree combined with gerontology, social work and public health with a leadership minor.
Carlos Chao Jr., vice president of campus Associated Student Government, said he was upbeat about meeting de la Torre.
"This is her first visit to the Imperial Valley campus and everybody is excited," said Chao. "We brainstormed at a 10 a.m. meeting and it was very productive."
The student group presented various ideas for the campus, recalled Ashley Nava, an ASG senator. Some topics included having more sections for each course offering so students can better accommodate working schedules.
"Even though it's record enrollment this fall (1,029) we'd like to see more students," said Yamil Flores, ASG ambassador. "We'd also would like to see some sports programs so we can compete beyond the campus and play IVC or AWC (Arizona Western College). And more courses like STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), business and public health."
Also on hand to greet de la Torre was county Supervisor John Renison, who had an 18-year career as SDSU director of development.
"Imperial County and SDSU are tied at the hip. We got to be because we need a four-year university. That's the goal of Imperial Valley," he said. "We need to expand programs like the Imperial Valley University Partnership. IVC and SDSU-IV need to collaborate even more."
The partnership is an educational initiative offering students a high-quality education with a clear path to a bachelor's degree in four years.
Donna Castaneda, campus associate dean, noted many were glad to visit with de la Torre.
"People are really pleased she's listening to us," she said. "She seems to care a lot about our campus and is sensitive to the possibilities (of expansion)."
In a brief address in an outdoor common area de la Torre remarked Calexico has a beautiful campus and urged strengthening ties with educational institutions in neighboring Baja California, Mexico.
"Imperial County's support for SDSU-IV is critical," she said. "The whole idea is to transform the county through home-grown leaders that can have a big impact on the community's future direction."
De la Torre was appointed president by the California State University Board of Trustees on Jan. 30 and joined SDSU at the end of June. Prior to her appointment she was vice chancellor for student affairs and campus diversity at the University of California, Davis.
She is the ninth SDSU president, succeeding Eliot Hirshman who accepted the position as president at Stevenson University in Maryland.