New San Diego State University President Trades Davis for Dysfunction
On Wednesday January 31st the California State University Board of Directors announced that Adela de le Torre has been selected to replace Elliot Hirschman at San Diego State University, becoming the first permanent female president in the San Diego school's history.
President de la Torre's background is as impressive as her present and future abilities will need to be in order for her to successfully navigate challenging waters as SDSU is in the midst of a whole host trials and tribulations. In addition to settling into a new role in a new city, de la Torre will have to wade into the very public SDSU West vs SoccerCity battle for Mission Valley and discern how and where to apply the resources at her disposal.
I came across an interesting opinion piece from an SDSU professor in the Times of San Diego that brought new information to my attention regarding the selection of President de la Torre that provided some food for thought.
Specifically, "the process the Chancellor’s Office used to choose President de la Torre left a great deal to be desired. Except for a small, advisory group," wrote Peter C. Herman, "the entire SDSU community was completely locked out.
"In the past, candidates arrived on campus, gave a talk, and then the audience mercilessly interrogated them. We asked our potential leaders where they stood on crucial issues, and then, we delivered our responses to the search committee. In other words, we had input. When the finalist was chosen, we had a sense of who was going to lead the university, and they had a sense of us."
I'd call that a pretty significant red and black, but mostly red, flag.
Herman goes on to identify a few other causes for concern amidst the optimism that a new hire brings. Namely, the issues with CTE and American football, the misappropriation of priority on sports in education institutions, the discrepancies between what the CSU Chancellor's office wants for SDSU and what SDSU wants for SDSU, the Aztec mascot and the biggest concern of all; the "abysmal" relationship between faculty and administration.
The mascot controversy I was aware of. The CTE risks are real and they are heartbreaking. The fixation on Aztec (or any other type of American) football as a fixture of the future beggars belief. I shouldn't be surprised to hear of infighting on campus, but I was because from the outside looking in, it appears as though all 400,000 Aztec affiliated registered voters of the city of San Diego were of one voice and one mind.
Assuming is never good for anyone though, and while it has been just a few short days since SDSU's new president was announced, she doesn't take office for months to come.
Between now and the moment de la Torre assumes command, it will be fascinating to learn more about her policies and her politics. I for one hope she spends more time listening to a wide range of people than she spends talking. Adela de la Torre will likely be one of the most influential voices in the city of San Diego in 2018 and beyond.
SDSU's population will get their first chance on Thursday when de la Torre visits the campus for the first time as the incoming permanent president.