New president: SDSU outlook bright despite fiscal woes

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The future remains bright for San Diego State University in the long term, despite immediate and “horrid” financial woes, the school's new president said Tuesday.

Elliot Hirshman, 50, spoke to reporters following a tour of the BioSciences Center on campus in his first day as the successor to Stephen Weber.

His first challenge will be to help SDSU make do with less in light of a $650 million reduction in California State University system funding. Weber said it's going to be very difficult to deal with “a horrid, horrid cut” in funding, and his top priority is to understand the impact and work within SDSU's governance system to find solutions.

“I do want to distinguish between the short term and the long term,” Hirshman said. “Short term, it's the issue of the moment. Longer term, the prospects of the university are bright.”

The school's eighth president said that despite the fiscal crisis, SDSU has to maintain access to students of different backgrounds and continue to offer financial aid for the neediest pupils.

California's fiscal problems didn't scare him off because lower tax revenues are forcing states across the country to reduce funding for higher education, he said.

Hirshman was provost and senior vice president at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County when he beat out two other finalists for the job in May.

Before that, he was chief research officer and chairman of the Psychology Department at George Washington University; Psychology Department chairman at the University of Colorado-Denver; special assistant to the provost at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and the American Council on Education Fellow in the Office of the Provost and President at Arizona State University.

Hirshman said his first couple of months are “highly scheduled” as he gets acquainted with the SDSU community and area civic leaders.

Weber, who retired on June 16, moved with his wife, Susan, to the family home in Hancock Point, Maine, after 15 years at SDSU's helm.

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