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New SDSU President Gets Whirlwind Introduction

— San Diego State University's new president, Dr. Elliot Hirshman, was ushered through laboratories, meeting rooms and facilities still under construction at the university’s BioScience Center.

Dr. Roberta Gottlieb (right), director of San Diego State's BioScience Center...
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Above: Dr. Roberta Gottlieb (right), director of San Diego State's BioScience Center, explains the building's laboratory facilities to Dr. Elliot Hirshman and his wife Jeri on Hirshman's first day as San Diego State University president, July 5, 2011.

He spent part of the day learning about high-profile programs like biology, engineering and biomedical engineering. But said it was also important to visit the Educational Opportunity program, which focuses on low-income and first-generation students.

He also saw the university's collaborations with San Diego communities first-hand by taking the short trip to City Heights, where he met SDSU students working in San Diego Unified schools.

Hirshman joins the university as the Cal State University system is losing $650 million in state funding. He said the dire financial circumstances didn’t make him hesitate in accepting his new role.

“One of the first priority areas is the budget. In the short term, it’s clearly the issue of the moment," he said. "Longer term, I believe the prospects for the university and for universities in California are indeed bright.”

Though, he said tuition increases shouldn’t diminish the school’s accessibility.

“One of the things the university will be doing is using some portion of revenues from tuition increases to support financial aid for the neediest students to ensure continued access for them."

Hirshman was most recently provost and senior vice president at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where he oversaw enrollment, academics and athletics.

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