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San Diego State Interim President Looks For Qualcomm Lease Extension

San Diego State University has a new president, albeit one with an interim one-year term. Sally Roush is the first woman to lead the school. She takes over for Elliot Hirshman who left for a job in Maryland. KPBS Reporter Erik Anderson sat down with Roush recently to talk about the school, the football team, and the school’s expansion onto the Qualcomm Stadium site.

Q: What does having the job as president for just one year mean for you and the university?

A: If you were here the day the chancellor introduced me — and announced my appointment — what he made clear is that I am president of the university in an interim capacity. And he said that because he wanted everyone to be clear that there was no limitation on the role of the president, and I think that is an important distinction to make.

Q: The university has expressed an interest in that Qualcomm Stadium site, what are you looking for there? What is the objective for San Diego State University?

A: The objective there, beyond the immediate need for a football stadium, which I think everyone’s very clear about, is to have the opportunity to develop the asset there in conjunction with the city of San Diego into something that’s a real community region-wide asset for the educational opportunities for future students of the university. There’s a higher good to be achieved there if the university is part of the development, to expand our growth over the decades to come. We don’t think in terms of two or three years on something like this. We think in terms of the 120 years that we’ve already been a university. And the next 120.

Q: You mentioned the Aztec football team and their future is a little bit squishy beyond 2018 when their lease with Qualcomm expires. What are the options there?

A: Option No. 1 is for the city to come back to the table and extend our lease. That is a primary objective of mine is to get that lease extended. Secondarily, we want the lease extended for a sufficient period of time, probably two years is sufficient, to actually build a stadium. In order to do that we need to work with the city to identify a location on a site where we can move forward with stadium construction while the rest of the issues around the future use of the site are resolved.

Q: The FS Investor’s ballot initiative is scheduled to be on the ballot in November 2018. Can you take action before then, to do something with the Qualcomm site?

A: We think that we can initiate a process whereby a plan could be activated once the initiative vote occurs and is resolved. If the initiative passes it’s a very different kind of scenario. If the initiative fails we have the opportunity now to have something in play or developed to a point where that it could be fairly quickly after that that we could finalize it. It could be something that could be finalized before and only activated if the initiative were to fail. So there are a variety of ways to approach it. And again, we need to be able to get into a dialogue with the various aspects of the city that help us understand what their preference is so that we can be prepared to respond to that.

Q: Is the potential for a partnership with FS Investors still possible?

A: No.

Q: No, unequivocally no?

A: Not under the current provisions of the initiative.

Q: You talk about having these relationships at the city. This city is not a monolith. There are different interests within the city of San Diego so are we talking about relationships with the council? Are we talking about relationships with the mayor?

A: We need good relationships with all of the entities at the city. The council and the mayor are the two most singularly identifiable, but there are city departments that also need to be involved, with whom in the past, real estate assets, we’ve had a good relationship, when we were a tenant at Qualcomm. So those relationships are important. We have been working to establish and build those. I’ve recently met with several of the city council members myself, so we’re working on that, that’s very important.

Sally Roush, the San Diego State University interim president, discusses the university's desire for a region-wide asset for the educational opportunities for future students.

Transcript

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Erik Anderson
Environment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or challenging environment has for life in Southern California. That includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many other topics.

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