For many educators, the first day of school means a classroom full of eager new faces.
But for SDSU’s new president Elliot Hirshman, the first day of the fall semester means an increasingly large campus full of several thousand new faces – all watching with a rather critical eye for his next move.
Though his first day on the job was July 5, Hirshman said in his Convocation speech Thursday that the first day of the fall semester was promising.
“In every area…the University has made tremendous progress,” he said in his speech. “These achievements reflect the efforts, often under difficult circumstances, of the entire community.”
Hirshman did not address a major point of contention in his presidency – his $400,000 salary. That's $100,000 more per year than his predecessor.
Many, including Gov. Jerry Brown, have criticized his pay, saying that now is not the time for a raise.
The California State University Board of Trustees approved Hirshman’s salary just after they had approved a 12 percent tuition increase.
Hirshman did mention the tuition increase in his address, along with some of the other financial challenges in the year ahead, including larger class sizes, an increase in faculty workload and limited services offered on campus.
The CSU system faces $650 million in cuts this year. Hirshman encouraged those in attendance to call local representatives and congressmembers and urge them to reconsider their appropriations to state public education.
He was sure to mention the silver linings in the year ahead of SDSU though. He boasted of the school’s increase in graduation rates, and its enhanced global presence. He said that these accomplishments will help the university raise $500 million.
The rest of his day will be spent meeting more students and faculty, he said later.
“Everyone is focused on our mission and moving forward.”