A conversation with the president


Last week, the Collegian asked SDSU President Peggy Gordon Miller about the upcoming year. She said enrollment records will probably be broken and that the freshman class is already larger than ever before with about 1775 students.

She pointed to other things that will set this year apart from others.

A potential switch to Division I athletics, the Pride marching in the Rose Bowl, a planned choir trip to the Netherlands, Belgium and France and a high-ranking volleyball team are all on her list.

Faculty will learn how to deal with change under a Bush Foundation grant, students will have more opportunities to study internationally and the Board of Regents may get some new members, she said.

Here are some of the other questions and answers.

Q: So why do you think enrollment is up this year?

A: “Well, I think there are two or three things. One, I think we’ve added some programs that people are interested in. I think we’ve worked very hard to make sure people got the information they needed in orientation, I mean, those orientation sessions have become so information rich, anybody? I could go and learn something.

“I think the Jackrabbit Guarantee had a lot to do with it because we have an opportunity to say, ‘If you do well, we’ll keep investing in you.”

“And, I think the reputation of the university continues to grow. Every time you all do something wonderful, we get more good credit.

“I think the ‘You can go anywhere from here’ program helped people understand about the university and that there are lots of opportunities here to be anything you want to be.

“I don’t think it’s any one thing. There’s no silver bullet or pill, just lots of things. I think adding some new facilities helped, the Performing Arts Center, the new Crothers (Engineering Hall), just seeing that it is a campus on the move and that things are happening.”

Q: Do you expect any challenges from having more people on campus?

A: “Oh, I’m sure that we’ll have some, and we’ll try very hard to meet them. We’ve added a lot of sections in general education. We started at the beginning of the summer saying when we get to a certain point, we’re not going to crowd them up.

“The housing was an issue and I think they handled that well. I think that putting the extra people in day rooms that are air conditioned and carpeted, with a $50 gift certificate, was a stroke of genius. I mean, I wouldn’t mind being in one of those if everyone’s sweating down the hall.

“Parking will probably be a continuing nightmare because more people will want to bring cars and there’ll be more of us to bring the cars. I mean, I expect some things won’t change. (laughter)

“I think that, you know, we’re going to have some crunches now and again, but what nice problems to have.”

Q: Can you describe your beautification program?

“Well I think everybody’s involved in that. It’s a wonderful campus. We have the advantage of not being stuck in the middle of a cement city or something.

“And we have tried to utilize the advantages that we have by paying more attention to them. We have a gift of 350 trees and that’s going to be wonderful. That’ll allow us to, well, cover up some eye sores.

“I mean, nobody ever thought an air conditioning unit was a work of beauty (laughter) and if we can plant some evergreens around it, it just makes the campus look nicer, those kinds of things.”

“The major repair in Animal Science, though, is more than that. I mean, we’re really taking the insides of that building out and rehashing it. That is going to be a challenge this year, too, because we’re going to have to relocate everybody in Animal Science, probably by the end of the second semester.”

Q: The renovation going on there [Animal Science Complex], is that because of the mold problems last year?

A: “No, actually the mold didn’t turn out to? the Center for the Disesase Control study shows that the mold was not a dangerous thing. The problem was, the building was old, and the ventilation system, in the hood, was wearing out. And then you could have major problems.

“And so, the (Board of) Regents told us not just to fix that but to go in and fix the whole thing, all the heating and ventilating and the hood system, the vacuum systems, all the mechanical parts of the building and do it all at one time, rather than being disruptive and having to do it as each one wears out, which is what universities usually do.”