#SDSUPresidentSearch: Zulma Toro

When Zulma Toro was first approached about the presidency at South Dakota State, she turned it down, but she soon changed her mind.

Toro didn’t know much about South Dakota, but after asking around, she learned two things about the people who lived here – “good people and hard working.”

It motivated her to start thinking seriously about the position. Originally from Puerto Rico, Toro currently serves as the executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of Arkansas.

Toro often reflected on her past experiences in higher education while answering students’ questions in her hour-long interview on Wednesday, April 20 with students.

She holds a Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in industrial and operations engineering from University of Michigan and a bachelor’s’ degree in industrial engineering from the University of Puerto Rico.

Toro said she works on a daily basis with students and she strives to make sure their voices are represented on task forces – especially budgetary matters.

“We have to be sure that students own that increase,” Toro said. “We are not going to push a student increase without the student owning and supporting the fees.”

When asked about what role athletics should play at SDSU, Toro said it is important for many reasons, including attracting and cultivating the community.

She said it is a way to develop the spirit with the Brookings’ community that will allow the university to return to the community for support when they need to.  

When it comes to the student experience, Toro wants to help students identify curricular and extracurricular activities for their plan of study. She brought up that in her past positions, they have had high impact initiatives including internships and study abroad opportunities.

“We are going to work with the student to get those accomplished,” she said. “The other thing is that individualized experience in what type of career that student would like to have. We prepare that student for the career.”

Toro ended her interview with one of her top priorities if she were to become president of SDSU.

“It will be my personal goal to work with the tribal communities in understanding their needs and aspirations and how we can support them to achieve those…” Toro said. “I understand it is a population growing in the state. It’s one of my commitments.”