San Diego State University

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San Diego State University
San Diego State University seal.svg
Former names
San Diego Normal School (1897–1923)
San Diego Teachers College (1923–35)
San Diego State College (1935–72)
California State University, San Diego (1972–74)
MottoLeadership Starts Here
EstablishedMarch 13, 1897 (1897-03-13)
TypePublic research university
Space Grant University
Endowment$190.6 million (2014)[1]
Budget$721.3 million (2013)[2]
PresidentElliot Hirshman
ProvostChukuka S. Enwemeka
Academic staff
1,491 (Fall 2013)[3]
Administrative staff
1,591 (Fall 2013)[3]
Students32,576 (Fall 2014)[4]
Undergraduates27,595 (Fall 2014)
Postgraduates4,394 (Fall 2014)
578 (Fall 2014)
LocationSan Diego, California
Coordinates: 32°46′31″N 117°04′20″W / 32.77528°N 117.07222°W / 32.77528; -117.07222[5]
Campus283 acres (1.15 km2) Urban
ColorsScarlet and Black         
AthleticsDivision IMWC
Sports19 varsity teams
MascotAztec warrior
AffiliationsCalifornia State University system
San Diego State University 'SDSU' Logo
San Diego State College
Location5500 Campanile Dr.,
San Diego, California
Area10 acres (4.0 ha)
Architectural styleMission/spanish Revival
Governing bodyState
NRHP Reference #97000924[6]
CHISL #798
Significant dates
Added to NRHPSeptember 4, 1997
Designated CHISL1964[7]
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San Diego State University
San Diego State University seal.svg
Former names
San Diego Normal School (1897–1923)
San Diego Teachers College (1923–35)
San Diego State College (1935–72)
California State University, San Diego (1972–74)
MottoLeadership Starts Here
EstablishedMarch 13, 1897 (1897-03-13)
TypePublic research university
Space Grant University
Endowment$190.6 million (2014)[1]
Budget$721.3 million (2013)[2]
PresidentElliot Hirshman
ProvostChukuka S. Enwemeka
Academic staff
1,491 (Fall 2013)[3]
Administrative staff
1,591 (Fall 2013)[3]
Students32,576 (Fall 2014)[4]
Undergraduates27,595 (Fall 2014)
Postgraduates4,394 (Fall 2014)
578 (Fall 2014)
LocationSan Diego, California
Coordinates: 32°46′31″N 117°04′20″W / 32.77528°N 117.07222°W / 32.77528; -117.07222[5]
Campus283 acres (1.15 km2) Urban
ColorsScarlet and Black         
AthleticsDivision IMWC
Sports19 varsity teams
MascotAztec warrior
AffiliationsCalifornia State University system
San Diego State University 'SDSU' Logo
San Diego State College
Location5500 Campanile Dr.,
San Diego, California
Area10 acres (4.0 ha)
Architectural styleMission/spanish Revival
Governing bodyState
NRHP Reference #97000924[6]
CHISL #798
Significant dates
Added to NRHPSeptember 4, 1997
Designated CHISL1964[7]

San Diego State University (SDSU, State) is a public research university in San Diego, and is the largest and oldest higher education facility in San Diego County. Founded in 1897 as San Diego Normal School, it is the third-oldest university in the 23-member California State University (CSU). SDSU has a student body of more than 35,000[8] and an alumni base of more than 260,000.

The Carnegie Foundation has designated San Diego State University a "Research University with high research activity," placing it among the top 200 higher education institutions in the country conducting research.[9] In the 2009–10 academic year, the university obtained $150 million for research, including $26 million from the National Institutes of Health.[10] The university soon expects to be classified as "Doctoral/Research-Extensive."[11] As reported by the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index (FSP Index) released by the Academic Analytics organization of Stony Brook, New York, SDSU is the number one small research university in the United States for four academic years in a row.[12][13][14] SDSU sponsors the second highest number of Fulbright Scholars in the state of California, just behind UC Berkeley. Since 2005, the university has produced over 40 Fulbright student scholars.[15]

The university generates over $2.4 billion annually for the San Diego economy, while sixty percent of SDSU graduates remain in San Diego,[16] making SDSU a primary educator of the region's work force.[17] Committed to serving the diverse San Diego region, SDSU ranks among the top ten universities nationwide in terms of ethnic and racial diversity among its student body, as well as the number of bachelor's degrees conferred upon minority students.[16]

San Diego State University is a member of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges(WASC),[18] the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and the Southwest Border Security Consortium.


Established on March 13, 1897, San Diego State University first began as the San Diego Normal School, meant to educate local women as elementary school teachers. It was located on a 17-acre (6.9 ha) campus on Park Boulevard in University Heights (now the headquarters of the San Diego Unified School District). It opened with seven faculty members and 91 students; the curriculum was initially limited to English, history and mathematics.[19] In 1923, the San Diego Normal School became San Diego State Teachers College, "a four-year public institution controlled by the state Board of Education."

The first graduating class of the opening year of the newly constructed San Diego Normal School.

By the 1930s the school had outgrown its original campus. In 1931 it moved to its current location on a mesa at what was then the eastern edge of San Diego. In 1935, the school expanded its offerings beyond teacher education and became San Diego State College.[20] In 1960, San Diego State College became a part of the California College System, now known as the California State University system. Finally in 1970 San Diego State College became San Diego State University (SDSU).

John F. Kennedy, then the President of the United States of America, gave the graduation commencement address at San Diego State University on June 6, 1963.[21][22] Kennedy was given an honorary doctorate degree in law at the ceremony, making SDSU the first California State College to award an honorary doctorate degree. In 1964, this event was registered as California Historical Landmark #798.[7]

As a nation, we have no deeper concern, no older commitment and no higher interest than a strong, sound and free system of education for all. In fulfilling this obligation to ourselves and our children, we provide for the future of our nation-and for the future of freedom.

John F. Kennedy, President of the United States of America. June 6, 1963.[23]

On May 29, 1964, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. addressed a near-capacity audience in the Open Air Theater. King discussed his vision for the future and called for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, then being debated in the Senate.[24]

Since 1968, SDSU's Astronomy Department has owned the Mount Laguna Observatory located in the Cleveland National Forest. It operates the observatory concurrently with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.[25]

For the beginning of the 2006–2007 academic year, SDSU expanded its classrooms and support space by more than 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) with the opening of three new buildings, the College of Arts and Letters, the Calpulli Center and Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center. The buildings, respectively, feature high-technology classrooms, upgraded health and wellness facilities, and scientific research laboratories.

... The idea that San Diego State College was a place of opportunity, a friendly place...where the individual student was the important, chief concern of the College.

Walter R. Hepner, explaining his purpose as President[26]

In April 2012, his Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama spoke at SDSU's Viejas Arena as part of his "Compassion Without Borders" tour.[27]

University Presidents[edit]

SDSU's first president, Samuel T. Black in 1905
Stephen L. Weber, former SDSU president. Weber is lauded for his success in student preparation, graduation rates, and leading SDSU to become a research university[28]

SDSU has had a total of ten presidents, eight of which were elected to the post, while the other two were in acting position (resulting in a less than a one year term). Several structures on the campus are named in past presidents' honor such as Hardy Tower, Hepner Hall (integrated in the university's logo), and the Malcolm A. Love Library.[28]


The university awards 189 types of bachelor's degrees, 91 different master's degrees, 25 types of doctoral degrees including Ed.D, Ed.S, DPT, J.D., Au.D, Ph.D. programs in collaboration with other universities. SDSU also offers 26 different teaching credentials.[29] The university offers more doctoral degrees than any other campus in the California State University system, while also enrolling the largest student body of doctoral students in the entire system.[30] In 2013, SDSU enrolled the most doctoral students in its entire history.[31]


Several buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:[32]

Other buildings on campus include:

Residence halls[edit]

Tenochca Hall (freshman dorms)
Chapultepec Hall (freshman dorms)

In 1937, Quetzal Hall, the first dormitory, opened for 40 women students and was located off campus.[36] In 1952, 50 college youth conducted a panty raid at Quetzal Hall, causing $1,000 in damages. Police arrested 13 of the students and the dorm girls later retaliated by attacking the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house.[50] In 1968, the coed dorm Zura Hall was built, and more rooms were added later.[51] Chapultepec Hall held 580 students when first built.[52]

Today, the university owns and operates housing for a total of 4,107 students between the dorms, towers, and student apartments, fraternity row, language, and honors housing. Approximately 63% of first-time freshman live in on campus housing, while about 14% of the overall student body resides in on campus housing.[53] SDSU offers unique themed-living communities in the freshman and upperclassman housing, such as "pathways for transfers," "gender-neutral housing," and "explore San Diego."

Branch campuses[edit]

Currently SDSU operates an outlet campus, or the Imperial Valley Campus, located in Calexico, California with additional campus in Brawley, California. IVC includes a research park and related facilities. The campus originally served upper division, teacher certification, and graduate students only, but now serves a selective cohort of freshmen and sophomores pursuing degrees in criminal justice, liberal studies, or psychology.[54] SDSU formerly operated a campus in North County, which was later converted into the larger California State University, San Marcos. In the South Bay, SDSU operated a campus on the first floor of the parking structure across from the Holiday Inn in National City, California. This campus shared facilities with Southwestern College. The South Bay campus is now closed indefinitely.



Fall Freshman Statistics[55][56][57][57][58][59][60][61]

 % Admitted34.537.231.332.930.0
Avg GPA3.693.613.613.623.63
Avg ACT24.524.123.723.723.6
Avg SAT Composite*11151106108710831086
*(out of 1600)

San Diego State University is consistently one of the most applied-to universities within the California State University system (surpassed only by Long Beach), receiving 76,688 undergraduate applications (including transfer and first time freshman) for the Fall 2014 semester and accepted 23,832 for an admission rate of about 31.1% across the university.[62]

Furthermore, SDSU received 21,767 applications for transfer admission[when?](having 60 or more units) and accepted 4,207 for a transfer admission rate of 19.3%.[citation needed]

SDSU is one of the most selective campuses in the California State University system. For Fall 2008, SDSU received over 50,000 applications and had a record low admission rate of 31.2%, edging out Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in percentage accepted. For Fall 2010, SDSU had the lowest admission rate in the CSU system at 30.0%. In Fall 2013, SDSU had the third-lowest admission rate in the CSU system (37.2%), behind CSU Long Beach (35.5%) and Cal Poly (34.5%).[citation needed]

SDSU's average SAT score of incoming freshmen was the second highest in the CSU system for the Fall of 2013, at 1106 (out of 1600; the writing section is not considered), with the average high school GPA also the second highest, at 3.61.[citation needed]


SDSU Quick Facts (2014)[63][64]
Admitted High School GPA3.82
Admitted SAT, ACT1159, 25
Freshman Class Size5,054
Number of Study Abroad Locations335
Number of Greek organizations50+
Academic Offerings160 majors, 22 professional programs (Ph.D, Au.D, Ed.D, Ed.S, DPT)
Undergraduate Student-Faculty Ratio20:1

The university reached its peak enrollment in 1987 with a student body of 35,945, resulting in SDSU being the largest university in California and the 10th largest university in the United States.[65] Due to the overwhelming number of students and lack of facilities and majors, the California State University Board of Trustees voted to cap enrollment for SDSU at 33,000. However, in 1993 enrollment dropped to 26,800 (the lowest since 1973) due to a financial crisis.[65] Nonetheless, enrollment has fluctuated through the years and rose back to nearly 35,000 (exceeding the cap) in 2008. For the spring 2014 semester, the university had a total enrollment of 29,000 students — approximately 25,000 undergraduates and 4,000 postgraduate students — making it one of the largest research universities in the state of California.[66]

In Fall 2013, SDSU had the most Doctoral (Ph.D., Au.D., Ed.D., Ed.S., DNP, etc.) students enrolled in its history at 534 students,[30] also the highest amount of Doctoral seeking students enrolled across the 23-campus CSU system.[67]

University rankings
U.S. News & World Report[70]149
Washington Monthly[71]151
Business School Ranking
U.S. undergraduate business
U.S. News & World Report[74]73
U.S. News & World Report[75]87

Rankings and distinctions[edit]

SDSU rankings
Forbes Best Business Schools[76]64
CMUP Research Universities[77]154
USNWR National University[78]149
  USNWR Business[79]87
  USNWR Part-Time MBA101
 !   USNWR Education[80]74
  USNWR Engineering[81]140
  USNWR Public Affairs73
  USNWR Social Work60
  USNWR Undergraduate Business[82]73

From 2006 to 2010, SDSU was ranked the No. 1 most productive research university among schools with 14 or fewer Ph.D. programs based on the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index. The school has since exceeded the "small research" limit by adding more Ph.D. programs following 2010. SDSU has been designated a "Research University" with high research activity by the Carnegie Foundation. Since 2000, SDSU faculty and staff have attracted more than $1.5 billion in grants and contracts for research and program administration.[83] Resultantly, U.S. News & World Report classifies San Diego State University as a "National University" (#165) whereas all other 22 campuses in the CSU are classified as "Regional Universities."[84]

SDSU is the largest university in terms of enrollment in the San Diego metropolitan area. One in seven adults in San Diego who holds a college degree attended SDSU. In 2013, SDSU was lauded for its comprehensive endowment campaign efforts, which raised over $400 million from 2007 to 2013. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education recognized SDSU for its overall performance in fundraising efforts.[85]

SDSU is placed at 121 for US High School Counselor Rankings among all universities in the nation.[84]

Money Magazine ranked San Diego State 150th in the country out of the nearly 1500 schools it evaluated for its 2014 Best Colleges ranking.[86]

The Daily Beast ranked San Diego State 75th in the country out of the nearly 2000 schools it evaluated for its 2013 Best Colleges ranking.[87]

Arts & Letters Building

In terms of Graduate School Rankings, QS Global 200 Business Schools Report ranks SDSU's business school the 80th best in all of North America.[88]

SDSU is also a top producer of U.S. Fulbright Scholars, the U.S. government’s flagship international educational exchange program. SDSU has had more than 40 students receive Fulbright Scholarships since 2005.[89] The university ranks as the No. 30 as the nation's best universities for Vets, according to Military Times Edge.[90] SDSU ranks among the top universities for economic and campus ethnic diversity according to U.S. News & World Report's "America's Best Colleges 2012."[89] Nearly 45% of all SDSU graduates are the first in their family to receive a college degree.[91]

Internationally, SDSU offers 335 international education programs in 52 countries. Thirty-four SDSU programs now require international experience for graduation. SDSU ranks No. 1 in California among universities of its type in California and No. 3 among all universities in California for students studying abroad as part of their college experience. SDSU also ranks No. 22 among universities nationwide for the number of students studying abroad. – Institute of International Education. Since 2000, nearly 12,000 students have studied abroad: a 900% increase in that time. SDSU’s undergraduate international business program ranks No. 11 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s "America’s Best Colleges 2012." SDSU is ranked fifth in Sports Management; 23rd in the MBA/MA in Latin American Studies; and 46th in the MBA/Juris Doctor program by Eduniversal for each programs’ international outreach and reputation in 2011. SDSU and Universidad Autónoma de Baja California in Mexico offered the first transnational dual degree between the United States and Mexico, in 1994, through the Mexus/International Business program. SDSU's international business program also runs transnational dual degree programs with Brazil, Canada, Chile and Mexico. SDSU’s Language Acquisition Resource Center is one of nine sites selected by the U.S. Department of Education to serve as a National Language Resource Center.[89]

SDSU ranks second among universities of its type nationwide and first in California for students studying abroad as part of their college experience.[92]

SDSU is home to the first-ever MBA program in Global Entrepreneurship.[93] As part of the program, students study at four universities worldwide, including the United States, China, the Middle East, and India.[94] Corporate partners include Qualcomm, Invitrogen, Intel, Microsoft, and KPMG.[94] In 1970, SDSU founded the first women's studies program in the country.

Modern Healthcare ranked SDSU second for graduate schools for physician executives in relation to their Master's in Public Health program.[95] SDSU is ranked No. 9 in Fortune Small Business's "America's Best Colleges For Entrepreneurs"[96] SDSU ranks 15th best in the nation for the top colleges for engineering majors, and sixth best in California.[97]

Rankings according to U.S. News & World Report: USNWR ranks SDSU's Business School 87th in the nation. Additionally, its Part-Time MBA program ranks 93rd by U.S. News & World Report.[84] SDSU is ranked the 65th best Education School. Its Engineering School ranks 132nd in the nation.[84] SDSU's Audiology and Speech & Language Pathology program rank 27th and 25th best in the nation, respectively. Its Biological Sciences and Chemistry programs rank 92nd and 140th in the nation, respectively.[84] SDSU is home to the 26th best Clinical Psychology and 52nd best Psychology program across the nation according to USNWR. Its Fine Arts program ranks 72nd in the nation. San Diego State's Nursing and Healthcare Management programs rank 127th and 54th respectively. Its Public Affairs and Public Health programs rank 73rd and 30th, respectively. Its Rehab Counseling ranks 9th best in the nation. Furthermore, SDSU's Social Work program ranks 60th best according to USNWR.[84] In respect to online graduate education, SDSU's program ranks 103rd in the nation in 2013.[84]

Organization and administration[edit]

Schools and colleges[edit]

A landmark architecture (Hepner Hall) featured in the school's logo

SDSU has two named schools established in the university by permanent endowments:

Additionally, SDSU has 10 focused schools:


Student Services building with clock tower
See also San Diego State University Research Foundation for additional information
Pedestrian bridge connecting various residence halls and parking structures to campus

The financial endowment of SDSU is valued at $190.6 million as of June 30, 2014.[1] The primary philanthropic arm of San Diego State University is The Campanile Foundation, controlled by the University Advancement division of the university. The San Diego State University Research Foundation, an auxiliary corporation owned and controlled by the university, is the manager and administrator of all philanthropic funds and external funding for the university and its affiliated and auxiliary foundations and corporations.

As of June 30, 2013, permanent assets of the SDSU Campanile Foundation totaled $229 million.[99]

For the 2004–2005 academic year, SDSU received over $157 million USD in external funding from grants and contracts, as well as an additional $57 million USD in donations and charitable giving.[100] For 2005–2006, SDSU received $152 million USD in grants and contracts to support research. This is followed by $47.7 million USD in donations, gifts and other charitable giving.[101]

An auxiliary to The Campanile Foundation is the Aztec Athletic Association, which primarily raises funds for the student athletes in the San Diego State University athletics programs (see discussion of Athletics below and at SDSU Aztecs).

Student body and Greek life[edit]

Demographics of Undergraduates Fall 2014[102]
African American3.7%
Asian American14.0%
White American35.6%
Hispanic American29.5%
Native American0.3%
Multiple Ethnicities6.5%
Other/Not Stated4.8%
Old Theta Chi House by Fraternity Row

The university currently recognizes 19 social fraternities, 17 social sororities, and 16 business/professional/service fraternities for a total of 52 Greek organizations on campus.[103]

On April 27, 1974, The Phi Beta Kappa Society established an SDSU chapter. It was the first in the CSU system as well as the San Diego area.[65] Other multidisciplinary national honor societies include Phi Kappa Phi, Mortar Board, Golden Key, and Phi Eta Sigma.

The first fraternity on campus was the Delta chapter of Epsilon Eta, which formed on October 25, 1921. By the end of the decade there were six other fraternities and eight sororities. The fraternities and sororities were all local, and did not attain national status until after World War II.[104] In 1925, in order to encourage higher grades, the Inter-Fraternity Council and Inter-Sorority Council published the average grades of the fraternity and sorority members. On a 3.0 scale, the average GPA (grade point average) for all students was 1.49, for fraternities was 1.35, and sororities was 1.47.[104] By the mid-1930s there were eight fraternities and eleven sororities,[36] and later expanded to fifteen fraternities and twelve sororities in the 1940s.[105] The first fraternity to go national was Theta Chi and the first sorority was Alpha Xi Delta.[105]

During the 1960s and early 1970s, the Greek population had dwindled to 699, but gradually began to increase in the 1980s, reaching 2,900 in 1988. There were 20 fraternities and 13 sororities officially affiliated with the Inter Fraternity Council and Panhellenic Council as well as six independent fraternities/sororities. This made it one of the largest fraternity and sorority systems in the western U.S.[106] On April 6, 1978, Gamma Phi Beta sorority hired a plane to drop marshmallows on fraternity houses during Derby Week, but the plane crashed near Peterson Gym, injuring four students aboard.[107] In 1983 a USA Today article reported that SDSU Greeks GPAs were below the campus average, so SDSU tightened restrictions and supervision and by 1989 their grades had increased to slightly above University average.[107] Between 1989–91, several riots among the fraternities occurred, including one numbering 3,500 people, and another requiring 34 police officers to end it.[108] The 2008 drug bust resulted in the suspension of several fraternities as well as the arrests of multiple fraternity members.[109] Currently there are over 50 social fraternities and sororities, including general, professional and culturally based organizations, represented by five governing councils.

The Panhellenic council sororities on campus include Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Epsilon Phi, Alpha Phi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Delta Gamma, Delta Zeta, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Delta, and Pi Beta Phi.

The IFC council includes Alpha Epsilon Pi, Delta Upsilon, Phi Delta Theta, Phi Gamma Delta, Phi Kappa Psi, Phi Kappa Theta, Kappa Alpha Order, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Delta Sigma Phi and Zeta Beta Tau.

The USFC council includes Alpha Phi Gamma Sorority, Alpha Pi Sigma Sorority, Alpha Psi Rho Fraternity, Beta Gamma Nu, Delta Lambda Phi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Psi Sorority, Gamma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, Gamma Rho Lambda, Gamma Zeta Alpha Fraternity, Lambda Sigma Gamma Sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha, Nu Alpha Kappa Fraternity, Sigma Alpha Zeta Sorority, Sigma Lambda Beta Fraternity, Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Sigma Phi Omega Sorority, Sigma Theta Psi Sorority and Upsilon Kappa Delta Sorority.

The NPHC council includes Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma fraternity, and Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

The Professional Fraternity Council (PFC) includes Alpha Kappa Psi, Alpha Phi Omega, Delta Sigma Pi and Phi Alpha Delta.

LGBT-Friendly campus[edit]

SDSU was recognized in 2014 as one of 20 of the most Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender-friendly campuses in all of the U.S.[110][111] The university attains this recognition through its welcome week LGBT reception, Safe Zone ally training, Big Gay BBQs, participating in Aids Walk San Diego and Pride San Diego, hosting an LGBT college fair, holding a Lavender Graduation ceremony, and several lecture series on the related topic. The university is one of the few campuses in California that is home to the gay social fraternity, Delta Lambda Phi. Additionally, SDSU was the first university in California to offer a major in LGBT studies, while also offering a minor and graduate degree in the discipline.[112] In 2014, SDSU opened its first ever Pride Center at the former Student Organization Annex, with the mission to provide resources and help meet the needs and challenges of LGBT students.[113]


Media, newspapers, and magazines[edit]

The front entrance to Love Library

Students began publishing The White and Gold in 1902, which was a literary magazine and newspaper.[114] In 1913, a new newspaper was established entitled Normal News Weekly.[115] The school newspaper Paper Lantern (Normal News Weekly was renamed after the addition of the junior college) became The Aztec in September 1925.[116] It was later expanded to its current name, The Daily Aztec in Fall 1959. The school's annual yearbook was named Del Sudoeste (Spanish for "of the southwest") in the early 1920s. The Koala, a comedy newspaper that is widely known around the San Diego State area, is also distributed monthly on campus but is not directly connected to the school at the moment.[116]

Exercise and Nutritional Sciences building houses one of the largest lecture halls (ENS 280) at 500 seats
SDSU media and publications
Official SDSU campus newspapers


The first major sport on campus was rowing, but it initially had no coaches or tournaments.[117] Other sports that developed early in the campus's history were tennis, basketball, golf, croquet, and baseball.[117] The school's football program had such a limited selection of players that faculty had to be used to fill the roster.[117] When the college merged with the junior college in 1921, SDSU became a member of the Junior College Conference. After the school won the majority of the conference titles in a variety of sports, the league requested that SDSU leave out of fairness to the smaller schools. For its football program, the team outscored its opponents 249 to 52 in ten games, resulting in the first sales of season tickets in 1923.[118] From 1925–26, SDSU played as an independent. It then joined the Southern California Conference in 1926, where it did not win a football conference championship until 1936. However, in other sports including tennis and basketball, it excelled.[118] SDSU remained with the conference until 1939, when it joined the California Collegiate Athletic Association.[119]

The basketball team reached and won multiple championships games during the 1930-1940s, including a conference title in 1931, 1934, 1937, and 1939. It reached the national championship in 1939 and 1940, losing in the final rounds. However, in 1941 SDSU returned and won the college's first national title.[119] In track, the team won conference titles in 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, and 1939.[119] The football team won conference titles in 1936 and 1937, and the baseball team won three conference titles and placed second three times between 1935–1941.[119]

In 1955, the Aztec Club was established and raised $20,000 a year by 1957. The club worked in increasing athletic scholarships, hiring better coaches, and developing the college’s intercollegiate athletic programs. In 1956, students approved through a vote of allowing a mandatory student activity fee, with a portion going to athletics. By the end of the decade the budget had doubled to $40,000. The campus’s most successful sports program during the 1950s was cross-country as the team won eight straight conference titles, AAU regional titles, and placed high in national competitions. Basketball ranged from last in the conference to multiple conference, regional, and national appearances. The football program had its first undefeated team in 1951, but in the last part of the decade earned the worst records in the school’s football program under the direction of head coach Paul Governali.[120]

Under Governali, the campus’s football program suffered, due to Governali’s policy of not recruiting new players. To improve the program, Love hired Don Coryell in 1961, which helped the program to win three consecutive championships (1966–68), and end with a record of 104 wins, 19 losses, and 2 ties by the time he left SDSU. Coryell was assisted by John Madden, Joe Gibbs, and Rod Dowhower, among others. In Coryell’s first year, attendance at home games averaged 8,000 people, but by 1966 it had doubled to 16,000. This later jumped to 26,000–41,000 per game with the addition of the new San Diego stadium. At some games, attendance was larger than at San Diego Chargers games. There were several undefeated seasons and multiple players broke records for most catches, touchdowns, and passing yards, among others. In 1969, SDSU moved into NCAA Division I, leaving the California Collegiate Athletic Association. In 1972, Coyrell left to pursue coaching in the NFL.[121]

Basketball also did well, with the 1967–68 team being ranked the number one college-level team in the nation, although it did not win a national title. The Aztecs also won the 1960 CCAA baseball title, and won multiple national championships throughout the 1960s in track, cross country, and swimming.[121]

Marshall Faulk's game ball from the September 14, 1991 game when he ran for a NCAA-record 386 yards (353 m) and scored 44 points

By 1970–71, the campus had 14 NCAA sports. The 1973 men’s volleyball team won the NCAA national championship which was the first NCAA national title since moving to Division I status.[122]

SDSU competes in NCAA Division I FBS. Its primary conference is the Mountain West Conference; its women's rowing team competes in the American Athletic Conference, its women's water polo team participates in the Golden Coast Conference, and its men's soccer team is a single-sport member of the Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12). The ice hockey team competes in the ACHA with other western region club teams ( The crew team's championship regatta is in the WIRA (Western International Rowing Association). The university colors are scarlet (red) and black, SDSU's athletic teams are nicknamed "Aztecs", and its current mascot is the Aztec Warrior, historically referred to as "Monty – Montezuma". In 2008, a San Diego Union-Tribune article noted that athletics revenues have been steadily decreasing from 2006-2008.[123]


The football team plays at Qualcomm Stadium (formerly known as Jack Murphy Stadium).


Viejas Arena is used for the Aztec basketball games, speeches, convocations, and concerts

The basketball teams play at Viejas Arena on the SDSU campus.


The baseball team plays in Tony Gwynn Stadium on the SDSU campus, named after the SDSU baseball and basketball player and late head coach, Tony Gwynn.


The women's volleyball team plays in Peterson Gym on the SDSU campus. The men's volleyball team won the NCAA Championship in 1973, but the team has since been disbanded.


Both the men's and women's teams both play at the Sports Deck on the SDSU campus. The women compete in the Mountain West Conference while the men compete in the Pacific-12 Conference.

Ice Hockey[edit]

SDSU's ice hockey team participates in the ACHA Men's Division 2. They advanced to National Championship final game in 2008 for ACHA Men's Division 3 and lost 7–3 to California University of Pennsylvania.

Formula SAE[edit]

Aztec Racing – San Diego State's Formula Society of Automotive Engineers - builds a small Formula 1 style race car each year from the ground up. SDSU engineering students design, build, and race the car against hundreds of other schools around the world. SDSU business students help manage, finance, and promote the team as well as seeking sponsorship opportunities.

Other sports[edit]


Initial clubs that were first started on campus including the Debating Club, the Associated Student Body, YWCA, and in 1906, an alumni association.[114] The oldest club on campus was The Rowing Association.[104]


Courtyard looking towards Hepner Hall

S mountain[edit]

On February 27, 1931, President Hardy permitted 500 students to paint rocks and form a 400-foot (120 m) "S" on Cowles Mountain. Nicknamed "S" mountain, the idea was created by the Council of Twelve and initially supported by Hardy. The giant S was lit at night for the opening football game of a season (performed by the freshman to build school spirit) along with pep rallies, and was repainted throughout its history.[33][124] At the time, it was the largest collegiate symbol in the world.[125] During World War II, the S was camouflaged to prevent it becoming a reference point for enemy bombing aircraft.[126] It was returned to its normal state in April 1944.[127] In the 1970s students stopped painting it and brush obstructed the symbol. After a 1988 brush fire it was exposed, and students repainted it. In fall, 1997, a group of 100 volunteers climbed Cowles Mountain after dusk to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the school by using flashlights to once again outline the "S" on the side of the mountain. In 1990, a high school prank defaced the S to read as "91" in honor of their graduating class.[128]

School colors and mascot[edit]

The initial colors of the school were white and gold. When the junior college was added to the campus in 1921, its colors of blue and gold were merged, resulting in a blue, gold, and white color scheme. New colors were later chosen as gold and purple, until being replaced by crimson and black on January 28, 1928.[129]

The school's prior nicknames for its mascot included "Normalites", "Professors", and "Wampus Cats". However, after a 1924 committee met to address the issue, the name "Aztecs" was decided on.[116] In 2003, the Aztec Warrior was approved by a student and alumni vote to become the official university mascot after the school's prior mascot, Monty Montezuma, was discontinued.[130]

Notable events and popular culture[edit]

SDSU Pedestrian Bridge at night
Film and television


SDSU was ranked as one of the most dangerous college campuses in the U.S. in 2012 by Business Insider. It placed San Diego State as the 6th most dangerous campus (of those having over 10,000 students and according to data from 2008 to 2011), due to 27 violent crimes and 575 property crimes per year.[131]

1996 campus shooting

The San Diego State University shooting occurred on August 15, 1996. A 36-year-old graduate engineering student, while apparently defending his thesis, shot and killed his three professors, Constantinos Lyrintzis, Cheng Liang, and D. Preston Lowrey III, at San Diego State University. The shooter, who was suffering from certain mental problems, was convicted on July 19, 1997, and was sentenced to life in prison. As a memorial, tables with a plaque with information about each victim have been placed adjacent to the College of Engineering building.

2008 student drug arrests
Main article: Operation Sudden Fall

On May 6, 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced the arrest of 96 individuals, of whom 33 were San Diego State University students, on a variety of drug charges in a narcotics sting operation dubbed Operation Sudden Fall.[132] It was originally reported that 75 of the arrested were students, but the inflated number included students who had been arrested months earlier, in some cases for simple possession.[133] The bust, which was the largest in the history of San Diego County, drew a mixed reaction from the community.[134]

Notable alumni and faculty[edit]

San Diego State University has over 260,000 alumni worldwide. The university is one of the top producers of U.S. Student Fulbright Scholars in the nation.[135]


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External links[edit]