San Diego State University

San Diego State University

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San Diego State University is the largest and oldest higher education facility in the greater San Diego region, and is part of the California State University system.Open to the entire community, the school boasts 35,000 students and faculty and offers top-ranking undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degree programs. Through its academic excellence and innovative research activities, San Diego State has evolved into its present-day status by achieving the prestigious Doctoral/Research University-Intensive designation.The history of San Diego State University begins with the founding of San Diego Normal School, a teacher-training institute, in 1897. In the beginning, it was a two-year teacher-training school composed of seven faculty members and 91 students.By 1899, the school moved to its own 16-acre campus in University Heights. As the school developed, its campus expansion plans were made and curriculum ballooned to include a broad four-year liberal arts education, in addition to its teacher training program.In 1935, San Diego State Teachers College became San Diego State College. Additional degree programs were offered beyond teacher education at the institution.By 1960, the newly created California State College system was founded, and San Diego State received university status in the early 1970’s.The present location of the campus is 5500 Campanile Drive in San Diego, with a satellite campus in Calexico. The university is composed of the College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business Administration, the College of Education, the College of Engineering, the College of Health and Human Services, the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, the College of Sciences, and the Undergraduate Studies Program.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University (SDSU) is a public research university in San Diego, California. Founded in 1897 as San Diego Normal School, it is the third-oldest university and southernmost in the 23-member California State University (CSU) system. SDSU has a fall 2020 student body of 35,578 and an alumni base of more than 300,000. [9]

It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity". [10] In the 2015–16 fiscal year, the university obtained $130 million in public and private funding—a total of 707 awards—up from $120.6 million the previous fiscal year. [11] As reported by the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index released by the Academic Analytics organization of Stony Brook, New York, SDSU had the highest research output of any small research university in the United States in 2006 and 2007. [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 65 Fulbright student scholars. [15]

The university generates over $2.4 billion annually for the San Diego economy, while 60 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 has one of the ten most ethnically and racially diverse student bodies among universities nationwide, and is also one of the top ten for number of bachelor's degrees conferred upon minority students. [16]

San Diego State University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. [18]

A teaching credential is a state-issued license to teach in a public school. California law requires all teachers in CA public schools to hold a valid teaching credential. Approved College of Education teaching credential programs are offered for the multiple subject credential and the single subject credential, as well as for bilingual and special education.

For teaching credential advising, exit processing and related services go to the Office for Student Success.

Preliminary Teaching Credential Programs

Multiple & Single Subject

Multiple Subject

The Multiple Subject Teaching Credential authorizes the holder to teach all subjects in a self-contained classroom, such as the classrooms in most elementary schools, in grades preschool, K–12, or in classes organized primarily for adults.

Single Subject

The Single Subject Teaching Credential authorizes the holder to teach the specific subject(s) named on the credential in departmentalized classes, such as those in most middle schools and high schools, in grades preschool, K–12, or in classes organized primarily for adults.

Bilingual (Multiple & Single Subject)

Bilingual Multiple Subject

The Multiple Subject Bilingual Credential (Elementary K–6 Education) is available to students interested in teaching in a bilingual elementary school classroom.

Bilingual Single Subject

The Single Subject Bilingual Credential (Secondary Grades 6-12) is available for students interested in teaching in a bilingual Spanish middle or secondary school classroom in the candidates’ subject major (e.g., Science, Math, Social Science, English, Spanish, etc).

Special Education

Early Childhood

The Early Childhood credential authorizes the holder to work with infant, toddler and preschool-age children with identified special needs.


The Mild/Moderate credential authorizes the holder to teach students with disabilities in grades K-12, and adults up to age 22.


The Moderate/Severe credential authorizes the holder to teach students with a wide range of special needs disabilities in grades K-12, and adults up to age 22.

Integrated Teacher Education Programs (ITEP)

ITEP Integrated Bachelor's & Teaching Credential Programs

Department: various

To ease the growing K-12 shortage in California, policymakers have made it possible for teacher preparation programs to provide “Integrated Teacher Education Programs” (ITEP), a new combination 4-year, bachelor and credential option. Various bachelor's programs at SDSU will be offering an ITEP pathway.

For more information about pathways to PK-12 teaching including the ITEP pathway, visit the TEACH website.

Clear Credential and Induction Program

As of November 19, 2020, this program was discontinued, and we are no longer accepting applications . The San Diego County Office of Education will be assisting students in completing their induction requirements.

Commission on Teacher Credentialing Title II Reports

AB 2086 requires all teacher preparation programs to provide information to prospective candidates regarding the license examination passage rates of completers for the most recent available year, as well as other important information about the programs. For details regarding SDSU credential programs, review CTC reports and data.

San Diego State University - History

The History of Chicano Park web site supports MAS 350B: Mexican American Studies - Chicano History at San Diego State University. This class involves the study of the history of Chicanos since 1848, using Chicano Park as a point of departure for research and study. The main emphasis of the class will be to survey the major themes of Chicano history that are suggested by the murals of Chicano Park in Barrio Logan San Diego, and to do research on the park in order to contribute to its preservation by revealing the rich artistic and cultural legacy its embodies.

The Chicano Park Historical Documentation Project will serve as a vehicle to document and disseminate information on the art, culture, and history of Chicano Park to a large audience through the execution of all three phases of the project:

. Phase I. Comprehensive Documentation Program
. Phase II. Two part symposia series
. Phase III. Traveling exhibition

The Chicano Park Historical Documentation Project Committee, in conjunction with San Diego State University, is seeking support and funding for a multi-phased project focusing on the comprehensive documentation of the art, history, and culture of Chicano Park.

Project Co-Directors

Kathleen L. Robles, M.A., cultural anthropologist, San Diego State University
Richard Griswold del Castillo, Ph.D, historian, San Diego State University

Website Development Team

Project Director - Kathleen L. Robles, SDSU
Web Producer - Artie Pajak, Instructional Technology Services (ITS), SDSU
Graphics/HTML - George A. Salazar, ITS, SDSU
Photography - Kathleen L. Robles, SDSU and Tom Farrington, ITS, SDSU

*Additional material reprinted by permission from "The Murals of Chicano Park, San Diego, California", By Pamela Jane Ferree, San Diego State University, 1994.

This web site was developed under a Multimedia Student Assistant Grant from Instructional Technology Services, San Diego State University.

San Diego State University - History

The Center for Latin American Studies at San Diego State University has been providing educational opportunities since 1942, and is renowned for program offerings in the indigenous languages of Mexico. We offer a multidisciplinary undergraduate major and minor in Latin American Studies and a Master of Arts in Latin American Studies at the graduate level. We are also proud to offer three concurrent graduate degree programs in professional studies: Master of Arts in Latin American Studies plus a Master of Public Administration (MPA), Master of Public Health (MPH), or Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Through active participation in Latin American communities, partnerships with different educational institutions, and multiple transnational collaborations, the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) seeks to provide students a unique opportunity to explore Latin America. CLAS supports research, community outreach, conferences, internships, study abroad, and other activities dedicated to teaching students, working professionals, and community members about Latin American economies, aesthetics, ecology, society, culture, and languages.

What does is it mean to be a Latin Americanist?

“To me a Latin Americanist is to be an advocate for the culture that we are being trusted to help take care of. To me you must understand a culture before you can really aim to help it and that is my main goal throughout this program. To become an advocate for those who cannot make the changes that involve their own communities."

- Alejandro Gonzalez, MA/MPH (Epidemiology)

“To be a Latin Americanist to me means being a voice for my community. As a 1st generation Salvadoran, it is important for me to understand myself to empower me to do my work. I advocate for my community need. As a Latin Americanist and Public Health Professional, I hope to use my voice to improve the quality of life for Latinx communities of all generations.”

- Melissa Vasquez Rosalies, MA/MPH (Health Promotion/Behavioral Science)

Learn more about what you can with a degree in Latin American Studies:
Undergraduate | Graduate

A Message from the Director

As we prepare for the new academic year and welcome our new cohort of brilliant and passionate graduate students, undergraduates, and their families to our CLAS community, I also want to take a moment to recognize the traumas of this last year. As Kristina vanden Heuvel of the Nation Magazine said, “We are in the midst of a once-in-a-century crisis moment—confronting the triple threats of a health crisis, an economic crisis, and a racial injustice crisis. The day after George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police officers, the Covid-19 death toll in the United States passed 100,000. Two days later, the unemployment number passed 40 million. Across the board, the pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color.” This is not an abstract phenomenon and none of us have escaped these tragedies. Each of us is experiencing them in different ways but together, we can support and empower each other.

By Temperance Russell & Lori Loftin, San Diego State University, and Julie Shayne, University of Washington Bothell

Lori Loftin (L) and Temperance Russell (R) by Nicole Carter Julie Shayne by Nicole Carter

This essay is about the development of the first US Women’s Studies program: San Diego State University (SDSU). [1] Every program’s history is no doubt unique, including SDSU’s, but after reading many histories of different programs and testimonies from different founders it has become strikingly clear that there were many parallels. (See annotated bibliography by Shayne and Guzman.) We start this essay with some national trends in the development and early years of the programs and then move onto the specific case of SDSU. [2] In Women’s Studies: A Retrospective, Beverly Guy-Sheftall describes the field as going through four phases, marking the beginning with the 1960s Civil Rights movement and development of Black Studies. Guy-Sheftall goes on to identify the four phases as 1: the development of Women’s Studies as a new interdisciplinary program 2: movement of Women’s Studies into the mainstream 3: challenges to Women’s Studies by women of color and particular efforts to move women of color to the center from the margins and 4: the internationalization of Women’s Studies in the US and emergence of Women’s Studies and global feminism throughout the world (1995, xiii-xiv). [3] Keeping this backdrop in mind, we share a few trends that appear to run through most programs.

Simply put: “This history of women’s studies in the 1970s is … a complex story, interweaving the hard daily work of institution building, the magic of individual growth and transformation, the subtlety of intellectual discovery, and the defiance of a grass-roots movement for change” (Lapovsky Kennedy 2000, 244). The labor was non-stop, often unremunerated, including the teaching, and always done collaboratively, though not harmoniously, with students. There was also an inordinate amount of professional precarity on the part of the faculty involved, in part because they were feminist activists, and most higherups on their campuses were not (at least initially) happy to hear from them. Additionally, administrators frequently put untenured, even part time and/or doctoral candidates, in positions of power, which meant they sat at the same tables as people (read: white men) with significantly more clout, power, and experience than themselves.

The founders of Women’s Studies—students, staff, faculty, and community activists—mostly saw themselves as members of social movements of which Women’s Studies was a natural outgrowth. Most white feminists talked about Women’s Studies coming from and remaining a part of the women’s movement (Boxer 1998 Howe 2000), whereas, as noted, Guy-Sheftall identifies the Civil Rights movement being the catalyst. Women of color feminists took white feminists to task, by asking: Which women’s movement? Who was being represented? And from a curricular perspective, how did white women’s hegemony translate to conspicuous absences in the curriculum and field writ large (Moallem 2002, 372 Sandoval 1990). Related to this, Barbara Smith explains, “I do not remember anyone else I knew using the term Black women’s studies during the early 1970s, but I had a clear sense that was, in fact what we were creating” [italics in original] (2000, 198).

Other commonalities that cross all the programs are their tiny budgets, yet the overwhelming popularity of their courses, as well as the snail’s pace at which it takes to get from idea-to-course-to-BA-degree-housed-in-a-department. For example, the University of Colorado Boulder had a Women’s Studies program approved in the fall of 1974, but it was not until April 1998 that they won final approval for their BA degree (Westkott 2002, 293-94). These timelines and uphill battles, both internal and external which accompanied the process, were in no way unique to Boulder. Indeed, San Diego State experienced its own version of most of these trends, to which we now turn.

Founded in 1970, the San Diego State University Department of Women’s Studies was the first program in the nation. The department celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2020. [4] Temperance and Lori both received our MAs in Women’s Studies from San Diego State University in 2020. During our tenure in the Women’s Studies department we were actively involved in the planning of the 50th anniversary celebration in many capacities, including: co-producing a short commemorative film on women’s studies creating an online-timeline of the program and overseeing an oral-history project for which we interviewed twenty three important figures from the department’s past and present. Our involvement with these projects serves as the data for the remainder of this essay. However, our efforts were more than data gathering or logistical support—rather, our involvement demonstrates a core value of SDSU’s Women’s Studies: a commitment to provide concrete opportunities to empower students as leaders. This is particularly important given the role of students in creating the program from the outset.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, faculty and students at San Diego State College were actively involved in many social movements. From this activism, new academic departments were formed—Africana Studies, Chicana and Chicano Studies, and American Indian Studies. Additionally, the Women’s Liberation movement began to take shape nationally and on San Diego State’s campus (Orr 1998, 50). Gatherings of women in consciousness raising or “rap groups” became a place for women to talk about their shared experiences of sexism in their lives and in academia. One of these consciousness raising groups at San Diego State, composed of about twenty students and faculty, launched the Center for Women’s Studies and Services (CWSS) to provide a more formal space from which to address sexism on campus.

The first project of CWSS was the creation of a Women’s Studies program. In the fall of 1969, CWSS offered free classes, taught entirely via the voluntary labor of students and faculty in other departments. The leadership and involvement of students and the multi-disciplinarity of faculty proved integral to the long term survival of the program. CWSS found their eventual success by following the model used by student and faculty activists who created the Mexican American Studies (now called Chicana and Chicano Studies) at SDSU the year prior. CWSS pushed the university administration to offer courses for credit, bringing a petition signed by over 600 students, to the University Senate (Orr 1998, 59).

By the spring of 1970, the activists were successful. San Diego State College established a Women’s Studies Program which offered classes for credit, becoming the first university in the nation to do so. In its first year, there were two full-time professors hired and five courses offered (Salper 2011, 662). Professors took on their work in Women’s Studies above and beyond their contractually required teaching, research, and administrative responsibilities, doing so without pay. The first years were turbulent. Debates over ideology and funding led to a split between the Women’s Studies Program and the Center for Women’s Studies and Services (CWSS). CWSS eventually moved off campus and evolved into The Center for Community Solutions, which continues to do feminist advocacy and anti-violence work in San Diego County. In the 1973-74 school year another conflict erupted, changing the makeup of the program. A dispute with the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters led to the mass resignation of all staff, faculty, and members of the Women’s Studies Board (Foulkes 2007, 134). The Dean mandated that Women’s Studies stray from its liberatory teaching and decision making style, stripping community members, non-tenured faculty, and students of their decision making power in the department. A sizable amount of the Women’s Studies stakeholders vehemently disagreed with that mandate and resigned in protest (Foulkes 2007, 133). In fall of 1974, the Women’s Studies program received new direction under the leadership of Chair Marilyn Boxer, with two new full-time and four part-time faculty offering twelve classes. At the time, Boxer was still a doctoral candidate herself, originally hired as a part time faculty member, who was more or less told she would be the chair (Boxer 2000, 234). The faculty developed an eighteen-credit minor, which was approved by the University Senate in May of 1975. That same year, the university officially established Women’s Studies as a department in the College of Arts and Letters. Classes taught included “Women in History”, “Contemporary Issues in the Liberation of Women”, “Women in Comparative Cultures”, and “Human Sexuality” (Self Study 1979).

Since its inception, the department of Women’s Studies has had to prove itself against outside conceptions that it was not sufficiently rigorous as a discipline or that research on and about women was a passing fad. To legitimize their work, the Women’s Studies faculty took great care to ensure academic rigor in their courses, collaborating with other departments and guest lecturing across campus to build faith in the department. Their efforts ultimately led to the university including Women’s Studies courses in the General Education curriculum, an important step in the institutionalization of the program. The “New Views of Women” lecture series was launched in 1977, further expanding the impact of the Women’s Studies department by bringing students, faculty, staff, and community members together to hear lectures from feminist faculty in disciplines across the university. By 1989, faculty from twenty-eight departments at SDSU (representing every college except the College of Engineering) had presented lectures in the “New Views of Women” lecture series (Self Study 1989). In addition, the department hosted talks by well-known figures of the women’s movement, including Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and Bella Abzug (Self Study 2014).

In 1982, the SDSU Senate approved a major in Women’s Studies, making SDSU one of fifty-five universities in the US at that point with such a major. The major fueled the growth of the department and by 1989 there were eight full-time faculty. In 1995, the department achieved a long-standing goal, launching a 30-credit, two-year MA program (Self Study 2000). Today, the MA program remains an extremely important part of the department.

From its founding, Women’s Studies faculty have been active in university governance, serving in leadership roles in the College of Arts and Letters, the University Senate, the California Faculty Association, and numerous university committees. Additionally, throughout the history of the department, faculty members have moved into administrative positions at SDSU and other campuses in the California State University system (Self Study 2000). The Women’s Studies Department has also been actively supportive of student organizations throughout its history, including the Women’s Resource Center (WRC), the Women’s Studies Student Association (WSSA), Graduate Women Scholars of Southern California (SCALLOPS), the Andrea O’Donnell Womxn’s Outreach Association (WOA), and many others (Self Study 2014).

Women’s Studies also has a rich history of involvement in the local and global community. In 1996, the Hoover High School Young Women’s Studies club was founded, providing an opportunity for SDSU students to mentor local high school students through service learning. The 2002 founding of the Bread and Roses Center for Feminist Research and Activism extended the involvement of SDSU students, faculty, and staff in community organizations and projects. Bread and Roses projects include an annual themed colloquium series, community partnerships, and annual student activist research fellowships. As Women’s Studies in the US continues to be ever more committed to transnational feminist theory and scholarship, faculty have begun teaching numerous travel study courses, conducting research in and about communities around the world, and presenting their research at international conferences.

Another major accomplishment and source of pride for the department is the creation of a major and minor in LGBTQ Studies. Women’s Studies has been a leader in transforming SDSU into a campus that actively supports the success of LGBTQ students, faculty, and staff (Self Study 2008).

The curriculum of Women’s Studies has continued to grow in response to student interest, historical changes, and developments in the discipline of Women’s Studies. One thing, however, which remains the same is the name. Even as many programs around the country move to change their names from “Women’s Studies” to some version of “Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies,” SDSU has not followed that trajectory. (See Bhatt essay, this collection.) As a department the debate happens periodically, often prompted by new hires, and not surprisingly, feelings are strong on all sides of the debate. Retiring faculty Susan Cayleff explains her commitment to keeping “Women’s Studies”:

I am adamant on this point that we must remain women’s studies. Adamant. I feel most strongly about this than almost anything. Here’s the reason why we have to honor history. We were first in the nation. We are not post-feminist. Someone said, I forget who… “we’ll be post-feminist when we’re post patriarchy and I’m not holding my breath.” I am not convinced that gender…studies programs are feminist. I am not convinced that they centered the experiences of female identified people. I think that there are unique experiences and circumstances and oppressions that come with being female identified. I am 1000% trans and queer inclusive. And yet I think that trans, nonbinary, queer politics must have feminism at the center. And I am not convinced that that is the case … in many places. And I think that whether one is born female or identifies as female, uh, that there are bodily issues that impact female identified people that need examination and remediation, and I’m talking about reproductive justice and that includes trans and nonbinary people. I’m talking about sexual violence that includes trans non-binary people. … 1,000 ways that female identified people experienced the world uniquely because they are female bodied and or identified and that cannot be erased. It took an entire women’s movement… and the birth of women’s studies to get this acknowledgment put into human consciousness that, that femaleness matters (personal interview with Russell, 2019).

Younger scholars, especially students, tend to see all sides and it seems likely that SDSU will remain “Women’s Studies” for the foreseeable future.

In 2020, the SDSU Women’s Studies Department has eleven full-time and eight part-time faculty and offers close to fifty courses. Graduates of the MA and BA programs serve as professionals in a range of fields and continue to fight for social justice and women’s and queer folks’ empowerment through their activism, community, and academic service. The collaborative and coalitional nature which launched the program is still central to its mission which means battles happen. That said, SDSU made it for a half a century using that model and we are excited to see what SDSU’s faculty, students, and staff will bring to the academic and community feminist movements during these next fifty years.

Works cited:

Boxer, Marilyn Jacoby. 1998. When Women Ask the Questions: Creating Women’s Studies in America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

—–. 2000. “Modern Woman Not Lost.” In The Politics of Women’s Studies: Testimony from 30 Founding Mothers, ed. Florence Howe, 229-242. New York, NY: The Feminist Press.

Cayleff, Susan. 2019. Personal interview with Temperance Russell. Conducted in San Diego, CA. Audio recorded. 19 October.

Foulkes, Sarah B. 2007. Coalitions, collaborations, and conflicts: the history of women’s studies at San Diego State University from 1969-1974. [Master’s Thesis, San Diego State University.] ProQuest Dissertations and Theses ProQuest.

Grahl, Christine, Elizabeth Kennedy, Lillian S. Robinson and Bonnie Zimmerman. 1972. “Women’s Studies: A Case in Point,” in Feminist Studies. 1(2): 109-120.

Guy-Sheftall, Beverly. 1995. Women’s studies: A Retrospective (A report to the Ford Foundation). New York, NY: Ford Foundation.

Howe, Florence, ed. 2000. The Politics of Women’s Studies: Testimony from 30 Founding Mothers. New York, NY: The Feminist Press.

Hull, Akasja (Gloria T.), Patricia Bell-Scott & Barbara Smith, eds. 2015 [1982]. All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women’s Studies, 2nd Edition. New York, NY: The Feminist Press.

James, Stanle M., Frances Smith Foster & Beverly Guy-Sheftall, eds. 2009. Still Brave: The Evolution of Black Women’s Studies. New York, NY: The Feminist Press.

Lapovsky Kennedy, Elizabeth. 2000. “Dreams of Social Justice: Building Women’s Studies at the State University of New York , Buffalo.” In The Politics of Women’s Studies: Testimony from 30 Founding Mothers, ed. Florence Howe, 243-263. New York, NY: The Feminist Press.

Moallem, Minoo. 2002. “‘Women of Color in the U.S.’: Pedagogical Reflections on the Politics of ‘the Name’.” In Women’s Studies on its Own: A Next Wave Reader in Institutional Change, ed. Robyn Wiegman, 368-382. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Orr, Catherine M. 1998. Representing women/disciplining feminism: Activism, professionalism, and women’s studies. [Doctoral Dissertation, University of Minnesota]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses ProQuest.

Salper, Roberta. 2011. “San Diego State 1970: The Initial Year of the Nation’s First Women’s Studies Program,” in Feminist Studies. 37(3): 656-682.

San Diego State University Women’s Studies Department (1979, 1989, 2000, 2008, 2014). Self- Studies for Academic Review. (Unpublished departmental documents).

Sandoval, Chela. 1990. “Feminism and Racism: A Report on the 1981 National Women’s Studies Association Conference.” In Making Face, Making Soul: HACIENDO CARAS Creative and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color, ed. Gloria Anzaldúa, 55-71. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books.

Smith, Barbara. 2000. “Building Black Women’s Studies.” In The Politics of Women’s Studies: Testimony from 30 Founding Mothers, ed. Florence Howe, 194-203. New York, NY: The Feminist Press.

Westkott, Marcia. 2002. “Institutional Success and Political Vulnerability: A Lesson in the Importance of Allies.” In Women’s Studies on its Own: A Next Wave Reader in Institutional Change, ed. Robyn Wiegman, 293-311. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Zimmerman, Bonnie. 2002. “The Past in Our Present: Theorizing the Activist Project of Women’s Studies.” In Women’s Studies on its Own: A Next Wave Reader in Institutional Change, ed. Robyn Wiegman, 183-190. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

—–. 2005. “Beyond Dualisms: Some Thoughts about the Future of Women’s Studies.” In Women’s Studies for the Future: Foundations, Interrogations, Politics, eds. Elizabeth Lapovsky Kennedy and Agatha Beins, 31-39. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

A brief history of decades of debate at SDSU about the Aztec name and Aztec Warrior mascot, er, spirit leader

San Diego State University’s Aztec Warrior is no longer a mascot.

It’s a “spirit leader” . whatever that is.

After months of deliberation and years of debate on campus and off, SDSU interim president Sally Roush on Thursday announced that she has decided the school will continue to use the Aztec nickname but that she is scaling back the presence of the Aztec Warrior and that its use “will be unfailingly informed and guided by the wisdom” of a 17-member task force that gave her several recommendations in a 312-page report.

“The Aztec Warrior, similarly a source of pride for the collective majority, will be retained, but as Spirit Leader, not mascot,” Roush said in her statement. “There will be immediate and visible changes in demeanor to achieve a respectful portrayal of a powerful figure from Aztec culture.”

At issue was the cultural appropriateness of the Aztec Warrior used for athletic games, as well as apparel and merchandise sold by the university. Students protested the depiction of the mascot as a “racialized stereotype of Native Americans.” Others called it racist.

So, how did we get to this point? Here’s a brief history:

Evolution from 1925 to 2001

Long before it was officially named SDSU, the San Diego university began using the Aztec name for its mascot in 1925. It wasn’t until 1941 that the mascot evolved into the depiction that’s recognizable today of Montezuma, the warrior who ruled the Aztecs in the early 1500s, according to the university.

In 2001, Stephen Weber, the university’s president at the time, announced a decision to rename the mascot and give it a whole new outfit, the Los Angeles Times reported at the time.

Iterations from 2002 to 2004

After dropping Monty Montezuma as the mascot name, San Diego State briefly experimented with Ambassador Montezuma in 2002, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. That didn’t work out.

After consulting with Aztec scholars, university officials declared the Aztec Warrior as the official mascot in 2003. One year later, the latest iteration of the mascot emerged in 2004.

That NCAA decision of 2005

A committee of the NCAA, the governing body of college athletics nationwide, in August 2005 officially called for universities to drop “hostile and abusive” Native American nicknames and imagery used as school mascots, a decision that affected 18 schools, the Times reported. The decision, however, did not affect San Diego State’s Aztec Warrior because the NCAA couldn’t find any organized tribe or group related to the Aztecs, a civilization that was mostly wiped out by Spanish settlers in the 1500s.

Still, others thought it should have been on the list to be removed as a mascot.

An effort to drop mascot in 2014

The now-defunction Queer People of Color Collective at San Diego state pushed an effort in 2014 to change the mascot, but that fell through when the student government voted 25-1 to keep it, The Daily Aztec reported.

A professor revives fight in 2015

In 2015, American Indian Studies professor Ozzie Monge revived the fight to drop the Aztec mascot and authored a thesis arguing against the name and depiction at SDSU.

“The mascot itself perpetuates the ‘noble savage’ stereotype, reducing Indigenous people to anachronistic objects suitable for use as a good luck charm during sporting events this is completely antithetical to SDSU’s achievements in diversity,” Monge wrote.

More students join fight in 2016

In 2016, a Native American student group called the Native American Student Alliance took the fight to the student legislating body with a resolution to end the “intellectual dishonesty of historical inaccuracy and cultural misappropriation of the Aztec civilization and culture through the case of the use of the term ‘Aztec’” in university materials.

A critical vote in 2017

After a failed effort by students to retire mascot earlier in the year, the University Senate voted 52-14 in November in favor of agreeing to retire the Aztec Warrior and its associated depictions, a decision that reportedly took opponents and supporters by surprise, the Union-Tribune reported.

That vote proved to be critical. At the time, the University Senate also called for the creation of a task force to do research and seek recommendations on how to move forward.

A final decision in 2018?

In January 2018, Roush announced that a 17-member task force would weigh the fate of the name and the mascot. In the following months, supporters and opponents engaged in public campaigns to sway the task force. Some organized an online petition that garnered some 9,000 signatures to “Save The Aztec.”

After months of deliberating in secret, the task force released its report on Thursday.

Modern history

In 1987, the school reached its peak attendance with 35,945 students, resulting in SDSU being the largest university in California and 10th in the nation. Due to the overwhelming number of students and available facilities and majors, the California State University Board of Trustees decided to limit enrollment to 33,000. However, in 1993, enrollment dropped to 26,800, the lowest attendance since 1973 as a result of the budget crisis of 1991. [67]

In 1984, the California Higher Education Journal ranked SDSU as first among the CSU campuses and U.S. News and World Report ranked the school among the top five comprehensive universities in the west in 1983, third in 1985, and in the top fifteen in 1989. In the 1980s, the College of Business' School of Accountancy was the only accredited accountancy program in California. Throughout the decade students scored the highest score on the Certified Public Accountancy (CPA) exam three times, and by 1990 was second in the nation (after the University of Texas) for graduates passing the CPA exam. [67]

In January 1987, Playboy ranked SDSU as the 3rd best party school in the nation, which appalled some administrators, and amused students. The ranking was determined on a number of factors including the education offered at the university, social opportunities, the male–female ratio, and off-campus activities located near the campus. [68] Some students feared that the ranking would diminish the quality of their degree. [69] In 2002 it dropped to tenth place, and in 2005 was included again without a specific rank, before jumping to fifth place in 2006. [68] [70]

The Graduate School of Public Health was first offered to students in 1981, and was one of only 24 accredited schools of public health in the nation and the only one in the CSU system in 1995. President Day considered it the major achievement of his administration, and it provided training in hospitals, public health agencies, health maintenance organizations, ambulatory care, and mental health facilities. [69]

In the 1990s, the College of Business was the fourth largest undergraduate program in the U.S. [71] By 1989–90 SDSU was granting over 1,100 Master’s degrees and 10 doctoral degrees a year. [72]

When President Day retired in July 1996, SDSU's incoming freshman had a 38% success rate in graduating from the university within six years. [73] Day was replaced by the university's seventh president, Stephen Weber. [74] Just one month later, on August 15, in what is known as the San Diego State University shooting, a 36-year-old graduate student pulled out a handgun while defending his thesis and killed three professors. [75] The student pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence prison term. On August 23, 2003, a memorial was dedicated to the three professors that included three trees along with a set of three tables and benches. [76]

On July 10, 2005 a new trolley station opened on the SDSU campus, after construction began in 1999. The station connected students and faculty with other areas in San Diego county and helped to combat the low availability of parking around campus. The $103 million station was just one of the university's several construction projects that occurred in the 2000s. [77] Starting in the late 1990s, a $500 million College Community Redevelopment Project led to the development of the $8.5 million Piedra del Sol Apartments, the $14.3 million Fraternity Row, and future developments of a $15 million Sorority Row, a $150 million Paseo retail, office, and apartment project, as well as a $125 million research and office park. [78] In 2003, a pedestrian bridge opened, connecting several of the dorms to the main campus. [79] In the same year, the campus's most technologically advanced and largest classroom (capable of holding 500 students) was completed. [80] Through 2008 and 2009, the campus began work on constructing a new alumni center, expanding Aztec Center, and modifying Storm Hall and Nasitir Hall to add more office and classroom space. [81]

In June 2007, SDSU was deemed the number one small research university in the nation. The ranking was determined based on faculty productivity, honorary awards, publications in journals, and number of research grants received. At any point, the campus usually has around 800 studies in progress in various fields. [82] A 2007 study revealed that the campus has an economic impact of $2.4 billion on the San Diego region. Due to projections of current and future growth, the study indicated that the school's economic impact is expected to increase to $4.5 billion by 2025. [83]

On May 6, 2008, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced the arrest of 96 individuals, of whom 75 were San Diego State University students, on a variety of drug charges in a multiple-month narcotics sting called Operation Sudden Fall. Two kilograms of cocaine were seized, along with 50 pounds of marijuana, 350 Ecstasy pills, hash oil, methamphetamine, other drug paraphernalia, three guns, and $60,000 in cash. [84] Several months after the May 6 announcement, it was reported that the majority of the defendants had pleaded guilty to the felony charges. The defendants were then either placed on probation or were required to enter drug diversion programs. Other defendants only received citations or had their cases dismissed. [85]

In 2010, after 15 years as president, Weber announced his upcoming retirement for the following year. Weber was credited for improving the graduation rate in 2003, 66% of freshmen were graduating within six years. [73] In May 2011, University of Maryland Baltimore County senior vice president Elliot Hirshman was named by the CSU Board of Trustees to replace Weber. Hirshman assumed his appointed role as president in July. [86]

Research Assistance

If you need help with a research paper or a class assignment, you might want to consider contacting the librarian who specializes in that area. You may also contact the Research Desk for general help.

European History

Laurel Bliss
Library Addition 1101E
(619) 594-4446
lbliss AT sdsu DOT edu

Latin American History

Zoe Trainer
Library Addition 1101H
(619) 594-0340
ztrainer AT sdsu DOT edu

United States, African, Middle East History

Gloria Rhodes
Library Addition 1101J
(619) 594-1169
grhodes AT sdsu DOT edu

Asian History

Julie Su
Love Library 115D
(619) 594-0904
jsu AT sdsu DOT edu

General Research Assistance

Research Desk
1st Floor Library Addition
(619) 594-6728
eref AT sdsu DOT edu

San Diego State University - History

Our department condemns the violent acts committed against the Asian American community in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16, 2021 and gives our heartfelt condolences to the families of the murdered individuals, including Delaina Ashley Yaun, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng. Yesterday’s shootings form part of nationwide rise in violence, discrimination, and xenophobia directed against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

We reject the diversionary attempts to dismiss the racial motivations of this violence, and efforts to accept easy explanations that obfuscate the ways that racism is deeply entangled in American life. The shootings reflect the point made by sociologist Nancy Wang Yuen at Biola University that "racism has always intersected with sexism for Asian American women in this country".

We publicly reaffirm our longstanding commitment to social justice, equity, and anti-racist work and call on all to actively contest all forms of racism, sexism, and white supremacy.

The Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies is one of the first of its kind in the nation and we recently celebrated our 50th anniversary! We are an interdisciplinary and transnational program of teaching, research, and public service that provides students with the opportunity to explore the history, politics, culture, and ethics of Chicana/o/x-Latinx communities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Our mission is to develop interculturally aware 21st century leaders who engage in social-justice oriented community service and scholarship. We achieve our mission through our curriculum, research, and knowledge production, which explores race, gender identities, class, immigration, and ethnicity, and emphasizes the U.S.-Mexico borderlands (history, sociopolitical contexts, comparative and symbolic borders), expressive arts (art, cinema, music, theater), and community practices for social change (health, education, community organizing).

We are situated in one of the world’s most dynamic metropolitan areas characterized by the international border and the rich perpetual flow of people, culture, and goods in both directions. Our faculty members—many of them pioneers in our field—use our location as a laboratory for research, teaching, and service.

Watch the video: Distinguished Faculty Awards 2021 Dr Thias Alves