When I think of the heart of philanthropy, I always remember my grandmother’s home—its doors always open to family and friends who needed help during difficult times.

Despite her limited resources, my grandmother was always willing to offer a friendly smile, a hearty meal, a place to rest, and an enthusiastic “dicho” (wise saying) to encourage the heart.

“Barriga llena, corazón contento,” (Full stomach, happy heart) she would say.

This tradition also became my mother’s, so very early in life I learned that the power of giving is never dictated by the size of our resources but by our willingness to share what we have with those who need help to create a better future for themselves. Those were the practical stories in action that inspired my own desire to share my resources with others.

When I began to meet with alumni, faculty, staff, and donors—shortly after I was announced as San Diego State University’s 9th permanent president—I recognized that familiar spirit of generosity dwelling within the walls of this university. And I immediately felt at home.

A successful campaign that raises more than $800 million in donations—with  10 percent coming from faculty and staff— never happens by accident. Only a culture of philanthropy can yield this level of generosity.

Soon you will hear me talk about a renewed vision to continue building on this strong foundation. For now, I want to pause and say Thank You!

If you have been a faithful supporter—Thank You! You are more than a donor—you are a visionary partner in the future of San Diego State’s global impact.

Thank you for helping lay the financial foundation for projects like the Fowler College of Business, the library, our world class athletics program and our veteran programs—just to name a few. None of these would be possible without champions like you.

As I join SDSU, my priority is to continue the good stewardship of the investments made in the future of San Diego State. I know that together we will foster a culture that thrives at every level for many years to come.

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of donors who have made long-term giving commitments to the vision of SDSU. I told them about my 3-year-old grandson and his obsession with trains. Everything about them mesmerizes him, especially their speed.

Have you ever seen a cargo train gain speed?

It’s a slow, grueling, and seemingly impossible feat. Think about it: thousands of tons and dozens of packed cargo cars need powerful engines to propel them forward. Inch by inch, the engines begin to move the load. Inch by inch, speed increases until a little bit of momentum becomes unstoppable momentum that carries them to their final destination.

I don’t take for granted that San Diego State University already has unstoppable momentum thanks to donors who have been the powerful engines behind this journey.

And that’s why we can’t and won’t stop now. We are heading towards a future that will yield innovative discoveries through our research and through the expanded capabilities that would be made possible by the Mission Valley campus expansion plan.  

We are poised to produce world-class scholars who will help solve the world’s greatest challenges through research and entrepreneurial innovation—as long as we don’t lose momentum.

Leadership indeed starts here. Starts with generosity. With all of you. With all of us. Working together we can take this powerful train to an even brighter and impactful future.

I hope you are looking forward to the journey as much as I am.