Jack McGrory and Elliot Hirshman are on a mission to let you know when you’ve arrived at San Diego State.
  • Jack McGrory and Elliot Hirshman are on a mission to let you know when you’ve arrived at San Diego State.
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San Diego State University president Elliot Hirshman, known as the $420,000 man for his record-setting salary, is getting closer to his long-held dream of building an array of costly "gateways" to set the school apart from the prosaic mean streets of its east San Diego neighborhood.

As previously reported here last April, Hirshman told the board of the school's nonprofit Campanile Foundation, chaired by ex–San Diego city manager Jack McGrory, that he needed to come up with about $1.6 million to erect the first portal at the university's Campanile Drive and Montezuma Road entrance.

“There’s a significant challenge in terms of knowing when people are on campus as there is no destination point," the minutes of board meeting paraphrased Hirshman as saying.

"Part of the project is to create gates or entrances in multiple areas so people can know 1.) that they are at San Diego State and 2.) that this is what we stand for; we have a certain tradition, history, and values and approaches.”

Officially known as “Destination SDSU,” the report said, the project also involves new electronic signage on the school's Interstate 8 freeway frontage.

Campanile boardmember Mike Pack "questioned the amount quoted for that particular project," saying, "he thinks it can be done for a lot less and in less time,” according to the minutes.

But SDSU vice president for university relations & development chief executive officer Mary Ruth Carleton told the board that some of the cash could be raised from wealthy donors, explaining, “there will be naming opportunities for a gate/entrance; i.e., Smith Gate or Smith Entrance.”

Now the plan is up for a vote by the California State University's trustees at their next meeting, on January 25.

"San Diego State University wishes to proceed with the design of four campus gateway entrance elements," according to the trustees’ agenda, with the Campanile and Montezuma portal to be built first.

"This project will improve campus identification and presence, and will improve visitor wayfinding and navigation," the item continues.

"The entrance design will include architectural elements such as low walls, monuments, signage, lighting, and landscaping. Additional locations proposed for preliminary design of entrance elements include (1) East Campus Drive and Montezuma Road, (2) 55th Street and Montezuma Road, and (3) Hardy Avenue at Campanile Drive."

Adds the agenda, "Approval for construction of gateways at these three locations will be requested when funding has been identified. It is beneficial to design all four locations at one time to ensure design continuity and compatibility with varying site conditions."

The cost of the first round of work, up for approval next week, is $2,585,000.

"This project will be funded from designated capital reserves and auxiliary reserves," says the item.

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dwbat Jan. 19, 2016 @ 4:05 p.m.

Couldn't that money be better spent on increased security patrols at SDSU, to protect female students from on-campus rape? Of course, the wealthy donors don't see any naming rights for that usage.


monaghan Jan. 19, 2016 @ 6:08 p.m.

Well, architecturally speaking, the idea has merit. Harvard Yard has gates that set it off from the prosaic mean streets of Cambridge, Mass. Just imagine a McGrory Gate. But SDSU might need some stucco or serpentine brick walls to complete the prettier picture.


Javajoe25 Jan. 19, 2016 @ 9:25 p.m.

I think the real plan is to turn SDSU into a "gated community." These "gates" are a way for the administration to see (and possibly screen) who is coming on campus. Can't say I blame them with all the crazies, rapists, and grabass lunatics that seem to be popping up around the colleges these days. I don't buy that the gates are simply to "improve campus identification and presence, and... visitor wayfinding and navigation," No one needs a sign to tell them they've arrived at San Diego State--San Diego State wants to know who has arrived at their gate.


Visduh Jan. 20, 2016 @ 2:45 p.m.

The only problem I see is that the campus keeps adding property. Back in the 60's, SDSU started buying some of the student ghetto apartments that were just south of campus. Some of them were not demolished and replaced until the 80's or later. In the interim they were used as offices. Later on some of that land was site of the Adams Humanities Building. So, the campus keeps growing to the south, closer to Montezuma Avenue. Put in gates, and the next thing you know, the campus will be on the outside of the gate. Then what? Move the gate, I suppose.

But is it really necessary to build almost $3 million worth of monumental gates for such a nondescript campus? There are other worthy things that such a sum on money could buy. I think that Hirshman is into empire building, and thinks such gates lend prestige. The only example of one that made an impression on me was Sather Gate at UC, Berkeley. I'd read references to it for years, and finally saw it once, many years ago. But it is no longer at the edge of campus because the campus grew beyond it.


dwbat Jan. 20, 2016 @ 3:27 p.m.

I didn't attend UC Berkeley, but visited that campus many years ago. I also like their gate.



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