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.