Faculty members at San Diego State University should make an extra effort to keep minority students in school and should renew their commitment to training future teachers, SDSU President Thomas Day said Monday.
Delivering his annual President's Address to about 200 of the faculty, Day said SDSU must take action to increase the number of minority students it attracts and retains if it is to reflect the racial makeup of the area.
"We must remain in tune with our region and nation," Day said. "Not only is this a duty and obligation as a public university, it goes to the very heart of our raison d'etre. We are a university of the people as well as for the people."
Albert Johnson, SDSU vice president for academic affairs, also told the faculty that the university's new North County campus is expected to open in 1992 with about 4,000 full-time students, 600 staff and $100 million in buildings.
The California State University Board of Trustees last month selected a former San Marcos poultry ranch as the home of the proposed campus, which would open as an upper-division and graduate center. The project still must win the approval of the California Post-Secondary Education Commission, the state Legislature and Gov. George Deukmejian.
Day also said that minorities are under-represented when SDSU enrollment is compared to the number of minorities living in the area. The City of San Diego is 26% minority, and more than half of the students in the San Diego Unified School District are minorities, Day said, yet SDSU's student body is just 18.7% minority.
Minorities drop out of the university in greater numbers than whites, Day said.
"We must break the vicious circle that currently, for example, shows fewer black students graduating from the 12th grade, fewer black students entering and graduating from college, fewer black graduate students, fewer black teachers, or professionals or university faculty to act as role models," he said.
He asked faculty members to help retain those students by recognizing the importance of their function as advisers and renewing their efforts to establish personal rapport with students.
Training public school teachers, historically the primary mission of the 89-year-old university, is especially important today, Day said. All SDSU colleges, not just the College of Education, must help attract and train future teachers.
"Good K-12 teachers and administrators are essential to our free U.S. society in this global post-industrial society. . . . Teaching is a vital, perhaps the vital, profession in San Diego. In this, and our future, world, we cannot tolerate a situation where young people are not taught to achieve their potential," he said.