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Sunday, July 3, 2022

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President Stephen L. Weber explored excellence during his "last lecture." President Stephen L. Weber explored excellence during his "last lecture."

Weber Last Lecture Explores Excellence

SDSU President Stephen L. Weber's address mixed philosophy, history and humor.
By Lorena Nava Ruggero

For Stephen L. Weber’s “last lecture,” one word said it all — excellence.

A philosopher by academic training, the soon-to-retire president defined and personalized excellence, from the word’s Latin roots to the current work carried out by SDSU faculty, staff and students.

“I believe in excellence as a verb: as the human struggle to climb higher, to see farther, to think more deeply and more inclusively,” Weber said. “This is what excellence is all about, not about elitism and privilege, but about engagement, daring and hard work.”

Not truly his 'last'

As part of the annual Henry L. Janssen Last Lecture series, Weber reassured his audience in Montezuma Hall that this was not quite his “last” lecture.

“I thank the Honors Council for the opportunity to speak this afternoon — though the title of “Last Lecture” is a bit of a misnomer,” he said to the audience’s amusement. “Susan and our two sons would assure you — I think with affection — that this is not likely to be my last lecture.”

Scheduled to retire in July of this year, Weber reflected on the university’s past, present and future and its path to excellence.

“That is the lesson of San Diego State,” Weber said.

“We climb on the shoulders of those who came before. We will be followed by generations of students, faculty and staff.  They will face challenges we cannot imagine, but they will care no less about excellence and making a contribution to it.”

The role of risk

The president also highlighted the role of diversity in achieving excellence at SDSU.

“If you want to join me in celebrating the verb excellence, look for it in the human struggle,” he said. 

“Look for it in persons of color, in immigrants, in gays and lesbians, in people who have overcome adversity.  Look for it in our Guardian Scholars, and in people like our veterans who know how to commit to something beyond themselves. Look for excellence in our artists, entrepreneurs, athletes and our international students; all of whom have the courage to take risks.

“There can be no excellence without risk.”

About the Henry L. Janssen Last Lecture series

Several SDSU administrators and students spoke at the event, including:

  • Bahareh Soltani, Last Lecture series co-chair, Honors Council co-president and University Honors Program Student Society president
  • Geoffrey Chase, dean of the Division of Undergraduate Studies
  • Levi Lentz, Last Lecture series co-chair and University Honors Program campus engagement coordinator
  • Nancy Marlin, provost

Modeled after the popular book, The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, the SDSU lecture series annually selects a retired faculty member to speak on a topic close to their heart. The goal of the lecture is to answer one question:

If you could speak about what matters most to you, what would you say?

Past speakers have included:

For more information on the Henry L. Janssen Last Lecture series, visit the SDSU Honors Council website.

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