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Sunday, December 5, 2021

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SDSU Alumni Advisory Board president Leo Morales has worked hard to support student success. SDSU Alumni Advisory Board president Leo Morales has worked hard to support student success.
 


Wrapping Up His Term

SDSU's Alumni Advisory Board bids farewell to its dynamic president.
By Tobin Vaughn
 

“Student success in the short term, near term, and long term is important to us all because their success is going to be reflected in who we are.”

A year ago, when Leo Morales (’09) accepted the gavel as SDSU Alumni Advisory Board president, he said he would aim to further engage SDSU’s alumni in an effort to  help expand student success. He has done that by working through the alumni organization to strengthen efforts like Aztecs Hiring Aztecs (AHA) and the Aztec Mentor Program (AMP) -- boosting participation in both.

Morales had always known the effort was needed.

“What I found during my presidency was how current-student success is important to all of us—even alumni who have graduated and are many years removed from the university,” Morales said. “I came to realize as the university grows, as our research capabilities expand, as our rankings in U.S. News and World Report increase, it really elevates all alumni.

“Student success in the short term, near term, and long term is important to us all because their success is going to be reflected in who we are.”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Morales uses the word “enlightening” to describe his past year as Alumni Board president. His term has coincided with the search for a new university president and the emergence of SDSU’s Mission Valley Plan to address campus expansion needs, but there was nothing more eye-opening for him than the discussion of San Diego State’s Aztec identity.

As Alumni Board president, Morales said he took very seriously his role to accurately understand and faithfully represent the breakdown of alumni perspectives during the discussion of whether to retain the school’s Aztec name and the Aztec Warrior. He read many of the thousands of survey responses from alumni and was moved by the thoughtfulness he discovered from all perspectives that helped him serve as “the voice” of alumni in the matter.

“Respect was a huge topic that came out of the (Aztec Identity) Task Force and the responses were more framed around what a great civilization, what a great culture we honor," Morales said. "We respect them as something that mirrors the values of what our university stands for and that, to me, was very enlightening.”

Dynamic leadership

As his presidential term ends June 30, Morales will continue to participate on the SDSU Alumni Board of Advisors in his capacity as immediate past president. That is something for which Assistant Vice President for SDSU Alumni Dan Montoya (’04) is grateful.

“Leo’s leadership at a pivotal time of transition for SDSU was timely and what we needed,” Montoya said. “He was not only effective and efficient, but he also helped move the university forward in a more dynamic way.”

“San Diego State is going to be better than it has ever been. That’s not a slight to the past, but an appreciation for what we have all done in helping grow this university,” Morales said. “It has been an honor and a privilege for me to serve in this position and I just want to say a big thank you to our alumni base, the alumni board, the alumni executive committee, and the alumni office. My mom used to say you can’t get in trouble by saying too many thank-yous and being appreciative for everybody’s efforts.”