EL CENTRO — The number of students attending San Diego State University’s Imperial Valley Campus should be three times larger than its current attendance, according to the newly appointed dean, Gregorio Ponce. Ponce announced his goals for the campus Tuesday June 11 at the general meeting of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors.
“We’ve been there over fifty years and our size does not reflect that,” said Ponce. “Presently we have about 1,000 students; we should be serving 3,000 at least, because Imperial County needs this kind of service.”
Born and raised in Calexico, Ponce’s academic focus has been the teaching of mathematics, especially for English language learners. Now he says his focus is higher education within the Imperial Valley.
“We know that higher education is key to the economic development of the Imperial County,” said Ponce.
Ponce, who received his B.A. and M.A. in Applied Mathematics and his Ed.D. in Education Leadership from SDSU, served as Interim Dean for the I.V. campus beginning in October of 2015, and was appointed as Dean March 7 of this year. Since 2003, Ponce was a professor and researcher at the university’s School of Teacher Education.
“One of goals is growth,” said Ponce. “We need to grow in terms of the programs we offer at San Diego State Imperial Valley, we need to grow the facilities that we have, and we need to grow the personnel.”
Ponce noted during the last two years as Interim Dean, six new faculty members were hired and new career and recruitment services were put into place.
The dean said he hoped the school and the County could work together to expand the school’s services and outreach.
“I myself graduated from the Calexico Campus in ’77,” said Supervisor Raymond Castillo. “Without that education at San Diego State, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.”
Castillo stressed the importance of getting a college education.
“Even more so nowadays, you have to have a college degree. Without that, its hard to advance, hard to promote,” said Castillo. He also suggested that Imperial County would see “explosive growth” in its economy within the next five to ten years, and that SDSU Imperial Valley would play a key role in that.
Supervisor John Renison noted that graduates from the Imperial Valley campus often remained in the Valley and contributed needed skills to the workforce.
“We need to just keep putting out people who are contributing locally,” said Renison, whose district includes Calexico and the campus.
“It’s great to see members of our community staying around and moving up through leadership roles, through which changes can be made in our community,” agreed Luis Plancarte, District 2 Supervisor.
Ponce invited the Board of Supervisors to stay involved with developments at the campus, and said the mission of the university involved making a local impact.
“Our role is serve all of Imperial County,” said Ponce.