USD’s 2015-16 Year in Review

USD President James Harris at 2016 Commencement.


James T. Harris III, DEd, USD’s fourth president, started August 3 and introduced himself by way of dishing out ice cream for university employees and students. He then went to La Jolla with USD Outdoor Adventures student leaders the next day for a kayak experience. His inauguration ceremony in December was well received, much like he and his wife, Mary, have been welcomed into the Torero family all year.

New deans in the School of Business and the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES), Jaime Alonso Gomez and Nicholas Ladany, respectively, began to shape their respective visions.

One beautiful new facility, the Betty and Bob Beyster Institute for Nursing Research, Advanced Practice, and Simulation, opened as an avenue to further strengthen nursing students’ critical skill set.

One redesigned building, Manchester Hall, emphasized a start-to-finish mentality as Admissions and the Career Development Center came together in one place.

A newly imagined Torero Store opened in its new location between the Hahn University Center and Student Life Pavilion.

The unveiling of a redesigned, mobile-responsive website started in September 2015.

New educational programs focused on cyber security, law enforcement leadership and interdisciplinary minors. Meanwhile, the year-long Illume Speaker Series served as a primer for the upcoming launch of the Center for the Humanities. SOLES received its largest-ever gift, $12 million from the Noyce Foundation to fund STEM Next.


Research Week showcased ways in which the receiving of generous external funding can take the projects and experiences of faculty and students to new heights. Literally in the case of Kroc School of Peace Studies Professor Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick and his drone research.

Another Peace Studies Professor Ami Carpenter, revealed a groundbreaking three-year study on gang-involved sex trafficking throughout San Diego County.

Gina McCarthy, the top administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, visited campus to tour the Shiley Center for Science and Technology, meet and answer questions from students and learn more about what environmental-based research faculty are doing.

Entrepreneurship prowess through V2, Social Innovation Challenge and the Changemaker Challenge continued to shine on campus and internationally, for women and men.

The Veterans Center continued to build bridges within the campus community both with its presence and through Veteran Student Services Coordinator Derek Abbey’s involvement with the Military Ally program.

Several students experienced academic success, including one, junior Will Tate, who served as President for a Day.

There was also a show of solidarity among students who proposed a list of demands for increased understanding and action — which received an immediate reply from President Harris.


Homecoming and Family Weekend, Grandparents’ Weekend, Founders’ Gala and Alumni Honors brought all Toreros together.

A new men’s basketball coach, Lamont Smith ’99, directed his team to a victory over San Diego State at Petco Park. Football and men’s soccer won a share of their conference championships in the fall, women’s basketball, led by senior Malina Hood, made a postseason run, and men’s tennis, led by a senior corps including Jordan Angus, capped off the year with its unprecedented third straight undefeated West Coast Conference championship.


And, as always, the presence of faith, what Alcala Park and its founders envisioned, remained on the minds of many among the campus community. Participation in retreats, immersion trips internationally and domestically, celebrated Pope Francis’ first visit to the U.S. and got inspiration from attendance at the Mass of the Holy Spirit in the fall, All Faith Service in January, L.I.F.E. Week and Sunday night Mass in Founders Chapel.


All of this — and so much more — contributed to a busy and productive 2015-16 for the University of San Diego, which attained its highest Top 100 university ranking to date by the U.S. News and World Report.

With so much happening on this Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, it’s no wonder why USD’s public campaign, launched in February, is called Leading Change.

“USD is a community on an adventurous mission of light and enlightenment,” said President Harris. “Our university began, quite literally, with little more than hope and a prayer. Less than 70 years later, USD is the youngest institution to be ranked among the nation’s top 100 doctoral universities by U.S. News and World Report. USD is a university where passion so perfectly meets purpose. ‘Leading Change: The Campaign for USD’ will provide us with the support we need to write the next chapter in the university’s amazing story.”

All that’s left of this academic year now is celebrating the more than 2,250 graduating students who comprise the Class of 2016. Congratulations to the newest USD alumni members who can proudly say they’re Toreros for life!

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