Dr. Adela de la Torre
President, San Diego State University
Dr. Adela de la Torre is the first woman and first Latina to serve as a permanently appointed president of San Diego State University. President de la Torre joined SDSU in June 2018 after a distinguished career within the California State University system, the University of Arizona and the University of California, Davis.
An accomplished economist, public health researcher and higher education leader for more than three decades, President de la Torre is known for her authenticity and collaborative approach to leading by listening and example.
Since arriving at SDSU, President de la Torre has focused on significantly expanding the campus through SDSU Mission Valley; growing the university’s research enterprise; expanding SDSU and SDSU Imperial Valley degree access; and launching the university’s new 5-year strategic plan.
Through President de la Torre’s leadership, SDSU has recorded far reduced equity gaps for underrepresented minority students and Pell grant recipients along with improved student and employee diversity. Her tenure is also marked by improved graduation rates across all student categories, with the 6-year rate having increased substantially to nearly 79% for the most recent student cohort.
The university has also seen significant growth in philanthropy and research grants during President de la Torre’s tenure, ensuring that SDSU enhances its reputation as a leading public research university. Gift commitments to SDSU totaled more than $127.2 million in the 2019-20 fiscal year, an increase of nearly 10% from the previous year despite an economic downturn from the COVID-19 pandemic. That same year, SDSU researchers received $144.4 million in external grant funding, one of the highest totals in university history.
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, President de la Torre is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and daughter of a single mother who taught public school for 40 years. She holds a deep appreciation for cultural traditions, the importance of family and hard work and for the transformative power of education.
Throughout her academic career, President de la Torre has advanced the values of inclusion, equity, and achievement, focusing on the support that students and faculty need to be highly successful in their chosen fields. With her wide-ranging experience and achievements, President
de la Torre has brought a global perspective to the SDSU presidency, building on the university’s unique leadership role in bridging the region’s diverse communities.
Before her arrival at SDSU, President de la Torre was vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity at University of California, Davis. She also served for 14 years as director for the UC Davis Center for Transnational Health, chair of the UC Davis Chicana/Chicano Studies Department and director of the Hispanic Center of Excellence in the College of Medicine at the University of Arizona, where she was also director of the Mexican American Studies and Research Center.
Formerly a professor at California State University, Long Beach, the University of Arizona, and UC Davis, where she was the first Latina to rise to the rank of Distinguished Professor, President de la Torre earned her bachelor’s degree in the political economy of natural resources from the University of California, Berkeley. She also received her master’s degree and Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from UC Berkeley.