Category Archives: New Media

Storm and Nasatir Hall Construction Update: Construction Webcam


For your viewing pleasure, there are two webcams positioned to track the progress of the Storm Nasatir Hall Renovation Project. You can check them out here.

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In a galaxy far, far away….


So this may come as a shock to you…but I am not an astronomer.  You may have thought so if you talked to me over the past couple of weeks as I tried to explain what our astronomy professors had just discovered. Honestly, the only thing I really knew about astronomy – until now – was what Orions’ belt looked like (I could pick those three stars in a row out of the sky on most nights).  Of course, there’s Google Skymap, which is really fun to use…in the middle nowhere when you can actually see the stars in the sky.

It’s one of the favorite parts of my job: getting an astronomy lesson on Monday and then a lecture on how the brain works on Tuesday.  Remember when you were in college and you had to take one of those GE classes and you were like “when will I ever use this!” – well, welcome to my world everyday!

The story of the discovery went public yesterday and now it’s the reporters’ job to tell the story, thank goodness! But I had to tell it first. And that my friends, is why you should always pay attention in class – even if you think it’s pointless.

P.S. We used Storify to capture what the world was saying about our story when it went out. Check it out!

[View the story “SDSU Discovers Planets That Orbit Two Suns” on Storify]

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Filed under Greater Good, New Media, University News

Top University Videos of 2011


One of the most powerful forms of media is video. I’ve heard it called the “You’ve got to see this” factor, that transcends language. If a video is fun, funny, unique or moving, people will watch it, share it, comment on it — and it will help get your message across in a powerful way.

As a professional in higher education, I particularly like to see what other universities are doing when it comes to video. So following, in no particular rank or order, are 6 of the best university videos that I found from 2011.

  1. San Diego State University – I’ll start with our own. We’ve gone away from the typical institutional television spot showing faculty members in labs coats and tried to do something a little more fun, that shows both the passion of our alumni, and the reach we have into the community. Our institutional spot focused on a chant that the student section does before every home basketball game – “I Believe.” The commercial features several prominent alumni, including the founder of the Rubio’s Fresh Mexican food chain, Ralph Rubio, and the mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders. But the best part is what we did after the commercial debuted. We were able to get Mayor Sanders to join the student section before a game to lead them in the chant. And we captured it on a smart phone (Not all videos need to be professionally produced to have impact). But the video was a hit and shows the excitement and atmosphere at our games.

  2. Boston UniversityBoston Red Sox, Behind the Lens.  We all like to share stories about our successful alumni.  BU does a great job on this feature, shadowing this sports photographer as he shares his experiences taking pictures at historic Fenway Park in Boston. The production value of the video is outstanding, very creative, weaving in still photography, making it look as though it’s moving. And the story is compelling, like something you might see on a network sports show.
  3. University of Toledo#whyUToledo. This is a great example of an integrated approach to new media. It started as a Twitter campaign, asking people why they chose UT. Then they took the images of the actual Tweets and made a video out of it, with voice overs of (supposedly) the students reading their Tweets. Really fun, forward thinking, great way to connect with the generation that is currently looking to go to college.
  4. McMaster UniversityThis Month with the President. While this is a very simple concept, execution is not always as easy. McMaster sits down, in a different location, each month with the president of their university and has him discuss a particular topic. It’s not scripted, there’s no teleprompter. It’s just him sharing his thoughts. It’s a great way to personalize someone who, often times, people on campus don’t get to interact with.
  5. University of OregonCall me a Duck. I’m a sucker for Hip Hop songs being used in non-traditional places. And this one is outstanding. It’s actually sung by an a Capella group from UO that went on a national television singing competition show. It’s an amazingly well produced music video that shows school pride, passion and creativity.
  6. Bowling Green UniversityStroh Center Rap. One of the challenges in the Advancement and Development world is educating people – particularly students – about the importance of philanthropy to a university. The typical introduction of a newly built and/or named building is a press release and a ribbon cutting ceremony with a photo opp. The opening of Bowling Green’s new basketball arena, The Stroh Center, was anything but typical, thanks to this video. The rap talks about the people who made the building possible, including how much money they gave. — “He will melt your face with his philanthropy” — And the video features those donors. The production value of the video is excellent. But for my money, getting the donors to participate in the video is well worth the watch.

What great university videos did you produce or see this past year?

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Filed under Admissions, Alumni, Athletics, New Media, Prospective Students, Students, University News

10 Things I’m Thankful for As SDSU’s Chief Communications Officer


As the SDSU community closes out the year, I’d like to reflect on some of the things I’m most thankful for.  I know – it seems like we are inundated with lists this time of year – but my team tells me lists get lots of hits, so here goes…Student Services

10. Stephen Weber – for 15 years, President Weber was the identity of our campus – and our most effective storyteller.  He transformed SDSU and left us with incredible momentum.

9. Elliot Hirshman – SDSU could not have found a better president.  He has brought new energy, passion, humor and a laser focus on student success.

8. Steve Fisher, Beth Burns, Rocky Long, Tony Gwynn and all SDSU’s outstanding coaches – SDSU would be a great university without a great Athletics program but now we’re on the verge of having both.  Beyond building successful programs, these incredible people work daily to shape outstanding citizens.

7. 69,000+ applicants – I guess we’re doing something right!  Seriously, California has many talented young people filled of hope and enthusiasm for the future – let’s not let them down by closing the door on their dreams of a university education!

6. SDSU’s incredible faculty – they continue to bring accolades for their outstanding work and $150 million in research that has elevated SDSU to be among the top public research universities in the U.S.  On the downside, I have to go to work knowing I’ll never be the smartest person in the room!

5. Our students – they are why we are here!  A lot has been written about the current generation’s short-comings – don’t believe it.  From what I’ve seen, our future is in good hands. I’m especially impressed by the accomplishments of our student leaders in the areas of sustainability and social justice.

4. SDSU’s donors who have enriched SDSU with $280 million to The Campaign for SDSU. SDSU would be a far different place with their investments in our talented people, nationally ranked programs and beautiful facilities.  Thank you 280 million times!

3. Our hard-working staff – they look after our students, fix our computers, protect the campus and keep it looking amazing.  While the jobs vary, they share a belief in the power of a university to change lives.

2. My team – through their efforts, the MarComm team is helping transform the image of 114-year old university and engaging more people in powerful new ways.

1. My family – for putting up with the 3 a.m. phone calls (which are never good) and generally supporting me through all the adventures that come with the job.  It helps that my wife Lucita is an Aztec alumna!

I’m tempted to add that I’m thankful for the delicious cookies baked by Aztec Shops – which have got me through many long meetings.  Instead, I’ll close by thanking our troops for keeping our country safe and allowing us all to live our lives in freedom.  Peace to all!

Jack Beresford is Chief Communications Officer at San Diego State University

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Filed under Admissions, Alumni, Athletics, College Community, Greater Good, New Media, Prospective Students, Students, University News

What’s your story?


This artist's concept illustrates Kepler-16b, the first planet known to definitely orbit two stars.

The top part of the SDSU homepage features the terrific efforts of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.

When I catch up with family or longtime friends, I’m often asked, “What’s new at San Diego State?”

It’s a tough question to answer, if only because the people here do so many interesting things and I don’t want to unfairly pigeonhole the university with a clumsy response.

Thankfully, my job requires me to identify SDSU’s best stories and retell them on the homepage.

The top part of the page is dedicated to the terrific efforts of our faculty, staff, alumni and students – especially students.

And we’re always looking for  more good stories to tell.

Here’s a quick rundown of current stories being featured:

Tatooine in Real Life — SDSU professors Jerome Orosz and Bill Welsh discover the first planet to have two sun-like orbiting stars.

Better, Faster, Stronger
— SDSU engineers work to invent brain-controlled bionics.

The Gift of Sight — SOLO Eyewear, a company started by SDSU students, uses revenues to provide eye surgeries and prescription glasses to people in need.

Worldly View — Eric McDermott investigates Huntington’s disease in Bangalore, India, at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences.  He’s part of SDSU’s surge in Fulbright scholars.

American Indian Inspiration — Generations of local American Indian leaders celebrate the 35th anniversary of one of the first academic departments dedicated to the study of their history and culture as means to create a better future for their people.

Share your story

If you’ve got a great story, please drop me a line at ahoskins@mail.sdsu.edu.

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Filed under Alumni, Athletics, College Community, Events, New Media, Prospective Students, Students, University News

#WhySDSU


Right now hundreds of thousands of high school seniors and junior college transfer students are filling out applications to go to a university somewhere. Each year San Diego State University is among the nation’s leaders in the number of applications it receives. Not all that are admitted end up coming to SDSU. But of those that do become Aztecs, most become passionate Aztecs for Life.

We reached out on Twitter and asked our followers why they chose SDSU. While many included the obvious – sunshine – you can see the passion our students and alumni have for SDSU. Here are some of their responses:

@homebrewdoc: 140 characters aren’t enough! RT @SDSU_NewsTeam: Aztecs: Why did you go to college at San Diego State? #whySDSU

@amazingjen: @SDSU_NewsTeam The Compact For Success program would take me on yearly visits to campus so it always felt like home to me! #whySDSU

@czarcruise: Because of the tradition, location, and the fact my entire immediate family has gone there. 3 Generations of AZTEC PRIDE #WhySDSU #GoAztecs

@stef_funny: #WhySDSU because that means I get to be an AZTEC for life! 🙂 @SDSU_NewsTeam

@WRob73: @SDSU_NewsTeam #WhySDSU bc I love the city..loved the team and coaches.so happy I chose to go there…best 4.5 years of my life 🙂

@The__Show: #WhySDSU : More combined wins in football and hoops than any other school in the country. But even besides the wins, we have sooo much fun.

#WhySDSU

How about you? #WhySDSU?

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Keeping Comments Courteous


There was a time when you could get your “daily dose of crazy” from the comments section of SignOnSanDiego.com (or so said a colleague). But, those days may be numbered as the online arm of the San Diego Union-Tribune moved to Facebook comments earlier this week.

bronze figure with loudspeaker

Sharing your opinion is one thing...

The UT explained in an article that they hope the move away from anonymous comments will lead to “more civil and constructive” dialogue between readers. While it’s too early to tell if this has happened, several other newspapers have already instituted Facebook comments, like the Los Angeles Times, or are in the process of doing so, like USA Today, who is rolling it out on their online blogs in the coming week. And others, like the New York Times and Washington Post, are considering it.

Prior to the change, reading through comments on any SignOnSanDiego article often required the mental equivalent of a flak jacket. Because of the facelessness of the commenting system, things got ugly (and off-topic) quickly. Unsurprisingly, the media sees censorship as anathema, so comments were rarely censored.

But, by putting a face to a real name, newspapers and other media organization hope people will think twice about what they say — just like they do in real life — and employ a little self-censorship. Would uglycommenter78 still say the same thing if he was instead listed as John Smith and had his picture posted next to his name? It’s an interesting exercise and one that will be played out in the (online) court of opinion for some time.

All of this examination basically leads up to the policy we employ on SDSU NewsCenter — which can be found here and is linked to from every story on the site (see “Comments Policy” in the footer).

We have a few guiding principles that we use in moderating comments both on SDSU NewsCenter and on the university’s Facebook page.  We don’t mind disagreement or frustration. We dislike spam (who doesn’t?) and have zero tolerance for hate speech.  Still, we rarely delete comments.

Maybe that’s because we’re lucky, that we’re all Aztecs or maybe it’s because of the system we employ, DISQUS, which lets users create profiles anonymously or based on existing social networking profiles. Either way, we’ll keep an eye on things.

So, read, comment and get a (courteous) conversation going.

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Filed under New Media