SF State News {University Communications}

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Nava named vice president of University Advancement

August 24, 2010 -- Growing up in El Paso, Texas, Robert J. Nava, the incoming vice president of University Advancement, never saw himself graduating from a university.

A photo of Robert J. Nava.

Vice President for University Advancement Robert J. Nava.

But when it came time for college, Nava -- a first-generation college student -- excelled, earning a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP).

Nava said his experiences at UTEP brought to life the values of access to education and excellence in higher education that led him to SF State.

"It was the mission of San Francisco State -- its commitment to social justice, access to education, equity and excellence -- that brought me to this campus," he said. "I am committed to helping tell the San Francisco State story and all the exciting things happening here, and how important the University is to the Bay Area and the State of California."

Nava, formerly the associate vice president for Institutional Advancement at UTEP, will be responsible for advancing the University's external image, increasing private support and maintaining relationships with key University constituencies. Units reporting to him will include development, communications, alumni relations, special events and government relations. Nava will report directly to President Robert A. Corrigan, serve on the president's cabinet and work as president of the University Foundation.  

He replaces Lee Blitch, who is retiring in September after serving five years as vice president for University Advancement.  

"In these challenging times, it is impossible to understate the importance of San Francisco State to the Bay Area and region in terms of providing access to quality higher education and economic development," Nava said. "SF State enables the residents of the region to realize their aspirations through higher education, and I look forward to working with our academic and staff leadership, alumni, donors and friends in enhancing the institutions visibility and programs to better serve the Bay Area."

During his career, Nava has excelled in a variety of areas. In his five years at UTEP, Nava led the development and alumni units and directed the university's Centennial Campaign, which raised almost half of its $200 million goal in a down economy, before its public launch.

"Robert Nava brings a broad portfolio of success in higher education to SF State," Corrigan said. "Not only does Mr. Nava boast a record of high achievement, but his 24-year career in higher education reflects his commitment to social justice and equity -- values that are central to SF State."

Nava has an intimate knowledge of higher education in California, having worked for 19 years at the University of California, Riverside, most recently as interim vice chancellor for University Advancement and president of the UC Riverside Foundation. His efforts led to the opening of the Edward J. Blakely Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, a first of its kind in California.

He also served as the university’s lobbyist in Sacramento and Washington D.C. During much of his UC Riverside career, Nava also taught as an adjunct faculty member in CSU Fullerton's Chicano Studies program while working in advocacy for the Orange County Human Relations Commission.

"I've never forgotten my roots," Nava said. "Working to promote the academic interests of the University and developing student scholarships is critical right now. We never want a student to feel he or she isn't able to pursue a university education because they don't have the resources."

Nava holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from UTEP and a law degree from Western State University College of Law. He participated in the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Institute for Management and Leadership in Education.  

Nava and his wife Catherine Aguilera-Nava have three children and one grandchild.


-- Michael Bruntz


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