Sycuan Donates $5.5 Million to SDSU to Create - Tuesday 12th of July 2005

San Diego State University announced today that the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has donated $5.5 million to SDSU to establish the country’s first research institute and academic curriculum exclusively focused on tribal gaming. It is the largest single philanthropic gift to a university by a tribal nation in San Diego County history.

The goals of the Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming, which will be part of SDSU’s Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM) Program, are to provide quality analysis of trends and issues affecting the industry, to help meet the tribal gaming industry’s increasing needs for highly trained professionals, and to serve as a point of engagement between gaming tribes and the wider community.

“This partnership is designed to have a transformational effect on tribal gaming across the nation,? said SDSU President Stephen L. Weber. “The Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming will explore and address important industry issues and create best practices to resolve them. This continues SDSU’s tradition of working with the community to create innovative programs.?

The Sycuan Institute on Tribal Gaming gift includes $5 million to endow the center and $474,000 in annual support (Sycuan made an additional gift of $50,000 to the program in summer 2004). The institute will feature the following:

• A research effort able to conduct timely studies and analysis relating to governance, economic impact, marketing, operations, regulatory practices and other issues;

• An academic program that enables students to receive an HTM bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in tribal gaming management;

• An endowed chair position and staff to run the center;

• Lectures and other events to educate the public about tribal gaming issues and resolutions.

“The Sycuan Tribe is proud to partner with San Diego State University to establish this important new educational program,? said Daniel Tucker, Sycuan Tribal Chairman. “San Diego State is nationally recognized as an innovative leader in higher education and we are honored to work with SDSU to create this new institute as a center for student learning and academic research that can help support the continued growth of the tribal gaming industry.?

Tribal gaming is one of the fastest-growing components of the hospitality and tourism industry nationwide. The National Indian Gaming Association reports that more than 220 tribes in the United States have gaming operations, producing 550,000 jobs and more than $8 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue. California has by far the largest tribal gaming industry of any state, producing $5.3 billion in revenue in 2004. Tribal gaming operations are also fueling complementary tribal-run hospitality enterprises, such as resort-style lodging, recreational sports and retail shopping.

“San Diego is the natural place to build the nation’s premier academic and research institute on tribal gaming, since this county is home to the largest tribal gaming community (nine tribes with gaming facilities) in the world,? said Joyce Gattas, dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts. “We’re very grateful to all those at Sycuan who have generously given us the means to pursue this.?

The rapid growth of the tribal gaming industry in recent years is creating a shortage of managers and other professionals who are trained in the industry’s unique regulatory, cultural and marketing characteristics. Carl Winston, Director of the HTM program, also said, “The tribal gaming industry is significantly understudied. Much gaming-related research does not apply well to tribal situations and does not account for their specialized characteristics.?

“One of the significant challenges facing the Indian gaming industry – and most other business sectors – is finding qualified entry-level management professionals,? said Steven Penhall, General Manager, Sycuan Resort & Casino. “The SDSU HTM degree program and the focused education students will receive from this new institute will help our industry fill a growing need for professional management staff who understand the unique demands of the hospitality business.?

Winston said he expects the HTM program to hire its tribal gaming chair within the next 12 months and enroll its first tribal gaming emphasis students in Fall 2006. Once the program is fully developed, about 20 students a year are expected to graduate from the program. The HTM program currently has more than 300 students overall and graduates about 60 students a year.

“The Institute is a wonderful addition to HTM and will make it more distinctive and competitive nationally, and also more useful than ever to this region’s hospitality and tourism industry,? said hotelier L. Robert Payne, a member of SDSU’s The Campanile Foundation board of directors who provided the initial $1.1 million gift to launch the HTM program in 1999.

About Sycuan:

Members of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation have resided in and around the foothills of the Dehesa Valley for nearly 12,000 years. Today they are a modern government providing public services to their members, employees and neighbors. The Sycuan Tribal Government operates one of the region’s premier Indian gaming and resort facilities, the Sycuan Resort and Casino. The Sycuan Tribe demonstrates its strong commitment to the San Diego region through its support of civic and charitable organizations.

The Tribe, through the Sycuan Tribal Development Corporation (STDC), also seeks to reinvest back into the San Diego community with a progressive business development effort. To date, STDC has purchased the Singing Hills Country Club and the historic U.S. Grant Hotel; is an investor in Hotel Solamar near Petco Park; and is owner/developer of the Marina Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in National City. The Tribe also owns and operates Sycuan Ringside Promotions, the country’s first tribally owned boxing promotion company and Sycuan Funds, a publicly traded and professionally managed mutual fund. Combined, these enterprises now employ nearly 4,000 San Diegans. For more information on Sycuan, log on to

San Diego State University is the oldest and largest higher education institution in the San Diego region. Since it was founded in 1897, the university has grown to offer bachelor’s degrees in 81 areas, master’s degrees in 72 areas and doctorates in 16 areas. SDSU’s nearly 33,000 students participate in an academic curriculum distinguished by direct faculty contact and an increasing international emphasis that prepares students for a global future. For more information, visit

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