Which San Diego Universities Produce the Most Local Leaders?

San Diego Harbor

Our City San Diego completed a survey of the top leaders—CEOs and presidents—at the largest San Diego-based companies to find out where they went to school. The survey found that only 15.3% of 250 local leaders went to local universities.

The most leaders came from San Diego State University with 18 alumni or 7.3%. One of the most well-known graduates is Bradley Feldmann, the CEO and president of Cubic, a $1.3 billion defense company. As for UC San Diego, only 11 local leaders—or 4.4%— graduated from the University; ten out of the eleven only received their bachelor’s degree. The University of San Diego had nine graduates—or 3.6%.

Though the low number of leaders is telling about the universities’ impact on the city, it’s not the only indicator. According to senior fellow and economist at the National University System Institute for Policy Research, Kelly Cunningham, the best indicators of a university’s economic impact are the number of jobs created. UC San Diego is the second largest employer in San Diego, second only to the US Navy.

In the article, Kelly spoke about San Diego. “We are a good place for start-ups and small businesses to get started,” she said. “One of the natures of small business is that when they seem to reach a big enough size, they get bought out by other companies. Clearly there are a lot of companies here because of UCSD, including Qualcomm, which was started by Irwin Jacobs.”

The benefits of successful universities on a local economy are innumerable. A big impact comes from students who choose to attend the university, who may not have decided to come to the city otherwise. Companies in the city can mine students for their workforce, which is evident in the fact that:

  • 3% of UC San Diego alumni live in San Diego
  • 6% of USD graduates live in the region
  • 7% of SDSU students live in the city.

However, it’s true that San Diego graduates have yet to make it into the upper levels of the business community, although Rady School is now consider one of the upper echelons of business schools across the country.


About the Author

Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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