$6.25 Million Grant Establishes New Artificial Intelligence Center at Fowler School of Business, Supports Student Athletes | News Center

The James Silberrad Brown Foundation Scholarship will expand the scope of artificial intelligence research at SDSU and support the Aztecs Going Pro Graduate Program.

San Diego State University has announced a $6.25 million grant from the James Silberrad Brown Foundation through the San Diego Foundation that will provide $5 million for the Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) at Fowler School of Business and $1 million for the Aztecs Going Pro-Athlete Career Development Program.

The institution is named after the late Jim Brown, who graduated from SDSU in 1967 with a degree in business administration. Brown was a former member of the SDSU Alumni Advisory Board and recipient of the 1991 Business School Distinguished Alumni Award at the time.

Brown and his wife, Marilyn Kreson BrownThey have been a major donor to the university for decades and are known for their philanthropic work throughout San Diego. The couple frequently attended SDSU sporting events together.

The scholarship was awarded based on recommendations from Marilyn Brown and daughter Jim, Kelly Brown, who consulted university leadership to identify areas of funding that would best align with Jim’s interests. “We know these are choices he’s going to make,” said Marilyn Brown. “It’s great to be able to celebrate Jim, his life, and his commitment to the state of San Diego through programs that we know have been meaningful to him.”

The Artificial Intelligence Center named after Brown

An amount of $5 million is allocated to Artificial Intelligence, and $3.5 million is earmarked for the creation and operation of the James Silberrad Brown Center for Artificial Intelligence. It also includes $1 million to create an endowment to support the director of the center, $250,000 to form a fellowship grant, and $250,000 to form an endowed scholarship. An additional $250,000 increases SDSU’s ability to generate charitable support for the university.

The existing AI laboratory where AI research, teaching, theory and practice takes place at SDSU will become part of the new center. SDSU AI Lab Director and Associate Professor Aaron Elkins (’03), who founded the lab in 2018, said the grant is the largest award ever given to the AI ​​department. “She’s been advancing our division and our divisions by at least 15 years,” Elkins said.

Elkins said the funding will help make SDSU more attractive to AI researchers and will accommodate the department’s expansion from 10-15 students to 20 or more students. He said the new resources will help connect SDSU to a network of universities, research institutions and other artificial intelligence industries that should open up a wider range of possibilities for students.

“Education in management information systems (AI and MIS) at SDSU has always been top notch, but (to recruit) these students who are truly outstanding in their field, you need more than just an education,” Elkins said. “They want resources, connections, and collaboration. Now we can connect with some of these great research centers as peers, which will allow us to do more.”

Elkins described the grant to his department as a “vote of confidence” by Brown that SDSU researchers are valuable innovators in artificial intelligence. “It’s hard to say how grateful we are to the Brown and Brown family,” he said.

Aztec Walking Pro

The $1 million for the Athletics Division’s Aztecs Going Pro Program is the largest ever given to the program, which was designed just over a decade ago to provide skill enhancement support to SDSU student-athletes. A large portion of the award will be allocated to a graduate assistant stipend, but the funds may also be used to support program needs.

Each year they compete, SDSU student-athletes take a one-hour-a-week class for credit that serves as a life skills program. Intercollegiate Athletics Director John David Wicker Aztecs Going Pro stands out as a highly successful program that helps prepare most student-athletes who will pursue postgraduate careers outside of professional sports.

“This scholarship helps verify that the Aztecs Going Pro is the kind of program that resonates with people like Jim and Marilyn Brown who care about athletics in San Diego State, but also care about the individual,” Wicker said. “They see the value of what we do and their contributions allow us to provide better programming and more support for our student-athletes.”

Wicker described the grant as “extremely beneficial” for the Aztecs Going Pro. He described Jim Brown as “a wonderful person who was always involved in the community”.

Thinking about the future

Marilyn Brown describes her late husband as someone who cared about the world. She said the grant from the foundation that bears her name reflects this, noting that supporting the Artificial Intelligence Center is a choice he would have made himself. In 2019, the Browns family contributed $50,000 to create the Artificial Intelligence Lab Program Scholarship.

“That’s really Jim,” she said of the grant’s intent. “He’s forward-looking, he’s thinking ahead, he’s taking a program that could be really special and making it even better.”

Jim Brown has always appreciated his association with SDSU, Marilyn Brown He said, and maintained many close relationships with people throughout the university. He always wanted to keep in touch.

“You don’t necessarily give funding to places, you give it to people, and over the years Jim knew the people of San Diego. It was about the people, it was about what was done for him and what he felt like he got from the university, and he wanted to give back.”

SDSU will host a naming ceremony on February 27, 2023 for the new James Silberrad Brown Center for Artificial Intelligence.