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Frea SladekFrea Sladek, Former General Manager and CEO of the SDSU Research Foundation

Frea Sladek was born in Bangor, Maine in 1939. She moved to San Diego with her family in the mid-1950’s. An SDSU alumna, Frea obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, with minors in French and History. She began working with the Research Foundation in 1969, managing training contracts for the Peace Corps, and was promoted to Associate General Manager and General Manager. As Associate GM, and later as GM, Frea was instrumental in developing grant funding for faculty research projects, establishing the June Burnett Institute for Children, Youth and Families, the Defense Conversion Center for retraining displaced defense workers, and the Fred Hanson Institute for World Peace, which took her to Egypt and Israel, working on the Cooperative Arid Lands Project.

Ms. Sladek was selected as the fourth, and only female, CEO of the Research Foundation in 2000. Her contributions included the acquisition of properties for the future expansion and redevelopment of the SDSU campus, the planning and development of a marine science lab (adjacent to, and affiliated with, the Geological Survey), and attracting significantly more funding for faculty projects and research. Ms. Sladek was a long-time member of the SDSU Research Foundation family (1969-2006), and she eventually saw 4 of her own 5 children, as well as 4 grandchildren, graduate from SDSU. Her second husband served on the faculty, and her father, George Sanderlin, was awarded Distinguished Professor of the California State University system. Frea Sladek retired as CEO in 2006. She currently resides in El Cajon, CA.

Download the PDF transcript of the complete interview.

Part 1: Early life (pp. 1 - 10)
Frea Sladek presented her oral history in June of 2012, speaking affectionately of her childhood, growing up in Orono, Maine. She was the daughter of an English professor (George Sanderlin) and a writer (O’Anita Sanderlin), thus she enjoyed an affiliation with the academic community from an early age. The family moved to San Diego in the 1950’s, where Frea finished high school. She attended Stanford her freshman year, but returned home to attend San Diego State, majoring in English Literature. Her first child was born just before she completed her last two classes; she eventually had five children, while teaching remedial English at Grossmont Community College.

Part 2: Foundation (pp. 10 - 38)
Ms. Sladek spoke about her first job at the Research Foundation in 1969, managing Peace Corps training contracts through the International Project Center, which resulted in trips to Jamaica and Brazil, and the next phase of her career, marked by her promotion to Associate General Manager in the 70’s, while working on her MBA at nights.

Part 3: CEO of the SDSU Research Foundation (pp. 38 - 44)
Ms. Sladek discussed being selected CEO of the Research Foundation, where she served from 2000 until her retirement in 2006. She was instrumental in acquiring properties for redevelopment and expansion around the SDSU campus, the acquisition of a marine science lab next door to the Geological Survey, and significantly increased seed money available for faculty projects and research. She expressed disappointment at not having seen the realization of the proposed ‘Paseo Project,’ an elaborate complex for SDSU whose plans had been underway since the ‘90s, but expressed her hopes for its future development. In closing, Ms. Sladek fondly acknowledged the love and support of family as being very influential in making her lengthy career and contributions to the SDSU Research Foundation possible.

Interview recorded digitally by Susan Resnik, Ph.D., on June 27, 2012

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