San Diego State University was established on March 13, 1897. It was originally San Diego Normal University when it was established to educate local women as elementary school teachers. It is located on the 17-acre (6.9 hectare) campus of University Highland Park Avenue (now the headquarters of the San Diego Unified School District). There were 7 faculty members and 91 students at the opening ceremony; the course was initially limited to English, history and mathematics. In 1923, San Diego Normal University changed its name to San Diego State Normal College, a "four-year public institution controlled by the State Board of Education."
The first-year graduating class of the newly built San Diego Normal University.
By the 1930s, the school had exceeded the original campus. In 1931, it moved to the current location of Montezuma Mesa, which was then the eastern edge of San Diego. In 1935, the school expanded its product range beyond teacher education and became San Diego State University. In 1960, San Diego State University became part of the California State University system and is now called California State University. Finally, in 1972, San Diego State University became the California State University of San Diego, and in 1974 it became San Diego State University (SDSU).
The then President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, delivered a graduation ceremony at San Diego State University on June 6, 1963. Kennedy received an honorary doctorate of law at the award ceremony, making SDSU the first state college in California to award an honorary doctorate.