Staff Profile: David Tobias

Passionate About Higher Education

Written by Fatima Duran

“I always knew higher education is where I belonged,” said the new Director of Freshmen Admissions David Tobias.

From an admissions perspective, Tobias said, “The city can sell students just as much as the university can sell students.”

As a first generation college graduate Tobias is passionate about making the possibility of higher education a reality. He said higher education should be looked at as an investment much like how people view the purchase of a house or a car. Tobias said he had the privilege of attending the Jesuit Xavier University with the help of scholarships. He also encourages students to find ways to finance their education since according to Tobias, “Bachelors are the new high school diplomas and masters are the new bachelors.”

However he realizes the high cost of higher education still seems like a challenge for students lacking financial resources. He said, “It’s hard at an institution like the University of San Francisco because it costs a lot, it is a private institution but it’s also getting past that barrier with students and saying while the sticker price looks like quite a bit we offer ample amounts of financial aid.”

He added, "That’s definitely my passion. Bringing students to higher education and really giving them the opportunity to be successful.”

Having been raised in Cincinnati by German and Polish parents, Tobias said his last name was originally spelled Tobiacz but that his parents dropped the last two letters and replaced it with an “s” in an attempt to assimilate when they came to the United States. Although his last name is pronounced with a long “i” he said he was often confused as being Cuban when he began pursuing his Masters in Higher Education at the University of Miami.
He didn’t seem to mind. He said, “Growing up in the environment that I grew up in with the family that I grew up with my parents were always very open and accepting of all different cultures.”

Tobias said that after graduating with a Theology major and minors in Philosophy and Social Justice from Xavier, he joined AmeriCorps.

He interned with a non-profit organization called Public Allies with the goal of giving back to his community in Cincinnati. His internship consisted of working to improve the relationship between police and the community, particularly the African American population, with which Tobias said the Cincinnati police has a tumultuous relationship. Tobias participated in two initiatives which consisted of listening to what community members wanted improved and another city campaign called Seize Fire which was meant to reduce gun violence.

Tobias said that being a part of a minority group during his internship sometimes caused people to view him as an outsider but that one of the biggest lessons he learned was relationship building. He said, “Once people got to know me and knew me for being me as opposed to knowing me either for what I looked like or what I was wearing… I think people realized that I wasn’t there to do anything but to help.”

Tobias said he looks forward to working with the Multicultural Recruitment and Retention office and collaborating with programs such as Foreword, which welcomes first generation students to USF.

Having moved recently to San Francisco with his wife, Mary Rose, Tobias said San Francisco is a city that draws students as well as young professionals. He said he was drawn to San Francisco because of the job opportunity at the University, but also because he and Mary Rose liked the “social justice aspect” of the city.

Elaborating on the advantage San Francisco has in terms of employment for undergraduates, Tobias said, “San Francisco is not a flooded market…If you look at a city like Boston there are 80 different colleges in the greater Boston area which means that if you go to school in Boston and let’s say you’re studying Business or Finance or Accounting and you’re looking for an internship you’re not only competing with students from those 80 different schools and colleges, you’re competing with a very vibrant young professional environment and with the way the economy is right now those young professionals are willing to take unpaid internships just so that they can get resume experience.”

Tobias has delved into his job at USF by attending college fairs and recruiting students in the San Diego area. He will also be visiting private schools in San Francisco to promote USF.