SAN DIEGO -- A University of Maryland-Baltimore County provost was named Wednesday to succeed Stephen Weber as president of San Diego State University.

Elliot Hirshman, 50, called it a "tremendous honor'' to be chosen to replace Weber, who will retire this summer after leading SDSU for 15 years.

"This university has unlimited potential and I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff and the community to continue building on its foundation of excellence,'' Hirshman said.

He beat out two other finalists -- the president of Cal State Chico and a top official in the University of North Carolina system.

Hirshman has held the second-ranking administrative post at the university just outside Baltimore since 2008 as a provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. As a full professor of psychology, he studies the influence of various drugs on the cognitive process and explores models of memory, attention and vision.

He previously held positions at George Washington University, the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of North Carolina and Arizona State University.

"In the selection of Dr. Hirshman, San Diego State is getting a leader that brings both impressive academic credentials and strong administrative experience,'' said CSU Trustee William Hauck, who chaired the presidential search committee. "Those factors, along with his exciting vision for the future of San Diego State, make him an excellent choice to steward the university into the next decade.''

In a campus forum last week, Hirshman said he wants to maintain the university's core services during the tough economic times, and preferences for qualified local high school students for freshmen admissions, and indicated he was a strong supporter of athletics.

He was the chief research officer at George Washington University, which fits the direction SDSU has been taking in recent years.

His salary will be set by the trustees in July. His exact starting date has not been set, according to SDSU officials.