November 2017 Newsletter: Cilker Conference and Scholarship Promotes Arts in Education

Photo: Luisa Morco San Jose State University students and community members participate in the 2017 Marion Cilker Conference for the Arts in Education in a session where they learn to incorporate music into class lessons.

Photo: Luisa Morco
San Jose State University students and community members participate in the 2017 Marion Cilker Conference for the Arts in Education in a session where they learn to incorporate music into class lessons.

By Melissa Anderson

Marion Cilker, a 1939 alumna of the College of Humanities and the Arts, had a lifelong passion for arts in education that she wanted to share with future generations of teachers. 70 years after her own degree completion, she donated to the Connie L. Lurie College of Education to establish a scholarship and conference to foster the same ideals in prospective and current educators.

Cilker was both an artist and an educator who worked at Turlock High School in California’s central valley for many years – teaching stagecraft and art. But her love of the arts was born long before that, even before she attended what was then known as San Jose State College. She discovered art in high school, and it led her to her college major, a career and travels around the world, including a first trip to Europe after high school to see art masterpieces.

Sarah Henderson, ’18 Child and Adolescent Development MA, is one of three recipients of the Marion Cilker Scholarship for Infusing Art into Education, who shares the same passion for arts in education as Cilker.

“I applied (for the scholarship) because my research interests involve arts in education and arts as a means for higher positive outcomes for children in schools,” she said, noting that the scholarship is helping her complete her education as well as prepare for her future goal to continue research in that area. “I would like to obtain a PhD, possibly become a professor, and work in advocacy with nonprofits or policy-influencing organizations in order to shift public perception on the arts.

Katelyn Palmer, who will complete her single-subject credential in spring 2018 for teaching art, is another of the scholarship recipients. After she graduates, she hopes to get a position as an art teacher at a high school or middle school with a high special-needs population.

“I think making art collaboratively can be synonymous with making connections so I hope to give students more tools to communicate and advocate for themselves and others which they can learn inside the classroom community and bring out into the world,” she said.

Henderson and Palmer both volunteered at the 2017 Marion Cilker Conference for the Arts in Education, co-sponsored by the College of Education and the Santa Clara County Office of Education. The Nov. 3-4 conference brought together students, teachers and parents with local artists and arts organizations to share the joy of teaching through the arts. The conference included a half-day session on Nov. 3 that was free for SJSU students with about 200 in attendance and a half-day session on Nov. 4 for teachers, parents, administrators and interested community members. About 80 people participated in the Saturday sessions held at the San Jose Museum of Art, the Children’s Discovery Museum, Movimiento do Arte y Cultura Latino Americana (MACLA), San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and Works/San Jose where artists and arts organizations gave presentations and planned activities.

“The best part of participating was attending sessions and exploring the Children’s Discovery Museum,” Henderson said.

She led a group of attendees to presentations and participated in activities on Saturday that included creating a nature journal and creating instruments out of recycled objects as well as writing lyrics to the tune of any children’s song.

Palmer met with presenters and on Saturday participated in a workshop called “String it Up Recyclable Art.”

“I loved getting to interact with teachers who are at different points in their careers,” she said. “I talked to a lot of teachers about why they were attending the conference and they talked about how much they valued art which gets me really excited to be in a school and collaborate with teachers in other subject areas.”

Henderson agreed that the artistic activities benefit students well beyond art class.

“The developmental outcomes for children who have consistent education in a variety of arts (music, fine art, sculpture, sewing, theatre, dance) are much higher than for those who do not,” Henderson said, noting that arts education requirements across the nation are inconsistent. “We are robbing our children of access to creative thinking and self-expression by cutting arts programs and undervaluing the importance of the arts.”

During welcome remarks at the Friday morning session, SJSU President Mary Papazian shared her own thoughts about arts in education.

“The arts open up a world of creativity and curiosity, of innovation and collaboration,” Papazian said. “I want this to expand. I am encouraging our campus community to see all academic disciplines as complementary—humanities and the arts; the sciences and technology; social sciences and business; health and other applied disciplines. It is at these intersections where magic happens.”

Henderson reiterated that thought.

“It is important to understand that no field can exist without the arts—engineers need to use CAD software to imagine their creations; programmers need to work with designers to create an attractive product; all companies need advertisers to sell their products using imagery,” she said.

November 2017 Newsletter: Braven Prepares Students for Careers After College

Photo: Brandon Chew Students in the Braven Accelerator network with industry and nonprofit leaders who teach them valuable skills that will help them search for their first job post graduation.

Photo: Brandon Chew
Students in the Braven Accelerator network with industry and nonprofit leaders who teach them valuable skills that will help them search for their first job post graduation.

By David Goll

At the age of 19, San Jose State University junior Nasheli Arce can already visualize how her business career could look.

The young woman who spent part of her childhood in a town near Mexico City with her eyes on a global career spends one night a week at Facebook Inc. as part of a course she is taking through SJSU’s College of Science and nonprofit Braven. The Lucas College and Graduate School of Business management information systems major is enrolled in the three-unit Braven Accelerator course, a program created to help underrepresented students attain skills that will help them succeed in their career searches after graduation.

Taught both online and in person, one of the main features of the Braven course is small-group work, pairing six to eight students with career coaches from a variety of Silicon Valley high-tech companies and nonprofit organizations. Tianna Hall, a project manager at Facebook, leads Arce’s group. Her group meets at the Menlo Park-based social networking giant.

“She really pushes us to go above and beyond,” Arce said of Hall, one of 20 career coaches working in the program, who volunteer 60 hours per semester. “As humans, we tend to settle into our comfort zones. One of the best things about this class is that it teaches us to put the extra into the ordinary. We have to break those habits and patterns. We have to keep challenging ourselves.”

Arce is one of 127 students in this fall’s cohort of the local Braven Accelerator. SJSU is one of only two universities nationwide to form a collaboration with the four-year-old Chicago-based nonprofit along with Rutgers University in Newark, N.J. San Jose State joined with Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley as part of an initial 10-week pilot program for Braven in spring 2014.

After the pilot, Braven officials decided to focus resources solely at SJSU where they felt they could have the biggest impact. The program expanded to a 15-week credit course in fall 2015, according to Andrea Schwartz Boone, executive director of Braven Bay Area. Dr. Melanie A. McNeil, professor of chemical engineering, is teaching the course this fall.

“Parts of the course are online, and then students meet in person to practice their skills,” Schwartz Boone said of the class format.

Classes are held Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with sessions held both in Washington Square Hall on campus and scattered about Silicon Valley at the job sites of career coaches such as Arce’s group leader Hall. In addition to Facebook, other coaches work at Google Inc., LinkedIn Corp., eBay Inc., Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and Teach for America.

Schwartz Boone said she and other members of her Braven Bay Area team began their research for the program by going directly to employers.

“We asked what it takes to get hired and what it takes to get promoted at their companies,” she said.

In talking with employers, five areas of career-searching competency emerged: the ability to network and communicate, operate and manage, solve problems, work as part of a team and development of self-driven leadership, or softer skills, such as being able to learn from both successes and failures.

By the end of the 2017-18 academic year, 600 SJSU students will have completed the Braven program. So far, Schwartz Boone said 96 percent of the students have either graduated or continue to make progress toward their degrees, while 76 percent have had at least one internship as compared to 49 percent of first-generation students at large state schools nationwide.

Perhaps most importantly, 75 percent of Braven’s SJSU alumni who have already graduated have secured what Schwartz Boone calls a “strong job” within six months of finishing college. “Strong” jobs are based on salary amounts, health benefits and whether the position requires a four-year college degree.

“We are seeing some exciting outcomes,” she said.

Dr. Elaine Collins, associate dean of the College of Science, is proud to show off another exciting outcome: two awards recently bestowed upon Braven’s SJSU course. During October, a committee of the CSU/CCC/UC 2017 California Higher Education collaborative Conference recognized the Braven course with its Focus on Efficiency award, while the University of South Carolina’s National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition gave the program its Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award.

During the on-site classes, students receive instruction and feedback on their skills not only from the coaches but also from one another, Collins said. The Braven program is geared primarily to sophomores and junior transfer students new to campus, in hopes of helping shape their academic, internship and career trajectory. Collins said team-building exercises help students to develop “stories” about themselves to create an identity and give them a sense of purpose at college.

“Often, first-generation college students feel at some point like they don’t belong,” Collins said. “In this course, we help them not only develop stories about themselves but progress to developing their own personal professional story, too.”

View Braven’s recent Bay Area Report.

November Newsletter 2017: Provost Update – Countless Reasons to be Thankful

As we return from Thanksgiving break – refreshed and ready for the final weeks of the fall term – I want to take a moment to express gratitude for our students, staff, faculty and alumni. One of my favorite duties as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs is working with inspirational colleagues who are dedicated, hardworking and generous.

Provost Andy Feinstein and the Academic Affairs Leadership team host an appreciation breakfast to say thanks to the 500+ staff members who support faculty and students in the division. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Provost Andy Feinstein and the Academic Affairs Leadership team host an appreciation breakfast to say thanks to the 500+ staff members who support faculty and students in the division. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

Earlier this month, I hosted the Academic Affairs Staff Appreciation Breakfast with the division’s leadership team – a great opportunity to see our staff members come together and to hear from their supervisors about the great work they do each day. This year, we invited peers to share positive stories about their colleagues. The shout-outs, as we called them, highlighted the many great things I see in our hardworking staff – greeting students with grace and enthusiasm; going the extra mile; acting with patience and good humor; seeking ways to help colleagues.

I also had the honor of recognizing some of our longest-serving employees at the 50th Spartan Service Celebration, where 116 Spartan staff members were recognized for service milestones. I was moved by videos during which honorees shared personal memories.

An especially poignant story was Jack Harding’s. Jack began working as a lab technician 35 years ago in the aeronautics department (now Aviation and Technology) and since has moved on to become a telecommunications network analyst in IT.

Jack’s two sons grew up on our campus, regularly attending football games and campus events. Both eventually enrolled here as college students. His oldest son, Jack Jr., joined the Marines after graduation, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. He was welcomed back to the campus in 2011 when Jack Sr. and his wife were invited to present his lieutenant stripes in a stirring ceremony.

All of our staff – whether they have served SJSU for months, or decades – deserve our support. That includes professional development opportunities; I am pleased that we have the resources this year to again offer the Staff Professional Development Grant Program. These stipends allow staff members to develop skills that can enhance their capacity to serve our students. We have approved 229 proposals to date, and hope to issue another call for applications in early spring.

Many members of our campus community “pay it forward” by helping those following in their path. This includes our Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association (ERFA), which created a research, scholarship and creative activities (RSCA) grant program to help current faculty members advance their professional growth. Last year’s recipients included Anthropology Department Assistant Professor AJ Faas and School of Social Work Assistant Professor Nicole Dubus.

Another reason for gratitude is the many alumni whose financial support helps current and future students achieve their goals. A generous gift from Marion Cilker, ’39, established a scholarship for students interested in infusing arts into education and funded an annual conference. While Ms. Cilker passed away in 2012, her generosity lives on, supporting current and aspiring teachers seeking ways to incorporate art into diverse curricula for K-12 students.

Students also are benefiting from strategic collaborations. A partnership with nonprofit Braven Bay Area fueled a program for first-generation, underrepresented minority students that connects them with community mentors at high-tech companies and nonprofits and develops personal skills for future career searches.

These are just some of the people, programs and connections that are empowering us to power student success. In this season of gratitude, I’m especially mindful of your remarkable contributions. Thank you!

November 2017 Newsletter: ERFA Grants Support Current SJSU Researchers

Photo: James Tensuan Anthropology Assistant Professor AJ Faas and Social Work Assistant Professor Nicole Dubus received the 2016-17 Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association Faculty Research and Creative Activity Awards. Applications for 2017-18 are due Dec. 6.

Photo: James Tensuan
Anthropology Assistant Professor AJ Faas and Social Work Assistant Professor Nicole Dubus received the 2016-17 Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association Faculty Research and Creative Activity Awards. Applications for 2017-18 are due Dec. 6.

By David Goll

Research by San Jose State University professors into how societies and nations respond to and cope with manmade and environmental disasters – and what happens to individuals when they flee due to war, political instability or climate change – received support from the Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association (ERFA) in 2016-17.

The association of former professors is now welcoming applications for the SJSU ERFA Faculty Research and Creative Activity Award, due December 6. The two grants of up to $2,500 per person are awarded to tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty or lecturers with more than six years of continuous service to San Jose State.

“Four years ago, we had some additional money,” said Joan Merdinger, member of ERFA, which includes more than 300 former SJSU faculty members. “In the past, we made donations to the library, to faculty, to the deans to use in a discretionary fashion. We wanted to do something ongoing, to honor the mission of service to the university.”

Merdinger, who retired from SJSU after a 26-year career as a professor in the School of Social Work and a stint as Associate Vice President for Faculty Affairs, said the modest grants can help faculty members attend important conferences, or help secure the assistance of graduate students in conducting research.

The resulting awards program has benefitted six current faculty members to date, including the most recent recipients: Dr. Nicole Dubus, assistant professor in the School of Social Work, in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts; and Dr. AJ Faas, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, in the College of Social Science.

Dubus conducts research into a compelling global issue: how public agencies can cope with the worldwide epidemic of forcibly displaced people, who number 65.6 million, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency. Examining how other countries, primarily in Europe, are dealing with waves of humans fleeing war, repression and political upheaval in Africa, the Middle East and other regions, Dubus said she hopes to bring some of the strategies being employed overseas to local communities and possibly incorporate them into the curriculum at SJSU.

In July, Dubus traveled to Malta, a tiny island nation in the Mediterranean Sea with 383,000 residents situated between North Africa and Italy. It has received thousands of forced migrants and asylum seekers in the past 15 years. While there, she studied the various stages of processing and assimilation of migrants and refugees from African and Middle Eastern countries who land in this first foothold of Europe, including how they gain access to healthcare and other public services.

Dubus met with Carmel Cefai, associate professor in the University of Malta’s Department of Psychology, director of the Centre for Resilience and Socio-Economic Health and a leading advocate for the concept of social and emotional resiliency among children, teenagers and young adults – including migrants trying to make successful transitions to a new society.

She would like to see that resiliency concept adopted locally as San Jose and other Bay Area cities struggle to assimilate adults and children fleeing dire social, political and economic circumstances. Dubus said she has also conducted research into how migrants and refugees are treated in Iceland, Germany and Sweden, having received grants from the National Science Foundation.

“I was able to spend two weeks in Malta and had a fantastic experience. I would not have been able to make the trip had it not been for the (ERFA) grant,” she said.

The $2,500 grant also proved instrumental for Faas to visit Bogota, Colombia this past June. Faas has been a member of the San Jose State faculty since 2014. He was invited to attend a meeting of 14 anthropologists, mostly from Latin America, by Virginia Garcia-Acosta, a prominent Mexican historian and social anthropologist. The group is collaborating on a book detailing the anthropological history of disasters throughout Latin America, including such watershed events as the 1985 Mexico City earthquake that killed 10,000 people, injured 30,000 and left thousands more homeless.

Faas’s academic research specialty is focused a bit further south in Ecuador, a nation of 12.5 million located along the west coast of South America. It provides no shortage of research opportunities for Faas, who began visiting the country regularly in 2009. His research includes an ongoing study of recovery and resettlement of Ecuadorean highlands residents as a result of volcanic activity.

“This is a country with 30 (mainland) volcanoes and close proximity to El Nino,” he said, referring to the meteorological phenomenon known officially as the El Nino Southern Oscillation that periodically develops in the Pacific Ocean and can lead to tremendous volumes of rain falling in some parts of the Americas.

He said that along with the disasters, Ecuadoreans have also had to cope with tremendous social and political upheaval, including adapting to 10 different presidents during a 14-year stretch between 1991 and 2005.

During his South American visit this past summer, Faas, also a member of the worldwide Culture and Disasters Action Network, said he was able to interview a number of Andean scholars for his research.

ERFA’s Merdinger said, as in past years, applications from the next group of grant proposals will be reviewed by members of the organization’s board of directors. For more information about the grant program, see application online.

November 2017 Newsletter: Staff Gain Skills Through Professional Development Grant Program

Provost Andy Feinstein and the Academic Affairs Leadership team host an appreciation breakfast to say thanks to the 500+ staff members who support faculty and students in the division. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Provost Andy Feinstein and the Academic Affairs Leadership team host an appreciation breakfast to say thanks to the 500+ staff members who support faculty and students in the division. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

By David Goll

Whether they traveled across the country, 60 miles up the road — or never left their desks — employees in Academic Affairs made the most of the Staff Professional Development Grant program in 2017.

During the 2016-17 academic year, Academic Affairs Division awarded more than 50 such grants to staff members, which can range up to $1,500 for an individual or $5,000 for a group proposal. Designed to promote employees’ professional development and enhance effectiveness, the grants are primarily used to participate in training programs, in-service activities and team-building exercises, or to attend conferences and staff retreats.

April Gilbert, Institutional Repository Coordinator for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library at SJSU was one of those who traveled cross country. In March, she used her $1,405 grant to attend the biennial Association of College and Research Libraries National Conference held in Baltimore.

“It was a very valuable experience,” Gilbert said. “It’s a great place to find out about best practices in the industry; how to deliver better services and create better work flows; how to help researchers produce, publish and disseminate their work; how to better communicate with your faculty.”

Gilbert said she was especially interested in speaking with librarians from other universities nationwide to get additional ideas on how to promote her library’s collections, attract more people to use them, as well as how to encourage more SJSU faculty members to utilize the material in their own classes. Gilbert said she works closely with Emily Chan, interim associate dean for Research and Scholarship at the university’s library, to accomplish those goals.

“This conference was really great,” Gilbert said. “And I wouldn’t have been able to attend without the grant. It definitely made the trip possible.”

Lin Sao’s professional growth opportunity was a bit closer to home. Sao, who works as an academic advisor for undergraduate business students at the Jack Holland Student Success Center, received about $400 through the program to attend the annual conference of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education, a 30-year-old organization that champions the success of Asian Pacific American college and university students, staff, faculty and administrators. Sao attended the April event held in Oakland.

“This is an organization helping students of Asian and Pacific Islander descent deal with the struggles and challenges facing them in higher education,” said Sao, who previously worked as an admissions communications counselor at SJSU. “At the conference, I learned about new and interesting ways to aggregate data on the Asian Pacific Islander student population. Asians may appear to be doing well when ethnic data is not disaggregated, but that’s not necessarily true of all Asian populations. Some Asian ethnicities such as Southeast Asians struggle in a college environment.”

Dave Daley’s grant-fueled travels were a bit further away. In January, he traveled to Las Vegas to attend the annual Consumer Electronics Show to get the latest on cutting-edge technology for possible application at SJSU. The Information Technology Analyst at the SJSU library used his $1,500 grant to attend the sprawling electronics industry extravaganza — centered on the Las Vegas Convention Center — but held at venues all over the city. The library covered the gap for his $1,711 trip.

“CES is a great place to go to find out about state of the art, cutting-edge technology,” said Daley, a 14-year employee of SJSU. “IT is usually the department frequently viewed by other departments as the place to go for new ideas.”

Daley said the panel discussions at the show can be just as helpful and informative as checking out the latest products being displayed by tech companies. He was particularly intrigued by industry representatives discussing the possibilities for 5G — or fifth-generation wireless systems — that, unlike current 4G technology, promise to operate at real-time speed, no delays and be fast enough to accommodate high-resolution videos on cell phones, he said.

“There are no (5G) products yet, but it’s so important to hear about the latest technology, and see what manufacturers are working on,” Daley said. “It’s good to hear the latest straight from the horse’s mouth.”

Daley’s colleague, Klaus Trilck, didn’t have to travel anywhere to participate in the intensive, two-day online presentation known as the Educause Learning Initiative. Educause is a Colorado-based nonprofit collaboration of colleges and universities that promote advances in education through the application of innovative technology. He received $400 through the staff grant program.

“Technology changes so rapidly it’s important for me to keep abreast of it. The students certainly do,” said Trilck, an eCampus instructional designer since January who has worked at SJSU for five years. His job is to help faculty members develop creative and relevant classroom presentations. “Participating in Educause helps me keep pace with hardware and software development.”

Trilck said he found the Educause online presentation helpful and informative through its dozen or so speakers and interactive format that allowed Web participants to ask questions in real time.

“This is very effective for professional and personal development,” he said. “And it keeps me active and viable as a university employee.”