March 2018 Newsletter: Provost Update – Diversity Drives Creativity and Innovation

I hope everyone is finding some time during spring break to reenergize before we head into the final months of the semester. March was especially busy, and I was fortunate enough to be involved in events that highlight the diversity of our university as well as our work to create a more inclusive campus and community.

On March 1, I welcomed nearly two-dozen doctoral students from Stanford University’s Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Doctoral Fellowship Program. The program aims to build a pipeline for faculty from underrepresented groups. For the past 10 years, fellows have visited our university to learn about SJSU’s commitment to diversifying the faculty and to hear from some of our own faculty members about their experiences. I shared with the visitors that this year, Faculty Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion implemented newdiversity training for search committees involved in faculty recruitment.

During their visit, the DARE Fellows also engaged with student researchers and scholars from our Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. The McNair students engage in undergraduate research, prepare for the GRE and learn how to choose a graduate school, among other activities that will help them on the path to a doctoral degree. The newsletter this month shares more about these programs along with other efforts to support diversity and inclusion such as our African American College Readiness Summit, the Women in Engineering Conference, and the Chicanx/Latinx and African American/Black Student Success Center internships.

As many of you know, we have one of the most diverse student populations in the nation. On March 15, we hosted the inaugural SJSU Student Success Symposium attended by more than 230 faculty, staff and students. Many of our guest speakers discussed ways to engage students from underrepresented groups, especially Dr. Sylvia Hurtado, from the University of California, Los Angeles, whose talk was entitled “Campus Climate and Institutional Change: Advancing Diversity and Institutional Practice.” Visit the Student Success Website to learn how to participate in a follow-up session after spring break to help us identify the next steps in promoting academic excellence.

While we strive to be inclusive of people from many backgrounds and experiences, it is also important for us to have a diversity of perspectives, disciplines and ideas. Our university has many interdisciplinary programs and centers, such as the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change, the Mineta Transportation Institute, the Humanities Honors Program, among others. We are also in a prime position to expand opportunities for our students to engage in multi-faceted projects that cross discipline lines.

Just this week, the Biomedical Engineering Society of San Jose State hosted its 9th Annual Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference. As part of the conference, 34 student teams presented ideas for devices to help medical professionals and patients. These teams included students from many engineering, business, health professions and other majors, working together to find a solution to a medical problem. The industry leaders who spoke at the conference reiterated how diverse perspectives affect product and process innovation.

As we head into April, we will have more opportunities celebrate our diversity and academic excellence. Some upcoming events include theCelebration of Research April 4, the Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon April 5Legacy of Poetry Day April 12, the Inclusive Innovation Summit April 13, Admitted Spartan Day April 14Honors Convocation April 20 and the Fifth Annual SJSU Cultural Showcase April 25.

I hope to see you at these and other events next month as we continue to work together to improve student success while creating an inclusive and welcoming university community.

February 2018 Newsletter: Provost Update – RSCA is Central to SJSU Mission

We are only in the second month of the spring semester, but this term has already proven to be busy! On February 9, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee provided an update on our process to date and presented draft goals that were developed from your input during the fall semester. Following our presentation, we held a campus conversation and lunch to discuss our next steps. I encourage you to view the draft goals at the Strategic Planning website. On the site, you can also provide input to the task forces that will be working to define our desired outcomes for each focus area and create strategies for accomplishing them.

Several of the goals focus on our mission of providing excellent educational and academic opportunities. We already have a thriving research, scholarship and creative activities (RSCA) enterprise. According to the most recent SJSU Research Foundation Annual Report, we received $58 million in revenues from RSCA endeavors, with an active grants portfolio of $259 million. In fact, the Chancellor’s Office recently selected SJSU and the Mineta Transportation Institute to lead a CSU research consortium focused on solving transit issues in the state.

We also have many more faculty and students working together on numerous scholarly and creative activities – just take a look at the list of recent publications from our Annual Author and Artist Awards or the list of upcoming events at the Hammer Theatre.

Our RSCA activities rival that of many nationally ranked universities. However, faculty can feel challenged when seeking a balance between their teaching load and their RSCA agendas. We are working with colleagues to develop a sustainable model that will allow us to balance teaching and RSCA pursuits. We have a consultant who has already visited and will be working with us throughout the spring. Joan Ficke, the former dean of the Graduate School at Montclair State University, will provide guidance as we develop a plan. She was instrumentally involved in transitioning her institution to providing a better alignment between RSCA, teaching and service.

Providing an atmosphere where faculty and students can readily engage in RSCA also means celebrating our achievements. I am pleased to support the University Scholar Series that offers an opportunity to learn about the unique and inspiring RSCA conducted by SJSU faculty. This month, we kick off the spring lectures on Feb. 21. Professor Anand Vaidya, director of the Humanities and the Arts Center for Comparative Philosophy, will use his talk to share recent research into Eastern philosophies and critical thinking. Learn more about the upcoming series in a story below. Join us for the lecture and lunch, from noon to 1 p.m. in MLK 225/229. For more details, visit the event page.

Later this semester on April 4, the Celebration of Research offers an opportunity to acknowledge student researchers along with our Early Career Investigator Award winners for 2017-18, Ehsan Khatami and Dave Schuster, whose accomplishments are described in a story below. As you will learn in this month’s newsletter, our RSCA endeavors are innovative and relevant. A few recent projects run the gamut from understanding Silicon Valley culture to studying how sports can lead to social change to determining just how the flu virus is spread.

I would also like to remind staff members that we are accepting applications for the second round of staff professional development grants, with proposals due March 19. The application is open to any staff members who did not receive a grant during the first round of proposals last fall. Find more details online.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Andy Feinstein, Athletics Director Marie Tuite,  Director of Strategy, Planning and Business Services for IT Kara Lee, President Mary Papazian and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Sharon Willey show their Spartan spirit February 10 at a women's basketball game.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Andy Feinstein, Athletics Director Marie Tuite, Director of Strategy, Planning and Business Services for IT Kara Lee, President Mary Papazian and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Sharon Willey show their Spartan spirit February 10 at a women’s basketball game.

Before we move onto this month’s stories, I want to thank everyone who attended the Third Annual Interdivisional Competition on Feb. 10. Academic Affairs had more than 270 RSVPs from faculty, staff members and their families with our section of the stands full on game day. We cheered on the Spartans Women’s Basketball team while also competing in some fun activities such as a free throw competition, a relay race and the VP tricycle race. I am especially proud that Academic Affairs brought home the trophy again!

Join Your Colleagues to Begin the Next Steps in Our Strategic Planning Process on Feb. 9

Editor’s Note: This message was sent to all faculty and staff on Jan. 22, 2019.

Dear Colleagues,

Last fall, SJSU began a strategic planning initiative that will culminate in a strategic blueprint to guide us in our journey through the next decade. Students, faculty and staff joined together in this critical work by participating in a series of Campus Conversations last fall.

We will be launching the next phase of strategic planning on February 9 at 11:30am with a campus forum in the Diaz-Compean Student Union Ballroom.

At the February 9 event, the campus community will hear from President Papazian and the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, who will outline the steps we have taken so far and present five draft goals.

Immediately after this presentation, we will be hosting lunch and a Campus Conversation.  All attendees will discuss what ideas might be added or better explained in the draft goals and what action items might arise from the goals. Click here to RSVP for the lunch and visit sjsu.edu/strategicplan for updates on the process.

Thank you,

Andy Feinstein
Co-Chair, Strategic Planning Steering Committee
Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Stefan Frazier
Co-Chair, Strategic Planning Advisory Committee
Chair of the Academic Senate

Rajnesh (Raj) Prasad Named Permanent Exec Director of Research Foundation

Mr. Rajnesh (Raj) Prasad has accepted the permanent position as executive director of the SJSU Research Foundation (SJSURF), effective December 18, 2017.

As the interim director since June, Raj has implemented a number of strategic initiatives to transform the Research Foundation with a focus on creating effective communication and a team-oriented work environment. He has effectively provided leadership and oversight for research-related activities while also building relationships with the campus community, the Board of Directors, and government, nonprofit and industry partners.

Raj first started with the Research Foundation in February 2016 as the senior director of sponsored programs. In that position, he managed more than $50 million in sponsored grants and contracts while also developing strategic policies to support the university’s mission of increasing research opportunities for faculty and students.

In his most recent position prior to joining SJSU, he served as vice president for Research Operations at University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital and Research Center. He has nearly 20 years of experience developing and managing sponsored grants and contracts from federal, state, local, foundation and industry sponsors. He has an advanced understanding of government and nonprofit funding regulations.

Raj holds a bachelor’s in Chemistry from California State University, East Bay and an MBA from the DeVry University Keller School of Management. He is a member of the Association of Independent Research Institutes (AIRI) and the Society of Research Administrators (SRA).