October 2016 Newsletter: Provost Update – Our Differences Make Us Strong

Fusion Network's "As American As" national campus tour at San Jose State University in San Jose, CA, on Thursday, October 6, 2016. (Photo: Christina Olivas/San Jose State University)

Fusion Network’s “As American As” national campus tour at San Jose State University in San Jose, CA, on Thursday, October 6, 2016. (Photo: Christina Olivas/San Jose State University)

During homecoming week, many of you may have seen an interactive exhibit outside the Student Union on the Seventh Street Paseo. The walls of the “As American As…” display, sponsored by the Office of Diversity,Equity and Inclusion, depicted photographs of many people from different backgrounds and described them all as American. The larger-than-life piece created a maze of sorts in the middle of our campus for students, staff, faculty and community members to walk through as they considered how the portraits displayed disparities while the words reinforced their similarities.

When students, staff, faculty and members of the public engage at San Jose State University, they all become Spartans. We are strong because of our differences, and we are part of a diverse community that is striving to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all. I am pleased to have our new Chief Diversity Officer Kathy Wong(Lau), who oversees the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as a partner in our ongoing efforts. She has already begun to lead discussions around tough issues such as sexual harassment and sexual assault, hate speech versus freedom of speech and how to foster cognitive empathy so that people can have a difference of opinion while still understanding the perspectives of others.

As Provost, I am proud to be part of a multi-faceted campus community. SJSU was ranked No.14 among the most ethnically and racially diverse four-year public universities in the United States and No. 1 for highest international student enrollment at a master’s granting university by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Our diversity makes us strong, and we need to leverage that strength as we improve student success. We are making strides with underrepresented minority students through our African American andLatinx/Chicanx Student Success Task Forces. Our identity-based resources such as the PRIDE Center, the MOSAIC Multicultural Center, Military and Veteran Student Services and others have a centralized space in the newly renovated Student Union. We are devoting funding this year to establish an Immigrant Welcome Center that will support our undocumented students.

But we still have work to do to make meaningful changes in our graduation rates and to eliminate the achievement gap between underrepresented minority students and their peers by 2025. Research has shown that underrepresented students perform better in courses taught by diverse faculty for a variety of reasons including relevancy of experiences and perspectives in translating conceptual ideas, inclusion in curricular content at macro and micro levels, higher use of interactive pedagogies, role-modeling and approachability. As with many public universities, our faculty does not reflect the perspectives, experiences, and same diverse proportions that make up our student body. I am working closely with Dr. Wong(Lau) to identify immediate measures and to create a long-term plan to ensure we recruit the best candidates from a diversified pool of applicants and build capacity amongst all of our faculty to educate all of our students.

Dr. Wong(Lau) along with Shawn Spano, hosted the first “Conversation on Campus Climate” in September. I encourage you to attend the second “Conversation on Campus Climate” on Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to noon, in the Diaz Compean Student Union Theater, when participants will help identify actions we need to take to make our campus more inclusive and welcoming. If you are unable to attend in person, share your insights with her via email to diversityoffice@sjsu.edu.

Other events include The Peter Lee Memorial Lecture Series on Nov. 7, from noon to 1:15 p.m., in the Student Union Theater, with a lecture by Dr. Janet Bennett, executive director of the Intercultural Communications Institute on “Intersecting Pathways: Global Diversity and Inclusion”; Faculty Intergroup Dialogue Facilitation and Inclusive Pedagogy Institute on Dec. 2, (location and time to be determined); and through Dec. 1 the “Photovoice Exhibit on Anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia” will be on exhibit at the MLK library. This exhibit features the photonarrative work of Ed Mamary, a professor in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts Department of Health Science and Recreation.

We are all partners in creating a more welcoming and inclusive environment on our campus. I look forward to continuing our work together this year.

Andy Feinstein
Provost and VP for Academic Affairs

Provost Welcome Message Fall 2016

Dear Academic Community,

Welcome back to another exciting year at San Jose State University. I hope all of you enjoyed the summer and are ready for the start of the fall semester.

Our top priority this year will continue to be student success. President Papazian is committed to improving graduation and retention rates, and enhancing the student experience at SJSU. She brings with her a strong background in developing strategies to assist in such efforts. She is supportive of the work we’ve undertaken and I’m confident she will provide enthusiastic leadership as we move forward.

Over the summer, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs leadership hosted a productive joint retreat in which we solidified our partnership, began refining SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success Plan and developed an implementation strategy for key priorities this fall. This plan will guide us as we continue to work toward improving graduation and retention rates.

SJSU remains committed to contributing to the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025. The Chancellor’s Office has revised targets for each campus, with San Jose State’s goal for first-time, first-year student four-year graduation rates set at 35 percent. It is an ambitious goal, but with all of us working together, it is certainly achievable. We will also be working to eliminate our graduation gap between students who are underrepresented minorities or Pell grant eligible and their peers. More information and other target goals are available on the Provost website.

Our campus is fortunate to be one of the first pilot institutions involved in a new CSU Student Success Dashboard — Faculty Matter — developed by the Chancellor’s Office. The dashboard is a tool to help faculty, staff, and administrators better understand our students. It includes college and department specific information about student demographics, progress to degree, course pass rates and other information that we can use to further support and enhance student success.

As part of our college readiness efforts, I will be co-leading a Student Success Summit on Sept. 30 to explore ways we can work with our K-12 and community college partners, and legislative leaders, to improve graduation and retention rates. While most of the day’s events will be closed to the public, the general campus is invited to hear Martha Kanter, former under secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and a former chancellor for the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, give a keynote speech from 8 to 9 a.m. in Student Union Room 1.

In addition, SJSU is honored to host the 19th Annual CSU Teaching and Learning Symposium on Oct. 21 and 22. The theme this year is “Promoting Student Success through Innovation, Creativity, Diversity and Teamwork.” For more information on the symposium, visit the Center for Faculty Development website.

As we focus on student success, we will also continue to provide research, scholarship and creative activity support and professional development for faculty and staff. We have a plan in place that aims to increase RSCA opportunities for faculty and students. We will also continue to offer professional development grants for staff, with a call for proposals due out soon.

I appreciate having all of you as partners in this vitally important work.


Andy Feinstein



AVP of ITS/CIO Terry Vahey Set to Retire

After 32 years of distinguished service to the CSU and four and a half years at San Jose State University, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer Terry Vahey, who has provided strong leadership and guidance to IT Services, has decided to retire. Her last day on campus will be Sept. 16.

I will be working closely with Terry and the IT Services leadership team in the coming weeks to develop a transition plan. In the meantime, please join me in congratulating Terry on her retirement and acknowledging her contributions to SJSU.

It has been my pleasure to work more closely with her since IT Services moved to Academic Affairs in December. She provided steady guidance to her team during the changeover.

Throughout her tenure at SJSU, Terry provided administrative and strategic vision and leadership for current and emerging technologies, infrastructure and security.  She oversaw the implementation of robust wireless and network infrastructure that supports the entire campus, along with an upgraded, modernized phone system. Terry has also been integral in leading our transformation of teaching and learning spaces with collaboration, video and interactive technology tools.

As AVP of IT Services and CIO, she has worked to enhance communication between IT Services and campus users, most recently with a customer service survey. She has specifically worked to highlight the ways in which technology can serve student success. Under her leadership, the SJSU Innovation and Collaboration Technology Expo was launched as a venue for students, faculty and staff to share ways they have successfully integrated tech tools to enhance teaching and learning.

Join me in thanking Terry for her service to our campus and wishing her well in her future endeavors.


Andy Feinstein

SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success

Dear Campus Community,

For the past year, we have collaborated and gathered information from faculty, staff, students and other experts, to develop a data-driven campus-wide student success strategy with one goal: to significantly increase our retention and graduation rates for all students while improving the quality of their educational experience. Our 57 percent six-year and 10 percent four-year graduation rates, and a double digit underrepresented minority student graduation rate gap are not acceptable. We owe it to our students, their families, taxpayers, employers and our community to improve.

We have developed a plan to accomplish this. We encourage you to review “SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success: College Readiness, Advising, Student Engagement and Clearing Bottlenecks,” which highlights our process in developing the plan and details of each pillar.

Public universities across the nation are striving to improve graduation rates, and provide an educated workforce. It’s a huge challenge, and now, SJSU is on the road to a meaningful solution on our campus. We look forward to working with you to enhance the success of every SJSU student.


Andy Feinstein, Provost and Reggie Blaylock, VP for Student Affairs

Interim Dean for Engineering Appointed

Dr. Ping Hsu

Dr. Ping Hsu

Dear Campus Community,

I am very pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Ping Hsu as the interim dean for the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, effective July 1, 2016. Dr. Hsu will succeed Dean Andrew Hsu at the end of the spring semester, when Andrew departs for the University of Toledo.

Dr. Hsu has served the College of Engineering in many leadership roles since joining the faculty of the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1990. He was an associate dean of the college from 2001 to 2008 and interim dean from August 2012 to February 2013. He has been the director of the General Engineering Program since August 2015 and has served on the SJSU Research Foundation Board of Directors. His research interests include adaptive control, robotics, and wind power generation.

In 2014, he was awarded a summer visiting faculty position at the National Renewable Energy Lab under a U.S. Department of Energy program. His years of experience in the industry has led him to value the balance between the practical and theoretical aspects of engineering education, and the importance of developing industry and community partnerships.

Dr. Hsu graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1988, with a doctoral degree in electrical engineering. He holds a master’s in electrical engineering from Southern Methodist University in Texas. He graduated from St. John’s and St. Mary’s Institute of Technology (presently St. John’s University) in Taiwan majoring in electronics engineering.

I am confident the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering will find Dr. Ping Hsu to be a resourceful and capable leader. Please join me in congratulating him on his interim appointment.


Andy Feinstein