San Jose State receives $2M for Student Success

San Jose State University is one of a dozen Bay Area institutions to receive funding from the Koret Foundation as part of a multi-year $50 million initiative to support higher education.

SJSU will receive $2 million from the Koret Foundation to support student success, with University Advancement’s Tower Foundation administering the gift. The influx of funding comes on the heels of the recently released SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success: College Readiness, Advising, Student Engagement and Clearing Bottlenecks plan. The data-driven campus-wide student success strategy has one goal: to significantly increase retention and graduation rates for all students while improving the quality of their educational experience.

The $2 million has been earmarked to support college readiness, advising and student engagement at San Jose State. It will be used to create a new student information analytics system that will improve advising and to support the Spartan Scholars Program, a newly launched summer bridge program that is aimed at increasing retention and graduation of underrepresented and first-generation students.

SJSU’s Four Pillars plan was created by Provost Andy Feinstein and Vice President for Student Affairs Reggie Blaylock, with input from multiple campus stakeholders, including students. The plan was highlighted in a recent NPR story in which Feinstein shared that the university is offering up to 500 additional course sections to help students make progress toward degree (with funding from the university’s general fund.)

“They (SJSU students) are the inspiration that keeps me going and get me up in the morning,” he said, during the NPR interview.

According to its press release, Koret believes that education not only enables individual success and mobility, but also helps build a vibrant Bay Area. The initiative addresses a number of high priority needs at each institution, including capital, research, scholarships, technology, and recruiting, advising, and retention programs for low-income, first-generation students.

“The Koret Foundation is proud to fund this initiative that builds on and expands our longstanding commitment to these important Bay Area academic institutions,” said Michael Boskin, President of the Koret Foundation. “This program is designed to be a catalyst for new approaches to optimize student success, improve completion rates, and bolster career advancement opportunities, particularly among underserved populations.”

Read the full press release and view an outline of the initiatives at all of the higher education institutions partnering with Koret online.

Based in San Francisco, the Koret Foundation supports civic, cultural, and educational organizations that promote a vibrant and distinctive Bay Area. Koret focuses its giving in two major areas: strengthening Bay Area anchor institutions and fostering Jewish connection and identity. Since its founding in 1979, Koret has invested $500 million to contribute to a higher quality of civic and Jewish community life. For more information, visit

Town Hall Set for New Science Building

Town Hall Flier

Town Hall Flier

A university-wide town hall on construction plans for a new science building is scheduled for May 4, from 11 a.m. to noon, in the Student Union Theatre. The event is co-hosted by Administration and Finance, Facilities Development and Operations, and the College of Science. Students, staff and faculty are invited to attend.

Students Celebrate Culture at SJSU Showcase April 21

The Third Annual SJSU Cultural Showcase will be held Thursday, April 21, at 6 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom. The event will feature cultural performances followed by a reception. Tickets are on sale now: $3 with a student ID or $5 for the general public. The event was originally founded in 2014 by Salzburg Scholars. The students, who attended a Global Alliance Seminar in Salzburg in summer 2014, were charged with promoting global citizenship upon their return. They coordinated the planning and execution of the event in its first and second year. Below are some photos from the 2015 SJSU Cultural Showcase event, which featured dozens of performers, an art display and cultural foods.

SJSU Student Research Forum This Week

Flyer for 2016 Student Research Forum

Flyer for 2016 Student Research Forum

SJSU’s Office of Research and the SJSU Research Foundation will be hosting the 37th Annual SJSU Student Research Forum, on Thursday, April 7, from noon to 2 p.m., in ENG 285/287. The event will include a student poster presentation, an awards ceremony and reception. The six students, who will be honored with their faculty mentors, competed in the SJSU Student Research Competition March 2 and 3.

A total of 12 students competed in categories that included engineering and computer science; physical and mathematical sciences; biological and agricultural sciences; interdisciplinary; business, economics and public administration; behavioral and social sciences; and health, nutrition and clinical sciences. They were each allotted 25 minutes to do a short presentation on their research and answer questions from a panel of faculty members on the selection committee.

The top student researchers who will be honored on Thursday will share their research with a poster presentation. The students include:

  • Michael Balderrama, Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, with faculty mentor Claire Komives: “Bioengineering an Alternative, Cheap, and Reliable Anti-venom: The LTNF-11 Peptide”
  • Wilson Florero-Salinas and Dan Li, College of Science, with faculty mentor Guangliang Chen: “Efficient and Accurate kNN Based Parameter Tuning for SVM”
  • Angela Gates, College of Applied Sciences and Arts, with faculty mentor Debra Hansen: “A (Blind) Woman’s Place is (Teaching) in the Home: The Life of Kate Foley (1873-1940)”
  • Evelyn Henry, College of Science, with faculty mentor Lionel Cheruzel: “Immobilization of Light-Driven P450 Biocatalysts Using Cross-Linked Enzeyme Aggregates (CLEAS)”
  • Sushmitha Kasturi, College of Social Sciences, with faculty mentor Colleen Haight: “Why Is It Riskier for Microfinance Institutes to Lend Loans to the Women in Indian Than to the Women in Bangladseh?”
  • Aneesha Kulkarni, College of Science, with faculty mentor Tzvia Abramson: “Modeling Endothelial Cells t Study Inflammatory Responses in a Bordetella Pertussis Infection.”

The six SJSU Student Research Competition winners will compete in the statewide CSU Student Research Competition on April 29 and 30.

Please RSVP to the April 7 event to

Spring University Scholar Series Launches with Meniketti lecture

Dr. Marco Meniketti works with a then-graduate student Chris Keith, '15 MA Applied Anthropology, on excavating a burial site.

Dr. Marco Meniketti, left, works with a then-graduate student Chris Keith, ’15 MA Applied Anthropology, on excavating a burial site.

Dr. Marco Meniketti, a professor of archaeology in the College of Social Sciences’ anthropology department, will launch the Spring 2016 University Scholar Series (USS) on Feb. 24, from noon to 1 p.m. in MLK 225/229, with a lecture about the intersection of environmental change and the ascendancy of capitalism from the age of exploration through the late Industrial Revolution.

Meniketti has built a robust research portfolio since he attended his first field school in Jamaica at the start of his career when he helped excavate the sunken city of Port Royal, which had been destroyed in 1692 by an earthquake. From there, he participated in a search for the last two ships commanded by Columbus, followed by research in the Cayman Islands and the Caribbean.

“I began to branch out into the study of early colonial systems, slavery and environmental change,” he said.

Meniketti sees archaeological research as providing important lessons from the past about environmental change, labor and economics. His recently published book, Sugar Cane Capitalism and Environmental Transformation (The University of Alabama Press, 2016) explores these themes.

“While the outcomes of the current practices and environmental change may be uncertain in the present, we do know what the outcomes were in the past and, therefore, we may be able to influence the future outcomes or better comprehend the directions we are headed,” he said.

Meniketti actively engages students in field school projects through SJSU’s Faculty-Led Programs, where they are able to gain academic credit while participating in authentic data collection, mapping, artifact analysis, and other related activities in the Caribbean. Meniketti is also engaging students in a field project in Santa Cruz in partnership with the California Department of Parks and Recreation. He regularly attends conferences to report on student findings and the students who have participated in the field schools often continue onto graduate school.

“Archaeology is more than just digging up artifacts,” Meniketti said. “It is a means of exploring our past cultures, behaviors, patterns of settlement and industry, and environment. It is a science that can address everything from ancient technology to issues of social justice.”

Upcoming lectures:

Dr. Ivano Aiello, a professor of geological oceanography with the College of Science Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, on his research of microfossil-rich marine sediments and the information it provides about past climate conditions.

March 23, from noon to 1 p.m., in MLK 225/229

Dr. Janet Stemwedel, a professor and chair of the philosophy department in the College of Humanities and the Arts, will explore the ethical dimensions of being a good scientist that extend beyond avoiding or responding to scientific misconduct in her lecture.

April 20, from noon to 1 p.m., in MLK 255/257

The University Scholars Series is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the University Library and the Spartan Bookstore.