March 2017 Newsletter: Education Expands Beyond Global Borders in International Experience Initiative

By Barry Zepel

Silicon Valley is considered by many to be the technology capital of the world and what happens here has a profound influence on the entire world. As San Jose State University continues to prepare students to join the 21st-century workforce, the College of Applied Sciences and Arts (CASA) encourages many of its undergraduates to take at least one academic course abroad, taught by an SJSU faculty member, before they earn their degree.

Unbounded Learning, one of the major goals established by the Vision 2017 initiative, asked faculty and students to think outside the classrooms. CASA’s International Experience Initiative began in fall 2015 and now requires students enrolled in majors in five schools or departments within the college – School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the departments of Occupational Therapy, Hospitality Management, Kinesiology, and Justice Studies – to complete the requirement. About 175 students are anticipated to participate in eleven faculty-led programs with CASA faculty in 2017 (additional faculty-led programs are offered by faculty in other colleges as well).

“The goal of CASA’s international experience requirement is to introduce students to international and intercultural perspectives as a way to prepare them to live and work in an increasingly globalized world,” said Pamela Richardson, an associate dean in CASA who oversees the International Experience Initiative.

Accompanied by SJSU faculty members on their international excursions, which usually last about three weeks, the destinations and cultures have been as diverse as the subjects studied.

Shirley Reekie, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology, is scheduled to lead her course in Sports, Culture and Recreation to the United Kingdom again this summer, while Deepa Singamsetti, lecturer in the Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, will return to Puerto Rico to lead courses in food, culture and the environment. She plans to do it again – in India – next winter. This summer Lynne Andonian, an associate professor of occupational therapy, and Ruth Rosenblum, an assistant professor of nursing, will repeat their 2016 course offering on interdisciplinary health care, again in Finland.

Diane Guerrazzi, an associate professor, and Halima Kazem, a lecturer, in the School of Mass Communications taught a class in Greece and Germany last summer that documented the path of refugees from Syria and other countries into Europe. They plan to take another class of 14 pupils to Greece and Italy this summer, again to cover the migration of refugees from Syria as well as other Middle East and African countries. During their upcoming three-week trip, the students will learn how to write and produce documentary broadcast reports while visiting refugee camps, relief agencies and a small town in Italy that has taken in an extraordinary number of refugees. Both Guerrazzi (broadcast) and Kazem (print) have extensive international reporting experience.

“A faculty member from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University told me how impressed he is with the international experience we offer our students,” said Guerrazzi, who also serves as SJSU’s representative on the California State University Council of International Programs. “I know from my own experience of leading these international educational trips that every person would tell you how life-altering they are. They certainly broaden their world perspectives.”

Megan Dejan, an SJSU senior who studied global leadership in Paris last summer with Dr. Matt Cabot’s class, agrees with Guerrazzi about the positive impact that the international learning experience had on her. The public relations major said she “had the opportunity to network and work closely alongside Europe’s top strategic communications firms, including the International Chamber of Commerce, Ubisoft … as well as the European Union.”

“This class opened my mind to become more globally competent (and) to become a young global leader,” Dejan said. “I am now inspired to travel and build my global network through my passion with public relations.”

Jayne Balthazar, an SJSU alumna, traveled to Paris in summer 2014 with Linda Levine, a lecturer in the Department of Health Science and Recreation.

“It was the first time I earned a scholarship and traveled independently (of my family) and shared a room with someone I barely knew,” Balthazar said, noting that she also raised money on her own to take the trip.

She said Levine and her husband David Buseck, an SJSU lecturer and co-instructor of the program, helped the students navigate the city and learn many things.

“When we first arrived in Paris, we didn’t know how to use the Metro, but we had Linda and David there to help us.”

Students who seek an alternative from the study abroad requirement – due to financial hardship, serious personal life situation, or physical limitations – may petition CASA to substitute a one-unit online seminar in conjunction with 20 hours of volunteer service to a San Jose organization that helps individuals or groups and represents a cultural heritage other than their own.

Further information about the program is available online.

March 2017 Newsletter: Spartan Pride Increases Student-Alumni Engagement

Photo: Moses Kinnah SJSU Alumna Marina Donovan, '84 Public Relations, offers career advice to a current student during the Spartan Success Series 'Major to Career Exploring the Journey' event in fall 2016.

Photo: Moses Kinnah
SJSU Alumna Marina Donovan, ’84 Public Relations, offers career advice to a current student during the Spartan Success Series ‘Major to Career Exploring the Journey’ event in fall 2016.

By Barry Zepel

In the nearly four years since “Spartan Pride” became one of the five core areas of the university’s Vision 2017 Strategic Plan, San Jose State Alumni Association staff members have worked to engage and connect the various sectors that make up the campus community.

Two of the most important elements are students and alumni.

“We recognized what it means to be a Spartan,” said Brian Bates, associate vice president for Alumni Engagement and Annual Giving. “It is the determination, perseverance and grit that each of our students displays towards earning their degree and getting to be an alum, and the extra efforts that our faculty and staff members dedicate to helping the students reach their academic goals.”

Dozens of town hall sessions conducted by the university, in planning for Vision 2017, found that the campus community felt it was important to foster pride for “being a Spartan” in San Jose State University graduates even after they leave campus. Bates said it was important to make the extra effort to invite alumni back to campus and “make them feel welcome.”

“One of the things that emerged the last few years is how much they valued the opportunity to come back to campus and talk to the current students,” he said. “In addition to liking how the campus has changed, alums like how the students engage them and ask questions – many times the kinds of questions they might not ask their professors.”

One of the key initiatives related to the “Spartan Pride” goal has been the creation of a career-oriented program connecting students with alumni established in their fields or industries of interest.

The Spartan Success Series – hosted by the Student Alumni Connection of the Alumni Association – was created in partnership with the university’s Career Center, and held its inaugural events in the spring of 2015. It features career development events providing students and alumni with opportunities to network with industry experts made up of SJSU graduates. Sessions include on-campus and virtual workshops, panels and resume review conferences.

The program has continued to grow in the last few years as more than 400 SJSU alumni have volunteered as career experts, panelists and resume reviewers. That growth was aided by the creation of an online form on which alumni are invited to offer their time and expertise.

“Through providing a combination of both on-campus and virtual workshops, our students have learned to sharpen their skills, build their network, explore career pathways and acquire a competitive edge to carry them into the workforce,” the alumni leader explained.

“It is a win-win-win situation for our students, for our alumni and the university,” added Bates, who also serves as executive director of the SJSU Alumni Association.

Alumna Rene Siegel, ’88 Public Relations, is one of the most dedicated to current San Jose State students.

“I’m passionate about empowering people because I wish I had someone who believed in me when I was a scared and confused college student,” said Siegel, who is founder and president of High Tech Connect, a marketing and communications consulting agency located in Pleasanton. “I want to share my experience to help even more students find their confidence and build a career that reflects their own definition of success.”

Siegel, who earned a bachelor’s in Public Relations, also serves the university as a guest lecturer, was a keynote speaker for the SJSU Student Leadership Conference, and teaches a public relations class during the fall semester. In addition, she and her “team” at High Tech Connect have also provided job-hunting tips and advice for students as well as alumni, including online resume and LinkedIn profile reviews.

Bates noted that credit for the positive results of the Spartan Pride initiative, and specifically the Spartan Success Series, has to be shared by the entire San Jose State community.

“We (alumni association) couldn’t do it all ourselves. It wouldn’t have happened without buy-in from every academic and administrative department of the university, including Spartan Shops and Athletics,” he said. “Of course, having a dedicated force of alumni volunteers and enthusiastic students is key.”

March 2017 Newsletter: Wi-Fi Enhances Learning and Human Connection

Photo: James Tensuan Shai Silberman, center, a lecturer in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and the director of Network Services for the university, uses Wi-Fi in his class while students follow a lecture on their laptops.

Photo: James Tensuan
Shai Silberman, center, a lecturer in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and the director of Network Services for the university, uses Wi-Fi in his class while students follow a lecture on their laptops.

By David Goll

Expansion of access to wireless technology in all of the buildings and many outdoor spaces throughout the 154 acres of San Jose State University has been one of the most dramatic impacts of the Vision 2017 campus improvement program.

Started in 2012, the Agility Through Technology segment of Vision 2017 brought uniform Wi-Fi access to classrooms, offices, residence halls, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library and major campus gathering spots such as the Student Union. Work that led to the installation of hardware facilitating wireless access started during the 2013-14 academic year when wireless access points at the university grew from 500 to 1,600. The entire campus was surveyed in fall 2013 and three contracting firms were brought in to install cabling throughout much of the campus during the winter break in January 2014. According to Shai Silberman, a lecturer in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering and director of Network Services for the university, subsequent expansion work has increased that number to 2,500 wireless access points today.

“As a result, we have seen an exponential rise in the number of (wireless technology) users on campus,” Silberman said. “Today, there are more users than ever on the network. We have had up to 18,000 users at a single time.”

The campus has 50 major buildings, including 23 devoted to academics and seven student residence halls. Silberman said the Wi-Fi expansion has cost the university about $2 million to date.

In his computer engineering classes, Silberman said the expanded use of wireless technology has helped him achieve a paperless classroom.

“I have found it to be a real asset to teaching and it enhances the ability of my students to collaborate with one another,” he said. “Students who might have problems asking questions of a professor feel much more comfortable asking another student. I feel it has encouraged greater participation in my classes.”

Using the wireless network, students can access the university’s learning management system (LMS), Canvas. The LMS system is used by students like Helena Xin every day.

“Most of my professors use it, but not all,” said Xin, a junior majoring in health science. “I use it all the time. We take tests on it, do homework and research on it, and can see our grades. It’s really vital for students.”

Xin and her fellow students will use Wi-Fi access during class for both academic — and, at times — non-academic reasons.

“There are times people will use it for shopping and looking at puppies,” she said.

Kimberly Cheng, a junior majoring in computer engineering, said she can communicate more easily with fellow students and faculty. She also frequently uses it to gain access to social media.

“I find using it during class is not always a distraction,” Cheng said. “It can actually help you stay alert and more engaged during a lecture, for example.”

Karthick Sadanap, a graduate student in computer engineering who arrived at SJSU from his home in Bangalore, India in 2015, has found Wi-Fi useful when recruiting other students to his Spartan Toastmasters club, a university chapter of the international organization dedicated to improving public speaking skills.

“Most people on campus have never heard of Toastmasters,” Sadanap said. “When we have outdoor recruiting fairs, we have tables with computers access to the network, allowing us to share information with potential members.”

Silberman noted SJSU, a major generator of employees for Silicon Valley, is inthe forefront of universities providing universal access to wireless devices.

Since the network has been so successful, it is “taken for granted that it will work, be fast and not deny access no matter how many devices you have connected or people standing around you have connected,” said Mike Wardley, SJSU’s director of Project Management and User Experience.

“The network access at SJSU, particularly wireless access, was designed to be lightning fast and ubiquitous across the campus,” Wardley stated. “Having a wireless network that supports more than 18,000 concurrent devices on a daily basis means that students, staff and faculty can wander around campus, focusing on their particular task or objective without worrying whether they will lose their wireless connection or be hit by the infamous ‘can you connect now’ mantra.”

March 2017 Newsletter: SJSU’s ‘Ask Me’ Campaign Offers Support to Students

Photo: Christina Olivas 'Ask Me' Campaign volunteers answer questions from students during its inaugural year in 2012. The program was started as part of Vision 2017's Helping and Caring goal.

Photo: Christina Olivas
‘Ask Me’ Campaign volunteers answer questions from students during its inaugural year in 2012. The program was started as part of Vision 2017’s Helping and Caring goal.

By David Goll

San Jose State University, among the largest and most urban of California State University campuses, can be a daunting, confusing place when you’re a new student.

Making the transition to SJSU from high school, community college or after several years in the workplace a bit less stressful was the driving force behind SJSU’s Helping and Caring campaign, first launched in spring 2012 as part of the university’s Vision 2017 campus improvement program. One of its most visible manifestations over the past five years has been the “Ask Me” tables set up at four key locations around the 154-acre downtown San Jose campus for two weeks at the start of each new semester: Clark Hall, MLK Library, the Event Center and the corner of Ninth and San Fernando streets.

“The whole idea (behind Helping and Caring) was to have faculty, staff and fellow students go the extra mile to help students,” said Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas, who is currently the deputy diversity officer and previously served as the director of Campus and Community Relations in the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs. “It means going out of your way to help them instead of suggesting they talk to someone else or go elsewhere to resolve their problem.”

“People who work at tables came from all over campus,” Perdomo-Arciniegas said, noting that the collaboration helped to foster better communication across campus. “Many probably would never have met one another otherwise.”

The “Ask Me” tables provide help answers students’ questions before they even set foot in a classroom. Staffed with two people from the faculty, staff or student body, the tables feature laptops, so information not stored in volunteers’ heads is quickly accessible. Students asked a variety of questions about directions, deadlines, campus clubs and services. Data collected over the years led to FAQ “cheat sheets” providing information on the most frequent inquiries.

“We even offered hot chocolate on cold days and nights,” Perdomo-Arciniegas said.

Incoming freshman and transfer students are not accepted during the spring semester, so only a small number of graduate and international students arrive at SJSU in January, according to Sonja Daniels, associate vice president for Campus Life in the Office of the Vice President. She said the “Ask Me” tables were missing from campus at the beginning of the spring semester, but will be back for the fall semester when classes begin Aug. 23.

“We decided to not have them for spring and focus on fall,” Daniels said, noting the much smaller influx of new students at the start of the spring semester.

At the start of the fall 2016 term, senior Public Relations major Karly Tokioka said she volunteered to work shifts at an “Ask Me” table inside a tent at the entrance to Clark Hall. She answered many questions but also handed out a myriad of resources — including flyers and information brochures — along with free post-it notes, car charger adapters and scheduling planners.

“It’s hard enough to be on a new campus and find your way around,” Tokioka said. “It can really be intimidating as a freshman or transfer student to ask other students for directions, so I think it’s a great way to offer students a way to ask questions without feeling intimidated.”

Senior Bette Cheng, a Psychology major and “Ask Me” volunteer, said the tables provide a valuable service to bewildered, stressed-out students. However, even more than directions or advice on how to add a class, Cheng said she noticed gadgets like pens and USB drives were big hits.

“During tabling, I would have the students ask me a question in order to receive a freebie,” she said. “I found it effective because with a simple question, it led to asking multiple questions.”

March 2017 Newsletter: Provost Update – Reflecting on Vision 2017

As our university prepares to close out our Vision 2017 strategic plan, it is important to acknowledge the accomplishments related to the five goals that have guided our campus since 2012. The Strategic Planning Steering Committee began work last fall to gather information about the process behind Vision 2017, its implementation and the progress our university made in: Helping and Caring, Agility Through Technology, Spartan Pride, Unbounded Learning and 21st-Century Learning Spaces.

 College of Education students learn about career options in their Student Success Center. Photo: James Tensuan

College of Education students learn about career options in their Student Success Center. Photo: James Tensuan

As co-chair of the steering committee with Academic Senate Chair Michael Kimbarow, this closing process has been very informative to me as someone who joined SJSU after Vision 2017 had been initiated. Members of the Steering Committee have been working hard to provide a look back at where our campus was five years ago and how the goals set out in the plan have moved us forward. I am pleased to share some of the successful initiatives that arose from Vision 2017 that relate to our overarching mission of providing a world-class education to students.

In the last five years, we have enhanced teaching and learning spaces in ways that promote student success, including improvements to more than 100 of our most used classrooms. We have launched an “Ask Me” campaign that helps students transition to college life during orientation week. We have expanded our outreach to alumni, and they now serve as a resource for mentoring current students. We have also increased innovative learning opportunities through a variety of new resources from additional internship options to expanded support resources for underrepresented minority students to expansion of faculty-led programs overseas.

The Steering Committee is producing a report to close out Vision 2017 that will highlight the initiatives related to each of our five university-wide goals. The report will also share reflections from campus constituents on what worked during the Vision 2017 planning and implementation process as well as areas of improvement.

I appreciate all the feedback you have shared with our committee along with your work supporting our students over the last five years. We still have more progress to make, and I look forward to having you as partners in our efforts.