By Melissa Anderson, Executive Communications Specialist
Family, friends, faculty and staff packed the San Jose State University Event Center April 24 to recognize the academic achievements of 3,977 undergraduate students at the 53rd Annual Honors Convocation.
The event started promptly at 6 p.m., with the faculty processional into the Event Center to the sound of a brass ensemble conducted by Associate Professor Kathryn Adduci. The ensemble accompanied Associate Professor Layna Chianakas, a mezzo-soprano, who performed the National Anthem.
The atmosphere was jovial as the students all competed to cheer the loudest when each college dean stood up at the podium to read out the names of their departments or degrees. Each dean asked all the Dean’s Scholars present to stand to be recognized while saying a few words about their programs. This year, 3,557 students earned the distinction of being a Dean’s Scholar by maintaining a 3.65 GPA in two contiguous semesters of the last three semesters.
The group of President’s Scholars who maintained a 4.0 GPA in two contiguous semesters of the last three were invited to come up on stage to state their name and major. President Mohammad Qayoumi and Provost Andy Feinstein shook hands with each student to offer a personal congratulation. This year, 420 students earned the distinction of being a President’s Scholar.
The two speakers for the evening included Robert Foster, ’69 Public Administration, who received an honorary doctorate of Humane Studies, and Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Communication Studies Anne Marie Todd, who received the 2014-15 Outstanding Professor Award. Each of them discussed the importance of connections.
Foster, who is former mayor of Long Beach, a former president of Southern California Edison, and a former CSU trustee, said his mother was in the audience.
“She can finally tell her friends her son is a doctor,” he joked, after President Qayoumi and Provost Feinstein conferred his honorary degree.
Foster told students to remember those who set the stage for their success.
“Remember the sacrifices of your family, spouses and friends,” he said. “Never forget you stand in the place of so many who came before you. Stay connected and engaged – and supportive to this university.”Todd spoke about the way in which students can connect to the world and each other.
“Your SJSU network will be invaluable to you,” Todd told students, noting the ease of staying connected via social media and online resources.
But she noted the amount of screen time may be to the detriment of connecting in more personal ways to others and to the environment.
“The natural world around us is undergoing drastic, catastrophic change,” she said.
She encouraged students to think of ways to work together to implement positive changes, with a suggestion for one easy way to start.
“Rethink screen time,” she said. “Spend an hour a week where you live. Just take a walk and see what it means to be connected.”