Vincent Del Casino, who was named the university’s next provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs in January following a comprehensive national search, will arrive at San Jose State University July 15 ready to prepare for the fall 2019 semester.
“I have great confidence that he will bring a strong foundation to this key leadership position while fostering collaboration across colleges and departments. Vincent is a visionary who will chart a course for our Academic Affairs division into the future,” President Mary A. Papazian said, following his appointment in January. “He is an exemplary fit to lead our continuing efforts to support students and faculty, build community partnerships, and expand innovative teaching and learning at our university.”
Del Casino joins SJSU from the University of Arizona, where he has most recently served as the interim senior vice provost and vice president for Academic Initiatives and Student Success, but he started his academic leadership career in the California State University system in 2007 as chair of the Department of Geography at CSU Long Beach.
“Having worked in the Cal State system previously, I have always been energized by the fact that this system serves a very diverse group of first-generation learners,” he said. “San Jose State University is no exception. What makes this campus unique, however, is that it is located in the heart of one of the most robust economies in the world.”
He sees the university’s greatest potential in its ability to drive regional, national and global conversations about the value of higher education.
“SJSU can be a hub for applied and basic research that plugs into the networks of creativity that surround the campus and its global position,” he said. “There are also many new ‘solutions’ being presented to address the world’s educational attainment gaps at the undergraduate and graduate levels, some of which are driven by the tech industry that surrounds the campus. As public educators we have to provide leadership in those conversations, otherwise we will end up with market-driven solutions that don’t necessarily meet the needs of our diverse learners.”
Del Casino envisions SJSU as a leader in taking up the question of what the future of higher education should be as well as a model for the value of public education that continues to demonstrate that ‘technological innovation’ must also be met with strategies that recognize the complex and diverse experiences of students.
At the University of Arizona, Del Casino provided leadership and administrative oversight as the campus redeveloped central spaces for student support activities; re-organized its central administrative areas; and enhanced student success and retention. During his tenure, the university greatly increased its online undergraduate enrollment and program offerings. He was also integral in implementing the University of Arizona’s 100% Engagement Initiative that allows students to participate in “extra-classroom” activities through credit-bearing and non-credit engaged learning experiences.
He said he is especially excited by the opportunities—such as finding ways to leverage the location of SJSU to support all members of the campus community—and the challenges—such as recognizing the real socioeconomic and political strains that come with the Silicon Valley economy.
“I think the faculty, staff and students are already driving this conversation and I look forward to supporting those efforts,” he said.
Del Casino’s own academic background lends itself to considering the social implications of geography. He is a prolific writer and researcher who has authored the book Social Geography: A Critical Introduction and co-edited with CSU, Long Beach faculty member, Dr. Mary Caputi, Derrida and the Future of the Liberal Arts. He has also edited and co-authored multiple other books and published dozens of articles and book chapters on topics ranging from health, robots and robotic technologies, cartographic theory, and tourism, in the context of geography. Del Casino has a bachelor’s in international relations and East Asian studies from Bucknell University, in Pennsylvania, a master’s in geography from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate in geography from the University of Kentucky.
“I am looking forward to deepening my understanding of the rich historical geography of SJSU and the Silicon Valley region, and to partnering with community organizations, the city of San Jose as well as for-profit companies and nonprofits that want to work with SJSU to create a more inclusive environment for the ideas that we are generating and the students we are educating,” he said.