San Jose State Celebrates CommUniverCity’s 15th Anniversary

CommUniverCity partners and participants gather for the 15th anniversary celebration. Photo by Brandon Chew.

SJSU’s student mariachi group. Photo by Brandon Chew.

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University’s student mariachi group opened CommUniverCity’s Celebrating Partnerships: A Quinceañera on Wednesday, November 13 in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom. The event highlighted CommUniverCity’s 15 years of work to create healthy and vibrant neighborhoods through a unique partnership between underserved communities in central San Jose, San Jose State and the city of San Jose.

“CommUniverCity has come a long way over the past 15 years. We are fortunate to have trusted neighborhood leaders, collaborative city of San Jose staff, and engaged SJSU faculty members and students,” said CommUniverCity SJSU Executive Director Katherine Kao Cushing. “Our collaboration is the strongest it’s ever been and we can’t wait to see what the next 15 years have in store for us.”

More than 115,000 community members have engaged with more than 21,000 SJSU students in community-based projects. SJSU students alone have invested more than 394,000 hours in community service, valued at $8.4 million.

“Community engagement is a centerpiece of SJSU’s strategic plan, Transformation 2030,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian. “CommUniverCity’s work brings together dozens of SJSU faculty in departments ranging from materials engineering to urban planning, and this kind of interdisciplinary collaboration is critical to achieving our future goals.”

CommUniverCity received commendations from the city of San Jose, CA State Senator’s Jim Beall and U.S. House of Representative Zoe Lofgren’s Office. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo learned of CommUniverCity as a city council member. He said it is a model for bringing the classroom out into the community.

“I’m honored to be here to celebrate 15 years of partnership,” said Liccardo. “As long as I’m around, I want to do all we can to cultivate this incredible partnership.”

SJSU Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos presented CommUniverCity’s awards to partners and community members. The Golden Brick award was presented to Paul Pereira, senior policy advisor for the San Jose Mayor’s Office. The Community Partner Award was presented to Jaime Torres, CORAL site manager at Olinder Elementary School. And the Government Partner Award was given to the city of San Jose’s Housing Department.

“The event was a powerful evidence that town-gown collaboration can be transformative for cities and college students,” said Cushing. “Seeing elected officials at the municipal, regional, state and national levels all voice their support for the collaboration is a wonderful affirmation of the partnership’s positive impact in San Jose.”