The Honorable Sonia Sotomayor on Law and Hope

“You have to have some idealism to go into lawyering. You have to want to help people,” said Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the crowd gathered in the Student Union Ballroom. During the October 20 event, Sotomayor discussed how her memoir, “My Beloved World,” has given her a platform to talk about her passion—the law—and to share the stories of her life in order to help others, particularly young people. View the video.

In conversation with UC Berkeley Professor of Law Melissa Murray, who teaches constitutional law and clerked for Sotomayor on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, Sotomayor candidly recounted stories of adversity that spurred her on instead of knocking her down. She also admitted that there are “a lot of emotions that come along with being a Supreme Court justice,” and that she often has to pinch herself to make sure it’s all real.

While she now walks the corridors of the White House (and occasionally spends time at the homes of celebrities like Jennifer Lopez), she said that staying connected to her family and bringing them along with her on her professional journey keeps her grounded. Everyone needs help sometimes, Sotomayor explained.

Throughout the event, Sotomayor spoke directly to the students seated in the first several rows in front of her. When asked about balancing family needs with pursuing an education, she explained to one student, who she welcomed on stage to take a photo with her, that getting an education is the best way to support your family in the long term, no matter the immediate needs. Most of you are here [at San Jose State], despite the economy, because you have hope, she said.

“There isn’t a student in this room who should ever give up, “ said Sotomayor. “You got into college. You’re here! If you can defy all odds to get in, you’ve got what it takes to make it.”


SJSU Outdoor Adventures Unites Students


Backpackers at Hetch Hetchy Damn after trek from Rancheria Falls, Yosemite National Park 2013 (Jay J. Manalo photo).

By Kelly Curtis

Sunset in Hetch Hetchy Valley. Granite hillsides reach toward a lavender sky, pine trees sway in the breeze and tents dot the needle-covered flat at Rancheria Falls backpacker campground. After a six-mile hike, leader Kristine Kirkendall and her group of San Jose State students relax around a fire. They are in Yosemite National Park with the Outdoor Adventures program.

Kirkendall, ’89 Speech Communication, ’11 MA Sports Psychology, is the Associated Students Campus Recreation manager and director of Outdoor Adventures, where students sign up for off-campus trips such as backpacking, kayaking and hiking. The new perspectives gained on these adventures are helping shape a more united SJSU community.

Phil Priolo White Water Rafting 2013 (Phil Priolo photo).

Phil Priolo white water rafting 2013 (Phil Priolo photo).

On her first adventure, senior Janine Tram, learned how much people rely on modern technology. “In nature, people need to do things on their own,” said Tram. “Backpacking in Yosemite taught me it’s hard to live off the land. Now I don’t take home amenities for granted.”

“Experiential learning: take people away from ordinary life, technology and social confines. Make them practice new skills,” said Kirkendall. “Setting up a tent or building a fire for the first time is challenging, but these new experiences grow the whole person.”

Phil Priolo, also a junior, joined Outdoor Adventures because he was seeking more friendship than traditional sports offered. The adventures helped him connect with others because there wasn’t a sense of competition.

“Usually, I’m a wallflower,” Priolo said. “But in an outdoor activity I can be social. It’s a safe environment.”

Kirkendall said social skills are where students grow the fastest. She believes that even though nature is rugged, it’s a place where students don’t feel judged.

“Outdoors,” she said, “students can express themselves. The normal social barriers don’t exist. You have to look people in the eye, speak to them and problem solve.”

On campus, social groups are often founded on cultural differences. Kirkendall acknowledges this is healthy for a diverse student body, but Outdoor Adventures is about uniting the SJSU community.

Erika Ghose overlooking Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Yosemite National Park 2013. (Kevin Brown photo)

Erika Ghose overlooking Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Yosemite National Park 2013 (Kevin Brown photo).

“On trips, everyone is responsible for their own food,” she said. “People show up with Taiwanese lettuce wraps or Korean noodles. Someone always has curry. They share everything. Sharing makes a stronger community.”

Erika Ghose, a junior, lost count of her adventures. Her appreciation for what she calls “The Big Quiet,” has helped enlarge her circle of friends.

“On campus, we rarely make deep connections,” Ghose said. “On adventures, I see the other side of people, the raw person. I hear their stories and experience the world with them.”

As if an appreciation for nature, more self-confidence and a greater sense of community weren’t enough, Ghose said the outdoors help her decompress from academic life.

“The Big Quiet,” she said, “is the stillness and peace of nature. I can’t help but sit and listen, which sounds ironic. Who listens to the quiet? It’s something that’s understood away from the city and the chaos, out in the sun and the mountains, surrounded by trees.”

Chang Kim and students

Campus Collaboration Leads to New SJSU Identity System

Chang Kim and students

Professor Chang Kim and his students collaborated with Marketing and Communications to create SJSU’s new identity system. (Rachel Poage Photo)

This month, a new San Jose State identity system will replace the current university logo. But wasn’t the logo just updated?

This time is different. Really. For the first time in SJSU’s history, the university is rolling out a brand platform that is bringing the campus community together—and the new visual identity system is just one part of the platform.

We are determined to develop SJSU’s brand identity efficiently, authentically and collaboratively,” said Barry Shiller, associate vice president for marketing and communications, who is leading the university’s branding effort.

To reimagine the university’s identity system, SJSU’s Office of Marketing and Communications sponsored a project with the Department of Graphic Design. Associate Professor Chang Kim, a team of students and other faculty members worked together to design the set of identity marks and graphic elements that capture both the tradition and spirit of the university. In addition, the new visual identity system includes a typeface that Kim created just for San Jose State.

For Spartans, by Spartans

The collaboration for SJSU’s new identity system was the brainchild of University Art Director Michelle Frey, the design lead for the Marketing and Communications team. She believes in relying on campus talent for creative projects whenever possible—which fulfills SJSU’s promise to provide hands-on experience and exposure for students.

San Jose State has an incredible graphic design program,” Frey said. “And the best way to present an authentic SJSU brand is to create it within the university.”

Among the changes to expect: a new brand platform that focuses on San Jose State’s people and a visual identity system that relies on what makes the university unique. Hint: San Jose State is the only institution with the initials “SJSU.”

Listening to campus input

“We’ve been very intentional about updating colleges and other campus units, including Associated Students and our Alumni Association board, seeking and listening to campus input,” said Shiller.

We’ve probably done more than 40 presentations, and the work reflects what we’ve heard.”

In use since 2008, the “bricks,” as people call the current logo, has been likened to a microchip or a soccer ball. The new identity system, however, is more meaningful, especially since Spartans created it. “It’s less institutional and more personal,” explained Shiller. “As one student aptly said, ‘You can’t hug a brick.’”

The first set of guides and resources is now available on the Marketing and Communications website.

Sign up to receive email updates and to participate in the development of the brand effort.

Shirley Reekie practicing at the Los Gatos Rowing Club, located at the Lexington Reservoir.

Take a Class with Master Rower Shirley Reekie

Shirley Reekie practicing at the Los Gatos Rowing Club, located at the Lexington Reservoir.

Shirley Reekie practicing at the Los Gatos Rowing Club, located at the Lexington Reservoir.

San Jose State’s Kinesiology Department offers courses that get students moving, like sailing, kayaking, Pilates and more. Starting this fall, students will be able to learn to row from pro Shirley Reekie, a competitive masters rower who has won gold medals at the World Rowing Masters regattas in Belgium and Montreal. Reekie is also department chair and professor of kinesiology.

Need another reason to take the class? How about how Reekie feels about SJSU?

“I came to San Jose State for ‘one year’ 28 years ago. I have no family within thousands of miles — except my SJSU family. I’ve stayed because my colleagues and our students make coming to work always surprising and challenging, but ultimately rewarding. Underneath San Jose State’s unimposing exterior lies a heart that is honest, gritty and never pretentious. Long live SJSU!”

Read more stories in the Fall 2011 issue of the SJSU Washington Square.

black and white photo of a young Chuck Berry and guitar

“America’s Beethoven” Exhibit in King Library

event poster

Chuck Berry composed the 1956 hit single "Roll Over Beethoven."

San Jose State’s Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies presents “America’s Beethoven,” an exhibit exploring the composer’s arrival and continuing presence in America through popular music, film and theater, including Chuck Berry’s 1956 hit “Roll Over Beethoven (click to listen).”

Curated by Professor and Beethoven Center Director William Meredith, Librarian Patricia Stroh, and award winning music historian Michael Broyles, the materials will be on display in the Special Collections Exhibit Hall and the Beethoven Center in King Library from October 1 through December 21. The hours are:

Mondays–Thursdays: 11 a.m.–6 p.m.
Fridays: 11–5 p.m.
Saturdays: 1–5 p.m.
Sundays: Closed

The exhibit is open to the public without charge. Funding was provided by the San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs, American Beethoven Society and San Jose State University.

More information, including an extensive collection of YouTube clips.

James Jones in yoga pose outdoors on campus.

Get Healthy with Tips from Spartan Fitness Experts Like the NFL’s James Jones

Green Bay Packers Wide Receiver James Jones in a Warrior II yoga pose

James Jones has worked on his Warrior II pose, among others, in sessions of Bikram yoga.

From sun salutations to Russian kettlebell presses, learn how to get fit like the pros. Alumni fitness experts, including Super Bowl winner James Jones, share their advice for lifelong health.

James Jones won the 2011 Super Bowl with the Packers, but he has not forgotten his roots. As a child growing up in and out of Bay Area homeless shelters, Jones always carried around a football. Youth football camps and teams were luxuries his mother could not afford. Jones and his wife, Tamika, run the nonprofit Love Jones 4 Kids, which helps disadvantaged children. They host an annual free youth football camp at Gunderson High School, his alma mater in San Jose. For Jones, the Offensive MVP at the 2006 New Mexico Bowl Game, being healthy is more than just exercising his body.

Read student writer Sarah Kyo’s full story, “Fit for Life,” and  other stories in the Fall 2011 issue of the SJSU Washington Square.

Illustration by Suhita Shirodkar

CommUniverCity Provides a Model for Healthy Cities of the Future

Illustration by Suhita Shirodkar

The community of Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace envisions replacing a rail line east of campus with a neighborhood pathway (illustration by Suhita Shirodkar).

Mighty Union Pacific trains once pulsed through downtown San Jose, a land rich with agriculture. But now both the trains and orchards are gone — leaving behind a skeleton of derelict railroad track and city-dwellers with no easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

A broad coalition sees in these remains the seeds of a community renewal. This community-university-city partnership — called CommUniverCity — seeks to use the fallow land to restore health to the working-class neighborhood surrounding Five Wounds Church.

Read contributing writer Lisa Krieger’s full story about the community-university-city partnership that’s helping San Jose’s Five Wounds/Brookwood Terrace neighborhood become a model for safe, clean and healthy communities throughout the city.

Like this story? Read others in the Fall 2011 issue of the SJSU Washington Square.

Q&A with President Qayoumi

Q&A with President Qayoumi

President Qayoumi leaning against his desk in his office at Tower Hall.

President Mohammad Qayoumi.

During his Fall Welcome Address, President Qayoumi outlined an ambitious strategic planning process that will begin with 40 town hall meetings this fall. In a recent interview, we asked San Jose State’s new president to tell us about himself and his vision for the university.

In your Fall Welcome Address, you told us how important it is to expect to realize our potential. Did you expect to realize your own potential? Where do you get your drive and ambition?

I got my ambition and drive, first, from my family. My father had only an elementary school education, and my mother had no schooling. But they really wanted my siblings and me to have an opportunity to go to college. As I became part of the educational system, their nurturing and my own personal drive really became the force that pushed me. You get to a certain stage where the quest for learning, the quest for knowledge becomes analogous to drinking salt water to quench your thirst. The more you drink it, the thirstier you get.

You have a wide skill set and five degrees. You could have followed many paths. Why did you choose university administration?

There are a number of reasons I chose university administration. Number one: as a value set. And in what place can one be close to such a fountain of knowledge and creativity? The joy and the pleasure of working with so many distinguished faculty members from all the different disciplines. The joy of working with so many students who are not only our future, but who also bring great ideas and enthusiasm. That was really what attracted me. Because I think, first and foremost, that universities are cradles of optimism. In addition to that, universities have always been microcosms of our democracy. We look at the basic structure and the value system of our universities, and what has really strengthened our democracy has been our education system.

People have been saying that you only take off one day a month. Is that true?

Let me start this way: I think a university president’s job is 24-7. You’re expected to be on duty. At the same time, everyone needs time to refresh and rejuvenate.

How do you get so much done while maintaining a work-life balance?

Part of it is how we manage our time. We must recognize that time is the most precious asset that we have. You cannot lend some. You cannot give some. Any minute that is wasted is a lost opportunity. We keep balanced by managing our time.

Do you have any hobbies?

Certainly. I like to read a lot. I like to write and listen to classical music, and my wife and I both enjoy traveling. We also do community service—which makes a contribution, but is also personally rewarding and gives a sense of self-fulfillment.

What do you read regularly? What is your favorite book?

I don’t have a regular reading list. I can put what I read in categories. There’s reading on what is happening in education and technology as it impacts education, policies and world issues. I also have an interest in literature. I read a lot of classics. I don’t have a favorite book; I have many books that have been favorites. There’s a saying in Persian that “every flower has its own fragrance.” I think it’s hard to say that one book is one’s favorite because each book enriches us in its own special way. Some make a stronger impact on us than others.

What is your advice to the campus for keeping up with your pace?

All of us have the same capacity and pace. I don’t think it’s an issue of my pace. It is the pace we have to collectively maintain to be able to stay on par with the rest of the region, the state and the nation. Especially if we want to excel, we have to be able to move at the pace that will sustain our excellence. Part of what keeps us motivated to keep the pace is seeing the positive impact that we’re making.

What is the one thing the San Jose State community should know about you?

I’ll give you a comment that was made about me at my former campus: I say what I’m going to do and I do what I say.

What should the campus expect from the strategic planning process?

The strategic planning process is an opportunity for us to collectively determine our future. That’s why the questions at each of the 40 town hall meetings will be very general, without any preconceived direction of where the discussions will go. Getting input from everyone on campus is critical. I want everyone to participate and to share what goals, aspirations and dreams they have for the university. And I hope that our students, faculty and staff will think of audacious goals.

How will the budget impact the formulation and the implementation of the strategic plan?

The budget should not dampen our imagination and aspirations. To me, the budget is tactical. It gives an indication of how fast we can accomplish our goals. Budget ups and downs have always been a reality. Given the fact that state support has continuously dropped for the last 50 years, we should expect that it will drop further. We must look at other revenue streams, and find innovative ways to accomplish our goals. We can also be more efficient in how we accomplish our tasks.

What are your views on increasing research, scholarship and creative activity here at SJSU?

They are an important part of what universities do. It’s hard to separate those elements from the whole learning process. It’s that joy of discovery that makes universities the exciting places that they are. Learning and teaching are very much connected to the research and discovery. That’s why we should look at other ways to attract more resources—through philanthropic activities and research grant activity. We can also reduce our cost structure to give us more resources to put toward these activities.

Reduce our cost structure?

In other words: enhance our efficiencies. That does not mean reducing staff, but we can reduce costs by better utilization of technologies and fostering innovation. Can we improve the campus’s energy efficiency? That will mean cost savings. How can virtualize more of our IT system as a whole? That will be something that can reduce cost. These two are merely examples.  The key is  how can we use technology in ways that will enhance our efficiencies?

How do you intend to engage our students and show them that we’re putting their needs first?

I have already met with the Associated Students president and student leadership. We will have monthly meetings with the AS president and vice president, as well as the entire board. This will be a way to hear their issues.

We’ve heard that you reached out to 200 Silicon Valley CEOs on your first day as president. In your Fall Welcome Address, you talked about outgrowing old boundaries. Why is connecting with the community important for SJSU’s future?

We’re part of the community and we have to be part of the fabric of the community. Our future and the community’s future are very much intertwined. We need to see how we can support them. As we support them, the value that we bring will be a way to engage all the stakeholders of the university. Everybody wants to support entities that benefit them. Whether that’s public support through the legislative process for more resources, or engaging in philanthropic activity, both with individuals and with corporations, people would like to put their resources where they feel they make a difference. No organization can sustain itself in isolation. We are connected in a multitude of ways with the communities that we serve.

What is San Jose State’s potential?

San Jose State uses the phrase “powering Silicon Valley.” But powering Silicon Valley in the sense of building the human capital, which is the most valuable asset of the Valley. If you really reflect on the last 50 years and the collective impact that Silicon Valley has had on the quality of life all around the world, it’s tremendous. The breadth and depth of it is astounding. We need to recognize our role in that success. We need to use our distinguished past as we move forward because, as the saying goes, it’s only the best that want to get better.

Anything to add?

When we have audacious dreams, we have to have the discipline and the mental fortitude to execute them systematically. Having dreams is great. But if you do not implement them, they are just dreams. It becomes a vision when you take systematic steps to realize them in a very consistent way, with a set of measures, metrics, goals and benchmarks.

We are a large and complex institution. It’s natural that even with the best of intentions that we could have different areas that end up in their own silos—and unintentionally end up without proper alignment with the direction of the university. For us, the more we can align our efforts toward the betterment of the institution, toward the vision of the university, the more we can increase our effectiveness. Our degree of effectiveness will be something that increases our chance of attaining our goals. That’s why it is important for everyone to understand what the vision of the institution is and how the goals and roles that they have really affect the overall direction of the university.

Read more about President Qayoumi in a San Jose Mercury News story.

Reed Magazine, cover

Reed Magazine Features Spartan Writers

By Jody Ulate, University Writer/Producer

Reed Magazine, cover

Cover art for this issue is by Erik Madsen.

A collection of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and artwork, the latest issue of Reed Magazine includes pieces from San Jose State alumni, students and faculty members, and an exclusive interview with writer Carl Phillips.

In “Dedication to 45,” alumna Christine Pham learns about the value of life and the power of guilt while completing a community service project. Students Erica Zimmerman (“Unprotected Tanning”), Dave Kern (“Replacement”) and Katrina Swanson (“Quatrain”), along with Professor Samuel Maio (“The Plans, Obsessed”), contribute poetry. Animation/illustration student Aaron Lindley’s artwork “Toaster, Chill” appears in color.

Reed Magazine is published every spring and is one of the oldest student publications west of the Mississippi, based from the beginning at San Jose State. Purchase a copy of Reed Magazine.#

Outstanding Thesis Award recipient Danielle Frechette releasing radio-tagged western gull.

SJSU Names 2011 Outstanding Graduating Seniors and Outstanding Thesis Award Recipients

Outstanding Thesis Award recipient Danielle Frechette releasing radio-tagged western gull.

Outstanding Thesis Award recipient Danielle Frechette releasing radio-tagged western gull.

By Amanda Holst and Jody Ulate, SJSU Public Affairs

San Jose State President Don Kassing will recognize four top graduates at commencement, which begins at 9:30 a.m. May 28 in Spartan Stadium. Approximately 7,000 candidates who completed their studies in August 2010, December 2010 and May 2011 will be eligible to participate. Around 25,000 graduates, family and friends are expected to attend the ceremony.

Andrew Ingram and Mojgan Mohammadi have been named SJSU’s 2011 Outstanding Graduating Seniors in recognition of their scholarship and contributions to the community, and Danielle Frechette and Hector Nuno have received the 2011 Outstanding Thesis Awards in recognition of the exceptional quality of their research.

Ingram will graduate with a bachelor’s in chemistry. He says that he has tried to make the most out his time at San Jose State. He is graduating with a 3.99 GPA and an impressive list of accomplishments that are often reserved for graduate students. Ingram has already published in scholarly journals, taught general chemistry labs and facilitated workshops for the Louis-Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. He has devoted considerable time to research, but has also made time to volunteer at the Children’s Discovery Museum and at the University Preparatory School Science Fair. A Salzburg Scholar, Ingram has represented SJSU and himself well on and off campus, both in the United States and abroad, and he will continue to do so at Stanford University, where he’ll begin a Ph.D. program this fall.

Mohammadi will graduate with a bachelor’s in health science. She believes that each person’s actions and decisions affect more than just that one person. A single person can impact his or her family, the community and ultimately the world. While at San Jose State, she has dedicated herself to the service of others. Mohammadi founded a student organization called Global Health Association, and led a team of eight student volunteers to Haiti for disaster relief. She has served as a teaching assistant, collaborated with fellow SJSU Salzburg Scholars, participated in the first Provost Honors Seminar, and is graduating with a 3.8 GPA. Off campus, she has managed a holistic spa and worked as a life coach for adults with developmental disabilities. One person can indeed make quite a difference.

Frechette will graduate with a master’s in marine science. She didn’t think that passion could carry her across the United States, but after attending college on the East Coast, she found herself at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories doing what she loves: studying the interactions between marine predators and fisheries. For her master’s thesis, “Impacts of Avian Predation on Central California Salmonids,” Frechette studied how predation by gulls can affect recovery of endangered salmon. Before her study, there had not been much research on how gulls prey on salmon in California. By tagging western gulls and observing their behavior, she was able to figure out where, when and how many salmon were getting eaten in central California. Frechette has enjoyed sharing her research with others, and says that reaching out to the public helped make her research a success.

Nuno will graduate with a master’s in chemical engineering. He has always been good at chemistry, but his grades in physics and mathematics made clear to him that engineering was the best direction to go. In his master’s program, he says his nterest for physics flourished when he started to delve into the literature of silicon particles during his internship with IBM. For his thesis, “Functionalized Silica Nanostructures for Biosensing Application,” he studied the physical and chemical processes of star polymers in order to create a silica shell encasing that makes further testing of biomedical applications possible. Nuno hopes to continue to work in industry, but eventually would like to become a high school or community college teacher.

Read more on commencement.

Mary Pickering in her office surrounded by books.

2010-11 President’s Scholar: Mary Pickering

Mary Pickering in her office surrounded by books.

2011 President's Scholar: Mary Pickering, professor of history.

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Student Assistant

The President’s Scholar Award recognizes a faculty member who has achieved widespread recognition based on the quality of scholarship, performances or creative activities.

Mary Pickering, professor of history, says that her passion for learning is profound and lifelong and that she is always eager to explore a deeper knowledge that she can bring back to her classroom and research. Her desire to leave no stone unturned has earned her the 2010-2011 President’s Scholar Award.

“Pickering’s influential scholarship has gained for her widespread admiration among peers in Europe and the Americas, whether historians, sociologists or philosophers. It attracts the very best of our students too,” said one nominator.

Her intensive research includes over forty articles, papers and reviews, and a three-volume published biography of Auguste Comte (1798-1857), the founder of modern sociology and a philosophical movement called positivism. In addition, Pickering has published in the Revue philosophique, Revue internationale de philosophie, French Historical Studies, Historical Reflections, Journal of Women’s History and the Journal of the History of Ideas.

Admirers around the world have referred to her expertise in research. She says the impact of her work is due, in part, to connecting Comte’s personal and intellectual evolution to the leading ideas of his time and his social and political context. According to a peer, Pickering brings “order and clarity to an unruly, often obscure mass of archival and published work.”

Pickering’s work clearly has made a considerable contribution to multiple disciplines—and is an example of how dedication and scholarship thrive at San Jose State.

“The way you excel as a teacher is to keep growing as scholar,” says Pickering. “I also enjoy learning in the courses I teach and incorporating that knowledge into my books.”

Pickering earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Harvard University and a Diplome d’Etudes Approfondies from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po). Selected honors and awards include Who’s Who Among America Teachers (1998, 2004, 2005) and SJSU Warburton Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement in History (2010).

Mary Pickering, Patricia Backer, Jeffrey Gaines

2010-11 Faculty Awards

Mary Pickering, Patricia Backer, Jeffrey Gaines

2010-11 Faculty Award Winners: Mary Pickering, Patricia Backer, Jeffrey Gaines

Each year, San Jose State honors its distinguished faculty members for their scholarship, service and teaching excellence. President Don Kassing is pleased to announce the winners of the 2010-11 Faculty Awards:

Distinguished Service Award: Patricia Backer, professor of aviation and technology
Outstanding Lecturer Award: Jeffrey Gaines, lecturer in management information systems
President’s Scholar Award: Mary Pickering, professor of history

Pat Backer headshot

2010-11 Distinguished Service Award: Patricia Backer

Patricia Backer headshot

2010-11 Distinguished Service Award: Patricia Backer, professor of aviation and technology.

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Student Assistant

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a faculty member for exemplary service in a leadership capacity to the university and/or community or profession that brings credit to San Jose State University.

Patricia Backer, professor in the Aviation and Technology Department, says that service is about being a part of the community and being responsible to people in the workforce. Backer’s personal impact and selfless contributions have earned her the 2010-2011 Distinguished Service Award.

Backer joined the faculty in 1990 and has since made many contributions, including serving tirelessly to faculty governance, devoting time to community support, and working to enhance and enrich student success.

“A key thread that runs through her contributions, is that she has worked in many capacities to promote the education and success of our students,” wrote a nominator. “She has worked collaboratively to develop a number of advanced general education courses, thus striving to deepen and broaden students’ critical thinking and life-long-learning skills.”

Through her work in the General Engineering Department, Backer helps lead faculty members to develop green engineering programs, curricula and initiatives. Backer also works with faculty members on various projects through her leadership positions on committees and organizations on campus, which she says gives her “an opportunity to mentor and give good direction.”

Students also benefit from Backer’s commitment to service. She has enhanced the curriculum in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering by developing advanced general education sources. Backer is currently working with the Office of the Provost to obtain grants for student success efforts that will provide educational intervention for at-risk students, writing skills support for minorities, and active learning strategies in STEM courses.

Backer has been chair of many committees on campus, including Professional Standards, Organization and Government, Program Planning and Undergraduate Studies. The service that Backer provides in her leadership roles complements her central commitment to service at San Jose State.

“One thing SJSU gives you is opportunities,” says Backer when talking about her ability to go the extra mile in service. “If you have the ability or desire to try it, SJSU gives you a chance.”

Backer earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, two masters’ degrees from Tennessee Temple University, and a master’s degree and doctorate from Ohio State University.

Jeffrey Gaines, headshot

2010-11 Outstanding Lecturer: Jeffrey Gaines

Jeffrey Gaines, headshot

2010-11 Outstanding Lecturer: Jeffrey Gaines, lecturer of management information systems.

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Student Assistant

The Outstanding Lecturer Award recognizes a lecturer for excellence in teaching effectiveness and service to the San Jose State campus community.

Jeffrey Gaines enjoys taking his freshman students on camping trips where they are taken out of their “concrete jungle.” Creating invaluable experiences outside the classroom is just part of his “showing through examples” style as an instructor of technology–and what has helped him earn the 2010-2011 Outstanding Lecturer Award.

Gaines, lecturer in the Management Information Systems Department, uses his corporate experience at companies like Accenture to provide his students’ real-life examples. He gives them tools that will make them more marketable when they graduate. He also teaches them leadership by combining activities that develop core values and relationships through the MUSE program–a program that he helped to develop six years ago, and what he says continues to drive his passion at San Jose State.

“I traveled the world and I have many experiences,” Gaines says. In teaching his courses, Gaines says he tries to show through example how theory is used in the technological world, and tries to create experiences that challenge students to expand their horizons.

“The range of his contributions to the College and Business and co-curricular activities, particularly his role as advisor to the Sigma Chi fraternity, is quite amazing,” says one nominator.

Gaines’ dedication to San Jose State goes beyond lecturing. As course coordinator for Business 188, he works with the course’s other faculty members to generate new teaching resources. Gaines is a co-developer of a MIS student orientation program, where he draws on his professional career to set experiences for students that prepare them for the career path of their choice. Gaines also developed an off-campus leadership program that aids in the retention efforts of freshmen.

“The days are filled with the development of meaningful and hopefully life-long relationships with students and colleagues, and a chance to make a difference in the lives of others.” “This is the reason I return every semester to this university.”

Gaines earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Fresno State University and an M.B.A. from San Diego State University. He currently teaches and coordinates Business 188, the largest course in the MIS department, along with other courses. Gaines is also the assistant director of the Global Leadership Advancement Center and faculty advisor for the College of Business Executive Leadership Council.