Kellogg Foundation Award

CommUniverCity

CommUniverCity San Jose engages local residents, SJSU faculty members and students, and city officials in learning projects that accomplish neighborhood-defined goals (David Schmitz photo).

Media contacts:
David Edelson, APLU, 202-478-6072
Pat Harris, SJSU, 408-924-1748

In recognition of its extraordinary community outreach initiatives, four members of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, including San Jose State, have been selected as regional recipients of the 2015 W.K. Kellogg Foundation Community Engagement Scholarship Award.

As regional winners, SJSU, Texas Tech University, the University of Minnesota, and the University of New Hampshire will represent and compete for the national C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award, which will be presented during the APLU Annual Meeting Nov. 15-17 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The C. Peter Magrath Community Engagement Scholarship Award includes a sculpture and $20,000 prize. The three regional winners not chosen for the Magrath award will each receive a cash prize of $5,000.

Award history

Since 2006, APLU and the Engagement Scholarship Consortium, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, have partnered to honor the engagement, scholarship, and partnerships of four-year public universities.

The award recognizes programs that demonstrate how colleges and universities have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement missions to become even more involved with their communities. The national award is named for C. Peter Magrath, APLU president from 1992 to 2005.

The Magrath Awards reward the significant impact our universities make in their communities, states, and across the nation as well as the world,” said APLU President Peter McPherson.

“This year’s regional award winners exemplify the broad principles of community-based outreach and engagement embraced by the public university community. We salute each of these model programs that feature students, faculty and administrators working in their community to improve the quality of life for all.”

A team of community engagement specialists judged this round of the award.  A second team will pick the national winner following presentations at the 2015 National Engagement Scholarship Conference in September.

About CommUniverCity San Jose

CommUniverCity San Jose is a unique community-university-city partnership that engages local residents with faculty members and students at San Jose State and city staff members in learning projects that accomplish neighborhood-defined goals. With nearly one million residents, San Jose is characterized by vast economic inequality and profound challenges with respect to poverty, unemployment, homelessness, gang violence, and low educational attainment.

To address these needs, CommUniverCity creates and supports 50 community action projects annually. Projects range from after-school tutoring and nutrition education to adult financial literacy classes. CommUniverCity’s structure can be described as three legs of a stable stool, with SJSU, the city of San Jose, and local organizations and residents each providing equal support for project identification and implementation.

SJSU’s role in this “town-gown” (city-university) partnership is threefold. First, faculty members apply subject-matter expertise to solve real-world problems. Second, students participate in community-engaged learning projects. Third, SJSU provides financial and administrative support. Over the past decade, this consistent engagement of faculty and students has generated a multitude of short-term studies and longer-term research, including a five-year comparison of social capital indicators within the service area.

About San Jose State

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 134 areas of study with 110 concentrations—offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 30,000 students and nearly 4,000 employees, San Jose State continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

SJSU theatrical production

Hammer Theatre Discussions

SJSU theatrical production

SJSU programming, co-productions and a rental program are among the parameters for operating Hammer Theatre (photo by Christina Olivas).

Media contact: Pat Harris, Media Relations, 408-924-1748

San Jose City Council has unanimously approved a recommendation that the city manager negotiate and execute an agreement with San Jose State University for operations and maintenance of the Hammer Theatre for three years.

This is the latest step in a nine-month process that has included input from the campus community, discussions with the Hammer Theatre Advisory Committee, and several public presentations, including today’s.

I am excited about the potential of a city/university partnership to provide new, engaging learning opportunities for our students in a variety of disciplines and contribute to vitalizing San Jose’s downtown corridor,” President Mo Qayoumi said.

“It was heartening to hear such strong support from elected officials, community members and arts advocates. I agree with the many speakers who cited other “town gown” collaborations as evidence that this new partnership can thrive.”

Next steps

As the negotiations between SJSU and the city move forward, SJSU will:

  • assess needed facility maintenance and upgrades
  • review other models for university-operated performing arts venues
  • develop a financial model including a tiered rate structure for market-rate theater groups, nonprofits, co-productions by professional theaters collaborating with SJSU, SJSU’s own educational purposes, and a city subsidy

While it is premature to predict when the theatre will reopen, the intent is to have it ready for use as soon as possible. This will be based on time needed for renovations and related operational issues.

About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 134 areas of study with 110 concentrations—offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 30,000 students and nearly 4,000 employees, San Jose State continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

 

Green Ninja stickers

Pedaling for the Planet

Green Ninja team

The Green Ninja Climate Ride Team (courtesy of The Green Ninja Project).

Green Ninja in the classroom.

In the classroom (courtesy of The Green Ninja Project).

After months of training and fundraising, the Green Ninja Climate Ride Team is set to take off in the Northern California Climate Ride. The ride starts in Eureka on May 17, and ends five days later in San Francisco on May 21.

The eight team members will bike 320-miles along the Northern California coastline to raise awareness about climate change and support environmental non-profit organizations like the Green Nina Project — an SJSU environmental outreach program that teaches middle school students about climate change and inspires them to take action.

300 ninja

A custom-designed jersey (courtesy of The Green Ninja Project).

We are excited about the ride, but also a little nervous,” says Professor Eugene Cordero, a climate scientist in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science.

The team is made up of two professors, one alumna, one staff member and three students. Some are avid cyclists, while others are beginning bicyclists. Even though their skill level varies, they all share a common goal — a commitment to maintaining a healthy planet and reducing climate change.

Follow the team

You can follow the team and encourage them on via SJSU’s official Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #SJSUclimateride.

SJSU Celebrates Honors Convocation

By Melissa Anderson, Executive Communications Specialist

Photo: David Schmitz

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.

4.0 GPAs

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.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

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.

Staying Connected

“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.”

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

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.”

 

Ho Chi Minh City

40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

San Jose State changed forever when Saigon fell 40 years ago today. Refugees who settled in the neighborhoods near campus grew into one the nation’s largest Vietnamese American communities. These days, many of these immigrants and their descendants are SJSU students, faculty and staff members, and alumni.

SJSU Professor of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Science Hien Duc Do fled Vietnam at age 14 just days before the fall. Drawing from his research on the Vietnamese American experience, Do appears as an expert commentator in many news accounts of the lasting impact of the war. These include special reports by the San Jose Mercury News, KPIX TV, KGO radio, KCBS radio and KLIV radio.

Prominent Vietnamese American writer and journalist Andrew Lam, who left his homeland at age 11, is teaching this term at San Jose State. He shares his views on Vietnam then and now with the Los Angeles Times, Al Jazeera AmericaSan Jose Mercury News, KPIX TVKQED radio, and KLIV radio.

In a cover story on the Fall of Saigon, the Spartan Daily student newspaper profiles four local Vietnamese Americans. Accompanying the report online is a video documentary featuring, among others, a pastor, poet, and city council member. The student videographers discuss their work with NBC Bay AreaSouth Bay Pulse, an iPad app created by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, features the video and full-length profiles.

“The war created ripples that span generations,” the Spartan Daily says. “But despite the conflict, people have been able to start anew.”

 

Design Swarm

Over 60 design professionals and students gathered for an unusual get-to-know-you event on a recent Friday night at the TechShop in downtown San Jose. The group was here for an annual meeting of the Industrial Designers Society of America.

“What architects do for buildings, industrial designers do for products ranging from toothbrushes and cars to chairs and laptops,” said Assistant Professor of Industrial Design Joshua Nelson. “This involves collaborating with engineers and other experts to produce products that will be comfortable, useful and innovative.

Nelson invited his students to attend the event, which was a design swarm that functioned much like the rapid prototyping events that have become popular here in Silicon Valley as a means of brainstorming ways to use innovative, new products.

In this case, six teams, each comprised of professionals and students, were asked to design a homeless shelter for earthquake relief or a portable toilet for emergency scenarios using a new type of fiberboard provided by Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions.

In just a few hours, the teams went from sketches to prototypes, which they shared with the entire group in five-minute pechakucha presentations. What was the best part for Professor Nelson? Watching the pros and students bond over doing what they love.

“The interaction that occurs while attempting to creatively solve problems is very deep and meaningful,” Nelson said. The professionals  “really get to know how our students work and become interested in hiring them or referring them to a friend. At the end of the event, all kinds of business cards were being shared.”

Faculty Notes: Supporting Teachers of Color

pizzaro-01

Photo courtesy of the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice Facebook page.

The fifth annual Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice, co-directed by Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Rebeca Burciaga and Mexican American Studies Chair Marcos Pizarro, will be held in June in Los Angeles. The three-day conference is a professional development opportunity for elementary, middle and high school teachers, founded by former Assistant Professor of Elementary Education Rita Kohli to support the growth, success and retention of teachers of color.

The work of Professor of Physics and Astronomy Alejandro Garcia was cited in an article posted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s News Center, featuring researchers at “the forefront of a neglected corner of the scientific world, building mathematical models for fluids at the mesoscale.” According to the report, “fluctuating hydrodynamics could have enormous impacts in applications ranging from batteries to drug delivery to microfluidic devices.”

Inside Higher Education interviewed Department of English and Comparative Literature Lecturer Leah Griesmann, the originator of National Adjunct Walkout Day. On February 25, adjunct teachers in colleges across the United States and beyond joined the protest to bring attention to the plight of college adjuncts whose job security and paychecks are minimal. “I can tell you on behalf of adjuncts everywhere that the system is broken, and you might believe me. But there’s no denying something’s going on when thousands and thousands of adjuncts and allies say the same thing,” Greismann said. She first suggested the idea of a walkout on social media in the fall of 2014. Greismann recently received an Elizabeth George Foundation grant in fiction and a MacDowell Colony artist fellowship.

Department of Aviation and Technology Lecturer Dianne Hall was profiled in Bermuda’s The Royal Gazette about her work as an engineer and firefighter and her recent trip to Pakistan in connection with SJSU’s partnership with Allama Iqbal Open University. “San Jose State is helping AIOU enhance its computer science degree,” she told the newspaper. “The intent is to train students in remote areas, where literacy is quite low, to do software engineering.” Hall visited Pakistan to train faculty to teach online and to speak about being female in male-dominated professions, encouraging by example women to study computer science or pursue “whatever they wanted to do,” Hall said.

Professor of Chemical Engineering Claire Komives and her team of researchers have developed a new opossum-based antidote to counteract poisonous snakebites that also might prove effective in counteracting scorpion, plant and bacterial toxins. Komives presented her research findings at a March meeting of the American Chemical Society. Because the anti-venom is inexpensive, Komives is optimistic that it will be distributed to underserved areas across the globe, including India, Southeast Asia and Africa, where thousands of people each year are bitten by poisonous snakes.

Publications forthcoming for Professor of Counselor Education Jason Laker include Supporting and Enhancing Learning on Campus: Effective Pedagogy In and Outside the Classroom (Routledge, 2016) and a chapter in Handbook of Student Affairs Administration (Jossey-Bass, 2015), “Unfinished Business, Dirty Laundry, and Hope for Multicultural Campus Communities.” Prior to joining the Lurie College of Education faculty, Laker served as SJSU’s vice president for student affairs.

Assistant Professor of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging Kasuen Mauldin received an Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award in recognition of her teaching, mentoring and leadership in the field from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in the country. Mauldin joined SJSU’s faculty in 2011. “Effective educators are organized and prepared, professional and fair, resourceful and well connected, and believe there is always room for improvement,” she said.

March 2015 marks the two-year anniversary of a $2 increase in San José’s minimum wage. To mark the occasion, Professor of Sociology Scott Myers-Lipton, who co-founded San Jose’s minimum wage campaign, contributed an article to the San Jose Mercury News, addressing lessons learned from the successful initiative as well as what remains to be done to “undo the extreme inequality caused by the political and economic changes of the past 35 years.”

Professor of Accounting and Finance Annette Nellen was appointed to the California State Board of Equalization Executive Director’s Advisory Council for a two-year term. She will serve from 2015 to 2017. The BOE, a public agency charged with tax administration and fee collection, also acts as the appellate body for business, franchise and personal tax appeals.

The Salud Familiar program, co-founded by Professor of Health Science Kathleen Roe, received a Program Excellence Award from the Society for Public Health Education. A partnership between SJSU and McKinley Elementary School, the Salud Familiar program teaches McKinley students about healthy lifestyles and promotes academic success.

Professor of Screen Writing Scott Sublett reports that SJSU’s RTVF students have achieved national recognition for screenwriting excellence, receiving four awards from Broadcast Education Association, whose Festival of Media Arts ranks as the nation’s most important film competition for RTVF programs. Lauren Serpa took second place in the feature-length screenplay category; Risha Rose received an honorable mention in the same category; and Rachel Compton and Kevin Briot both received honorable mention citations in the short screenplay category. “Once again, SJSU has the most honorees in the nation, reinforcing our dominance in the category and recognizing our department’s emphasis and excellence in screenwriting,” said David Kahn, chair of the Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre.

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Miri VanHoven received a highly competitive National Institute of Health RO-1 grant for her research project “The Effect of Normal and Prolonged Sensory Activity on Neural Circuits.” VanHoven and team will conduct both molecular and physiological studies of the molecular mechanisms that govern how sensory activities affect connectivity between nerve cells. The molecular work will be performed at SJSU’s VanHoven lab, providing students the opportunity to participate in the research process.

 

Spartan Superway May be the Ride of the Future

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Inside an old, plain building in downtown San Jose, dozens of students are busy working on a futuristic transportation system.

“We are inventing, developing, and demonstrating a new paradigm in urban transportation, sustainable urban transportation since our system is going to be 100 percent solar powered and grid tied,” said Burford “Buff” Furman, a mechanical engineering professor in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, and head of the Sustainable Mobility System for Silicon Valley project. The goal is to design a personal rapid transit system using renewable energy. Students call it Spartan Superway.

Four teams of students are designing and building a full-scale working model, a large tabletop model, and a mock-up of the interior cabin of one of the vehicles that will travel on the system. They’ll be displayed May 16-17 at the Maker Faire in San Mateo. The full-scale model includes a gondola-type pod that moves under the bottom of a 33-foot- long steel track suspended ten feet in the air. The pod rolls into a life-size transit station. Solar panels on top power the system, and excess energy is fed back to the electric grid.

 

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Burford “Buff” Furman, mechanical engineering professor, and former engineering professor and team sponsor Ron Swenson with the 2014-2015 Spartan Superway team. (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications)

The student team

There are mechanical engineering, civil engineering, computer science, industrial design and business students working on the Spartan Superway. Most are seniors. Natalie Granados, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, is on the propulsion team.  She’s interested in the transportation field so she decided to join the project. “I’ve learned how to design a propulsion system,” Granados said.  “I feel like that’s pretty valuable.”

Jack Irwin, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, lead on the full-scale team, has gained valuable skills too. “It’s given me a lot of project management experience, and learning what it takes to get a project done of this scale,” Irwin said.  “It’s a pretty big project that we’re trying to accomplish. We have deadlines and timeframes, funding, and we have to make sure we have money and a budget. It’s similar to working in a startup company.”

The project is made possible in part by SJSU former engineering professor Ron Swenson.  He mentors the students, and supports the project through his 501(c)(3) non-profit organization: the International Institute of Sustainable Transportation. His brother, local builder Barry Swenson, donated use of the 9,000-square-foot building for three years, and  friend Francis DeWinter provided most of the tools and a substantial part of the materials.

 

Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Jack Irwin, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, and Danny Ornellas, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, stretch a recently welded piece of metal to bring it up to specification. (Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications)

Building support

“The goal is to get vehicles separated from people.  To give the streets back to the people,” Ron Swenson said. “It’s amazing to see the work the students are able to accomplish.”

The project started three years ago, but doesn’t yet have all the funding necessary to take it to the next level of development. “Getting funding is difficult because agencies are interested in funding paper studies instead of steel and concrete, which demonstrates concepts,” Professor Furman said.

Jordan Carter, ’15 Mechanical Engineering, and lead of the cabin team, thinks the project is a great way to end her senior year. “This is something bigger, something ongoing, that’s not going to be done at the end of the year when I graduate, and I think it’s been really rewarding just to contribute,” Carter said.

Spartan Superway may one day have an impact on transportation systems of the future.  For now, its giving students skills that will put them in the driver’s seat as they begin their careers.

College of Applied Sciences and Arts Dean Appointed

Mary Schutten

Mary Schutten (image courtesy of Grand Valley State University Communications)

Media contact: Pat Harris, Media Relations, 408-924-1748

Mary C. Schutten has been appointed dean of SJSU’s College of Applied Sciences and Arts, effective July 6.

“I am confident the students, faculty and staff members, alumni and supporters of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts will find Dr. Schutten to be a capable, enthusiastic and resourceful leader,” said SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Andrew Hale Feinstein.

Schutten joins SJSU from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, where she served as associate dean for students and curriculum within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences since 2009 and held a faculty appointment in the Department of Movement Sciences since 2003.

Academic background

Prior to that, she served as a professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance and Sports at Calvin College in Michigan for 12 years, including time as chair. She served as an associate professor and chair for the Department of Physical Education and Recreation at Dordt College in Iowa for five years.

Schutten received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physical education from Calvin College, with a minor in German and a master’s degree in exercise science, with a minor in administration, from California State University, Long Beach. She received a doctoral degree in physical education, with an emphasis on motor control and a minor in health education and statistics, from Indiana University.

Supporting students

In addition to her strong academic and administrative background, Schutten brings significant experience with student retention and success. She managed an academic advising center within her college that became a campus-wide model. In addition, her most recent article, “Student Retention and Success = Big Data + the Human Touch,” was included in the conference proceedings at the Hawaii International Conference on Education this year.

During the search process, Schutten expressed a dedication to what she called “hands-on, minds-on” learning and for creating innovative ways to support faculty research, scholarship and creative activity. At the open forum session, she said, “Something I have been a firsthand witness to is pulling together units from various places” to find common interests between disciplines.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

 

White House Honors Professor

“As a member of an under-represented minority group, I am committed to making the unlimited intellectual possibilities of modern biology accessible to all students,”—Professor Julio Soto.

“As a member of an under-represented minority group, I am committed to making the unlimited intellectual possibilities of modern biology accessible to all students.”—Professor Julio Soto (photo by Christina Olivas)

Media contact:
Pat Harris, 408-924-1748

SAN JOSE, CA – SJSU Professor of Biological Sciences Julio Soto will receive a Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, the White House announced March 27.

The honor, received by just 14 individuals and one organization in the past two years, recognizes the crucial role that mentoring plays in the academic and personal development of students studying science and engineering—particularly those who belong to groups that are underrepresented in these fields.

“These educators are helping to cultivate America’s future scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” President Obama said. “They open new worlds to their students, and give them the encouragement they need to learn, discover and innovate. That’s transforming those students’ futures, and our nation’s future, too.”

Principal investigator

Soto served as the principal investigator on two groundbreaking grants at San Jose State. Under HHMI-SCRIBE, Soto and colleagues transformed the core curriculum for biology majors. With NSF-RUMBA, Soto coordinates summer research opportunities for under-represented students.

Among his students inspired in the classroom to take part in the summer research program is Pareet Raju, ’15 Molecular Biology. “Dr. Soto helped me understand the lecture by providing research articles as a reference…Recently I joined his lab, where he has been guiding me through my research project,” she said.

Together, the programs equip students with the academic and applied opportunities they need to excel in graduate school and beyond, reflecting the department’s emphasis on hands-on, inquiry-based learning activities at the bench and in the field.

“As a member of an under-represented minority group, I am committed to making the unlimited intellectual possibilities of modern biology accessible to all students,” Professor Soto said.

Professor and mentor

Soto arrived at SJSU in 1999, with degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, and the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey.

“Dr. Soto has a unique and refreshing approach as a lab mentor,” said Nicko Ly, ’15 Molecular Biology, and a RUMBA participant. “Although he has high expectations for his undergraduate lab researchers and challenges his students to be independent thinkers, he genuinely is passionate and determined to have his students pursuing a career in the sciences.”

In addition to being honored in Washington later this year, Soto will receive an award of $10,000 from the National Science Foundation. The mentors and organization announced March 27 represent the winners for 2012 and 2013.

San Jose State—Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees—is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

Spartan Fund

SJSU Students Rock the Financial World

Spartan Fund

The Spartan Gold Team (courtesy of the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business).

Facing tough competition, a four-student team from SJSU walked away with a first-place trophy at the CFA Institute Investment Research Challenge for the Northern California region.

They were up against teams from the Stanford MBA program, the Wharton executive MBA program, Santa Clara University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of San Francisco.

The win was a major accomplishment,” said Stoyu Ivanov, associate professor of accounting and finance, Nancie Fimbel Investment Fellow, and assistant director of the Center for Banking and Financial Services.

The teams

Two teams from SJSU took part in the competition March 5 in San Francisco’s financial district. Earning the top spot at the competition was the Spartan Gold Team made up of Joel Gonzales, ’15 Finance; Shayan Khales, ’15 Accounting; Valeriya Razdyakonova, ’18 Corporate Accounting and Finance; and Nirav Shah, ’15 MBA.

A second SJSU team, the Spartan Blue Team, consisted of Aaron Foster, Tarriq Hansrajh, Michael Farrell and Mark Smith, all finance majors.

The teams were required to research and analyze Gilead Sciences, a Bay Area biotech company. As part of their pitch, they wrote a paper, gave a presentation, and participated in a question-and-answer session.

We applied a lot from what we learned in the Spartan Fund and our finance classes,” Gonzales said.

Spartan Fund

The Financial Navigator Student Managed Investment Fund, also known as the Spartan Fund, was established with a $100,000 donation from Nancie Fimbel, and her husband C. Edward Van Deman, CEO of Financial Navigator.

Fimbel, who capped a 28-year career at SJSU by serving as acting MBA director and senior director of development for the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, wanted to give back to the university.

I’m very proud of having started this,” Fimbel said. “I had dreamed of this, and it’s really a kick to see the students pitch to each other.”

Students manage the $50,000 Spartan fund using 12 Bloomberg terminals in their classroom. They’ve raised the fund to $52,000 in just six months.

Next up for the Spartan Gold Team is the national competition on April 15 in Atlanta. A win there will send them to the Global Final, where they’ll face teams from the Europe and Asia Pacific regions.

Walt Jacobs

SJSU Appoints College of Social Sciences Dean

Walter R. Jacobs

Walter R. Jacobs (photo by Don Lintner/UW-Parkside)

Media contact: Pat Harris, Media Relations, 408-924-1748

Walter R. Jacobs has been appointed dean of the College of Social Sciences, effective July 6.

Jacobs comes to SJSU from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he served as founding dean of the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies and held a faculty appointment in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

“During the search process, Dr. Jacobs demonstrated uncommon sensitivity to the importance of collaborative decision-making and an exceptional focus on serving students,” said SJSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Andrew Hale Feinstein.

Academic credentials

Jacobs previously served for 14 years on the faculty of the University of Minnesota, including a five-year stint (2007-2012) as chair of the Department of African American and African Studies.

I encourage faculty and staff to put students first; our discussions and unit strategies are based on what is best for student welfare and learning outcomes,” he wrote in his introductory letter to the search committee.

Jacobs pursued an eclectic academic path, receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology from Indiana University.

Awards, publications

Beyond his academic and administrative credentials, Jacobs brings to SJSU a passion for teaching, having received multiple awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

He is an active and accomplished scholar, having written or edited numerous texts and authored a personal memoir about “sociological ghosts.”

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

Engineering Hall of Fame Inducts Qayoumi

The buzz was all about energy—human energy, that is—at the Silicon Valley Engineering Council‘s 2015 Engineers Week Banquet on Feb. 19 at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose.

“I believe that learning and imagination are the most potent forms of energy in the universe,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi in prepared remarks following his induction into the council’s Hall of Fame.

Clearly, engineering council members felt the same, devoting much of the event to mentoring the next generation of engineering talent.

Scholarship recipients

Scholarship recipients included three San Jose State students: Jose Alvarez, Biomedical Engineering; Linh Do, ’16 Chemical Engineering; and Giovanni Zecchini, ’16 Mechanical Engineering.

The council is an umbrella organization for engineering societies in the valley. Goals include promoting the career development of engineers and technical professionals.

Among the council’s founders was the late Jay Pinson, an SJSU engineering professor and dean widely recognized for corralling support for the first engineering college fundraising campaign in the 1970s.

Attendees

SJSU continues to engender that sense of community beyond campus. Among the event’s attendees was San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White and Tower Foundation Board Chair Amir Mashkoori.

Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, congratulated Qayoumi with a video message. They were once college roommates. Campus community members in attendance included President Qayoumi’s wife, an excellent example of the power of human energy.

“I am grateful to the love of my life and wife of 36 years, Najia, who has supported my academic and related public policy pursuits while carving out her own niche as an accomplished clinical dietitian and Persian poet,” the president said.

 

SJSU Honors its Faculty Members

Seventy faculty members stepped into the spotlight at the 16th annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon, and were honored for their work at San Jose State University.

“It is an honor for me to take part in this annual event, recognizing our faculty members for their years of service to San Jose State University and acknowledging the special achievements and contributions of this year’s four faculty awardees,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi in his prepared remarks.

2014-2015 Faculty Awards

“I have devoted my career to training students in order to develop the next generation of scientists who will tackle the next generation of tough issues in human system integration.  It is very gratifying to see that the university places such high value on those activities.”

With that said, Kevin Jordan, professor of Psychology in the College of Social Sciences, accepted the President’s Scholar Award. His 30-year career at the university is impressive. He’s authored or co-authored approximately 80 academic papers and presentations, supervised some 80 master’s theses, and secured nearly $200 million in research funding.

The Student Union ballroom erupted with applause as President Qayoumi presented the Distinguished Service Award to Scott Guenter, professor of Humanities in the College of Humanities and Arts. Guenter also received an award for his 25 years of service to the university.

Outstanding Professor Anne Marie Todd of the Department of Communication Studies in the College of Social Sciences and Outstanding Lecturer Cynthia Baer of the Department of English and Comparative Literature in the College of Humanities and the Arts also received a warm reception.

Yearly Service Awards

The university gave awards to faculty members with 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40 and 50 years of service. William McCraw, professor emeritus of Political Science and a Humanities lecturer, was the only person at this year’s luncheon to receive an SJSU Tower frame for 50 years of service.  As he walked to the stage, everyone in the ballroom rose to their feet and applauded.

“I feel a lot of pride for being associated with this vibrant campus,” said McCraw.  “It seems just like yesterday that I stepped foot on campus.”

More than 350 people turned out to honor the faculty members for their inspiring work and dedication to SJSU.

 

Climate Ride team

Green Ninja Team Joins Climate Ride

Climate Ride

Climate Ride team members before training in Woodside. Left to right, they are Ramya Shenoy, Huong Cheng, Kelly Chang, Eugene Cordero and Clare Cordero (photo by Steve Branz).

A team of Spartans will pedal hundreds of miles along the California coast this spring to raise awareness about climate change, and support SJSU’s environmental outreach program, The Green Ninja Project.

Before joining the team, the last time Ramya Shenoy, ’15 Computer Science, rode a bicycle was 11 years ago to pick up groceries for her parents in India. She recently rode 47 miles, and is determined to complete The Climate Ride, which runs May 17-21.

“I’m putting all my willpower into training for this. I think anything is possible, if you really put your heart into it,” Shenoy said.

The Team

The Green Ninja Team, a diverse group of SJSU students, alumni, and faculty and staff members, is participating in the California Climate Ride. They’ll be biking 320 miles in five days from Eureka to San Francisco to raise awareness about climate change and support environmental non-profit organizations like the Green Ninja project.

Shenoy and several other team members work for the Green Ninja Project, a non-profit environmental outreach program designed to educate middle school kids about climate change and inspire them to take action.

The Green Ninja Project is the brainchild of Professor Eugene Cordero, a climate scientist in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science.  Convincing Professor Cordero to participate in the Climate Ride wasn’t too difficult.

“I love cycling, I’m passionate about promoting solutions to climate change and our SJSU team is so inspiring,” Cordero said.

Sponsors

Each team member must fundraise $2,800 to ride, but they hope to raise $5,000 a piece.  Kelly Chang, ’13 Biological Sciences, the team captain, loves getting active outside and hopes to inspire others to get outdoors through the Climate Ride. She’s actively promoting the ride, and trying to get more riders and sponsors to sign up.

We’re always looking for new riders, and we welcome all levels of bike riders,” Chang said.

Chang has been contacting local businesses to partner with and support the team. So far, Good Karma Bikes has graciously donated a bike, which will be raffled off in an upcoming silent auction.

Training

The Green Ninja team has organized training rides every other Sunday and they recently completed their longest ride of 47 miles. Huong Cheng, ’15 Animation/Illustration, learned to ride a bike just one month ago.

“I want this to inspire my friends and family to take on challenges in life with a can-do attitude. I know once I finish this ride, I will not be afraid of any obstacle I come across,” Cheng said.

Learn more about SJSU’s Green Ninja Team and support their fundraising goals. Want to join the team?  Contact Kelly@greenninja.org.

Aaron Lington

Faculty Notes: How to Win a Grammy

At a University Scholar Series event, Associate Professor Aaron Lington, School of Music and Dance, shared some of the behind-the-scenes realities of producing and recording the album that won a 2014 Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album. He and his 20-piece jazz ensemble, Pacific Mambo Orchestra, “had to do the recording in a little bit of an unorthodox way,” Lington admitted. A $10,000 Kickstarter campaign paid for studio time, artwork, copyright fees and other necessities. Lington plays baritone saxophone.

COOL4ED, a digital library project whose goal is to bring low-cost textbooks to CSU, CCU and UC students, received the Outstanding Instructional Technology Website award at the annual Directors of Educational Technology/California Higher Education conference in December. COOL4ED partners with California Open Educational Resources Council, chaired by Associate Professor Katherine Harris, Department of English and Comparative Literature.

Two Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre Arts lecturers, York Kennedy and Michael Locher, received 2014 Theatre Bay Area Award nominations. Kennedy’s work on Cutting Ball Theatre’s new translation of Samuel Gallet’s Communiqué n° 10 earned him an Outstanding Lighting Design nomination. Locher garnered an Outstanding Scenic Design nomination for his work on Center REP Theatre’s production of Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth.

Lecturer Linda Levine, Department of Health Science and Recreation, and Associate Professor Yasue Yani, Department of World Languages and Literatures, received Helen L. Stevens Outstanding International Educator Awards in October, honored for creating opportunities for SJSU students to study abroad. Stevens is the retired director of International Programs and Services.

Gwen Mok

Gwendolyn Mok, Coordinator of Keyboard Studies

Pianist Gwendolyn Mok, coordinator of Keyboard Studies, performed Robert Schumann’s “Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44” with the Pražák Quartet at San Jose’s Le Petit Trianon Theatre. “It is a joyful piece. (The composer) wrote it for his wife Clara when he was in a very happy, bucolic period,” Mok said of the work. Mok and the Czech string quartet last performed at the Le Petit Trianon in 2011, collaborating on a piece by Dvořák. Both performances were sponsored by the San Jose Chamber Music Society.

Professor Annette Nellen, Department of Accounting and Finance and director of the master’s program in taxation, announced the publication of the sixth issue of The Contemporary Tax Journal, a student-managed online journal. Launched in 2011, the journal investigates and explains tax law and features the work of SJSU MST students alongside original articles by other academics and tax practitioners.

Congratulations to Joyce Osland, director of the Global Leadership Advancement Center and Lucas Endowed Professor of Global Leadership, for receiving the Scholarship and Critical Thinking Award at the Outstanding Leadership Book Awards in San Diego. Osland shared the honor with the co-editors of Advances in Global Leadership, volume eight (Emerald Group Publishing), a guide for both researchers and practitioners. “It’s a privilege to have a hand in growing this field of study, given its importance on the global stage,” Osland said.

Professor and Chair Lawrence Quill, Department of Political Science, published Secrets and Democracy: From Arcana Imperii to WikiLeaks (Palgrave Macmillan), an investigation of the role secrets play in liberal democracies and the impact of those secrets on the individual citizen’s “right to know.” Quill is a 2015 visiting fellow at the Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Wolfson College, Cambridge University.

Quake Column

Professor San Fratello’s “Quake Column” (courtesy of Emerging Objects).

Working with her partner at Emerging Objects, a 3D printing MAKE-tank based in San Francisco, Assistant Professor of Design Virginia San Fratello invented a 3-D printed earthquake-proof column designed to withstand major seismic activity. “Quake Column” was inspired by Incan earthquake architecture and uses no bricks or mortar.

Humanities Lecturer Emily Leah Silverman, author of Edith Stein and Regina Jonas: Religious Visionaries of the Death Camps (Routledge), talked about her book and research at an event sponsored by Florida International University’s Program in the Study of Spirituality. Edith Stein, a Catholic Jewish Carmelite nun, and Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi, were both executed by the Nazis in Auschwitz.

KQED Arts interviewed Associate Professor Mary Warner, Department of English and Comparative Literature, about the challenges of teaching aliterate students (students who can read but don’t care to do so). Of particular concern: students who identify themselves as non-readers but aspire to become teachers.

Giant Puppet

Spartan Filmmakers Create Movie Magic

Giant Puppet

A crew member works on a puppet for the animated short “Behind My Behind” (courtesy of Animation/Illustration).

San Jose State University will have a big showing at the 25th Cinequest Film Festival, which runs Feb. 24 to March 8 right here in downtown San Jose.

The films are spectacular yet admission is affordable at $6 for students and $8-11 for everyone else.

“Behind My Behind”  

Associate Professor of Animation/Illustration David Chai and 43 current and former students spent three months on “Behind My Behind,” the story of a disheartened writer who reunites with his love for creativity in a secret world he finds in his couch.

“Fueled by Trader Joe’s bananas and Costco pizza, students worked on everything from animation, creating backgrounds and building puppets and sets to looking for props at flea markets,” Professor Chai said.

Behind My Behind

A scene from “Behind My Behind” (courtesy of Associate Professor David Chai).

This is Chai’s 11th film, and the first one featuring stop-motion production. The short has already won two awards and been accepted into six film festivals total.

“Animation is a ton of work,” said Professor Chai, but he and his crew added some fun.

“We had many themed days including plaid and glasses day [dressing like the main character in the film], amazing hat day, chips day, necktie day, superhero shirt day, and a disastrous uncooked rice day,” Professor Chai said.

“Bell Jar”

Joshua Pausanos, ’15 Radio-Television-Film, and three friends had a few laughs while working on their new film, “Bell Jar.” JP Emodi, ’15 RTVF, Riley Leggin, ’17 RTVF, and Nika Burnett, a UC Santa Barbara alumna, shot the film over three days.

Pausanos and Burnett wrote “Bell Jar,” inspired by Sylvia Plath’s novel, The Bell Jar.

Bell Jar

Meticulous preparations for a swim in a scene from “Bell Jar” (courtesy of Joshua Pausanos, ’15 Radio-Television-Film).

“We wanted to tell a very visual story showing the pressure and failure involved in wanting to be perfect at something. We chose to do this by following a swimmer who strives to be perfect,” Pausanos said.

“Bell Jar” won the award for best cinematography at the SJSU Campus MovieFest last October and will compete in the same category at the Campus MovieFest finale this summer in Hollywood.

“9th Hole”

Jacob Ohlausen, ’15 RTVF, and a crew of 20 current or former SJSU students produced “9th Hole,” a comical look at fathers protecting their daughters on prom night.

The film was created for Cinequest’s Barco Escape program, which uses technology to give movie goers a more immersive cinematic experience.

Instead of one screen, the Barco Escape uses three screens of images and sound, placing the viewer right in the middle of the action.

Pebble Beach SEMT

Golf: Their Favorite Course

Pebble Beach SEMT

Marissa Giacomo manages a concession stand staffed with volunteers from the Carmel Youth Center at the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (College of Applied Sciences and the Arts photo).

Thirty-four SJSU hospitality and management students are among the 150,000 people converging on the Monterey Peninsula this week for the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Though they may get a brief moment to soak in the sun, or even catch a glimpse of a top golfer or celebrity, the SJSU Special Event Management Team will be busy working.

Kelsey Castellano, ’16 Hospitality Management, arrived at the Pebble Beach resort at 6 a.m. Feb. 11, the day of the celebrity tournament. She expected to work a 12-hour shift.

“I can take a break, but I’ll probably just eat what’s nearby,” Castellano said, referring to a behind-the-scenes area where food is kept for employees to snack on.

One team. One dream.

Wearing blue Pebble Beach jackets, the SJSU students will spend a full week gaining valuable hands-on experience in a professional environment. They’re managing the concessions, including two hospitality tents and the on-course food and beverage operations.

Pebble Beach

During the 2015 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, SJSU students from a variety of disciplines intern as managers overseeing operations in concessions, corporate chalets and corporate sky boxes such as the ones seen in the background along the 17th green at Pebble Beach (College of Applied Sciences and the Arts photo.

Marissa Giacomo, another hospitality management major, is in charge of a concession stand near the 18th green. Her staff consists of volunteers from the Carmel Youth Center, which will receive 10 percent of the concession stand proceeds.

“It feels good to know everyone has a job. I’m surprised at how open they are to doing things,” Giacomo said.

Professional training

The students manage and oversee multiple corporate client events; host VIP guests in luxury suites; interact with servers and bartenders; and help manage employees. Castellano is over-seeing five employees in one of the skyboxes for a corporate client.

“I’m in control of my staff,” she said. “They are asking me questions. Until today, I had no idea what it would be like.”

Many former students of the program say their time at the AT&T Pro-Am gave them enough experience and know-how of event management that they were able to get jobs right after graduation. In golf terms, that’s what you’d call, a hole in one.

This is the 10th year SJSU’s Hospitality Management Program has partnered with Pebble Beach Resorts to assist with the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, one of the most popular golf competitions on the PGA tour.

egg logger

Gaining a Birds-eye View

Did you know some wild birds turn their eggs 50 to 60 times a day during nesting season? Or in some species, the temperature of an egg inside a nest drops about 2.5 degrees from day to night?

Those are just some of the findings Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Scott Shaffer discovered during recent studies with his new high-tech egg loggers.

“The egg loggers open up a lot of new territory to explore what the birds are doing,” said Professor Shaffer, a wildlife biologist in the College of Science.

Micro-electronic eggs

Associate Professor Scott Shaffer

Associate Professor Scott Shaffer (photo by Muhamed Causevic, ’15 BFA Graphic Design)

The egg loggers look like real eggs, but they’re far from it. The eggs are plastic, and made on a 3-D printer. Inside are micro-electronics similar to those used in smart devices such as tablets and cell phones.

An accelerometer and magnetometer measure motion and angle changes in three dimensions, and a thermistor monitors temperature.

Each sensor takes a reading every second, and gives researchers more definite estimates to calculate three-dimensional movements, and create 3-D animations of movement patterns, something not available until now.

Improving hatching rates

Egg turning is critical for embryonic development in most bird species. The information provided by the egg loggers could help researchers learn how to improve hatching rates of artificially incubated eggs.

In addition, researchers are seeking to better understand how man-made disturbances affect hatching success, and even learn how birds laden with certain contaminates like mercury influence hormone levels.

Shaffer and his team developed advanced egg loggers and placed them in the nests of five different-size bird species in geographic locations ranging from the tropics to Antarctica.

The research was funded in part by the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology (CSUPERB).

egg logger

The egg loggers look like real eggs, but they’re far from it (photo by Muhamed Causevic, ’15 BFA Graphic Design).

Technology aiding ecology

“From an ecological view, my long-term goal is to investigate whether birds turn their eggs differently based on the number of eggs in a nest, nest type, age and experience of parent birds, or breeding environment,” Professor Shaffer said.

Bio-logging technology has been used since the mid 1960s, but rapid changes in microprocessors have reduced component size and increased the sophistication of senor technology.

“It allows us to study wild animals in ways that weren’t possible 30 or 40 years ago,” Shaffer said.

“The Barbershop Diaries” Debuts

What’s in a barbershop? One heck of a story.

At a shop just blocks from campus, meet the owner, an engineering college dropout seeking salvation after serving time; his old college buddy, now a Hollywood star; a lesbian barber juggling a domestic relationship and her mother’s stage-four breast cancer; a Muslim struggling to find a quiet place to pray between cuts; an Ethiopian immigrant spending his jobless benefits on barber school; and many more people who have found a home at the Barbers Inc.

Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Michael Cheers and his students premiere their documentary “The Barbershop Diaries” 3 p.m. Feb. 8 at Morris Dailey Auditorium. They’ll also unveil an online portrait gallery saluting South Bay barbers and beauty salon owners.