Students and Faculty Members Recognized for Environmental Effort

Photo: Courtesy of Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful

Photo: Courtesy of Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful

Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, a community organization that works closely with the SJSU Center for Community Learning and Leadership and CommUniverCity, has received a 2015 Outstanding Environmental Project award from the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary.

“This award demonstrates the value of collaboration, as a community of stewards, to raise awareness, educate, restore and preserve our precious waterways,” said CCLL Director Michael Fallon. “On yet another front, the partnership between SJSU, the city of San Jose, and environmental organizations is benefiting our community.”

More than 200 SJSU students and faculty members have been volunteering their time and talent to help clean and care for Coyote Creek, a 64-mile long waterway spanning Henry Coe Park near Gilroy, San Jose, and the San Francisco Bay.

A multidisciplinary approach

Spartan volunteers include faculty members and students from the departments of Environmental Studies and MIS (Management Information Systems), and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Volunteer Mary Yan, ’16 Environmental Studies, appreciates Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful Program Manager Deb Kramer’s passion and attitude “about bringing organizations together to work towards the same goals.”

“All the issues and connections to the creek are very interesting to me,” Yan said. “I am hoping that Coyote Creek becomes a successful restoration story one day without any reason to continue cleaning it up.”

Wildlife, homelessness

Photo: Mary Yan, ’16 Environmental Studies

Coyote Creek is a wildlife habitat and location for an important steelhead trout restoration project. Bike and hiking trails line the banks, which have also become a refuge for the homeless.

Acutely aware of the need to mitigate the environmental impact of homeless camps while caring for those who live there, SJSU advertising and public relations faculty members and students organized Coyote Creek Howl, a one-day summit in April focusing on ecological and human issues.

Communication studies students produced “Journey Through Homelessness: Silicon Valley’s Unsolved Problem,” described as “a thought and emotion provoking performance that immersed the audience into a world ignored by the masses and experienced by the few.”

Work continues

On Oct. 2, SJSU hosted the premiere of “Exodus from the Jungle,” a documentary on the closure of the nation’s largest homeless encampment, which was located within a mile of campus, on the banks of Coyote Creek.

As a new academic year begins, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful continues to connect this generation of Spartans with service-learning opportunities. The goal? Gifting a vibrant watershed, and the knowledge of how to rally community support to protect it, to future generations.

 

SJSU Alumni Association Awards Scholarships

Randy Vazquez,  '16 Journalism

Randy Vazquez, ’16 Journalism

More than 50 students received $150,000 in scholarships at the SJSU Alumni Association Scholarship Awards Reception on Sept. 15 in the Student Union.

“All of the scholarship recipients have a clear vision of how they will achieve concrete goals and make a difference after completing their college degrees,” said Alumni Association President Coleetta McElroy, ’97 Public Administration. She also serves as the university’s director of financial aid and scholarships.

Honorees

The honorees represent seven colleges and a cross-section of majors. They include:

  • James Keeley, ’16 Therapeutic Recreation, is a disabled veteran who works with homeless veterans.
  • Maria Stone, ’16 MA French and MS Physics, seeks to participate in space research looking for life on other planets.
  • Melissa Tracy, ’17 Child and Adolescent Development, chose her field based on her personal experience with foster care.

Read about more scholarship recipients and learn how to apply next year on the Alumni Association website.

Generous Support

Photo: Randy Vazquez,  '16 Journalism

Linh Dieu Do, ’16 Chemical Engineering, received the Hal Riddle Memorial Scholarship (Photo: Randy Vazquez, ’16 Journalism).

The SJSU program is among the most generous in the California State University system.

“What makes this program remarkable is these scholarships are funded by Spartans, for Spartans,” said Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations Brian Bates. “The donors—people in our community including teachers, accountants and artists—believe in creating opportunities through education for generations to come.”

In this way, alumni and students alike are part of a long legacy at San Jose State, spanning a half century of giving and receiving. And this legacy will continue, as this year’s recipients vow to pay it forward.

Paying it Forward

Linh Dieu Do, ’16 Chemical Engineering, received the Hal Riddle Memorial Scholarship, named for a lifelong educator and member of the Alumni Association’s Santa Clara County chapter.

“I am really hoping that someday I will be successful and will be able to come back and support my fellow students,” she said. “I work by this: Once you put your heart, your soul, your mind into something you love, nothing can stop you.”

 

Men’s Water Polo Returns to SJSU

Men's water polo coaches gather around their players at the edge of the pool.

The San Jose State men’s water polo team jumped back in the pool after a 34-year hiatus for its season opener against the Santa Clara Broncos on September 5 (Photo: Terrell Lloyd).

In the 1960s and 1970s, SJSU had a powerhouse water polo team. They won a national title in 1968, and finished in the top five nationally four times in the 1970s. But in 1981, the school discontinued the program to comply with Title IX regulations.

Bill Simpkins, a former college water polo player himself and son of long-time SJSU benefactors and alumni Alan and Phyllis Simpkins, repeatedly pressed the university to reinstate the sport. But the funds weren’t there. So Simpkins spearheaded an effort to raise enough money to bring the sport back.

“The team had a winning history. It needed to come back,” Simpkins said. “The sport of water polo has not added a new D1 team for over 30 years. Hopefully, this will start a trend. My parents, Alan and Phyllis, were my wingmen.”

Alumni support

Before the team’s first game, several donors and former water polo players participated in a cap ceremony, giving swim caps to the 19 players on the current roster (Photo: Terrell Lloyd).

Bill Simpkins and his wife Brigid made a generous donation. So did Peter Ueberroth,’59 Business Administration. Ueberroth is a former travel industry executive, Major League Baseball commissioner and U.S. Olympic Committee chairman.

Jane Hind set up a $1 million dollar endowment in her late husband’s name. Greg Hind, ’69  Health Science, was an All-American water polo player in the 1970s at SJSU.

Altogether, more than 100 people donated more than $3.5 million, which will sustain the program for five years until the university takes over the financing. Interest from the Greg Hine endowment will fund student-athlete scholarships beginning next year.

Cap ceremony

Before the team’s first game in September, several donors and former water polo players participated in a cap ceremony, giving swim caps to the 19 players on the current roster.

For a moment in time, right there on the pool’s edge, the years melted away as the generations bonded over their love of the game and their quest to keep this Spartan tradition going strong.

 

U.S. News Rankings: SJSU Eighth Overall

fall-welcome-days-dschmitz-082015-52 copy

Students lounging on the second floor of the recently expanded Student Union (photo by David Schmitz).

SJSU Media Relations contacts:
Pat Harris, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu
Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – The 2016 edition of the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, available now online, ranks San Jose State University at eighth overall among the West’s top public universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, keeping SJSU in the region’s top 10.

“San Jose State University sends more graduates to work in Silicon Valley than any other institution of higher learning,” said Interim President Susan Martin. “As a pillar of such a vibrant economy, SJSU excels in business, engineering and far more—from teaching and nursing to economics and the arts—providing a springboard for careers shaping our region and our world.”

Engineering

San Jose State’s Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering received high marks, ranking fourth in the nation among public engineering programs offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, excluding service academies.

“To once again be ranked as one of the top engineering programs in the country by the U.S. News & World Report is a well-deserved honor,” said Andrew Hsu, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are incredibly proud that our students are receiving the education they need to compete with graduates from other top universities. Our commitment to our students is evident in our job-placement success rates; our college is the largest supplier of engineers to Silicon Valley.”

2015 College of Engineering Convocation. Photo: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications

Students preparing to enter the Event Center for the College of Engineering Convocation last spring (photo by Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’15 MS Mass Communications).

Business

In addition, SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business was ranked third in the Bay Area among accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

“Since the naming of the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business by Don and Sally Lucas in 2013, the college has enhanced its educational offerings and its focus on student success,” said Dean David M. Steele.

Read more from U.S. News & World Report.

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, master’s, and doctoral degrees in 145 areas of study with an additional 108 concentrations – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 33,000 students and nearly 4,370 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.

Inspiring Student Receives Top CSU Honor

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor's Office

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor’s Office

SJSU Media Relations contacts:
Pat Harris, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu
Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1789, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – Melissa Ortiz, ’17 Computer Engineering, has faced more adversity in her young life than most people do in a lifetime. After her father died, she became homeless, lived in extreme poverty, and dealt with physical and mental abuse.

Overcoming Odds

But Ortiz managed to overcome those obstacles. She started her own company and secured an internship at Intel to support herself so she could go to college. She is the first in her family to do so.

That’s why Ortiz has been named a recipient of the 2015 CSU Trustees’ Awards for Outstanding Achievement. The awards are given to 23 students who overcome adversity and demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. She will fly to the Chancellor’s Office in Long Beach on Sept. 8 to pick up her award.

Love of Engineering

Ortiz is majoring in computer engineering with an emphasis on embedded systems. She maintains a 3.3 GPA. She’s also a member of several campus organizations, but it’s computer engineering that intrigues her the most.

 “Engineering brings out the kid in me, I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I work on a project,” Ortiz says.

 

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor's Office

Photo courtesy of CSU Chancellor’s Office

After completing her undergraduate degree, Ortiz plans to earn a master’s degree in computer science and business administration, with the hopes of one day, running her own engineering firm. She also wants to inspire young women to be independent and take an interest in STEM fields.

Ortiz was named the William Hauck scholar. The Hauck endowment will provide $6,000 to this year’s CSU Trustee Award recipient. The late William Hauck, ’63 Social Studies, served as deputy chief of staff to Governor Pete Wilson and chief of staff to Assembly speakers Bob Morretti and Willie L. Brown, Jr.

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, master’s and doctoral degrees in 134 areas of study with 110 concentrations – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 33,000 students and nearly 4,370 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’s Accreditation Reaffirmed

WASC noted SJSU presented "a detailed and organized approach to describe assessment" of five core competencies, with a special focus on information literacy and writing (photo by Christina Olivas).

In a letter reaffirming the university’s accreditation, WASC noted SJSU presented a detailed and organized approach to describing assessment of five core competencies, with a special focus on information literacy and writing.

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

SAN JOSE, CA – The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has reaffirmed San Jose State University’s accreditation for seven years.

Continue reading

NBC Bay Area: San Jose State University is Top School for Most Silicon Valley Hires

Posted by NBC Bay Area on July 16, 2015.

By Scott Budman

According to a recent survey by Jobvite, San Jose State University is the top school in the nation pushing for tech talent.

The Jobvite survey shows that SJSU has the most students hired by top tech companies in the Silicon Valley.

The career center at SJSU helps students bridge the gap between school and work.

“We promote and advocate internships and having that real-world experience while you’re in school, so that when you walk out of here with a degree, you also have years of experience as an intern,” said Daniel Newell, Program Manager of Workforce and Economic Development.

View the full story. 

SJSU Leads Silicon Valley Hiring

Photo: Christina Olivas

2013 SJSU career fair (photo by Christina Olivas).

Silicon Valley companies hire more San Jose State University students and alumni than any other college or university in the country, according to a recent analysis.

Jobvite, a recruiting platform, analyzed seven million applications and 40,000 hires to determine the schools that had the most students hired by top companies in and around Silicon Valley,” according to Business Insider.

San Jose State came out on top. More than 75,000 career opportunities including 11,000 internships were offered last year through the SJSU Career Center.

Approximately 4,000 employer representatives attended SJSU career fairs last year. Engineering and business were the top two industries recruiting on campus, followed by the non-profit/government, education and communications sectors.

Spartan Racing driver

Spartan Racing Scores First Place at National Meet

Spartan Racing at Formula SAE Lincoln, Nebraska (courtesy of Spartan Racing).

Spartan Racing at Formula SAE Lincoln, Nebraska (photo by Michael Favuzzi).

San Jose State’s Spartan Racing team took first place overall at the nation’s leading collegiate race car competition, held June 17-20 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

This is the first time in the contest’s 35-year history that a California crew topped the field. Ninety teams attended this year’s meeting.

Spartan Racing develops its cars in a workshop at the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering. The group is the student chapter of SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) International.

Spartan Racing

Spartan Racing’s vehicle (photo by Michael Favuzzi).

Formula SAE encourages students to design and build race cars based on regulations and standards like those used by professional teams. The experience is considered excellent job training for work in the automotive industry.

What’s next for Spartan Racing? Europe! The group is making plans to attend the world’s most competitive meets, held in Austria and Germany.

 

 

President Obama Honors Professor

President Barack Obama meets with the 2013 winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM) in the Oval Office, June 17, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama meets with the 2013 winners of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring in the Oval Office, June 17, 2015. Professor Soto is on the far right (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Professor of Biological Sciences Julio Soto met President Barack Obama at a White House reception on June 16 recognizing recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

The award honors individuals who have made extraordinary efforts to engage students from communities that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The National Science Foundation organized the event.

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.

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.

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.

Congrats, 2015 Graduates!

By Melissa Anderson, Executive Communications Specialist

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

San Jose State University graduates received congratulations and advice on being prepared for the circuitous route life often takes from U.S. House of Representative Leader Nancy Pelosi and honorary degree recipient Bob Ladouceur at Commencement May 23 in Spartan Stadium.

The Saturday event celebrated this year’s more than 8,500 students who earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in a wide range of disciplines from seven colleges at SJSU.

Family members and guests arrived as early as 7:30 a.m. to find an optimal seat to see graduates on the stadium floor. Occasional bubbles floated up from the stadium on the cool morning breeze as guests waited for the ceremony to start. One mother waited along the edge of the stands and dropped an orchid lei down to her child as the graduates processed into the stadium.

Many graduates donned decorated caps acknowledging the hard work to complete their degrees, while others emphasized their future plans. Others decorated their caps to evoke solidarity with their classmates—a swath of students from the College of Humanities and the Arts sat together with the same design on their caps.

“You become part of Spartan Nation,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi, during the ceremony. “Well over 200,000 Spartan alumni from all walks of life are making a difference in every corner of the world.”

Pelosi congratulated the students on joining the CSU Class of 3 Million. The 23-campus system has conferred degrees to 1 in 20 college graduates in the United States, with the alumni roster growing to three million with the class of 2015 graduates.

Nancy Pelosi is the perfect candidate to speak to us today because she embodies the grit and determination that make us Spartans,” Qayoumi said, introducing Pelosi.

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

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

In her remarks, Pelosi touched on the beauty of diversity at SJSU.

“Have confidence in your education and be proud of your experience as one of the most diverse classes in America—and I might add 50 percent women,” she said. “The beauty is in the mix. It is true of San Francisco and it is true of this graduating class. Trust in the value of diverse and different perspectives.”

She also reflected on San Jose State’s influence on its surrounding community.

“You have been studying and living in the cradle of innovation,” she said. “You haven’t just been living here and going to school here. This school has contributed to the success of Silicon Valley in important ways.”

Pelosi shared a personal story of how she consulted her youngest child, a high school senior, before running for Congress.

“I never imagined one day I would go from the kitchen to Congress, from being a homemaker to a House speaker,” she said. “The opportunity was presented and I had to take inventory to be sure I was ready.”

Pelosi ran and has represented California’s 12th House district for more than 27 years.

“Leave here with the confidence that you are ready,” Pelosi said. “Know that you have been empowered by the strength of your value, the excellence of your education and the support of your families. When you encounter opportunities, be ready.”

During the ceremony, President Qayoumi conferred an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Bob Ladouceur, ’77 Criminal Justice, whose astounding 12-season, 151-game winning streak coaching football at De La Salle High School is the subject of the movie, When the Game Stands Tall.

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

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

Ladouceur, who played on the Spartan football team for two years as a student, shared how his journey to becoming a legendary football coach was indirect.

“My graduation from San Jose State was not an end point, but another beginning in my education,” he said, noting that his chosen field of criminal justice had few openings the year he completed his degree. “It was one of the curveballs life throws you. I retooled (my goals.) Two years later on a whim I answered a job announcement and that was where I spent the last 35 years.”

Ladouceur credited his education at SJSU with making him a lifelong learner who has always sought the truth.

“Continue your education independently or formally,” he said. “Be proud and be thankful. Seek out your parents, support groups and show gratitude. As we said after every practice on this field and every game, ‘It’s great to be a Spartan.’”

Following the speeches, the deans each took the podium to confer the master’s and bachelor’s degrees upon the graduates. As the ceremony finished, the graduates joined in singing the alma mater while guests cheered.

See and share photos and messages from commencement with #SJSU15 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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.

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.

SJSU Cheer

Spartan Cheerleaders are National Champions—Again!

SJSU Cheer

The SJSU cheerleading team wins the national pennant (photo courtesy of Kelvin Lam).

For the second year in a row, the SJSU cheerleading team walked away with first place at the United Spirit Association Collegiate Championships.  They competed against 10 other four-year schools March 22 and 23 in Anaheim.

Head Coach Kelvin Lam says the team prepares physically and mentally all year long for this one competition.

If you compare it to football, you only have one chance to run a play to make a touchdown.  There are no second chances, so everything has to be perfect. That tells you the amount of pressure the cheerleaders face,” Lam said.

Acrobatics

The 22 women and two men team performed a two-and-a-half-minute routine choreographed to customized music and sound effects. Lam says their acrobatics, tumbling and stunts were nearly perfect on the first day, but less so on the second day.


Because of that, many team members were nervous going into the awards ceremony, uncertain of the outcome. But the Spartan cheerleaders were judged best overall in the two-day competition.

Lam says when they heard they won first place, “everyone was just ecstatic, jumping everywhere, just so full of excitement.”

Sweet victory

Cheerleader Paige Collins, ’15 Child and Adolescent Development, is one of seven seniors who will leave SJSU with a national win in hand.

The team this year was absolutely amazing, and it feels amazing to share a title with people who worked so hard and deserved it,” Collins said.

The win was even sweeter given the team had faced some adversity throughout the year, including a weight room injury just two weeks before the Anaheim competition, forcing major changes in the routine.

“It always feels good to win and it always feels great to get pats on the back from other people, but the most satisfying thing for me is to see how the team handled itself before, during and after the event,” Lam says. “I couldn’t have picked a better group of people to represent SJSU.”

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.

Guna

Five Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

Kevin Jordan

Professor Kevin Jordan at a NASA event with Associate Administrator of NASA Robert Lightfoot and NASA Ames Director Pete Worden (photo courtesy of the Department of Psychology).

An SJSU professor who conducts research with graduate students and NASA scientists to make air travel safer has received a $20,000 Wang Family Excellence Award. Professor of Psychology Kevin Jordan will be honored Jan. 27 by the CSU Board of Trustees in Long Beach. Jordan has been a faculty member for more than 30 years, and has served as a committee chair for more than 80 completed master’s theses.

A student team is a finalist in Walt Disney Imagineering’s 24th Imaginations competition, culminating Jan. 31. Zaid Karajeh, ’16 Aerospace Engineering, Dondel Briones, ’16 Aerospace Engineering, Amanda Sharpe, ’15 Animation and Illustration, and Simone Getty, ’16 Mechanical Engineering, each received a five-day, all expenses paid trip to the company’s headquarters in Glendale, where they will present their entry and interview for internships.

Guna Selvaduray

Professor Guna Selvaduray with Daniel Khuc, ’15 Biomedical Engineering, and College of Engineering Dean Andrew Hsu (photo by Kyle Chesser).

Professor of Biomedical Engineering Guna Selvaduray received the 2015 Andreoli Faculty Service Award at the CSU Annual Biotechnology Symposium held Jan. 8-10 here in Silicon Valley. One CSU faculty member is selected annually for the honor, which recognizes outstanding contributions to biotech programs. Selvaduray led the development of new bioengineering programs at SJSU and the establishment of the Biomedical Engineering Society.

James Jones

James and Tamika Jones (courtesy of @LoveJones4Kids)

Everyone knows SJSU has sports champions. But do you know about our e-sports champion? Sophomore Loc Tran is a top player on SJSU’s video game team, according to The New York Times. “Video game competitions…have taken off on campuses across the country,” the paper said. “More than 10,000 students now play in the biggest college league.” Tran helped SJSU beat CSU Fullerton at a tournament last fall.

Oakland Raiders wide receiver James Jones, ’06 Sociology, and his wife Tamika Jones, ’05 Child and Adolescent Development, received the Drum Major Award at the 35th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon on presented Jan. 19 by the African American Community Service Agency. The couple founded the Love Jones 4 Kids Foundation, building on James’s start as a homeless child. Also honored at the luncheon with the Facing the Challenge Award was Congressman Mike Honda, ’68 Biological  Sciences and Spanish, ’74 MA Education.

SJSU Remembers Irene Dalis

Irene Dalis

Irene Dalis

San Jose lost one of its finest teachers Sunday with the death of Irene Dalis, ’46 Music. The acclaimed opera star, former professor, and founder of Opera San Jose was 89.

Irene Dalis poured all of her energy into providing young people with the greatest gift any teacher can give, the gift of opportunity,” President Mohammad Qayoumi said.

Raised on Delmas Avenue on downtown’s edge, Dalis arrived at San Jose State with the intention of studying piano.

An older sister encouraged her to pursue a master’s in music education at Columbia University in New York. While a Fulbright Scholar in Italy, Dalis auditioned as a singer.

Finding her voice

She went on to spend more than two decades as the highest-paid mezzo-soprano with the Metropolitan Opera, sharing the stages with superstars such as Leontyne Price and Placido Domingo.

It’s hard to know when you are young what your real talent is,” Dalis told the Spartan Daily in 2010. “Don’t be surprised to find that you don’t end up doing what you set out to do.”

After retiring in 1976, she came home to San Jose with her husband and daughter. Soon thereafter, SJSU President John H. Bunzel invited Dalis to return to her alma mater as a professor of music.

She didn’t teach voice, sensing her vocal technique was specific to her. Instead, Dalis drew on San Jose State’s homegrown talent to build an opera workshop that developed so many strong singers that she sought an even larger stage for them.

Dalis founded Opera San Jose in 1984, providing her singers with all the support they needed to grow, including two-year residencies and housing.

Commitment

At the same time, she remained deeply committed to San Jose State, inviting students to audition for Opera San Jose principal and second roles and chorus in addition to providing props and costumes for campus productions.

“The effect she had had on my life was tremendous,” said Chloe Smart, ’14 Vocal Performance. “She was always supportive of me and constantly let me know that she was on my side. As a young singer, I can’t tell you how important those words were to me at that time and even now.”

She also recommended that a mezzo-soprano she hand-picked for Opera San Jose take on the campus position Dalis once held.

She changed my life,” said Layna Chianakas, an Illinois native who made San Jose her home after becoming a resident artist with the company in 1995, and director of the university’s Opera Theatre program in 2007.

The Marriage of Figaro was the program’s first performance under Chianakas in 2012. Dalis attended, although she was still struggling to recover from a debilitating car crash in 2010.

“The curtains were still closed but tears were already streaming down her cheeks,” Chianakas recalled. “She was so happy to see the program thriving.”

Students Compete in Innovation Challenge

Students present their ideas at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge Showcase Nov. 19 in the Student Union (Robert C. Bain photo).

Students present their ideas at the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge Showcase Nov. 19 in the Student Union (Robert C. Bain photo).

Registering for classes at a university as large and complicated as San Jose State can be like solving a complex puzzle.

That’s where the college scheduling application Saryan comes in. What used to take a few hours now takes a few minutes for the app’s 900 unique users.

Created by student entrepreneurs Sargon Jacob, ’15 Business Administration, and Bryan Miller, ’17 Computer Science, the fledgling business won first place in the Best Overall Innovation category of the 2014 Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge.

Organized annually by the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, SVIC promotes creativity and entrepreneurship by generating and showcasing innovative business ideas.

This year, the ideas ranged from the edible (FarmersAreHere tells you where to find farmers’ markets) to the technical (wireless charging for your electric cars).

The Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge is a great event for students from all across the university, plus our international partners, because it gives them the opportunity to develop ‘ideation’ skills in an area of interest,” said Bill Nance, SVIC director and professor of Management Information Systems.

This is exactly how it what happened for Jacob. He came up with the idea for his app based on a personal experience.

“I typically spent, in totality each semester, at least 10 to 14 hours scheduling my classes over a few days,” Jacob said. “I knew this was an issue.”

After conducting research, he learned many other students struggled to find the right classes at the right times. He reached out to Miller for technical assistance, and to his professors for overall support.

Sargon Jacob (center) received first  first place in the Best Overall Innovation category of the 2014 Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge (Robert C. Bain photo).

Sargon Jacob (center) with Dean David M. Steele and SVIC Director and Professor Bill Nance (Robert C. Bain photo).

“I have been extremely fortunate to be able to get access to professors in the MIS department,” Jacob said. “Richard Sessions was extremely influential early on. He introduced me to Bill Nance, who has been very supportive.

“Both professors literally opened their doors to me. Without them, Bryan and I would not have pursued this project with such intensity. At our peak, we each dedicated around 60 hours a week — with me, a full-time student, and Bryan, a part-time student with a day job.”

SVIC recruits more than twenty judges to evaluate all the ideas, provide feedback and select finalists as well as winners, many of whom drew their ideas from college life.

From Bike Commuters to Entrepreneurs

Four electrical engineering majors refined their plan to provide blinkers to bicyclists based on their commutes.

“Most of us bike from campus to our apartments after school, so we implemented things that we thought would be crucial for our safety,” said Vignesh Ramachandran, ’14 Electrical Engineering.

And so Night Square was born, with assistance from Professor of Electrical Engineering Ping Hsu.

Ramachandran and teammates Aaron Romero, Pratiek Pathak and Travis Johnson designed the flexible 15-by-15-inch LED display for bicyclists to wear on their backs, making the bikers more visible at night.

A student demonstrates Night Square during the Elevator Pitch Competition (Robert C. Bain photo).

Vignesh Ramachandran presents Night Square during the Elevator Pitch Competition (Robert C. Bain photo).

“Buttons on the bike’s handle bar will allow the Night Square to display right and left turn arrows and brake signals,” Ramachandran said. “Also, there are buzzers that will be placed conveniently near each ear so that the rider will know which turn signal is on, similar to the ticking from car turn signals.”

The Night Square prototype was an eye-catcher at the SVIC Showcase Nov. 19 in the Student Union Ballroom, and it received second place in the Best Overall Innovation category. The team has big dreams for Night Square.

Our plans for the future are to take this as far as possible,” Ramachandran said. “Our goal is to incorporate and sell this product to our target market.”

His thinking reflects the Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge’s goals.

“Students learn how to present their ideas to experienced innovators and entrepreneurs, who provides feedback they can use to enhance or extend their initial ideas,” Nance said.

“It’s fascinating to watch the students grow through the event, as they learn to refine their explanations and pitch their projects.”