Students Chronicle Change in “Harlem Reimagined”

collage of people and apartments

Students paid homage to James Van Der Zee, whose work presented Harlem as a deep residential and creative home to legions of black individuals, families, traditions, businesses and institutions of excellence.

Editor’s note: “Reimagining James Van Der Zee,” an exhibit based on the “Harlem Reimagined”  project described below, opens with a reception 4-6 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.

By David E. Early, Hearst Visiting Journalism Professor in Residence

One hundred years ago, James Van Der Zee, the famed cultural photographer, launched his Harlem-based business that focused on portraits, lifestyle, art, music, intellectual pursuits and numerous efforts at achieving racial equality for black folks.

Now, a century later, a team of photojournalism students from San Jose State University, led by Associate Professor Duane Michael Cheers, returned to New York on a project entitled, “Harlem Reimagined.”  Their task was to take an intense, visual inspection of the community today, as it deals with a wave of gentrification that threatens to diminish or remove Harlem as the nation’s black, cultural mecca.

In a four-day, on-the-ground, academic attack, the SJSU photo-rangers took a team of 10 to New York. That group became part of a roving army of 45 educators, reporters, guides, high school students, activists and Harlem locals — many of whom, with hungry cameras in tow — captured thousands of defining images.

Back when Van Der Zee was working, the prolific African-American shooter produced an enormous collection that beautifully captured all factions of Harlem life before, during and after the Harlem Renaissance. The photographer’s work, famously featured in a 1969 show at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, presented Harlem as a deep residential and creative home to legions of black individuals, families, traditions, businesses and institutions of excellence.

Student glasses

A portrait reflects Harlem today.


Harlem remains a busy and soulful, African-American village, but one that is absorbing an unsettling wave of gentrification. Left unchecked, the movement threatens to wipe out long-term residents, along with the schools, churches, businesses, neighborhoods, entertainment venues and social justice organizations that have defined African-American achievement for decades.

Surging real estate values have already shoved aside thousands of poor and middle-income blacks by building and refurbishing numerous living spaces into ultra-expensive domiciles. The great fear in Harlem is that gentrification might deliver on an oft-heard, cold declaration: “Those who can pay, can stay.”

The SJSU photo project hopes to capture the struggle against financial and racial forces that threaten to transform Harlem into something unrecognizable to the very people who have nourished it for decades.

The energetic shooters searched the streets, morning-til-night, looking for the shimmer and the shame, the pride and the poverty, the love and the loathing that happens when widespread change shoves a beloved community into an unknown realm.


Students patrolled and shot life on streets named after black luminaries.

Students photographed everything from the famed Apollo Theater to the Studio Museum of Harlem. From parks bearing statues of Harriet Tubman and Duke Ellington, to the colorful frenzy of the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market, stuffed with genuine, African goods.

They patrolled and shot life on streets named after black luminaries — Frederick Douglass, Adam Clayton Powell and Martin Luther King Jr. — and challenged people, black and white, to discuss the unlikely conundrum: the possible dismantling of the most precious, black community in America.

Into the lenses of their roving cameras, shooters also caught The Shrine urban beats nightclub, The Graffiti Wall of Fame, Sylvia’s upscale soul restaurant and prominent academies named after Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, author James Baldwin and educator Mary McLeod Bethune.

Up on Harlem’s Sugarhill, they shot a restaurant where comedian Redd Foxx and Malcolm X worked the kitchen together and a single apartment building where Supreme Court Justice Marshall, W.E.B. DuBois and Walter White once lived. Imagine, civil rights giants of the law, education and racial justice in a single structure along with another tenant Maestro Ellington, The Duke.

Students also explored unique and highly personal establishments: Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center, owned and operated by the inspirational Janifer Wilson, a retired physician at Bronx Lebanon Hospital who worked in the department of surgery. Today, she despairs that hers is the only black-owned bookstore in Manhattan.

Another store, Hats By Bunn, turned out to be a slim, miraculous emporium where one man crafts supple, sharp and colorful head wear by hand on an ancient machine. His store is also an easy-going, drop-in center for friends, and the curious and loving customers the world over.

“I make people look good and feel good,” says Bunn, whose creativity feeds off the music filling his shop six days a week. “My designs come from the rhythms of the moment.”

Whole Foods

The team of visual cultural excavators even looked at the fresh crop of unlikely new businesses, including Whole Foods.

The team of visual cultural excavators even looked at the fresh crop of unlikely new businesses: Whole Foods to Starbucks, CVS to Buffalo Wild Wings. They even absorbed the images out of a burger-and-fries eatery called Harlem Shake, whose owners confessed how they tried to honor the community by reproducing a funky, “Harlem vibe,” from back in the day.

In the end, the visual exploration of Harlem at this critical, life-altering moment in the community’s history, will become a riveting, educational document that will speak intelligently and from the heart in the service of cultural history, for decades to come.

“Reimagining James Van Der Zee” Opens at King Library

By Professor Michael Cheers, Associate Professor of Journalism

Thirty-four years after the death of renown photographer James Van Der Zee, the quintessential chronicler of the Harlem Renaissance and the greater Black community from 1906 to 1983, San Jose State University photojournalism students and New York alternative high school photo students met in Harlem last October to take a fresh look at one of America’s most culturally diverse, historically rich, vibrant and iconic, yet ever changing communities.

Students from the Satellite Academy High School and the James Baldwin School, both in Manhattan, participated in this extraordinary project developed by the SJSU School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

"A-Train Reimagined" is among the images captured by students.

“A-Train Reimagined” is among the images captured by students.

Exhibit Opens Feb. 8

Twelve students and their teachers from Satellite Academy are traveling to San Jose for the exhibition opening and reception 4-6 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. One photo student from Boynton High School in San Jose also participated, as did one local community college photo student.

More than 100 of the students’ images on 44 montages and individual portraits will be on display at the library’s second floor exhibition area until March 31. The montages show a kaleidoscope of diverse faces interspersed with a medley of iconic Harlem landmarks and competing cultures.

The project bridged Photo Voice methodology and hip-hop pedagogy. Using Apple-sponsored iPhones and DSLR cameras, the neophyte students canvassed the main boulevards, side streets, back streets, and alleys, capturing the sights and sounds, and the ebb and flow of Harlem through the lens of their innocence and freshness, documenting what they saw and felt.

group photo

Student and faculty participants gather for a group photo in Harlem.

SJSU Journalism Students and Faculty

The four SJSU journalism undergraduate beginning photo students selected were Payje Redmond, Franchesca Natividad, Lovetta Jackson and Savannah Harding.

Michael Cheers, associate professor at San Jose State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was the lead researcher and facilitator. Juan Serna, SJSU Journalism TV studio manager/engineer served as a bi-lingual field instructor and chief post-production editor.

The project kicked-off Oct. 27, with a two-hour guided, orientation-walking tour of Harlem. The four-day experience ended on Oct. 29.

Janifer Wilson, owner of Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center.

Janifer Wilson, owner of Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center.

Harlem Reimagined

There were Marcus Garveyites and Van Der Zee Harlemites not willing to trade in, sell off or sell out the richness of their heritage. The students saw black vendors smiling at streams of white tourists while selling their wares to anyone because the only color that counts to them is green. They also heard from Janifer Wilson, owner of Sister’s Uptown Bookstore and Cultural Center, in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, thought to be the only black-owned bookstore in Manhattan.

“Change has to happen in order for us to evolve, but the displacement of folk who are grassroots… the people who started these communities, is very disheartening,” Wilson said.

A site partnership was arranged with the prestigious Studio Museum in Harlem, where the students met daily to discuss their work. The museum also is the custodian of an extensive archive of the work of James Van Der Zee.

The exhibition moves to New York in April.


King Library Photo Exhibit Explores Shared Experiences of Discrimination and Resilience

exhibit photo

So I have some stickers on my face. These stickers have some writings; Prophet Mohammad narratives. Those narratives have different meanings about the importance of work in our life, about being good and cooperative to people, about giving money to the poor, and about not harming people. My mind is always occupied with thinking about how I can reflect my culture and religion to the American community. I’ve been taught totally different from what is being perceived in this country. Those stickers push me forward to think about a positive way to explain my culture and religion! —Moodi, Palestinian American Muslim man

Living in an Unfinished America

“Living in an Unfinished America” will be on display at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (second floor exhibit area) Dec. 2-21.

A Photovoice exhibit on Islamophobia and anti-Arab prejudice will be on display at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (second floor exhibit area) Dec. 2-21. Sponsored by the San Jose State University Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, this community-based project is entitled, “Living in an Unfinished America: Shared Experiences of Discrimination and Resilience by Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Americans.”

Edward Mamary, professor of public health in the Department of Health Science and Recreation, served as the principal investigator on this project. Community participants used photography and narrative as tools for personal expression, sharing their reflections on cultural identity, experiences with prejudice, and their sources of strength for countering discrimination. The project goal is to bring awareness of these issues to policymakers, health and social service providers, educators, and the general public.

The project was commissioned by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and conducted in collaboration with its community partners: the Council on American Islamic Relations, the Arab Cultural & Community Center, the Islamic Networks Group, the Sikh Coalition, the Asian Law Caucus, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office.

Journalism Students Gain Practical Experience on Election Night

SJSU students Stephanie Gersh and Lloyd Alaban help NBC Bay Area Digital Editor Kris Noceda finalize election night stories (Photo: Jennifer Gonzalez, '17 Journalism and English).

SJSU students Stephanie Gersh and Lloyd Alaban help NBC Bay Area Digital Editor Kris Noceda finalize election night stories (Photo: Jennifer Gonzalez, ’17 Journalism and English).

As the votes were being counted and reported on election night 2016, graduate students from the SJSU School of Journalism and Mass Communications played a part in one local television station’s extensive coverage.

Thirteen students in Mass Communications 210: Media & Social Issues volunteered to help NBC Bay Area news staff members gather and report the latest developments as they happened.

“Our grad students come from many academic backgrounds,” Professor Bob Rucker said. “This will give them an up close, eye-opening and unique media learning experience on one of the busiest and most exciting nights in the TV news business.”

NBC Bay Area Vice President of News Stephanie Adrouny and Professor Rucker planned the joint project weeks ahead of time. On Nov. 1, newsroom Executive Producer Dan Pyryt visited the class and explained to students how they would be helping individual newsroom producers and reporters identify and share late-breaking election developments, address voter concerns called into the station, and support NBC social media reporting efforts that night.

While on campus, Pyryt also met with several staff members of the Spartan Daily student newspaper, and congratulated them on their efforts. He told the student staff members and Professor Rucker’s class that the NBC Bay Area news team reads the campus newspaper every day, and many times they develop SJSU stories after reading the student reporting.

The long-time motto of the SJSU journalism program is “Learn by Doing.” Rucker, a former CNN correspondent and NBC local news election night anchor and reporter in Philadelphia, covered the 1980 Ronald Reagan-Jimmy Carter vote count.

“I will never forget how thrilling it was to be a part of that history making evening,” Rucker said.


Labor Activist and MacArthur Fellow Baldemar Velásquez to Deliver Human Rights Lecture


Event Poster

Media Contact:
Professor William Armaline,

We are elated to announce the Fall 2016 Human Rights Lecture Event, Economic Human Rights and the Dignity of Working People, on Oct. 27 and 28 at San José State University. Please visit our site for registration and tickets.

This year’s event is a collaborative effort, led by the SJSU Human Rights Program and MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center, the California Association of Human Relations Organizations [CAHRO], the Santa Clara County Human Relations Commission [SCC HRC], and SCC Office of Human Relations [SCC OHR]. Students, educators, activists, public officials, community members, and human relations commissioners from across California are invited to the SJSU main campus for two days of talks, workshops, and organizing activities on economic human rights, discrimination, and effective practices for realizing human rights in the workplace and our communities at-large.

DAY 1 (Thur., Oct. 27) features the Annual Human Rights Keynote Lecture by Farm Labor Organizing Committee [FLOC] President, MacArthur Fellow, AFL-CIO Executive Council member, and internationally recognized organizer Baldemar Velásquez. The keynote talk will be held at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6:30 p.m.) in Morris Dailey Auditorium, and is open to all with a free ticket.

DAY 2 (Fri., Oct. 28) features the CAHRO Bi-Annual Human Relations Conference, including workshops, plenary talks, and lunch keynote presentation by the Kirwan Institute’s Robin Wright (The Ohio State University), a nationally recognized researcher and expert on how to address implicit bias in the public sector. Multiple ticketing options are available for students, faculty, community members, and CAHRO members for Day 2 plenaries and workshops.

For event updates and coverage, follow us on Twitter. Join the conversation using our hashtag, #EconHumanRights2016.

We hope you can join us for what will be an informative and inspiring conference on economic human rights in California!

About San José State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State University 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 Student William “Billy” Nguyen

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Sept. 19, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

I am writing with a heavy heart to let you know that second-year kinesiology major William “Billy” Nguyen, a San Jose native, passed away Saturday while hiking in Sequoia National Park with a group of fellow SJSU students and staff members as part of SJSU’s Outdoor Adventures recreation program (read the National Park Service release).

Members of the traveling party were swimming in a lake when Billy reportedly struggled and sank beneath the water’s surface. The group tried unsuccessfully to rescue him. A search and rescue team has recovered his body; the Tulare County Medical Examiner is determining the cause of death.

Along with counseling and other university staff, I was on campus to meet the traveling party when their bus returned Sunday evening. As one would imagine, they have been badly shaken by this tragedy. I assured them that the SJSU community is and will continue to be here for them.

Our students and staff acted with remarkable courage, composure and thoughtfulness. On behalf of the entire university community, I want them to know how proud we are of them.

Billy was an Outdoor Adventures student assistant who completed a training course last year so that he could serve as a student leader this year. He was among five staff members on this trip.

He has been described to me as someone who, while sometimes reserved, loved group activities and wanted to inspire others to join in and be active. His interests included fitness and outdoors activities. He enjoyed working out and getting others to do the same.

Earlier today I spoke personally with Billy’s mother. As your president and as a parent, I am heartbroken for the Nguyen family and for all who knew and loved their son. Please keep Billy, his family and friends in your thoughts and your hearts during this difficult time. Counseling services are available if you need them.

Mary A. Papazian

SJSU Hosts Celebration of Life for Charlie Whitcomb

Dr. Charlie Whitcomb

Dr. Charlie Whitcomb

Dr. Charles (Charlie) Whitcomb, a beloved member of the SJSU community for more than four decades, passed away July 15. He earned two degrees from San Jose State, and then served as a faculty member, department chair and academic leader.

At his request, a celebration of life will be held on campus in the Music Concert Hall on July 25, at 11 a.m., with a reception to follow immediately (directions to campus and parking).

In lieu of flowers, friends can donate to the Charlie Whitcomb Scholarship Fund. Gifts can be made online or by mail (Tower Foundation of SJSU, One Washington Square, San Jose, Calif., 95192-0183).


His impact is readily apparent from the many personal reflections and expressions of affection for Whitcomb received since his family shared news of his passing.

“He was the kindest person you ever met,” said Jessica Larsen, who worked with him in the Provost’s Office. “He was always positive, cheerful and never said anything bad about anybody. He always took bad situations and found the goodness in it.”

Larsen noted that he was an advocate for SJSU students from less fortunate backgrounds, who didn’t have as many opportunities.

“I will always remember his smile,” she said. “That is how I remember him.”

Devoted to diversity

Whitcomb was especially devoted to diversity and his passion is reflected in his many speaking engagements during his tenure as a faculty member and chair. He presented on issues related to diversity and athletics at multiple National Collegiate Athletic Association events and served as SJSU’s NCAA faculty representative for 20 years. In 1991, Whitcomb was appointed the first chair of the NCAA’s Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. The group was, by any measure, incredibly impactful during his 10-year tenure.

In addition, he served on dozens of college and university-wide committees, including the University Commencement Committee, the Accommodations Review Board, the University Campus Climate Committee, Academic Senate and multiple search committees, among others.

He started his distinguished career at SJSU in 1971 as a faculty member in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies (now part of Health Science and Recreation), serving as a department chair from 1988 to 2002. He was appointed executive assistant to the provost in 2003, eventually serving as vice provost of academic administration and personnel through his retirement in 2012.

He earned two degrees from SJSU: a bachelor’s in Justice Studies with a minor in Psychology in 1971 and a master’s in Recreation Management in 1975, before going on to earn his doctorate in higher education from the University of Northern Colorado.

Positive and hopeful spirit

Those who knew him best describe Whitcomb as bringing a positive and hopeful spirit to every situation, with an infectious laugh and smile, and an unwavering dedication to our students.

“He took with him his fun, playful spirit, his undeniable dedication to SJSU for over 44 years, his belief in dignity and justice across all people, his love of students, athletes, faculty, staff and friends, regardless of race,” said colleague Dr. Kate Sullivan, a hospitality management professor. “He listened AND he heard. So many considered him a friend on this campus! I will always see his smile and hear his laughter and remember all the things he taught me as my dear mentor over the last 28 years.”

Before joining SJSU as a tenure-track faculty member in 1972, he worked as a counselor for Santa Clara County Juvenile Probation Department Children’s Shelter for six years. He was involved with many community organizations as well. He served on the board of directors for the National Park and Recreation Association from 1978 to 1981 and as a board director with Community Kids to Camp from 1985 to 1988,


SJSU Names 2016 Outstanding Seniors

Erin Enguero and Anna Santana are the recipients of SJSU’s 2016 Outstanding Graduating Senior Awards  in recognition of their scholarship and contributions to the community. Both will be recognized at Commencement, beginning at 9:30 a.m. May 28 in Spartan Stadium.

Erin Enguero

Erin Enguero

Erin Enguero (photo by Inderpal Kaur)

Since age 11, having a hearing loss has influenced how Enguero identifies herself academically and socially. She has evolved from a self-described “cautious pre-teen to an ambitious young woman striving for excellence” in her educational and community endeavors.

Carrying a 3.796 GPA, she has earned numerous scholarships and has been recognized as a CSU Trustee Award winner, SJSU Salzburg Scholar and 2016 American Kinesiology Association Undergraduate Scholar.

While Enguero’s hearing loss has taught her to adapt using her existing strengths, she says she is proud “not just for overcoming my disability, but for finding the courage to explore my identities as a student, leader and, ultimately, an agent of change.”

Enguero graduates in May with a bachelor’s in kinesiology. In fall 2016, she plans to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy at California State University, Fresno.

Anna Santana

Anna Santana with civil rights activist Dolores Huerta (photo courtesy of Anna Santana)

Anna Santana with civil rights activist Dolores Huerta (courtesy of Anna Santana)

At age six, Santana transferred schools three times in less than a year in search of a bilingual teacher. This daughter of former farmworkers says this was just part of the struggles that “have shaped my dreams and aspirations.”

Today, Santana advocates for the education of migrant families through the Apoyo Campesino project, which seeks to change a state regulation that forces students to move to a different school after each growing season ends.

In addition, Santana is the founder of the College Awareness Network, which has been integral in bringing students from marginalized schools to university campuses to promote a college-going culture.

A double major in sociology and Spanish, Santana will receive her bachelor’s degree in May. As a McNair Scholar, she maintains a 3.9 GPA and has been accepted to Stanford University for graduate school.


Honors Convocation Recognizes Top Academic Achievers

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

When Kenney Chiu, ’15 Business Finance, joined 4,127 Dean’s and President’s Scholars as part of the Honors Convocation in the Event Center on April 15, someone special shared a seat with him — his baby boy Abraham Charles.

“I snuck him in to sit on my lap,” Chiu said with a laugh. “All the honorees that sat around me were playing with him and they just loved it, too.”

Chiu joined a record number of 3,714 students honored with recognition for earning a 3.65 or higher GPA in at least two contiguous of the past three semesters at San Jose State.

Although Chiu credited his honor with the exceptional teaching found in his home Lucas College of Business, he stressed the impact that his baby boy has had on his academic accomplishments.

“That’s where my motivation comes from,” Chiu said. “I just want to show my kid that he can be proud of his dad.”


Interim President Sue Martin took a moment during the ceremony to praise the “unsung heroes,” including family members, friends and spouses who helped support and guide the student scholars.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

For Emily Vann, ’16 Public Relations, her President’s Scholar recognition was a testament to her mother Olivia and her coaches both on and off the basketball court.

Vann joined a record setting 59 student-athletes recognized for academic excellence, including eight student-athletes who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA for at least two contiguous of the past three semesters.

“You have to kind of go into another gear to kind of get this distinction,” Vann said. “I know firsthand how much it takes and how much time, dedication and effort it takes to go through the everyday process of waking up and having to wear two hats as a student and an athlete.”

Vann, a forward on the SJSU women’s basketball team, said she could not have reached the academic milestone without the support of her mother.

“My mom is a teacher and I just feel really blessed to have had her in my life. She helped me and coached me from the time I was little,” Vann said. “[She’s] always letting me know that my academics come first even though I’m an athlete.”

Provost Andy Feinstein said such support by loved ones and faculty members alike married with personal sacrifice helped usher in the record number of honored scholars this year.

“These students have shown a commitment to their studies, through personal, economic, social and educational circumstances, to be among the top one percent at this university,” Feinstein said.


Kenneth Peter, 2016 Outstanding Professor, said in his keynote speech that students should be fueled by the various sacrifices they make in their quest for higher education.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

“Your talents are not only exhibited in your academic success, but are profound when viewed in light of the struggles you have overcome,” Peter said. “When many of you are first generation college students, when most of you worked more than half time, when many of you have family obligations, when most of you come from public schools with inadequate resources, you are remarkably talented and you have proven this by being in this room tonight.”

Peter’s assertion rang particularly close to home for Jamil Elbanna, ’16 Mechanical Engineering, who spent most of his academic career working two jobs in addition to his schoolwork.

In order to finance his way through college, Elbanna took a job as a courtesy clerk at Safeway and a security officer at a hospital, all while pursuing a degree.

“It’s definitely not the easiest thing but having passion for my major and what I want to study is important,” Elbanna said. “There were times where it almost felt impossible, but I just keep at it and pushed at it day and night.”

Peter concluded his keynote speech by reminding the student honorees that by receiving recognition for their academic accomplishments, they are also receiving an important responsibility.

“Your talent must not be wasted. Each of you should leave SJSU with the kind of education you will need to fight for greater fairness and equality than this world has yet seen fit to offer,” Peters said. “You have likely experienced some hardships. Let those light the fire within.”


Spartans Oversee Levi’s Stadium Food and Beverage Operation

Photo: Terrell Lloyd/San Francisco 49ers

Photo: Terrell Lloyd/San Francisco 49ers

With Super Bowl 50 in San Jose State’s backyard, guests of the Broncos/Panthers showdown at Levi’s Stadium on Feb. 7 will encounter Spartans working in different capacities, including hospitality management.

Melissa Leong, ’10 Hospitality Tourism and Event Management, is part of Levi’s Stadium’s Centerplate team, along with other SJSU students and recent graduates. Their role? Ensuring game day is memorable for guests in the United Airlines Club and Yahoo Fantasy Football Lounge.

Manager of 100 employees

As club manager of Centerplate, a food and beverage provider for the stadium, Leong said she utilizes her experience gained with SJSU’s Special Event Management Team at the 2009 AT&T Pro-Am in Pebble Beach to provide exceptional service.

“It was a phenomenal program that put us students in real-world business situations to manage and oversee a major hospitality situation,” Leong said.

Now overseeing a staff of more than 100 employees on major event days such as the upcoming Super Bowl, Leong is preparing to serve thousands of guests alongside senior hospitality management major Danielle Vidal.

Levi’s 501 Club supervisor

Vidal, a fellow participant in the SEMT program, is a supervisor for the premium Levi’s 501 Club at the 400 level of the stadium.

“I got where I am today by making connections through my classmates, friends, professors and managers,” Vidal said. “The Super Bowl is a world-renowned event that everyone knows of and it is even better to be doing this as a current Spartan.”

Vidal will spend game day managing 2,500 guests and ensuring they enjoy Centerplate’s eight food and beverage options, all while maintaining high levels of cleanliness and Super Bowl fun.

Suite administrator

Andrew Fernandez, ’13 Hospitality, Tourism, and Event Management, a former Centerplate suite administrator, has worked at Levi’s Stadium since its inaugural season in 2014.

Now as a Premium Member Services representative for the San Francisco 49ers, Fernandez is preparing to focus on assisting Premium Club seat members to ensure their experience is unforgettable.

“The realization of it has not yet sunk in,” Fernandez said. “Right now we are going 1,000 mph gearing up for it so it’s a little hard to fathom at the moment.”

Worthwhile profession

Leong has spent her time leading up to game day by training employees, building business plans and reaching decisions regarding the overall operation of her clubs.

“It makes the long hours and endless meetings all worthwhile,” Leong said. “At the end of the day, we will be a part of an event that will be watched by the entire planet and even out of this world—I hear it will be beamed to the Space Station!”


Journalism Alumni Cover the Super Bowl

Frenzied stampede, labored calls to action and beads of sweat—this isn’t a last ditch effort to win the Super Bowl. It’s what the media experiences while covering the big game, SJSU alumni say.

“The game itself was the hardest part because of the deadline and the crush of people,” said Bill Soliday, ’65 Journalism and Mass Communications. “It became a kind of circus after a while because it would be people trying to find the best story being among what would become over 2,000 people credentialed for the game.”

San Jose State graduates are among the seasoned media professionals who have reported on the Super Bowl, including sports photographers, sports columnists and television field producers.

Oakland Tribune columnist

Soliday utilized his sports column as a means of telling compelling Super Bowl stories.

As an Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers beat writer for the Oakland Tribune for most of his professional career, Soliday covered 19 Super Bowls, eight of which had Bay Area winners.

Now retired, Soliday recalls jostling through a crowd of media, sometimes even shouting his questions to nearby players in order to get an interview.

Soliday said he learned the importance of journalism during his time as a Spartan Daily staff writer the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, when he was tasked to write Kennedy’s biography.

“I took it to be something that is a privilege in a sense to inform the public,” Soliday said. “Even though I got into sports writing which is hardly qualifies as earth shattering, I still felt the same way about it.”

Sports Illustrated photographer

Brad Mangin, ’88 Journalism and Mass Communications, got his introduction to Super Bowl coverage two years following graduation from SJSU while at the Contra Costa Times.

Mangin, a photojournalism student who says he would only step foot outside the photo lab in Dwight Bentel Hall for Peanuts Deluxe Café, said he couldn’t imagine shooting the massive event just a few years later.

“You’re standing by the sidelines and thinking ‘this can’t be that big of a deal because I’m here,’” Mangin said.

Now more than 20 years later, Mangin will revisit the Super Bowl frenzy to shoot for Sports Illustrated. In the video link below, watch Mangin discuss how he plans to tackle Super Bowl 50.

Although he’s excited to shoot the game again, he said he values the people who are reporting by his side.

“We all create something special whether it be written word, a photograph or a picture I make with my iPhone,” Mangin said. “We all have a unique way of storytelling with our readers.”

Fox Sports field producer

Dennis Ackerman, ’92 Journalism and Mass Communications, said the hands on experience he gained at SJSU prepared him for providing a quality broadcast to viewers.

Ackerman, now a field producer for Fox Sports 1, got his start on early Friday morning tapings of SJSU’s TV news broadcast, Update News.

“You had to write your own stuff, produce your own stuff,” Ackerman said.  “Having your own broadcast was invaluable.”

Ackerman said his Super Bowl production schedule requires over a week of preparation, which includes gaining familiarity of the stadium and establishing shot locations for his crew.

“It’s definitely an adrenalin rush but you want to make sure everything goes smoothly,” Ackerman said.

As he approaches the third Super Bowl coverage opportunity of his career, Ackerman said his journey from a student to a professional has been informative.

“If it’s something you’re really passionate about, you will pay your dues and hopefully it will pay off for you,” Ackerman said. “You know, I get paid to watch sporting events—that’s not a bad way to make a living.”


Nursing Student Rallies SJSU to Erect Peace Pole

Photo: Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

Photo: Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group

Inspired by her belief in world peace, a nursing student rallied the SJSU community to install and unveil its very own Peace Pole.

Navpreet Kaur, ’17 Nursing, delivered the keynote address at the unveiling of SJSU’s newest monument Oct. 12.

A crowd of students, faculty and staff gathered along a busy walkway between Tower Hall and a grove of trees and roses near Clark Hall to hear from her.

“I believe we do have the potential to reach peace. It’s just a very difficult process,” she said.

One message, 12 languages

The Peace Pole is much smaller than SJSU’s Smith/Carlos sculpture and the Cesar E. Chavez monument, but it packs a punch.

“May Peace Prevail on Earth” is inscribed on the pole in the 12 languages most common in Santa Clara County.

Kaur was inspired to pursue the project after taking a semester off from San Jose State, and enrolling in classes at San Jose City College.

She knew nothing about Peace Poles when she stumbled upon one there. The inscription, in so many languages, intrigued her.

So she did what everyone does nowadays to record the moment: She took a photo of the pole, Instagrammed it, and then Googled it.

An international movement

Photo By Leo Reynolds

Peacemarker by Leo Reynolds / Three photos, combined.

She learned that the Peace Pole movement was born in post World War II Japan. Today, there are more than 200,000 poles worldwide.

“I remember just feeling an instant connection, and I thought I wanted to see this on my home campus,” Kaur said.

Back at SJSU, Kaur spent a day contacting everyone she could, from the president on down, until she got a reply.

The response came from Aditya Mairal, ’17 Mechanical Engineering. At the time, he was the Associated Students director of intercultural affairs.

“I gave her that push and told her that ‘yes, you can do this,’” Mairal said to Spartan Daily.

Kaur took that to heart, and her dream came true, with a good dose of mentoring from The Valley Foundation School of Nursing Director Katherine Abriam-Yago.

A faculty mentor

“She was just a constant support system,” Kaur said. “She would tell me, ‘This is your idea and if you’re envisioning it in a certain way, then you need to fight for that vision.’”

Raised in East San Jose’s cultural melting pot, Kaur was particularly concerned about the languages.

“My number one goal was to make sure there was no bias with the language selection,” she said, so she turned to U.S. Census data to keep the peace.

Interestingly, one reason she is drawn to nursing is, in her eyes, it’s also all about mediation.

“A lot of the time, patients don’t express what their true concerns are in fear of being judged by their healthcare professionals,” she said. “As a nurse, I am an advocate for my patient. I’m an advocate for their concerns. Standing up for those who are afraid to raise their voice is a beautiful thing.”


Student Journalists to Stream Taco Eating Contest

Chacho’s World Taco Eating Championship

SJSU students are seeking to capture the excitement, with world-class competitors like last year’s event (photos by Adrian Trujillo and Sergio Estrada).

SJSU students are seeking to capture the excitement, with world-class competitors like last year’s event (photos by Adrian Trujillo and Sergio Estrada).

San Jose State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications will stream the second Chacho’s World Taco Eating Championship on Aug. 15 at St. James Park in downtown San Jose. The stream will be available on South Bay Pulse, an app built by students.

Co-anchors Jonathan Wold and Brenda Norrie will go live at 4:15 p.m. Expect behind-the-scenes videos and interviews with top-ranked competitive eaters Matthew Stonie and Miki Sudo. As contestants gobble up the tacos, commentator Abraham Rodriguez will follow the action.

All three students are journalism majors or recent graduates. More than a dozen Spartans are involved, in front of the camera, behind the camera, and online. They’re collaborating with the goal of producing a high-caliber program on a shoe-string budget thanks to the power of the Internet and their own ingenuity.

The project is an excellent example of the cutting edge efforts underway at SJSU’s journalism school. Students built the South Bay Pulse app (Apple iPad, Android, Kindle Fire) using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite. Adobe provided mentors, straight from corporate headquarters just a few blocks from campus in the heart of Silicon Valley.

In fact, the entire project grew from a synergy that could only happen here. The students and the taco contest’s producer met at a business event. David Ocampo, ’89 BS Advertising, ’92 MA Mexican American Studies, is creative director at Milagro Marketing. The event was sponsored by Content magazine, which covers the innovative and creative culture of Silicon Valley.

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.”


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.


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.

Covered.CA registration session

Coffee or Health Care?

With the deadline quickly approaching to sign up for health care through Covered California, there’s a big push on campus to educate students, their families and part-time SJSU employees about the program, and help them sign up. An estimated six percent of the SJSU student population or 1,800 students are uninsured.

“One thing we learned from a survey last year is that students aren’t coming from the perspective that they feel invincible, or aren’t interested in health insurance. They just assumed they couldn’t afford it,” said Professor Anji Buckner, SJSU health science lecturer and faculty lead on the CSU Health Insurance Education Project (HIEP).

As Low As $1 Monthly

Professor Buckner says students are surprised to find out that health coverage through Covered California can cost as little as a dollar a month. She says, in general, SJSU students are paying anywhere from $1 to $100 month, depending on the type of plan they choose, and the subsidies they qualify for.

Students who earn less than $16,000 a year, and who are not dependents, are eligible for free health insurance through Medi -Cal. Professor Buckner asks students, “How many cups of coffee do you buy a week, because you may be able to buy health insurance for about the same price.”

$325 Fine

The CSU Health Insurance Education Project has emphasized the tax penalty more this year because the fine for not having health insurance in 2015 has tripled to $325, or two percent of annual income, whichever is greater. The deadline to apply for Covered California is Feb. 15.

“I think it’s important for students to understand what their rights and responsibilities are in order to make informed decisions and realize the consequences,” said Professor Buckner.

Students can learn more about different health care plans and costs by attending an enrollment support event 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Clark Hall Fishbowl rooms.

“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.


Lights, Camera, Action: New TV Studio Opens

Update Crew

A large green screen spans the wall behind the wood and glass anchor desk, which was donated by NBC Bay Area (School of Journalism and Mass Communications image).

Next time you watch the student TV news program “Update News,” you’ll be catching more than just the latest news stories.

You’ll see a crisp, high-definition picture, next generation LED lighting, professional graphics and a sleek news set – all made possible by a new technically advanced studio.  The facility will be used for all kinds of video productions.

Students can practice being on camera on a professional set for delivering news, making commercials, even an audition tape. It’s wonderful,” said Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi.

Students are producing “Update News” in the new space now, and will begin taping the PBS news magazine “Equal Time” there this semester. Studio and Engineering Manager Juan Serna says with new skills, “students can leave here and get a job” in the profession.

Master control room and studio

Crews gutted the 30-year old analog studio, and built the new structure from scratch in 2014. The facility has two rooms: a 420-square-foot master control room, and a 900-square-foot studio.

Photo: Christina Olivas

Photo: Christina Olivas

Photo: Christina Olivas

Photo: Christina Olivas

The master control room is the operation’s central command center, containing large HD monitors, a multi-camera switcher, news computer system and a motion graphics system.

The studio is where the anchors sit. A large green screen spans the wall behind the wood and glass anchor desk, which was donated by NBC Bay Area. Three Sony HD cameras sit in front of the news set, and an LED light grid hangs overhead.  Both rooms are handicap accessible.

The new technology and advanced facility is allowing students to produce the same high quality newscasts that professional broadcasters do. They can create professional newscasts including shots from other locations, write copy with sophisticated newsroom software, and create motion graphics to help tell their stories.

Open for business

The $800,000 studio was paid for by an $8.7 million dollar endowment from the late Jack and Emma Anderson.  Guerazzi says, “the endowment was an amazing gift. So needed.”

Photo: Christina Olivas

Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi and Studio and Engineering Manager Juan Serna. Photo: Christina Olivas

The journalism school plans to work with other SJSU departments and outside groups. It wants to generate enough revenue from projects to pay costs and for advances over time. For now, the value for media students getting a unique, hands-on learning experience is priceless.

Faculty Notes: Securing Scholarships

Professor Thalia Anagnos

Professor Thalia Anagnos (photo by Christina Olivas)

Professor Thalia Anagnos, Department of General Engineering, has been awarded a second five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to fund the Engineering Leadership Pathway Scholars Program. ELPS2, building on the success of the original ELPS, will provide approximately 86 annual scholarships to academically talented undergraduate engineering students in financial need.

World Languages and Literatures Professor Anne Fountain’s new book, “José Martí, the United States, and Race” (University Press of Florida), examines the evolution of Martí’s thinking about race and delves into how his time in the United States, with its legacy of slavery, deeply influenced Cuba’s national hero.

Essential reading for those who increasingly appreciate the enormous importance of Martí as one of the nineteenth century’s most influential and most original thinkers,” praised John Kirk, coeditor of Redefining Cuban Foreign Policy.

Associate Professor Colleen Haight, Department of Economics, appeared on the podcast series “Research on Religion” to discuss her work on the Oracle of Delphi, a shrine in ancient Greece where the wealthy and powerful congregated to have their questions about war, trade and the future answered by virgin priestesses. Haight and her colleagues applied the tools of economic analysis and game theory to explain the seemingly irrational behavior of relying on an oracle’s supernatural judgment in matters of life and death.

Professor Emeritus Gus Lease, Department of Music, currently president of SJSU’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter, attended the honor society’s 43rd Biennial Convention in St. Louis, Mo., in August as a voting delegate. Since its founding in 1897 at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi has inducted more than a million students, faculty and professional staff as members.

Gus Lease (photo by Bob Bain)

Professor Emeritus Gus Lease (photo by Bob Bain)

School of Information Professors Lili Luo and Michael Stephens collaborated with Loyola Marymount University scholars to develop the Institute for Research Design in Librarianship (IRDL). Created to help academic and research librarians become skilled researchers, the program is funded by a three-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The first institute was held at LMU Library in Los Angeles in June.

President Mohammad Qayoumi contributed an article titled “A Checklist for a New Afghanistan” to Foreign Policy, a journal founded to “question commonplace views” and “give voice to alternative views about American foreign policy.” In February 2002, Qayoumi returned to Afghanistan for the first time in 26 years. Despite the challenges facing the new government of his native country, he foresees opportunities for economic growth and progress.

The end of the fall 2014 semester marks the retirement of current World Languages and Literatures Professor Carmen Sigler, whose distinguished career at SJSU has included serving as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, dean of the College of Humanities & the Arts and chair of the Department of World Languages and Literature. After retiring as provost in 2009, Sigler returned to teaching in the Spanish program, whose media center bears her name. 

Every role Carmen has had, she has handled so well. She’s just outstanding, ” former President Don W. Kassing told the overflow crowd of well wishers at the center’s dedication ceremony in 2011.

School of Information Professor Judith Weedman, whose research explores the growth of knowledge in the sciences and humanities, retired this past summer after a 19-year career at SJSU. Her work with the core class LIBR 202 Information Retrieval System Design remains a highly regarded contribution to the iSchool’s curriculum. “Doing original research is one way of learning new things and teaching is another. Our students are wonderful, intelligent, highly motivated people, and I have learned both from them and from preparing classes for them,” Weedman said. Her retirement plans? Traveling the West, riding her horse and hiking.