SJSU theatrical production

Hammer Theatre Discussions

SJSU theatrical production

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next steps

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

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

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

About San Jose State University

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

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

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


San Jose Mercury News: Animated Winners

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Feb. 27, 2015.

By Sal Pizarro

ANIMATED WINNERS: When Disney’s “Big Hero 6″ was announced as the Best Animated Feature at Sunday’s Academy Awards, there was some cheering at San Jose State. Three Spartans alums were involved in the film’s production: Scott Watanabe was the lead art director, Kendelle Hoyer worked as a story artist and Lauren Brown was a publicist.

Read the full story.

Alumni Win at the Academy Awards

Congratulations to three SJSU alumni! The Walt Disney film they worked on, “Big Hero 6,” won an Oscar for best animated film at this year’s Academy Awards.

“Big Hero 6” is a 3-D animated comedy about a plus-size inflatable robot and a prodigy who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.

Scott Watanabe was the lead art director. His wife, Kendelle Hoyer, worked as a story artist on the film, and Lauren Brown, ’13 Animation/Illustration, is a publicist.

This is the second win for Hoyer, who also worked as one of the main story board artists on “Paperman,” which won an Oscar for the Academy Award’s Best Animated Short in 2013. Watanabe and Hoyer met in the SJSU Animation/Illustration Program and graduated as art majors in 2006.

The student Animation/Illustration club, ShrunkenHeadMan, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The club started in room ART 218.

“Our alumni try to sneak either ‘SHM’ or ‘218’ into the films, games and shows they produce. You can catch a ‘218’ on one of the buildings in the credits of ‘Big Hero 6,’” said Associate Professor of Animation/Illustration David Chai.

SJSU alumni worked on two other films that were nominees in this year’s Academy Awards:

Animated Feature Film Category
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
Andrew Harkins

Short Film, Animated Category
“The Dam Keeper”
Jeanie Chang
Cody Gramstad
Kristy Kay
Becky Roberts
Lucie Roberts

Giant Puppet

Spartan Filmmakers Create Movie Magic

Giant Puppet

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

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

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

“Behind My Behind”  

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

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

Behind My Behind

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

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

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

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

“Bell Jar”

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

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

Bell Jar

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

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

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

“9th Hole”

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

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

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


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.


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.”

H&A Showcase

It’s the caliber of the students and faculty members that draws crowds to the College of Humanities and the Arts Showcase. Visitors learn about the college by experiencing everything from students performing the lead roles from the musical “West Side Story” to the opportunity to view the exquisite details of costumes and lighting designed for SJSU stage performances to the option of inviting an English student to compose a poem on the spot on the topic of the visitor’s choice. This year’s event, held in the Student Union ballroom the afternoon of Oct. 10, featured all of the colleges departments and many of its majors including Music and Dance; Art and Art History; Design; English and Comparative Literature; Humanities; Linguistics and Language Development; Philosophy; Radio, Film and TV; Theatre Arts; and World Languages and Literature.

Caption text

Innovation Lab Opens

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Plaques and an iPad offer information on the more than 300 patents earned by the late Calvin Seid, ’83 Industrial Design (photo by Michelle Vaquilar, ’15 BFA Graphic Design).

While sorting through the belongings of his younger brother, who died suddenly of heart disease, Vincent Seid was stunned to find scores of plaques his brother received for his contributions to more than 300 Apple patents.

Calvin Seid, ’83 Industrial Design, was a member and director of the company’s Industrial Design Group from 1993 until his death in 2007.

“He was very unassuming,” said Vincent, who was 16 years older than Calvin. “He didn’t like to blow his own horn and you didn’t know much about him until you got to know him very well.”

Generations of Industrial Design majors joined members of the faculty, staff and administration at the Calvin Seid Innovation Lab opening reception the evening of Oct. 9.


Classmates and colleagues remember Seid as a teacher and mentor (photo by Michelle Vaquilar, ’15 BFA Graphic Design).

Guests included Vincent and his wife Zenaida, whose gifts to the university provided the initial funding and an endowment for the lab. Also in attendance were many of Calvin’s classmates.

When Professor John F. McClusky asked classmates and colleagues to describe Calvin, they settled on the same thought: He was an outstanding teacher and mentor.

Thus, McClusky explained, it is fitting that Seid’s name now graces the lab, equipped with the latest technology including 3-D printers to help faculty members show students how to take a product from start to finish, from design concept to completed prototype.

In between comes lots of problem solving, said Lawrence Lam, ’85 Industrial Design, and it is precisely that practical knowledge, which he described as “working around the environment to get the job done,” that distinguishes SJSU Industrial Design alumni.


Seid’s patents are for familiar products, from an ear-bud case to chargers (photo by Michelle Vaquilar, ’15 BFA Graphic Design).

You can check out the enormous breadth of this Spartan’s contributions to Apple’s design acumen, including the ear bud case, charging devices, the Power Mac and much more, in an exhibit open on the first floor of the Art Building, below the lab itself.

“We are putting on display,” McClusky said, “the story of someone who is really the story of San Jose State.”

400 thalia-anagnos-faculty-awards-2 (1)

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.

dan and jaime

Alumni Association Celebrates Scholarship Recipients

Cuong Truong

Cuong Truong, ’14 Nursing, plans to work toward ensuring all elderly patients receive quality care. She is a recipient of a San Jose Woman’s Club Scholarship (photo by Brandon Chew).

Aspiring professionals preparing to contribute to every part of our community and economy are recipients of 2014-15 SJSU Alumni Association Scholarships.

“These students truly define the Spartan spirit,” said Brian Bates, associate vice president for alumni relations. “They are achievers, innovators, dreamers and leaders in their classrooms, communities and even the world.”

The more than 30 recipients were invited to gather for a reception Sept. 16  in the Student Union ballroom. The group includes a future art professor, nurse and business owner as well as multiple engineers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, teachers, social workers and fine artists.

Supporting Inspiring Students

Student recipients apply each spring through the SJSU Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. The specific criteria and amount for each scholarship varies. But the overall objective is the same: to provide alumni with the opportunity to give back by supporting current students.

Onette Morales-Alcazar

Onette Morales-Alcazar, ’13 English, is seeking a teaching credential so she can support students learning English as a second language. Named a Connie L. Lurie College of Education Dean’s Scholar, she received the Pat Porter Memorial Scholarship (photo by Brandon Chew).

An excellent example is Angelina Loyola, ’10 Sociology, ’15 Mexican American Studies. Recipient of a College of  Social Sciences Dean’s Scholarship, she plans to teach at the high school or community college level so that she may empower her students to advance not just themselves but the entire community.

I hold steadfast to the words of the late Maya Angelou, ‘When you get, give. When you learn, teach,’” Loyola said.  “Thank you for acknowledging me as a scholar, and an individual that will take with her into this world the teachings from some of the greatest teachers I’ve encountered.”

Joshua Cruz, ’16 Computer Engineering, has taken advantage of the many leadership opportunities available to students at SJSU. A recipient of a Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering Dean’s Scholarship, he has served as a resident assistant, orientation leader, student instructional assistant and Spartan Marching Band member.

This scholarship…is a true validation that my involvements inside and outside of the classroom have an impact on my campus community,” Cruz said. “I will take the inspiration coming from those who have supported me through this scholarship to reach my scholastic goals.”

Tristan Pulliam

Tristan Pulliam plans to go to medical school. The recipient of a College of Science Dean’s Scholarship, he said, “I hope to one day reciprocate this investment by investing in the lives of future SJSU students” (photo by Brandon Chew).

Daniel Fenstermacher, ’16 Fine Arts, expresses his aspirations and sense of community through photography. The recipient of the Hoover Langdon Scholarship has his own business, currently specializing in aerial photography, including remarkable images of downtown San Jose captured using a drone.

Receiving the Hoover Langdon Scholarship gave me a great feeling of accomplishment and pride as a member of the SJSU community,” Fenstermacher said. “I feel fortunate to be rewarded with this recognition and this scholarship motivates me to keep improving every day both in school and in life.”

The generous support of alumni and friends makes these scholarships possible. Learn more about supporting the Alumni Association scholarship program.


Pocket-sized poems

Legacy of Poetry Day April 24

Santa Clara Poet Laureate David Perez

Santa Clara Poet Laureate David Perez

Contact: Alan Soldofsky, 408-924-4432;

In celebration of National Poetry Month, San Jose State University will once again host its annual Legacy of Poetry Day 11:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. April 24 at Caret Plaza, outside the campus entrance for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.

“SJSU’s Legacy of Diversity Through Poetry: All Kinds, All Colors.”

The theme of this year’s eighth annual Legacy of Poetry Day is “SJSU’s Legacy of Diversity Through Poetry: All Kinds, All Colors.” which will feature readings by former California Poet Laureate Al Young, new Santa Clara Poet Laureate David Perez, recent Santa Clara County Poet Laureates Sally Ashton and Nils Peterson, Los Gatos Poet Laureate Erica Goss, poet/musician and memoirist Joy Harjo. The program’s co-MC will be “Mighty” Mike McGee, San Jose’s Individual World Poetry Slam Champion (2006).

former California Poet Laureate Al Young

Former California Poet Laureate Al Young

There will also be readings in remembrance of California poet Wanda Coleman, the unofficial Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. Coleman who died in November, over the decades was one of California’s most well-known and popular poets. Her career began among the Beat poets in Venice West in the early sixties and ended with her successfully writing poetry while working as a staff writer for the NBC soap opera “Days of Our Lives” (1975-76) for which she won an Emmy Award.

An afternoon of readings

SJSU’s Legacy of Poetry Day will continue through the afternoon with readings by students, SJSU faculty members, emeriti, and alumni. There will be readings by a number of SJSU faculty poets including Alan Soldofsky, Persis Karim, Samuel Maio, Gloria Collins, Neli Moody, and Linda Lappin among others. President Mohammad Qayoumi and Provost Andrew Hale Feinstein will offer opening remarks and readings for the event. Professors Alan Soldofsky (English & Comparative Literature) and Annette Nellen (Accounting and Finance) organize the annual gathering, which is sponsored by the SJSU Poets and Writers Coalition, with co-sponsorship support from the SJSU President’s Office, Academic Senate, the MLK Library, the Creative Writing Program, Department of English and Comparative Literature, SJSU Associated Students, and Poetry Center San Jose.

SJSU’s Legacy of Poetry Day is celebrated annually as part of National Poetry Month, on the Thursday closest to San Jose’s first nationally renowned poet, Edwin Markham’s, birthday (April 23, 1852). Markham is best known for writing “A Man With A Hoe,” a poem embodying the oppressed suffering of farm laborers.

Pocket-sized poems 

Lit Factory booth

Last year’s Lit Factory booth (Christina Olivas).

Also, at this year’s event the students of the Poets and Writers Coalition will staff the Lit Factory booth, which provides typewriters for poets to write short pocket-sized poems on the spot to be given away to those attending the day’s events. Submit your poem’s desired elements and characteristics to the Lit Factory, and see what interesting poem comes out. The Lit Factory is SJSU’s way of participating in the Poetry In-Your-Pocket Day, a national event sponsored by the Academy of American Poets on April 24, during National Poetry Month. National Poetry Month is held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. Thousands of organizations participate through readings, festivals, book displays, workshops, and other events.

Legacy of Poetry Day is sponsored by the SJSU President’s Office, the Faculty Senate, the Creative Writing Program, the Department of English & Comparative Literature, and SJSU Associated Students.


Legacy of Poetry Day 2014

11:45 a.m. – noon
Opening remarks and readings by President Mohammad Qayoumi and Provost Andrew Hale Feinstein. Readings in honor San Jose State’s first major poet, Edwin Markham (April 23, 1852 – March 7, 1940), and Henry Meade Bland (1863 – 1931), California’s second Poet Laureate.

Noon – 1 p.m.
Featured keynote readings by former California Poet Laureate Al Young, Santa Clara County’s newest poet Laureate David Perez, former Santa Clara County poet Laureates Sally Ashton and Nils Peterson.

1 – 1:30 p.m.
Commemorative reading and tribute to poet Wanda Coleman.

1:30 – 2:15 p.m.
SJSU faculty reading featuring Gloria Collins, Persis Karim, Linda Lappin, Samuel Maio, Neli Moody, Sweeney Schragg, Alan Soldofsky, and other poets.

2:15 – 3:30 p.m.
Readings by SJSU students, staff, and alumni. Featuring Metro Newspaper’s Silicon Alley’s columnist Gary Singh, Mark Heinlein, Darrell Dela Cruz, Stephanie Chan, Vuong Vu, Max Goodwin and winners of the James Phelan, Dorrit Sibley, and Viriginia de Araujo/Academy of American Poets student poetry awards. Hosted by the Poets & Writers Coalition.

Iranian Diaspora

Persian Studies Hosts “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora”

Media Contact:
Persis Karim, Director of Persian Studies,, 408-924-4476

Persian Studies Program Hosts First-Ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora Conference”

Various scholars, acclaimed artists and filmmakers from across the country will present at this conference.

SAN JOSE, Calif.- The Persian Studies Program at San Jose State, with support from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and the College of Humanities and the Arts, will hold the first-ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora” conference on Friday, April 11, and Saturday, April 12, at SJSU.

This conference brings together visual artists, writers, filmmakers and cultural activists who have been making art and representing the experiences, perspectives and sentiments of a diverse community of Iranians in the United Since over the past three decades.

Panels and discussions will convene in the Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. Library, rooms 225/229 and 255 , on Friday morning. Registration for the conference for both days including lunch is $60 for the general public and $50 for students. Advanced registration is required. 

Various scholars, acclaimed artists and filmmakers from across the country will present at this conference while representing institutions including the University of Southern California, Boston University, California College of Arts, UCLA, California Institute of Integral Studies and UC Irvine. Participants will provide a multi-dimensional exploration of how art has helped shape a conversation about Iran, migration to the West and the unique culture of Iranian Americans and the Iranian diaspora.

Iranian American Life

“As we read daily headlines about the tension between Iran and the United States, it is important to recognize the significant presence of Iranian-Americans and the ways that their experiences and contributions are often overshadowed,” said Dr. Persis Karim, director of Persian Studies at SJSU. “This conference is an occasion to reflect on and share the arts and humanity of Iran and its diaspora communities in the context of North America.”

Persian Studies Program Hosts First-Ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora Conference”

The play “Inja o Oonja: Stories from Iranian American Life,” featuring Kyle Swany, Mehrzad Karimabadi and Sara Mashayekh, will premiere at the “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora” conference (photo courtesy of Persis Karim).

The conference also features a play titled, “Inja o Oonja—Here and There: Stories from Iranian American Life,” adapted by SJSU Theater Arts Professor Dr. Matthew Spangler from three short stories by Iranian American writers on Friday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at the Le Petit Trianon Theatre (72 N. Fifth St., San Jose).

To conclude the conference events, a film-screening and discussion of two films by SJSU Professor Babak Sarrafan (Radio, Television, Film and Theater) and San Jose native Mo Gorjestani will be held on Saturday, April 12, in the Student Union Ballroom at 7 p.m. Both of these evening events are free and open to the public.

SJSU’s Persian Studies Program was established in March 2011 with funding from a grant from PARSA Community Foundation and received a generous three-year grant from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute  to continue the work of educating the SJSU community about the rich culture, history and heritage of the Persianate world, including the Iranian diaspora.

Evolution of a Community

Since 2011, Persian Studies at SJSU has offered courses in beginning Persian through the World Languages department and has hosted numerous lectures with scholars, film-screenings, musical events and book readings. This year’s events commenced with lectures “Jews of Iran” featuring Dr. Jaleh Pirnazar of UC Berkeley as well as “Days of the Revolution” presented by Dr. Mary Hegland of Santa Clara University. Celebration of Norouz, the Persian New Year and the spring equinox, has also become a tradition of the Persian Studies Program with the third annual concert of classical and folk Persian music on March 9.

“We hope people will see how art can help shape a different conversation about a people, their heritage and the evolution of that community right here in the United States,” said Karim. “We’re grateful that the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute is making that conversation possible in the heart of one of the largest populations of Iranian Americans in this country.”

More information for this conference, play and film-screening can be found at SJSU’s Persian Studies Program website.

Also, like Persian Studies at SJSU on Facebook for event news and updates.


Student Research Competition

35th Annual Student Research Competition

Student Research Competition

William Slocumb, ’14 Materials Engineering, collaborated with Andrea Kramer, an orthotic resident at Hanger Clinic, on research they presented at a recent conference (photo courtesy of William Slocumb).

Seven Spartans will advance to the 28th Annual California State University Student Research Competition May 2 and 3 at California State University, East Bay.

All seven students and their faculty mentors will be honored at the 35th Annual SJSU Student Research Forum beginning at noon April 10 in Engineering 285/287.

Student constructs prosthetic using tools.

Slocumb sections down materials for testing (photo courtesy of William Slocumb).

The Graduate Studies and Research Committee selects San Jose State’s finalists from a pool of nominees sent forward by SJSU’s seven colleges.

It’s important to note the competition is open to all students, including those majoring in the creative arts and design fields.

Each college has its own robust reviewing committee, so we ultimately see the best of the best,” said Cheryl Cowan, Graduate Studies and Research Administrative Support Coordinator.

Among this year’s winners are William Slocumb, ’14 Materials Engineering. His research, “Design of Bamboo Fiber Reinforced Composites for Use in Orthotics and Prosthetics,” focuses on making cost-effective prosthetics from sustainable materials.

Bamboo Prosthetics

Being selected to represent SJSU “is validating to me is [because this] shows that people are responding to what I’m doing and that this technology is doable, relevant and helpful,” he said.

Slocumb was inspired by a Chinese man who spent eight years building his own bionic hands after a fishing accident.

For people in developing countries, this research not only impacts their ability to thrive but also their survival and well being,” Slocumb said.

Pinto self portrait

A self portrait by Mark Pinto, ’14 MFA Photography.

Mentor and Professor Guna Selvaduray encouraged Slocumb to enter the competition because of his student’s “passion, productivity and capability to take complete ownership of the project.”

“Very few people are able to see the benefits of doing research that combines different traditional fields, and how the results can be used productively in a particular application,” Selvaduray said.

Connecting With Veterans

Mark Pinto ’14 MFA Photography, is one of two art students advancing to the systemwide research competition.

Representing “San Jose State and [showing] key people how great the art and graduate departments are–that is exciting to me,” he said.

Pinto’s entry, a collection of photography entitled “The War Veteran’s Voice,” provides insight into the extended costs of war.  A Marine veteran, Pinto learned a lot about himself while creating his entry.

It’s very personal, and each time I do it, I realize how connected I am to the veteran community, the suffering of the survivors, and those who did not make it as well,” he said.

Soldiers, represented by action figures, mourn the loss of a comrade, with gravestones in the background.

“Suicide Joe” by Mark Pinto.


Faculty Notes: Research, Recognition and Applied Learning

Ryan Carrington

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Ted Butryn and Associate Professor Matthew Masucci, Department of Kinesiology, spoke on February 26 at the King Library as part of the University Scholar Series on the topic of female triathletes’ awareness of doping and the anti-doping movement. Their research was funded by a two-year grant from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Lecturer Ryan Carrington, Department of Art and Art History, received an Emerging Artist/Artist Laureate Award from Silicon Valley Creates. His art explores the theme of labor through gallery installations, performances and site-specific work. He holds an MFA in spatial art from SJSU and currently teaches sculpture, foundry work and mold making.

Professor Emeritus Betty Chu, Department of Economics, was profiled last month in TheHuffington Post for her success in breeding Angora rabbits. One of the oldest kinds of domestic rabbit, the Angora rabbit, along with the Angora cat and the Angora goat, originated in Turkey. Chu holds the distinction of breeding the only Angora that has ever won the Open Best in Show award at the American Rabbit Breeder Association National Convention.

faculty notes

Asst. Prof. Kasuen Mauldin

Assistant Professor G. Craig Hobbs, Department of Art and Art History, and director of Learning and Games Consortium, organized and served as faculty advisor of Global Game Jam, held January 24-26 on campus. A competitive “hackathon” focused on game development, it was an event open to students from all majors and focused on collaboratively creating games under tight deadlines using computers, software and brainwave sensor technologies.

Assistant Professor Kasuen Mauldin, Department of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging, received the 2014 California Dietetics Association Excellence in Research Award. Her research focuses on human metabolism and, more specifically, lipoprotein homeostasis. She will also chair the 2014 Center for Healthy Aging in a Multicultural Population (CHAMP) conference.

faculty notes

Asso. Prof. Cathleen Miller’s book

Creative writing Associate Professor Cathleen Miller and Professor Alan Soldofsky read and signed their most recent books at Barnes and Noble in San Jose on February 12. Miller’s Champion of Choice (University of Nebraska Press) is a biography of Dr. Nafis Sadik, the first female director of a United Nations agency and a renowned advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights. Soldofsky’s poetry collection, In the Buddha Factory (Truman State University Press), takes Silicon Valley as its backdrop.

Professor David Parent, Department of Electrical Engineering, has been working with Silicon Valley employers Atmel, Texas Instruments and Linear Tech to secure internships and acquire donations of equipment for the department, including boards and chips. Atmel recently recognized SJSU as one of the top universities from which to acquire talented electrical engineering graduates.

Director of Film and Television Production Babak Sarrafan won the Broadcast Education Association’s Educational/Instructional Video Award of Excellence in the faculty video category. His “Green Ninja Episode 4: Styrofoam Man” is the latest in an ongoing series featuring an environmental ninja. “My aim is to make environmental responsibility entertaining,” he said. SJSU students also took home top prizes, including Best in Show for Always Learning, a feature-length film by Robert Krakower. The BEA is the largest association of Radio-TV-Film programs in the United States with 260 member institutions.

Assistant Professor Katie Wilkinson, Department of Biological Sciences, oversaw student teams competing in the American Physiological Society’s Phantasic Physiology Voyage: “Function Follows Form” video contest. To be considered, videos had to explore, for a general public audience, a specific physiological function in five minutes or less (including credits). Students Peter Luu, Lubayna Elahi, Laura Philbin and David Tatarakis received the Judge’s Award, which carries a prize of $750, for “Avian Surgery.”

faculty notes

Prof. Emily Wughalter

Professor Emily Wughalter, Department of Kinesiology, will receive the Luther Halsey Gulick Medal from the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance at the AAHPERD national conference in April. The highest award bestowed by the organization, it recognizes Wughalter’s 33 years of distinguished service to her profession. A strong advocate for girls and women in sport, she previously received the Honor Award from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS) and served as president of the Western Society for Physical Education of College Women. In January 2014, she received a distinguished service award from the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE).



President’s Scholar: Jo Farb Hernández

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

The President’s Scholar Award recognizes a faculty member who has achieved widespread recognition based on the quality of scholarship, performance or creative activities. This year’s winner comes from the College of Humanities and the Arts.

She will be honored at the 15th Annual Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon on March 11, 2014. Tickets are available for purchase.

Ask Jo Farb Hernández, professor of art and art history and this year’s recipient of the President’s Scholar Award, how she feels about the fact that she is considered one of the primary experts in the field of outsider art, and she will smile. “I don’t care for that term,” she says. “Humans have a tendency to classify things. Outsider art has come to refer to works created by those who are isolated from the mainstream art field, but this isn’t a movement like other fields. These creators don’t fit in a box.”

Neither does Hernández. After 25 years in the art and museum world, she was invited to apply to SJSU in 2000 for an unusual faculty appointment. The arrangement, in which she is encouraged to both do and teach, works well for Hernández. Three-quarters of her time is dedicated to directing the Natalie and James Thompson Art Gallery, overseeing the six student galleries, managing the university’s art collection, and coordinating a weekly speaker series and presentations for the art department. The remaining quarter of her time is spent teaching related classes in museum studies and associated subjects.

“It’s important to have a teacher-scholar model in a professor,” says Hernández, who also serves as executive director of SPACES (Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments). At SPACES, a nonprofit that focuses on the international study, documentation and preservation of art environments and self-taught artistic activity, she developed the most extensive public archive on the subject in the world.

“I love all aspects of scholarship—the field work, photography, meeting the artists, traveling, researching, writing. I’ve tried to study in areas that others haven’t, to fill in the gaps in the art historical record.” Hernández goes to great lengths to accomplish that goal: she has taught herself to read Gallego and Catalan to access articles and books only printed in those languages.

In her 13 years at SJSU, Hernández has published 11 books and catalogs, as well as 46 articles in journals and encyclopedias in four countries. She has curated 45 exhibitions in the United States, Japan, Korea and Spain, and has received 23 honors and awards, including a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Residence Award to do extended research in Spain for her latest book, Singular Spaces: From the Eccentric to the Extraordinary in Spanish Art.

Teaching is a natural extension of her research. “I love working with the students,” she says. “It is so rewarding when I get through to a student by sharing the passion that I have and leading them to ways to discover their own passions. I’ve spent my career trying to break down different barriers in art, and I try to infuse that into my teaching. My goal is to open minds and hearts.”

Professor's Band Earns Grammy Nomination

Professor’s Band Wins Grammy

Professor's Band Earns Grammy Nomination

Professor Lington wrote half of the arrangements on the record and played sax on all the tracks (Chad Ziemendorf photo).

A Spartan has won a Grammy! Baritone saxophonist, composer and Professor Aaron Lington is a member of the Pacific Mambo Orchestra, a 19-piece Big Band whose debut release was nominated for Best Tropical Latin Album.

That placed PMO alongside the likes of Marc Anthony, who was nominated for a Grammy in the same category.

Professor Lington beat out a number of very famous artists and his band’s album was the only independent entry in this category,” said Chair of the Department of Music and Dance Joseph Frank. “This is a real victory for our own phenomenal artist.”

Lington was proud just to be nominated.

“I am so unbelievably excited and proud of PMO for beating the odds and making it into the running with some of the best in the biz,” Lington said on his website. “I am very personally proud of the album as having been one of its primary composers. I wrote half of the compositions or arrangements on the record, as well as having played baritone sax on all the tracks.”

SJSU offers a bachelor’s in jazz studies, providing students with the opportunity to learn from top educators and performers.

Teaching the Immigrant Experience Through Theater

Teaching the Immigrant Experience Through Theater

Teaching the Immigrant Experience Through Theater

SJSU’s Matthew Spangler was the playwright for the San Jose Repertory Theatre and Arizona Theatre Company production of “The Kite Runner,” which featured, from left to right, Craig Piaget (Young Amir) and Lowell Abellon (Hassan) (photo by Kevin Berne).

San Jose State University has received a $162,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to host a summer institute for school teachers titled “The California Immigrant Experience through Literature and Theatre.”

The institute will be held July 13-27, 2014, at SJSU. Faculty members will include Maxine Hong Kingston (author of “The Woman Warrior”), Ping Chong (theater artist) and Luis Valdez, ’64 English (author of “Zoot Suit” and “La Bamba”). See below for more.

Associate Professor of Performance and Communication Studies Matthew Spangler and Professor of Radio, TV, Film and Theatre Arts David Kahn will serve as hosts and co-directors for the institute.

This institute will explore some of the ways in which the immigrant experience to the United States, and California, in particular, has been represented through literary and theatrical texts,” Spangler said.

Activities will be organized around three topics that frequently appear in such texts: (1) the construction of political borders between geographic territories and social borders between groups of people; (2) intercultural conflict between settled and immigrant communities; (3) changing family and gender dynamics within discrete immigrant communities.

Participants will explore these topics as they pertain to emigration from Mexico, China and Afghanistan.

Theater workshop

Among the highlights of the institute is a three-day theater workshop with Ping Chong, an internationally renowned theater artist known for his work in intercultural and documentary theater. In this workshop, Ping Chong will guide participants through some of the steps involved in creating a documentary theater production based on the topic of immigration.

On Friday, July 25, participants will showcase the results of this workshop in a theater performance open to the public.

Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Hal Todd Theatre, SJSU
Cost: Free
For Reservations: call 408-924-1373 or email


Institute participants will include 25 school teachers competitively selected from around the country. Eligibility: Full-time or part-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens.

Librarians, school administrators and graduate students may also apply. The deadline is March 4, 2014.

For questions or to request additional information please contact Project Coordinator Maria Judnick ( or Matthew Spangler (, 650-714-3622) or visit the institute website.


Maxine Hong Kingston (author of “The Woman Warrior,” “China Men” and other novels; Professor Emeritus, UC Berkeley)

Ping Chong (internationally acclaimed theater director, playwright, video and installation artist; author of “East West Quartet” and creator of “Undesirable Elements” performance series)

Luis Valdez (author of “Zoot Suit,” “La Bamba”; founder of El Teatro Campesino)

Kinan Valdez (actor, director, and producing artistic director of El Teatro Campesino)

Donna Gabaccia (author of “Immigration and American Diversity,” among many other authored and edited books on the immigrant experience; Professor of History, University of Minnesota)

Kelly Lytle-Hernández (author of “Migra: A History of the U.S. Border Patrol,” among other articles and books on immigration from Mexico to the United States; Associate Professor of History, UCLA)

Judy Yung (author of “Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America,” among other articles and books on immigration from China to the United States; Professor of American Studies, UC Santa Cruz)

Sharon Ott, (theatre director and former artistic director of Berkeley Repertory Theatre; Performing Arts Faculty Savannah College of Art and Design)

David Terry (a specialist on the performance of space and place; Assistant Professor of Communication and Performance Studies, San Jose State University)

Glen Gendzel (author of numerous articles on immigration; Associate Professor of History, San Jose State University)

Sara Zatz (Associate Director of Ping Chong & Company; program director of “Undesirable Elements” performance series)

Matthew Spangler (author of numerous articles and plays about transnational migration, including award-winning adaptations of Khaled Hosseini’s “The Kite Runner” and T.C. Boyle’s “The Tortilla Curtain”; Associate Professor of Performance Studies, San Jose State University)

David Kahn (a specialist in documentary theatre performance; Professor of Theatre Arts, San Jose State University)

Students talk with Ken Burns

The San Jose State Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre Arts sat down with award-winning documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, who was on campus to accept the 2013 Steinbeck Award.

When students asked how he chooses his subjects, Burns said, “I don’t make films about things I know about; I make films about things I want to know about. If I were given one thousand years to live, I’d never run out of topics.”

While his films range from war to baseball, some common themes present themselves in each, among them race and feminism. With each film, Burns engages in what he calls “emotional archeology,” during which he excavates larger emotional truths beyond dry dates, facts and events.

And how did he get started?

“I am very fortunate, but it is good fortune born in tragedy,” said Burns of his beginnings as a filmmaker. His mother died of cancer when he was 11-years-old. When Burns was up late watching movies with his dad and saw him shed tears, he decided to become filmmaker. “I instantly understood the power of film,” he said.

Jerich piece

Art Department Celebrates Centennial

Art Department Celebrates Centennial

A poster for the campus exhibition featured a photo of the Art Building in the 1960s (SJSU Archives and Digital Collection).

For more information, please contact Jo Farb Hernandez (408-924-4328).

It is as important to mark rites of passage for institutions as for individuals. In each case, stopping to observe a transitional moment has particular importance amid the crush of what has become the new “normal” of our busy daily lives: it motivates us to celebrate growth, honor milestones, or commemorate passings. And, by so doing, it inspires us to take stock, to note the challenges and the successes, the drawbacks and the rewards. It reminds us to take a breath and look back from where we have come, appreciate where we are now, and look forward to what lies ahead.

Foundation in Art

As we have paused to consider one hundred years of the Department of Art at San Jose State University, the view to the past is astonishing. SJSU was inaugurated as a teachers’ or normal school in 1857, and, in 1862, was absorbed by the state of California, becoming not only the first of the state’s teachers’ colleges, but California’s first state-supported institution of higher learning. In 1871, the college was moved from its original San Francisco location after administrators and the legislature decided that rural San Jose would be a safer location for its predominantly young, female and unmarried students. Classes in drawing were among the earliest courses taught and, for a long time, these classes were required for every student, no matter their major or intended career. Classes in additional media and techniques were added quickly, as the administrators at that time understood that the study of the arts were essential in the development of a well-rounded, educated individual. Soon the San Jose Normal School evolved into the San Jose State Teacher’s College, then into San Jose State College, and finally into San Jose State University.

poster for exhibit at the Triton Museum, Dec. 7 to Jan. 26

A series of events have been scheduled to celebrate this important milestone including an exhibit at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara, Dec. 7, 2013 – Jan. 26, 2014. This poster features the work of alumna Pilar Aguero-Esparza.

A series of exhibitions, projects, and programs were scheduled to celebrate this important milestone of the art department. Sponsors include Adobe Systems, Cisco and Lathrop Construction, which gave $5,000 each. In the Thompson Art Gallery, we focused on a small number of our most illustrious alumni from the middle years of our history – including Jay DeFeo, Wayne Thiebaud, Mel Ramos, Robert Graham, Mark Tansey and Tim Hawkinson. Complementary exhibitions on campus took place in Gallery 3 (Nov. 12-22, 2013), with a very special exhibition of the work of three generations of the Amyx family: the grandfather, father, and son all received their art degrees at San Jose State; and there was also an exhibition of department-produced posters at King Library. Off-campus, the community is helping celebrate, as well: there were or will be broad displays featuring dozens of our alumni at the new gallery at San Jose City College (curated by Eve Mathias, Nov. 14 – Dec. 12, 2013), at the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara (curated by Jo Farb Hernandez, Dec. 7, 2013 – Jan. 26, 2014), and at San Jose City Hall (curated by Robin Treen, February – May 2014).

Commemorative Book

A hardcover book documenting the past hundred years, and including images by or narratives about more than 160 alumni, as well as faculty, staff, and programs, has been produced by the gallery and is available for purchase ($30 for students, faculty, staff and alumni; $50 for the general public). In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition, a special panel discussion was moderated by Professor of Art History Christy Junkerman and included illustrated presentations by the art history alumni who wrote the substantive narrative essays in the book—Kathleen Kenyon, who spoke on the period 1911-1945; Marianne Kennedy McGrath, who discussed 1946-1970; and Betsy Vaca, who focused on the more recent past 1971-2013—providing an overview of the project and the astonishing changes that have taken place over the past 100 years.




Power of Gratitude: Being Inspired

Photo: Thomas Sanders, ’15 MFA Photography

Gary Ortega, ’12, ’14 MA Jazz Studies

“Teaching challenges you to be a better person, for yourself and for others. Thank you to all of my teachers for keeping me inspired.”

“The music department is close-knit,” says Gary Ortega, ’12, ’14 MA Jazz Studies. “You are dependent on each other for ensembles; your music and your livelihood are reliant on it. It’s a community—a music family.”

Ortega has the opportunity to study, work and play with this family in part due to the Katherine Peterson Alumni Association Scholarship. Awarded on the basis of academic achievement, need and community service, this scholarship has allowed Ortega to say goodbye to the days of waiting tables so he can focus on more important things, like running his music lessons business, teaching instrumental music to third through eighth graders at St. Leo the Great School and staying involved with the nonprofit organization, San Jose Jazz.

“This award will be contributing to the success and completion of my master’s degree this spring with a lighter financial burden,” says Ortega, who is currently teaching jazz improvisation at SJSU. He plans to continue teaching to children and adults after he graduates. “Teaching challenges you to be a better person, for yourself and for others. And you get to help other people be better. Thank you to all of my teachers for keeping me inspired.”