Economics Convocation: “Success Here And Now”

Economics Convocation: “Success Here And Now”

Economics Convocation

Each member of the economic department’s Class of 2013 was called to the stage and invited to offer thanks to friends, family, peers and professors. (Stan Olszewski photo)

(This week, SJSU Today’s small but mighty band of writers and photographers will take a peek at graduation receptions and convocations campuswide so we can share with you the excitement of the more than 8,000 members of the Class of 2013. We’ll post more photos on Facebook.)

The high acoustic ceilings of the Music Concert Hall resonated with the sounds of proud supporters Thursday night as guests of all ages found their way to comfortable seating at the Department of Economics convocation.

Chair Lydia Ortega opened the ceremony by welcoming friends, family and “cheerleaders,” and urging graduates to focus on success “here and now.”

Ortega’s talk was followed by a slideshow accompanied by Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World.” In the presentation, grads gave thanks and expressed their appreciation for family and friends.

Special awards were then given to faculty and students for “keeping alive the vitality of the department and economic ideas.”

Leading Balanced Lives

In his keynote address, Lecturer Martin Kropelnicki opened by saying people who understand and maximize their skills lead the happiest and most balanced in lives.

Kropelnicki urged graduates to think rationally and learn how to solve problems. He emphasized the importance of obtaining moral fiber by “understanding boundaries,” “knowing how to act,” “being prepared for mental challenges” and “not compromising principles.”

He closed by listing the top 10 attributes business employers look for including ethics, ambition, optimism, communication and organizational courage.

Ortega and Associate Professor Jeffrey Hummel called each member of the Class of 2013 by name and provided everyone with the opportunity to offer thanks to friends, family, peers and professors.


In a recent survey, SJSU asked new grads if they would like to send a shout out to family and friends. Here are some of the responses we received from child and adolescent development majors. More will be shared at Commencement.

Tod Holland: “I want to thank my mother for the love and emotional support she gave me during my time here. She was my inspiration for going to college in the first place.”

Megan Swartzwelder: “Thanks to my family for all the love and support!!!”

Travis Tesarek: “To my wife Michele, I could not have done it without your love and support.”


Cisco CEO Address Honors Convocation

Cisco CEO Address Honors Convocation

SJSU President Mohammad Qayoumi and California State University Board Chair Bob Linscheid hood Cisco CEO John Chambers after he received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters (Robert Bain photo).

A willingness to “change the rules,” “take risks” and “constantly reinvent” are the hallmarks of strong companies and universities, said Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers at the 51st Annual Honors Convocation held April 26 in the Event Center.

Chambers received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the gathering, which celebrates SJSU’s top academic performers, including over 250 Spartans who earned 4.0 GPAs. Family and friends packed the stands to cheer for honorees, who were seated in rows blanketing the full length of the floor.

One of the most remarkable things about attending an event like this one at SJSU is many of the people in the stands don’t have college degrees themselves, but they recognize the value of their loved ones’ achievements. So they liked when Chambers credited universities with making our region an international powerhouse.

But he emphasized San Jose State must have the “courage and conviction” to innovate or risk being “left behind.” Referencing SJSU’s online initiatives, he urged this campus to lead the CSU and the nation through tough times because those at the head of the pack are the product not of their successes but their “setbacks and challenges.”

And what about the topic on the minds of the many students about to graduate? After noting that six percent of Cisco’s workers worldwide are SJSU alumni, Chambers closed by saying, “we are still recruiting” and “we would like to see the best and brightest at Cisco.”

Read a guest column by Chambers, addressed to the Class of 2013, in the San Jose Mercury News.

“Finding Your Niche” Child & Adolescent Development Convocation

Child & Adolescent Development Convocation: “Finding Your Niche”

“Finding Your Niche” Child & Adolescent Development Convocation

As child and adolescent development graduates embarked on a “commitment to a life of service,” they shared memories of lighter moments that reminded them “it only takes one teacher to make a difference.” (Stanley Olszewski photo)

(This week, SJSU Today’s small but mighty band of writers and photographers will take a peek at graduation receptions and convocations campuswide so we can share with you the excitement of the more than 8,000 members of the Class of 2013. We’ll post more photos on Facebook.)

The sun glistened high over Tower Lawn late Wednesday afternoon, as families and guests snapped photos and conversed while awaiting the Department of Child and Adolescent Development convocation.

The graduates’ supporters snapped, leg-clapped and swayed to Smokey Robinson’s “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love,” while the incandescent Tower Hall provided the perfect finishing touch to this energetic crowd.

The master of ceremonies, Lecturer Donna Bee-Gates, opened the event by welcoming the graduates, families and friends. She told grads that she was “awed” by their hard work, persistence and ability to overcome challenges.

Staying Connected

Before turning over the ceremony to Elaine Chin, dean of the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, Bee-Gates reminded graduates to “stay connected” to what they loved and to keep “excited and engaged.”

In her welcome address, Dean Chin entrusted full faith in the graduates who would provide “tremendous service for the communities they would serve” and commended graduates on their forthcoming “commitment to a life of service.”

Child and Adolescent Development Club President Michelle Doan spoke next, thanking Lecturer Cheri Reaves for teaching her that “everything we do is purposeful” and sharing a vignette about checking out tadpoles with a child to remind her fellow “teacher child advocates and beyond” that “it only takes one teacher to make a difference.”

The Most Significant Watermarks

An entertaining and compelling keynote speech followed by “humanitarian entrepreneur” Jon Talbert, who carried on the theme of the important role of the educator by saying “the most significant watermarks come from your teachers.”

Talbert reminisced about his kindergarten teacher, who challenged him to conquer the monkey bars on the first day of class with the lesson that “sometimes there will be things you will have to climb up over and down to get to what’s best.”

Talbert concluded his speech with advice for graduates to “find and keep doing their genius niche,” “have the courage in teachable moments” and “use power words that win.”


In a recent survey, SJSU asked new grads if they would like to send a shout out to family and friends. Here are some of the responses we received from child and adolescent development majors. More will be shared at Commencement.

Elizabeth Yanez: “I would like to thank my whole family for always being there for me through the beginning of this journey.”

Emerald Green: “I want to thank all of the students who have supported me and befriended me since my freshman year. You have all inspired me in many ways to continue to be who I am and reach my full potential.”

Fatima Hussain: “To all my awesome professors: thanks!”

woman and daughter in graduation outfit hugging

Educational Opportunity Program Convocation: “Inspire”

EOP Commencement

Vanessa Gordon addresses the audience after earning the Outstanding Service Award at the 2013 EOP Graduation Ceremony (Stanley Olszewski photo).

(This week, SJSU Today’s small but mighty band of writers and photographers will take a peek at graduation receptions and convocations campuswide so we can share with you the excitement of the more than 8,000 members of the Class of 2013. We’ll post more photos on Facebook.)

The Tommie Smith and John Carlos Statue towered over attendees of the Educational Opportunity Program graduation ceremony, as participants, staff and guests enjoyed an array of foods and drinks prior to the event.

On this breezy May evening, the voices of individuals who have come so far echoed back toward nearby Clark Hall. Keynote speaker Shaun Tai, ’07 Interdisciplinary Studies, shared his voice as a Spartan who founded Oakland Digital, a nonprofit organization “that provides digital literacy education to small businesses and professional development training to students” in Oakland and the rest of the East Bay.

“Find your inspiration,” Tai said. “Inspire your community and inspire the world, starting today and starting right now.”

Coleetta McElroy, ’97 Public Administration, introduced these newly minted alumni to the benefits of the SJSU Alumni Association, announcing that EOP had taken care of a one-year membership for all.

McElroy, SJSU director of financial aid and scholarship, also called up each individual one by one. Many of the 54 graduates listed on the back of the program were in attendance with their loved ones.

Each person received one to two minutes behind the podium to share his or her appreciation. Some comments elicited chuckles such as thanking EOP for providing free food over the years, while more than one student’s gratitude for their mothers encouraged tears.

Inspiring words and inspirational people walked hand in hand among the group. Graduate Van Nguyen, a sharply dressed bespectacled man who identified himself as being in his 80s, shared a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: “Not everybody can be famous, but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.”

Graduates Vanessa Gordon and Long Kieu earned the Outstanding Community Service Award and the Maria D.L.C. Romo Award, respectively.

Gordon thanked her parents, saying, “I want to make them proud and show that I could do it.”

Kieu gave a shout-out to his younger sister in the audience, who found out she was attending his ceremony at the last minute. “I want to show her, ‘You’re an inspiration to me,'” he said. “… Because of you, I want to be a role model for you.”

Sammy Spartan in class

Cramming? We’re Here to Help!

Sammy Spartan in class

It’s time to take those exams! Go Sammy go!

Check out all the exam week specials offered by Parking Services, King Library, Spartan Shops, Spartan Bookstore, Associated Students and Housing Services:

“Any holders of park-and-ride permits or one-day-a-week or two-day-a-week parking permits can park on campus May 15 through May 22. So even if you don’t have a full-price permit, you can park in campus garages during exam week. The park-and-ride shuttles will operate Wed., May 15, through Tues., May 21.” — Denny Yau, Parking Services assistant manager

“King Library will be open all night during much of exam week. Get the details here. On Fourth Cafe will be open until midnight on May 14, 15, 16, 19 and 20. Before cafe workers leave for the night, they will set up a free coffee stand for students hitting the books through the night. On May 17, the cafe closes at 5 p.m., so coffee will be available beginning around 5:30 p.m.” — Bridget Kowalczyk, King Library senior assistant librarian

“Spartan Shops is ready to help you prepare for finals! Our eateries will have special, extended hours during finals week, including On Fourth Cafe which will close at midnight for everyone studying late at King Library. To start the first day of finals, find our Nesquik team in front of the Village Market 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wed., May 15, and get a free bottle of Nesquik chocolate milk! Plus, find pencils, scantrons, green books, and drinks at our various dining locations.” — Stephanie Fabian, Spartan Shops marketing manager

“The Spartan Bookstore is here for all of your exam and graduation needs!! We have blue books, scantrons, pencils and smiling employees ready to wish you the best on your final exams! For your convenience, we will be open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sat., May 18 and 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sat., May 25. Good Luck Spartans!!” — Ryland Metzinger, Spartan Bookstore director

“Students can usually find a quiet space in the A.S. House Fireside Room during business hours. The A.S. Student Programming Board hands out snacks and other giveaways across campus during exam week. The Computer Services Center will open early at 7:30 a.m., and the Print Shop will be open extended hours 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fri., May 24.” — Kelli Williams, Associated Students associate executive director

“In order to better meet the study needs of all housing residents, the Living Learning Center (LLC) located on the first floor of Campus Village Building B has expanded its hours during finals. The LLC will now be open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily through Tues., May 21. This space is designed for group and individual study, with quiet study after 8 p.m.” — Stephanie G. Hubbard, Residential Life associate director

Commencement is right around the corner! Check out what Sammy’s been up to as he prepares to graduate.

Philanthropist to Serve as Commencement Speaker

Honorary Doctorate for Philanthropist Connie L. Lurie

Philanthropist Connie L. Lurie will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at Commencement (photo courtesy of Connie L. Lurie).

Media contacts:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA – SJSU’s 2013 Commencement speaker will be philanthropist and alumna Connie L. Lurie. She will also receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the event, which will begin at 9:30 a.m. May 25 in Spartan Stadium.

Approximately 8,000 candidates who completed their studies in August 2012, December 2012 and May 2013 will be eligible to participate.

“Connie Lurie’s lifetime dedication and exceptional generosity to San Jose State, as well as her visionary philanthropic spirit and positive impact on the Bay Area as a whole, merit these honors,” President Mohammad Qayoumi said.

Always an educator

Lurie graduated from San Jose State in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology. She taught in elementary schools on the Monterey Peninsula for six years and later ventured into real estate investment.  She was the executive director of Who’s Who International, and served as an admissions counselor for Heald Business College.

In her heart, Lurie has always been an educator. She established the Guardian Scholars program, which provides support and mentorship to former foster youths at SJSU. In 1998, she endowed the university’s Lurie Author-in-Residence program.

Lurie has been involved in many worthwhile causes throughout the Bay Area and California. She has served on boards for numerous organizations, including Strive for College. She has served as an advisory trustee for the California State Parks Foundation for more than 30 years.

University’s highest honor

In 2008, Lurie received the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society Distinguished Alumni Award and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice’s Citizen Involvement Award. Lurie remains a very active supporter of her alma mater. In 2000, she was the founder of Spartans in the Desert, an annual gathering for SJSU supporters. She also provided funding for the database that formed the backbone for SJSU’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign.

In 2006, SJSU presented Lurie with the Tower Award, the university’s highest honor, and in 2007, the CSU Board of Trustees granted SJSU the naming of the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, in recognition of her visionary service and support, including a $10 million gift.

San Jose State University — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

Shruthi Thirumalai

2013 Top Seniors & Outstanding Thesis Awards

President Mohammad Qayoumi will recognize four top graduates at Commencement, which begins at 9:30 a.m. May 25 in Spartan Stadium. Approximately 8,000 candidates who completed their studies in August 2012, December 2012 and May 2013 will be eligible to participate. Around 25,000 graduates, family and friends are expected to attend the ceremony.

Maimona Afzal and Travis Lopez have been named SJSU’s 2013 Outstanding Graduating Seniors in recognition of their scholarship and contributions to the community. Sarah Swift and Shruthi Thirumalai have received the 2013 Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the exceptional quality of their research.

Maimona Afzal

Maimona Afzal, 2013 Outstanding Graduating Senior

Maimona Afzal is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. She says that her college experience has given her opportunities to interact, collaborate, and serve her community in many ways. A Kaucher Mitchell Honorable Mention recipient, Afzal is graduating with a 3.98 GPA. She led 15 volunteer tutors as a coordinator for the Homework Club and managed the Reading to Children program. Off campus, Afzal advocated for orphaned children as a volunteer with the GiveLight Foundation and spent her summers as a counselor and troop leader for a youth camp. Graduating at the age of 18, Afzal hopes that her drive will inspire others to act on their dreams. Afzal has accepted a position at Teach for America, where she will be working with special needs children in East San Jose.

Travis Lopez

Travis Lopez, 2013 Outstanding Graduating Senior

Travis Lopez is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He says he has enjoyed increasing awareness about globalization while at SJSU. He is graduating with a 3.936 GPA. Lopez served as a leader in the Entrepreneurial Society and the Executive Leadership Council, and still found time to pursue entrepreneurship through the Spartups Incubator and the MIS Association. A Salzburg Scholar, Lopez also worked in Hong Kong through the Thompson Global Internship Program and analyzed mobile applications for the city of San Jose and Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, as part of two honors student programs. Lopez has accepted an offer to work at NetApp, a network storage and cloud computing company, and will continue with his most meaningful contribution, Mobedio, a start-up that uses an online public opinion platform to increase civic participation.

Sarah Swift

Sarah Swift, 2013 Outstanding Thesis Award

Sarah Swift is graduating with a master’s degree in communicative disorders and sciences. For her thesis “Low-tech, Eye-Movement-Accessible AAC and Typical Adults,” Swift studied augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Some types of AAC make use of eye movements as a means to communicate wants and needs, engage in social relationships and continue with daily life for those who have lost the ability to speak. Swift focused on low-tech eye-gaze methods in typical adults. Before her study there was not much research on the preference of commonly used eye-movement accessible AAC systems by non-neurologically impaired adults. Her study added to the knowledge in the field by providing a baseline for low-tech eye gaze methods. Swift is currently a speech pathologist in Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s rehabilitation unit.

Shruthi Thirumalai

Shruthi Thirumalai, 2013 Outstanding Thesis Award

Shruthi Thirumalai is graduating with a master’s degree in general engineering. She dreams of continuing research that will help people lead healthy lives. For her thesis, “Opto-Acoustic Interrogation and Ultrasound Imaging Of Acoustically Sensitive Microcapsules,” Thirumalai examined the use of ultrasound to locate and modulate the release of cancer-killing drugs from microcapsules when they are implanted in breast tumors. Her biomedical engineering research crossed the fields of ultrasound, microencapsulation and microfluidics, and has resulted in two conference publications, one journal article, one poster presentation and the San Jose State research award for engineering. Thirumalai says that each class at SJSU has given her different ways to challenge herself. She is currently considering biomedical engineering doctoral programs and hopes to give back as a mentor by becoming a professor one day.


Honorary Degrees Joe and Nicki Parisi

Honorary Doctorates for Joseph and Nicki Parisi

Honorary Degrees Joe and Nicki Parisi

Joseph and Nicki Parisi (Christina Olivas photo).

Media contacts:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA – Business and community leaders Joseph and Nicki Parisi will receive honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters at the San Jose State University Commencement ceremony.

“Joseph and Nicki Parisi are outstanding role models for our students,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi. “They have achieved great success with their ‘working smart’ and ‘can-do’ attitudes while never losing sight of their roots, giving back to the university and community they call home.”

Joseph and Nicki Parisi founded Therma Corporation in 1967. The business combines Joseph’s academic interests with Nicki’s family history. Joseph studied mechanical engineering at San Jose State, while Nicki comes from three generations in the plumbing and mechanical contracting businesses. Today, Therma is a renowned mechanical contractor serving commercial, industrial and biomedical concerns in Northern California. One of the largest design/build mechanical contracting firms in the Bay Area, Therma has employed more than 1,500 people.

As Therma’s president, Joseph Parisi was inducted into the Junior League Business Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the David Packard Civic Entrepreneur Award. He serves on the boards of the Tower Foundation of San Jose State, the Valley Foundation, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, Pacific Valley Bank and the Valley Medical Center Foundation. He is past director of KTEH, past president of the local Sheet Metal Contractors National Association and a founder of the Santa Clara Valley Contractors Association.

As Therma’s chief financial officer, Nicki Parisi developed a computerized accounting system to track customer requirements and provide necessary documentation for corporations, which became the envy of the industry. She is a founding member of The Doves Club, the California chapter of Las Palomas, an organization dedicated to inspiring women to participate in local charities through leadership, volunteerism and giving. She has served on other corporate boards and is on the board of the Nobb Hill Association.

The Parisis have taken leadership roles in fundraising for many local organizations, including the United Way of Santa Clara County (now United Way Silicon Valley), American Cancer Society, Valley Medical Center Foundation, House on the Hill, March of Dimes, Arthritis Foundation, National Kidney Foundation and the American Heart Association.


Commencement will begin at 9:30 a.m. May 25 in Spartan Stadium. Approximately 8,000 candidates who completed their studies in August 2012, December 2012 and May 2013 will be eligible to participate.

San Jose State University — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.


Senior Gift

How Will You Honor Your Top Grad?

The Senior Gift gives graduating students, along with their family and friends, the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of graduates, while contributing to a program that will directly support current and future students (Christina Olivas photo).

Consider contributing $20.13 or more to the 2013 Senior Gift fund. Through this annual campaign, the entire SJSU community including family, friends, faculty, staff, seniors and master’s candidates can honor this year’s graduates while investing in the future of San Jose State. Donors vote on the recipient of each year’s fund. The choices include the SJSU Alumni Association Scholarship Fund, the Educational Opportunity Program and the Student Emergency Fund. Last year, 237 individuals gave a total of over $8,900, which went to the Educational Opportunity Program. Should you choose to honor someone special, your name and the names of your honorees will appear in a keepsake Commencement booklet given to every graduate who attends the ceremony in Spartan Stadium May 25. You and your graduates will also be honored in the Donor Honor Roll. To learn more, contact Carolyn Canete, annual giving manager, at 408-924-1782. Give now.

Cisco CEO Chambers

Honorary Doctorate for Cisco CEO John Chambers

Cisco's John Chambers to Receive Honorary Doctorate

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the San Jose State University Honors Convocation (photo courtesy of Cisco).

Media contact:
Pat Lopes Harris,, 408-656-6999

SAN JOSE, CA –Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the San Jose State University Honors Convocation.

“John Chambers is widely regarded as a transformational leader representing the attributes that the California State University system and San Jose State exemplify,” President Mohammad Qayoumi said. “His extraordinary achievements in business and his leadership in the fields of education, public service and philanthropy embody the ideals of the CSU and serve as an example of SJSU’s aspirations for its diverse student body.”

As chairman and CEO of the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet, Chambers has been lauded by government leaders and publications worldwide for his visionary strategy, his ability to drive an entrepreneurial culture, and his warm-hearted, straight-talking approach.

Chambers has served two American presidents. President George Bush appointed him as vice chairman of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council to provide industry experience and leadership to help protect the critical infrastructure of the United States. He also served on President Bush’s transition team as a member of his Education Committee and on President Bill Clinton’s Trade Policy Committee.

Prior to joining Cisco in 1991 as senior vice president, worldwide sales and operations, Chambers spent eight years at Wang Laboratories and six years with IBM. He was voted the Most Powerful Person in Networking by Network World magazine and has received many other accolades, including the Distinguished Industry Leader Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Chambers holds a law degree and a bachelor’s in business from West Virginia University. He later received an MBA in finance and management from Indiana University.

Honors Convocation

Over 3,500 undergraduates who earned a GPA of 3.65 or higher in at least two contiguous semesters of the three prior semesters will be eligible to participate in this annual ceremony at 6 p.m. April 26 in the Event Center.

San Jose State University — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

2012-2013 President’s Scholar: Susan Shillinglaw

2012-2013 President’s Scholar: Susan Shillinglaw

2012-2013 President’s Scholar: Susan Shillinglaw

2012-2013 President’s Scholar Susan Shillinglaw (Peter Caravalho photo)

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.

In 1984, Professor of English and Comparative Literature Susan Shillinglaw came to her first faculty meeting with her baby in her arms, an unfinished dissertation and not a single word published. Twenty-eight years later, her subsequent research and determination have earned her the 2012-2013 President’s Scholar Award.

“When the president called to tell me that I won the award, I was just floored and so moved beyond words,” said Shillinglaw. “It’s such an honor to receive this recognition from the president and from San Jose State—the university that I’ve given my life and career to. I am delighted that my scholarship, outreach and commitment to the university are recognized in this way.

A specialist on Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck, Shillinglaw is “one of the top three or four [scholars] in the world on the subject, and since 2005 has been scholar-in-residence at the National Steinbeck Center,” said one nominator. Her research portfolio includes several edited books and scholarly essays, five introductions for Penguin Classics,  A Journey Into Steinbeck’s California (2006, second edition 2011), and a biography of Steinbeck’s first marriage to San Jose native Carol Henning, a forthcoming book from the University of Nevada Press that she says defines her career as a Steinbeck scholar. Among Shillinglaw’s numerous grants for studies on  Steinbeck are four from the National Endowment for Humanities for Steinbeck Summer Institutes, “John Steinbeck, the Voice of a Region, a Voice for America.” Focusing on place and ecology, each “works to bridge the gap between the humanities and the sciences.”

Shillinglaw’s work has been recognized nationally and internationally, and her articles and introductions are “a major contribution to the Steinbeck field,” said a nominator. Her work has clearly benefited the field of Steinbeck studies as a whole; each scholarly project has challenged Shillinglaw to write to a broad audience. It is the positive and visceral response to Steinbeck’s work that has allowed her to touch so many people and to lecture around the world.

The director of San Jose State’s Center for Steinbeck Studies for 18 years, Shillinglaw is presently working on a Steinbeck encyclopedia devoted to cultural contexts for each book as well as a book on Steinbeck and the Soviet Union. There’s always more to know about a writer whose work remains firmly in the canon. Shillinglaw wrote: “Steinbeck endures because he does not permit readers to complacently dig in, like the hermit crab. He embraces the fullness of life. With compassion, tolerance, and humility, he surveys landscapes: of place, of spirit, of a nation.”

Shillinglaw earned a bachelor’s degree from Cornell College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Faculty Awards 4 Slideshow

2012-2013 Distinguished Service Award: Brad Stone

2012-2013 Distinguished Service Award: Brad Stone

2012-2013 Distinguished Service Award Brad Stone (Peter Caravalho photo)

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a faculty member for exemplary service in a leadership capacity to the university and/or community or profession that brings credit to San Jose State University. This year’s winner comes from the College of Science.

Bradley  Stone, professor of chemistry, says that providing service beyond the normal duties of teaching and scholarship is important. His commitment and ongoing contributions to San Jose State’s mission has earned him the 2012-2013 Distinguished Service Award.

Since his arrival at San Jose State  in 1985, Stone has provided diligent service across the university and in multiple colleges, and has dedicated time to the community and through his ongoing leadership. His colleagues describe him as “receptive, honest, dedicated, and committed” and his contributions as “extraordinary, excellent, creative, supportive, consistent, prolific and exemplary.”

Through his leadership and initiative as chair of the Department of Chemistry for nine years, Stone supported faculty and student research and oversaw the modernizing of the curriculum and adding nine new tenure-track faculty members. His contributions as chair of the University Council of Chairs and Directors “played an instrumental role in fostering closer ties between the departments, conducting interdisciplinary, collaborative research and course development, and streamlining the double-major process for students,” according to a colleague.

As co-director of the SJSU/NASA Faculty Fellowship Program, Stone secured $2.2 million in grants and contracts, which created collaborative research opportunities for more than 100 faculty members.

As a faculty advisor for KSJS, San Jose State’s FM campus radio station, Stone has served as a mentor and directly influenced thousands of students. He has won multiple national awards for his work as a music director and jazz radio programmer at KSJS. He has served as an invited panelist, moderator and organizer at numerous jazz conventions for over more than 20 years. This has led to years of national recognition for San Jose State, including Jazz Station of the Year, Jazz Programmer of the Year, and the JazzWeek Duke Dubois Humanitarian Award for Lifetime Achievement.

“For me to serve the university and the students in the other ways besides teaching and research is really important because it supports our mission in the CSU, ” he said. “If I can contribute in some small way then that is very gratifying to me.”

Stone earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a doctorate from Indiana University.

Faculty Awards 2 Slideshow

2012-2013 Outstanding Lecturer: Kathleen Normington

2012-2013 Outstanding Lecturer: Kathleen Normington

2012-2013 Outstanding Lecturer Kathleen Normington (Peter Caravalho photo)

The Outstanding Lecturer Award recognizes a lecturer for excellence in teaching effectiveness and service to the San Jose State campus community. This year’s winner comes from the College of Humanities and the Arts.

Kathleen Normington enjoys staging guerrilla theatre performances on campus and in the community, where her students are taken out of the “theatre space.” Creating innovative approaches to learning outside of the classroom has helped her earn the 2012-2013 Outstanding Lecturer Award.

A lecturer since earning her master’s in theatre arts from San Jose State in 2004, Normington uses her 12 years of teaching experience to bring creativity to her students. She supplies the opportunity for them to genuinely experience theatre by providing them with the tools to put their coursework into practice and by teaching them to be fearless and to take risks.

One student said: “The engaging exercises and skills practiced and rehearsed during lecture and laboratory hours provide an open, supportive and safe creative environment where artists find themselves grounded, present and connected to the work and, perhaps most importantly, themselves and each other.”

“As a researcher, director and teacher Kathleen has a natural curiosity. It is her enthusiasm for and understanding of a broad spectrum of performing art that makes her such an eclectic artist and teacher,” said one nominator. “She also has an exacting eye. As a director, and really in every aspect of her work, she brings taste and specificity. From her understanding of language and story to her intuition about staging and character, Kathleen brings intelligence and restraint to her work.”

Normington’s service to San Jose State extends beyond the classroom. She has directed 11 plays at SJSU and four plays in the community. Normington is co-author of Simply Acting: A Handbook for the Student Actor and Simply Theatre: Appreciating Performance of the 21st Century, two textbooks that support courses taught at San Jose State. She was actively involved in revamping the theatre arts curriculum, and has created course certification reports. Normington serves as lead instructor for sizeable multi-section general education courses that are essential components to the theatre program.

“I hope that students realize that the humanity of theatre is what connects us all,” Normington said. “There is not just one way, but many ways to connect that in their lives.”

Normington earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a master’s degree from San Jose State.

2012-2013 Outstanding Professor: Alejandro Garcia

2012-2013 Outstanding Professor: Alejandro Garcia

2012-2013 Outstanding Professor: Alejandro Garcia

2012-2013 Outstanding Professor Alejandro Garcia (Peter Caravalho photo)

The Outstanding Professor Award recognizes a faculty member for overall excellence in academic assignment. This year’s winner comes from the College of Science.

San Jose State Professor of Physics and Astronomy Alejandro Garcia insists that there is no secret recipe for teaching, but he tries to instill in his students that they must always look with “keen, fresh eyes” in order to understand how things move in the world. This approach to teaching helped him earn the 2012-2013 Outstanding Professor Award.

Garcia’s effectiveness as a professor can be seen through his professional work in physics and animation, and the input he brings to the classroom.  Garcia has been recognized for his commitment to bringing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education to the visual arts, having developed a MUSE class entitled The Nexus of Art and Science in 2006 and an SJSU Studies class entitled Physics of Animation in 2009. The latter course, which is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the physics and animation departments within the College of Science and the College of Humanities and the Arts, is the product of one of two NSF Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM grants Garcia has earned; the most recent one looks into the optics of animation.

As physics consultant at DreamWorks Animation SKG, Garcia applied traditional physics to the art of animation in the film Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and, in this capacity, was able to bring valuable information back to his students about how physics is used in a major feature film studio.

In addition to his physics of animation work, Garcia actively participates in the fluctuating hydrodynamics research program at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and regularly organizes international conferences. He has published more than 80 technical journal manuscripts and his work has been cited 1,400 since 2007.

The physics scholar is also dedicated in the classroom. According to one student, Garcia “takes the time to ensure that the material, no matter how complex, was presented in such a manner that would easily be absorbed by all students.”

“He is not opposed to resorting to dynamic (occasionally fearsome) demonstrations or wildly comic delivery,” said one colleague. “Exploding pumpkins, beds of nails, and hair-raising electrical currents find a place in a curriculum designed to help visually oriented students understand the importance of science in the production of convincing imagery.”

“I make it very clear that sometimes they specifically need to violate the laws of physics in what they are doing, because if they want to create a compelling story, they have to use the right tools for the job,” he said.

Garcia earned a bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University, a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin and completed post-docs at Free University of Brussels and the University of California in Los Angeles.

San Jose Mercury News: 93-Year-Old Earns San Jose State Degree

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News Oct. 12, 2012.

By Julia Prodis Sulek

SANTA CLARA — Every day for weeks, Olive Chandler walked with a cane to the mailbox, riffling through health newsletters and bills, looking for the dream that had eluded her for most of her 93 years.

Finally it arrived in a white cardboard envelope. Inside, written in black script on heavy paper, was her college diploma from San Jose State — more than 50 years late.

Backdated to Aug. 19, 1959, the diploma came thanks to the youngest of her five children, who understood her mother’s lifelong regret, and a small group of tenacious administrators at San Jose State who pored through dog-eared course catalogs from the 1950s. Yes, they determined, Chandler had, in fact, earned her diploma decades ago, even though she’d been told again and again she was a few credits short.

The degree is in home economics, practical for its time, but one as dated as Chandler’s faded recipe for French dressing potato salad that her family plans to serve Saturday at her graduation party.

Chandler, barely 5 feet tall with a childlike giggle, is a little embarrassed by all the attention. “Too much fuss has been made of it,” she said in the living room of the ranch-style house she has lived in since she and her late husband bought it new in 1960.

But her children know better.

“She worked so hard to get it,” said one of her daughters, Martha Marschner, 58, who lives with her mother. “She tried hard and there were so many obstacles.”

Chandler worked on and off from the 1930s to the 1950s at three colleges to earn her degree, hoping to become a teacher, all while raising her five children and working on the family chicken ranch in Morgan Hill and behind the counter at their lawn mower repair shop on the El Camino in Santa Clara. She even packed off her five children to her mother’s house in Southern California in the summer of 1959 to spend uninterrupted time trying to finish her degree. Still, college administrators told her at the time, she was one course shy. Some of her credits didn’t transfer, they told her.

“She would always say, ‘I have 156 units and no college degree,’ ” well more than the 120 units usually required for an undergraduate degree, said her daughter, Donna Chandler, 55, who reached out to San Jose State in the spring on the eve of her mother’s 93rd birthday.

Olive Chandler had even inquired in 1964, hoping to graduate alongside her eldest daughter who also earned a degree in home economics. But again, she was told she was missing a course. By then, life got in the way. This was a woman who, after working at the lawn mower repair shop all day, would make all her children’s clothes, their bridesmaids dresses and wedding gowns. She baked and decorated elaborate cakes for every occasion.

“I could have got a job as a teacher and made life easier. But there’s no use dwelling on that,” she said. “You do what you have to do.”

For her children, it was well past time to honor their mother’s perseverance. They didn’t want to get her hopes up, so Donna Chandler sneaked into her mother’s bedroom in the spring and opened the fireproof lockbox near the nightstand. Inside, stacked with her children’s birth certificates and family trust papers, was an ecru envelope with the transcripts from Compton City College in the 1930s, Santa Barbara State College in the 1940s, and what was then San Jose State College in the 1950s.

She wasn’t sure whether her mother would qualify for the degree, but if not, she politely asked that the university write a nice letter acknowledging her mother’s dedication to education.

Her request landed on the desk of Stephen Branz, associate dean for curriculum at San Jose State, who enlisted the help of Delia Chavez, a transfer credit adviser, and Lucy McProud, the head of the nutrition and food science department — the closest equivalent these days to home economics. Over the course of six weeks, evaluating classes ranging from organic chemistry and household microbiology to home equipment and laundry and “cooking for two,” they came to a conclusion.

“As we judged it, Olive had earned the degree. If I had been able back then I would have granted it,” Branz said, adding that they used a common exception to count a few transferred units. “I’m really pleased about it. But we did this because she deserved this. These academic standards have to be held.”

In an email to Donna Chandler, Branz wrote: “For all of us who worked on this, we extend our congratulations to your mother.”

Family members relayed the good news to Olive Chandler and told her the diploma would be arriving in the mail within weeks.

Branz awards about a dozen backdated degrees a year, but 1959 is the oldest by far. Most tend to come from the 1970s and ’80s.

The Chandler family invited the team from San Jose State to the graduation party. All five children — two of whom have master’s degrees and one who is a lawyer — will be there, along with most of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They are preparing the same menu that their mother so often served for big family celebrations: summer squash casserole, Mrs. Creech’s French dressing potato salad and Mom’s carrot cake with walnut cream cheese frosting.

The diploma is already framed. The children have borrowed a graduation gown they hope their mother will wear for the party.

“It’s getting blown all out of proportion,” the new graduate said. “But I was really surprised. And I’m happy to have it.”

Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409.

SJSU in Top 20 for Graduating Students of Color

SJSU Ranks Among Top 20 for Conferring Degrees to Students of Color

SJSU conferred nearly 4,000 degrees to students of color in 2010-2011 (Christina Olivas photo).

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Once again, San Jose State has ranked among the nation’s top 100 colleges and universities in terms of the number of students of color receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

According to Diverse Issues in Higher Education, SJSU conferred 2,861 bachelor’s degrees to students of color in 2010-2011, a 12 percent increase over the previous year, with ranking as follows:

  • eighth for Asian Americans
  • 17th for all minorities
  • 31st for Hispanics
  • 39th for American Indians

In the master’s category, SJSU conferred 1,001 degrees to students of color, a nine percent increase over the previous year, with ranking as follows:

  • fifth for Asian Americans
  • 16th for all minorities
  • 16th for Hispanics
  • 56th for American Indians

The rankings are based on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System maintained by the National Center for Education Statistics. Check out the data.

"Celebrate Yourself, Celebrate Your Culture" Pilipino Commencement

“Celebrate Yourself, Celebrate Your Culture” Pilipino Commencement

"Celebrate Yourself, Celebrate Your Culture" Pilipino Commencement

Spirit resonated in the halls of Morris Dailey Auditorium May 23, as 32 Filipino graduates and their friends and family joined to commemorate the 19th Annual SJSU Pilipino Commencement (Christina Olivas photos).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

(This week, SJSU Today’s small but mighty band of writers and photographers will take a peek at graduation receptions and convocations campuswide so we can share with you the excitement of the more than 8,000 members of the Class of 2012. We’ll post more photos on Facebook.)

Spirit resonated in the halls of Morris Dailey Auditorium May 23, as 32 Filipino graduates and their friends and family joined to commemorate the 19th Annual SJSU Pilipino Commencement. The Akbayan Choir opened the intimate event with a harmonious singing of the Philippine National Anthem.

More colorful than the LED rope light covered seats situated center-stage were each of the graduates, adorned with their own intracacies. Leis ranged from traditional maile-styled and orchid to the more novel ones fashioned out of homemade ribbon and fanned-out dollar bills.

Dr. Jovina Navarro warmly welcomed the crowd and introduced renowned Filipino speakers Juanita Tamayo Lott and Robert Ragsac. Lott encouraged graduates to “think globally and act locally,” while Ragsac urged graduates to hold onto their youthful energy and drive.

Graduates had the opportunity to express gratitude to their supporters in a two-minute speech. Some speeches started off with a memory or a heartfelt story, while others offered shout-outs to an affiliation that made an impact in their lives. The sweetest “awwwws” in the auditorium came from the recognition of a significant other, while most backtracked to support received from family. The audience reciprocated with air horns, standing parade-like ovations, and even a surprise burst of fuchsia confetti cascade from the top balcony.

The DJ nicely combined elements by offering tricky lighting, beat music, and a final snippet from Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”

Close-up photo of a graduation cap with yellow tassel that has a green-and-white toadstool with the phrase 1up from the Mario video games. Photo by Christina Olivas

Chemistry Convocation Offers Each Grad a Moment to Share

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

A man at a podium on the left looks at a young woman wearing her graduation cap and gown, holding a microphone. Photo by Christina Olivas

Graduates at the Department of Chemistry convocation each had an opportunity to give thanks to their family, peers and professors (Christina Olivas photo).

Between Fifth and San Fernando streets, lying snugly between King Library and Dudley Moorhead Hall, the University Theatre was the perfect venue to welcome family, friends, faculty and staff to the Department of Chemistry convocation, held May 26. Audience members socialized intermission-like as they filled the contour rows of the theater, awaiting the ceremony.

Forty-three graduates obtaining recognition for B.A., B.S., and M.S. degrees were cued in to the “Star Wars” theme song. The well-received faculty processional cross-faded next with Darth Vader’s dark theme song “The Imperial March” playing in the background.

Chair Brad Stone opened the curtain by emphasizing the importance of having convocation and recognized the department team individually. Special recognition went out to College of Science Dean Michael Parrish and Associate Dean Elaine Collins.

Professor Marc d’Alarcao called each member of the Class of 2012 by name, and provided everyone with the opportunity to offer their thanks to family, peers and professors for their support during years of “blood, sweat and many, many tears,” as graduate Jeffery Berry puts it.

Among the accolades, 2012 Outstanding Graduating Senior Philip Calabretta thanked professors d’Alarcao and Daryl Eggers for allowing him to “tinker in their labs,” and professors Karen Singmaster, Brad Stone and Roy Okuda for inspiring him to teach.

The production crew for the event was the chemistry department staff, which worked seamlessly to make the ceremony memorable.

A woman is laughing and wearing fresh flowers around her head and neck at the Department of Communicative Disorders & Sciences Convocation. Photo by Christina Olivas

“Change the Lives of Others” Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences

By Sarah Kyo, Web Communications Specialist

A group photo with a Communicative Disorders and Sciences grad and her family. Photo by Christina Olivas.

Graduations often bring family members together, and the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences Convocation was no exception. Photo by Christina Olivas.

(This week, SJSU Today’s small but mighty band of writers and photographers took a peek at graduation receptions and convocations campuswide so we could share with you the excitement of the more than 8,000 members of the Class of 2012. We’ll post more photos on Facebook.)

A blue-and-yellow candy buffet greeted guests at the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences convocation on May 25. Once inside Morris Dailey Auditorium, graduates’ families and friends faced a stage with rows of silver chairs. Soon they would be face to face with their loved ones, who were dressed in caps and gowns.

“They are looking good, aren’t they?” said Department Chair Michael Kimbarow of this year’s graduates.

One student speaker, master’s degree candidate Jessica Abawag, said she and her fellow classmates endured this journey at SJSU for the same purpose.

“We are here to change the lives of others,” she said.

A fitting representation of why these Spartans pursued this field was keynote speaker Lateef McLeod, a poet who’s also a grant writer and blogger for the United Cerebral Palsy of the Golden Gate.

McLeod, who has cerebral palsy, gave his speech with an iPad app called Proloquo2Go. The app transformed a text file he originally typed on his Macbook into an audio recording with a male human voice.

He talked about the different Augmentative and Alternative Communication devices he had used throughout his life and the people who have worked with him. He encouraged the graduates to listen to their future clients.

“It is ultimately their communication that you’re facilitating,” McLeod said.

His speech concluded with one of his poems, “Wall,” to illustrate the importance of the work that the graduates will soon be doing.

“I yell myself hoarse like a bullfrog / but I cannot get my family and friends to get close to me / so they really know / my dreams, thoughts, desires, and feelings,” he recited. “I shiver behind this clear wall / and wait for someone to notice me / wait for a chance to speak.”

Close up of 3D bridge and small monuments with the name "Diana" on a woman's graduation cap. Photo by Christina Olivas.

“Global Citizens” Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering

By Sarah Kyo, Web Communications Specialist

A crowd of happy students in graduation caps and gowns pose outside of the Event Center (Photo by Christina Olivas).

Excitement and anticipation is in the air at the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering Convocation (Christina Olivas photo).

(This week, SJSU Today’s small but mighty band of writers and photographers took a peek at graduation receptions and convocations campuswide so we could share with you the excitement of the more than 8,000 members of the Class of 2012. We’ll post more photos on Facebook.)

As family and friends filed into the Event Center on the afternoon of May 25, a slideshow presentation displayed the faces of Spartans from the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

These were just a sample of the Class of 2012. Belle Wei, the Don Beall Dean of Engineering, would shake hands with more than 700 bachelor’s and master’s degree recipients that day.

Student speaker Killol Acharya, one of the 2012 Outstanding Graduating Seniors, encouraged his fellow classmates to become “global citizens.”

“I hope today we expand the definition of success to service, caring and social responsibility,” he said.

Acharya said there was a time when he thought success only meant wealth, power and titles. During his time at SJSU, something changed within him as he became more involved on campus and in his community. With all of the problems in the world, he encouraged his classmates to use their knowledge and skills to help those who are less fortunate.

“We’re finally engineers,” Acharya said. “We can fix this, right?” Spartans responded with cheers.

The college’s ability to attract international talent to Silicon Valley was showcased at convocation. Many members of the crowd expressed their delight when a graduate proudly held India’s flag in the air when it was his turn to walk across the stage.

The icing on the cake — both figuratively and literally — was a dessert reception in the Engineering Lobby. This was a sweet ending to the graduates’ time at SJSU.