University Scholars Series Starts Sept. 11

Saili Kulkarni

Saili Kulkarni

The University Scholar Series starts on Sept. 11, with a talk by Saili Kulkarni, an assistant professor in the Department of Special Education in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education. The event will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229. The series is free and open to the public, with a light lunch provided.

Understanding Intersections of Disability and Race: PK-12 Education, Justice Studies and Higher Education

Kulkarni will be presenting her research on “Understanding Intersections of Disability and Race: PK-12 Education, Justice Studies and Higher Education.” Kulkarni draws from the experiences of teachers and school professionals who support restorative practices for young children to create more inclusive, safe school environments for all learners. These practices help educators and professionals become proactive in their approaches to discipline rather than reactive. Kulkarni applies Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory (DisCrit) within teacher education to develop resistance-oriented teachers of color who will disrupt inequities for children of color with disabilities.

Kulkarni has a doctorate and master’s in special education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a bachelor’s in psychology from Boston University. She earned a teaching credential from San Francisco State University.

“Like many of my students at SJSU, I earned my credential while working as an intern teacher, so I truly understand first-hand what it’s like,” she said. “Ultimately, the support of the professors in my credential program propelled me to ask more questions and pursue a PhD in special education.

Kulkarni previously worked as an inclusive educator in the Oakland Unified School District where she supported K-5 students with dis/abilities in general education classrooms.  Her work on special education teachers of color was selected for the 2018 Curriculum Inquiry Writing Fellowship through the University of Toronto Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Save-the-date for upcoming events

The Kent State Shootings at 50: Rage, Reflection and Remembrance
Craig Simpson, Director of Special Collections and Archives
Wednesday, Oct. 9, noon to 1 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

Her Own Hero: The Origins of the Women’s Self-Defense Movement, 1890-1920
Wendy Rouse, Associate Professor of History
Wednesday, Nov. 13, noon to 1 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Room 225/229

The series is hosted by Provost Vincent Del Casino, and sponsored by the Academic Affairs Division, the Spartan Bookstore and the University Library.

New Diversity Trainer/Educator Joins SJSU

By David Goll

Craig Alimo

Craig Alimo

Dr. Craig John Alimo joined the San Jose State University Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) in February to fill a new position as a diversity trainer/educator. He will oversee curriculum and professional development, and conduct outreach efforts for a student population of more than 33,000. He joins SJSU’s Chief Diversity Officer Kathy Wong(Lau), Deputy Diversity Officer Fernanda Perdomo-Arciniegas, and other staff members in the office who are engaged at a university with a storied and long history of student civil rights activism and service to a diverse student population.

Dr. Kathleen Wong(Lau), SJSU’s Chief Diversity Officer since 2016, said Alimo’s lengthy and extensive experience in educational diversity and familiarity with academia is a strong advantage.

“He knows from a hands-on perspective what it takes to do the work and the forethought it requires,” Wong(Lau) said. “Universities are complicated places and sometimes, you push on one part, and something else emerges. He has a very thoughtful approach based on his experience.”

Wong(Lau) said Alimo will be taking over many of the tasks she’s been handling since arriving at SJSU, freeing her to oversee additional comprehensive campus-wide diversity projects. Logging 23 years of work in social justice and diversity education, Alimo most recently worked as director for equity and inclusivity for the Napa Valley Community College District. He also previously worked at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Maryland, among other educational institutions.

“I’m totally tickled, excited and humbled to be working with Kathy,” Alimo said. He and Wong(Lau) worked cooperatively on a nationwide research project examining the educational benefits of Intergroup Dialogue programs, a small-group, face-to-face discussion format that encourages participants of two or more different social identity groups to reach new levels of understanding, relationships and action through talk with an extensive list of reading assignments.

“I’ve known her for many years,” he said. “She has done amazing things here and elsewhere. This job is more aligned with my scholarship and skill set, so I’m so happy to be here.”

Among other duties, Alimo will oversee the university’s intergroup dialogue initiative, started a year ago. The groups of 12 to 15 people each meet weekly over an eight-week period. ODEI initiated the program, helping train faculty, staff and students from across campus who volunteered for training to become group facilitators. This spring, 170 SJSU students, faculty and staff volunteered to participate in these discussions, far outpacing the initial capacity.

Diversity “touches all aspects of a university,” Alimo said. Campuses can be places where students from often-segregated communities or circumstances first meet substantial numbers of people from different racial, ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds as well as sexual orientation and gender identities, he said.

“Campuses are like social science laboratories. Everything out in society is here, too, and affects us,” he said. “What we know from research is that people with exposure to diverse environments often have amazing educational outcomes, can think with more complexity, do better on grad-school exams, and have a tendency to volunteer and vote more often [amongst other outcomes].”

Alimo expressed excitement about how intergroup dialogue can foster greater understanding and better relations between and within various groups on campus. The pedagogical approach that  Intergroup Dialogue uses to creating an anti-bias, anti-racist, multicultural and social justice educational system has its roots to the 1940s and ‘50s. Its more recent incarnation on university campuses was initially created during the 1980s when the University of Michigan created its Program on Intergroup Relations. Wong(Lau) said SJSU’s program is based on that model.

University-based diversity programs can have ripple effects on the rest of society, Alimo noted. He recently attended a presentation by a collection of local high-tech companies addressing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the workplace and corporate world. Silicon Valley companies on how they can capitalize on the presence of diversity in the workforce up to the executive level.

Wong(Lau) expressed excitement that adding Alimo to her team will greatly enhance the work of her office, which she described as having “a good reputation for delivering good work.” Another program of which she’s proud is an eight-week session for white faculty members to recognize how their comparatively privileged status and still-majority position at SJSU can be used to foster greater awareness and understanding for their colleagues and students of color.

Other goals await.

“One of our biggest challenges is remaining nimble yet helping campus leaders focus on long-term goals of building organizational capacity for diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Wong(Lau) said. “It is a community of 40,000 people and we want to support everyone’s success, engagement, and growth.

 

Celebrate Black History Month at SJSU

At left, Dr. Theodorea Berry, chair of the Department of African-American Studies, poses for a photo with Pastor Jason C. Reynolds during San Jose State University's Super Sunday event Feb. 10 at Emanuel Baptist Church.

At left, Dr. Theodorea Berry, chair of the Department of African-American Studies, poses for a photo with Pastor Jason C. Reynolds during San Jose State University’s Super Sunday event Feb. 10 at Emmanuel Baptist Church.

This February, San Jose State University is recognizing Black History Month with a series of exciting and educational events, part of an ongoing effort to promote diversity and inclusion on campus. The various activities are sponsored by Student Involvement, the African American/Black Student Success Center, the Department of African-American Studies, Mosaic Cross Cultural Center and Student Affairs.

“These heritage month celebrations provide visible representation of our students on campus,” said Christopher Yang, the director of the Mosaic Cross Cultural Center, noting that SJSU celebrates four ethnic heritage months. “Students are so busy with all the things they need to work on–class, jobs, family. These events offer a chance to take a break and notice the efforts the campus is making.”

Yang noted that the events allow students of various identities to feel they have support on campus while also allowing an opportunity for campus communities who don’t identify with a particular ethnicity to learn about different cultures.

This year’s Black History Month events got an early start with a 30th anniversary celebration of African studies and a Legends and Legacies talk in January, with many more events planned into March.

For the remainder of the month, students are encouraged to attend weekly events such as the Black Male Collective: Barbershop Talk, the African History Film and Dialogue Series, the Leadership Drop-In Series, and monthly events hosted by the Black Student Union and the Black Women’s Collective. Topics include leadership, intersectionality, spirituality, and African and African-American history.

Visiting Scholar Lecture

On February 14 from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library Fifth Floor Shiro Room, David G. Holmes, a professor of English and associate dean of curriculum and general education at Pepperdine University, will give a visiting scholar lecture on “Black Religion Matters.” Holmes will examine the influence of Black religious rhetoric on mass civil rights meetings in Birmingham in the 1960s. The event is sponsored by the College of Humanities and the Arts, the Department of Communications, the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, the Mosaic Cross Cultural Center and the Department of Justice Studies. RSVP to ryan.skinnell@sjsu.edu.

Super Sunday

San Jose State University staff members from Student Outreach and Recruitment and the Financial Aid Office attend Super Sunday to talk with community members about preparing for college. Photo provided by Coleeta McElroy.

San Jose State University staff members from Student Outreach and Recruitment and the Financial Aid Office attend Super Sunday to talk with community members about preparing for college. Photo provided by Coleeta McElroy.

President Mary Papazian visited San Jose’s Emmanuel Baptist Church February 10 as part of the California State University’s annual Super Sunday event, an effort to engage and serve underrepresented students. She and Theodorea Berry, chair of the department of African-American Studies at SJSU spoke with community members about planning for college, with representatives from Student Outreach and Recruitment and the Financial Aid Office also available to answer questions. Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Day will be visiting the Maranatha Christian Center on February 24, as part of the Super Sunday effort.

“Yesterday’s services at Emmanuel Baptist, part of the CSU’s Super Sunday activities, were warm, welcoming and joyful,” President Papazian (@PrezPapazian) following the services. “I was delighted to see many Spartans, which contributed to the energy and enthusiasm. Thank you, Pastor Reynolds, and thanks to your congregation for having me.”

Other Upcoming Events

Special events include a film screening of Black Panther (February 12), mardi gras celebration (February 13), Meet and Greet: Black Students, Faculty and Staff (February 25), and the Spartan Speakers Series on February 20, which features Broadway actor Bryan Terrell Clark, who played the role of George Washington in Hamilton.

Black Panther screening
Tuesday, February 12, 6 – 8 p.m., Student Union Theatre

Mardi Gras
Wednesday, February 13, 4 – 7 p.m., Student Union Ballroom

National Panhellenic Showcase
Wednesday, February 13, 7 – 9 p.m., Student Union Theatre

Black Male Collective: Barbershop Talk

  • Wednesday, February 13, 5 p.m. at Barbers, Inc.
    Wednesday, February 27, 5 p.m. at Mosaic Cross Cultural Center
    Wednesday, March 13, 5 p.m. at Barbers Inc.

Leadership Drop-In Series

  • What Famous Black Leader(s) Inspire You?
    Tuesday, February 12, 1:30 – 3 pm, Student Involvement
  • Leading While Black
    Tuesday, February 19, 1:30 – 3 pm, African-American/Black Student Success Center
  • Calling in Black: Handling Racial Battle Fatigue
    Tuesday, February 26, 1:30 – 3 pm, African-American/Black Student Success Center

African History Film and Dialogue Series

  • African Children and Youth
    Tuesday, February 12, 6 pm, Martin Luther King, Jr. Library 225
  • Health and Nutrition in the African Community
    Tuesday, February 19, 6 pm, Martin Luther King, Jr. Library 225
  • African Women
    Tuesday, February 26, 6 pm, Martin Luther King, Jr. Library 225

Black Student Union Meeting
Wednesday, February 13, 6:45 pm, Peer Connections

Spartan Speaker Series
Bryan Terrell Clark
Wednesday, February 20, 12 pm, Student Union

Black Women’s Collective
Intersectionality: Being Both Black and a Woman
Thursday, February 21, 6 – 8 pm, TBD’

Meet and Greet: Black Students, Faculty and Staff
Monday, February 25, 11:30 am – 3 pm, Student Union, Meeting Room 3A/3B’

Community Conversation: Black Love
Thursday, February 28, 7 – 9 pm, Martin Luther King, Jr. Library 225

Black Cultural Showcase
Friday, March 1, 6 p.m., Student Union Theatre

Spirituality and Activism
Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., First AME Zion Church

Yard on the Green
Friday, March 8, noon to 3 p.m., Smith and Carlos Sculpture

Hidden Figures Screening
Wednesday, March 13, 6 to 8 p.m, Student Union Theatre

Book Discussion: Becoming
Thursday, March 14, 7 p.m., Washington Square Hall, Room 281H