Business Convocation

Congrats, Grads!

Business Convocation

Hundreds of names were announced across all of the different business concentrations, as graduates each had their moment on stage (Stan Olszewski photo).

(In May, 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 2013. We’ve posted more photos on Facebook. In this story, we visit the College of Business convocation.)

The Event Center lights dimmed to almost complete darkness Friday morning. With a guiding spotlight, the College of Business and the Lucas Graduate School of Business faculty and convocation speaker Wanda Ginner, ’68 Business Administration, proceeded down the center aisle to the stage.

Then with much applause and excitement, the class of 2013 made their entrance, filling up rows of chairs.

Dean David Steele passed on three beliefs that he hoped this group of graduates would share: “the power of networking,” “giving back” and “having a passion for success.”

Convocation speaker Ginner, a semi-retired certified public accountant and consultant, later spoke of the fulfillment that she received in giving back to her university and this college, including influencing her husband and friends to get involved, too.

This is Sparta

Student Address speaker Jasmine Rezai, a Gary J. Sbona Honors Program participant, spoke of her transformation from an 18-year-old girl to the 23-year-old woman standing before them and all of the knowledge, experiences and friendships she has gained over the years.

“As life throws you curve balls, I hope you remember your times at San Jose State,” she said.

Rezai recited a poem by Persian poet Hafez that she dedicated to her loved ones: 

All this time
The Sun never says to the Earth
“You owe me.”
What happens
With a love like that.
It lights the

Blowing a kiss their way and with her voice cracking, she said, “Thanks for lighting the whole sky for me. This is for you.”

To end her speech, she quoted a line from her favorite film, “Gladiator,” starring Russell Crowe: “What we do in this life echoes into eternity.”

She added, “This is Sparta. Let us show the world what a Spartan is made of. ”

The Wave

Hundreds of names were announced across all of the different business concentrations, as graduates each had their moment on stage.

In the meantime, with a bit of prompting, half of the seated graduates attempted to perform the wave, the famous audience cheer perfected by No. 1 Spartan Athletics fan Krazy George Henderson. From the front row to the back, they sprang onto their feet and raised their arms freely, stretching toward the sky. They delighted the audience when they succeeded.

Then when the last name was read aloud, there were shouts of joy and celebration among the graduates, culminating in an even larger wave.


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 business majors of various concentrations. More will be shared at Commencement.

Rohini Venkatesh: “The counselors at College of Business are the best. They provide great support to students in selecting their classes and their majors. I appreciate their patience for last minute walk-ins.”

Victor Mantilla: “I would like to acknowledge the EOP program for allowing me to meet similar individuals. And personal shout-outs to my current and previous roommates, for you all know me at my best and at my worst.”

Quacy Superville: “I would like to thank my family for helping make this day a reality. I leave this institution armed with the ability to make change, the desire to be different and the passion to persevere. #T&T #SLB”

Silicon Valley/SJ Business Journal: Business Dean Focuses on Reputation, Revenue, Research

SJSU heads to Facebook, Google ads to recruit new students

Published by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal April 20, 2012.

By David Goll

Four years into his tenure at San Jose State University’s Lucas Graduate School of Business, David Steele oversees a program that contributes a total of 1,400 graduating students annually into the Silicon Valley work force.

Although it is the oldest public university business school west of the Mississippi River, Steele said San Jose State University dwells “in the shadow of Stanford and Berkeley.” He has instituted what he called his “3 R” strategy to make his program more competitive with those programs — focusing on improving reputation, revenue diversification and research. That has included spending more money advertising and promoting the program, as well as increasing academic requirements and size of the school’s endowment.

Steele said on the more conventional side, he promotes the Lucas Graduate School by selectively buying print advertising in local publications. But technological advances have created some new avenues for student recruitment.

“Our biggest recruiting tool today is Facebook,” Steele said. “We’re also paying Google a lot of money to come up on the first page when people type in Silicon Valley MBA or Bay Area MBA. And on LinkedIn, we have a good track record reaching our target audience of people who earned their undergraduate degrees at least five years ago.”

Steele said he considers the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University his biggest rival for students. But as a way to enhance the Lucas Graduate School’s reputation, Steele said he has raised entrance requirements, increasing the minimum score on the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) from 500 to 550 and up to 575 later this year.

“That should help increase the quality of our overall program, but it can come at the expense of market share, so we have to be careful,” Steele said.

On the purely quantitative side, student numbers are down these days, at least on the undergraduate side, due to several consecutive years of reductions in state support. Overall, campus enrollment has had to be cut from 32,000 in 2008 to 28,000 today. Undergraduate business students now number 1,000 fewer than four years ago, though the Lucas Graduate School enrollment has remained steady at 750 students. Annual tuition for grad students is about $30,000, a bargain compared to local private universities like Stanford, where annual tuition can top $50,000.

“Fifteen years ago, our program received 80 percent of its funding from the state,” Steele said. “Today, it’s 45 percent.”

Fortunately, the program has attracted major outside support in recent years, including a $10 million gift from alumni Donald and Sally Lucas in 2006 and $5 million from another graduate, Gary Sbona, the following year.

San Jose State also embarked on its first ever large-scale private fundraising campaign in recent years and has raised $166 million toward a goal of $200 million. The Lucas Graduate School’s portion of that is $50 million, he said.

“Eighty percent of the contributions come from individuals and it’s almost all coming from alumni,” Steele said. “With the drop in public support, private fundraising has become an issue of survival. We’ve got to raise it on the outside.”

As it was in 2008, accounting and management remain the largest specialty fields of study for Lucas Graduate School students. The biggest employers of newly minted San Jose State MBA grads are the giant Silicon Valley tech companies — Apple Inc. , Cisco Systems Inc. , Hewlett-Packard Co. and Oracle Corp. But retailers like Target Corp. , Kohl’s Corp. and Walgreens Co. are also regular employers of graduates with strong management and technical backgrounds.

Steele said his program is always looking to expand the field of employers. Doug Evans, employment specialist in the university’s career center, leads that effort. A recent employment fair he coordinated attracted more than 120 companies to the campus, up from less than 100 two years ago, according to Steele. Evans also arranges for individual interviews between students and employers to further relationships.