President Papazian’s Message on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Feb. 15, 2018. Please note the Red Folder reference guide contains information, safety tips, and contact information on a variety of emergency campus and community resources to immediately help any Spartans in distress.

As we learn more about yesterday’s shooting in Florida, my thoughts turn first and foremost to the victims and their loved ones. Please join me in sending your thoughts to these individuals and the entire Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community.

Words cannot express how difficult it is to make sense of this incident. Remember that San Jose State offers counseling free of charge through Counseling and Psychological Services for students and the Employee Assistance Program for faculty and staff members.

My thoughts also turn to our own campus. It has never been clearer that our top priority is campus safety. Today, I would like to renew our call for everyone to do all we can to prevent tragedies like this one.

Above all, please remember our See Something, Say Something practice. If you encounter behavior on our campus that makes you feel uneasy, immediately report your concerns to the University Police Department at 408-924-2222.

The Behavioral Intervention Team is another important resource. This collaborative effort seeks to identify and assist individuals who may pose a danger to themselves or others. The team very intentionally includes members from all parts of campus to make it clear that we are seeking input and assistance from everyone.

The University Police Department offers Run, Hide, Defend, a nationally recognized training program that provides very specific guidance on what to do during an active shooter situation. This training is available to all departments and groups of any kind on campus.

I have asked Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas and Chief of Police Peter Decena to review our practices and procedures. If we can do more, we most certainly will. We are always open to your suggestions.


President Mary A. Papazian

President Papazian’s Welcome Back Message

Campus community,

Happy 2018! I hope you enjoyed the holidays with family and friends.  After the quiet weeks of winter break, I am delighted to see the return of faculty members and students today. Welcome back!

I want to extend a heartfelt greeting to our 900 new undergraduate transfer, graduate and international students and credential candidates who begin their SJSU careers this week.

Thank you to the students and members of our faculty and staff who are volunteering at “Ask Me” tables across campus. I encourage new and returning students—and faculty and staff members—to stop by to learn something new about the university.

While we are a few weeks into January, today marks the start of our year. As I wish you all a wonderful first day of the semester, I am reminded of the words of poet and author Rainer Maria Rilke: “And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been.”

Let’s make the most of 2018!


Dr. Mary A. Papazian

President Papazian’s November Blog

Thanksgiving—a uniquely American tradition—affords us the opportunity briefly to pause and reflect on the many things in our lives for which we are grateful.

I continue to be grateful for the opportunity to lead a venerated university, its remarkable students and dedicated faculty and staff members; for my own family and dear friends; and for an engaged, supportive regional community that is eager to see San Jose State fulfill its enormous potential.

This month’s blog reports on several strategic initiatives and celebrates the achievements and contributions of students, faculty and staff members, and friends of our university.

Remembering a life very well-lived

I want to begin with some words about the recent passing of Don Lucas ’57 Marketing, a dedicated Spartan for whom there simply are not adequate superlatives.

Don passed away on October 30 at age 83. A highly successful owner of retail automobile dealerships and the former chair and a long-time member of the Tower Foundation board of directors, Don and his wife Sally have been extraordinarily generous with their time and resources.

Their $10 million gift in 2006 put SJSU “on the map” from a philanthropic standpoint; at the time, it was the single largest private gift ever received by SJSU. In recognition, the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business bears their name.

In addition to supporting many SJSU academic and athletic programs, the Lucas’s also have generously supported other Silicon Valley causes, two of which bear their name: the Lucas Artist Residency Program and Lucas Fellows at Montalvo.

The true impact of their generosity simply is incalculable.

I have been grateful for the opportunity to get to know Don and Sally during my initial 17 months at SJSU. My personal impression—clearly shared by others—is that Don epitomized what it means to be a gentleman. Quiet, gracious—often unassuming—he neither sought credit nor attention, preferring to let his actions speak for themselves.

Most notably, Don saw himself in our students. Like so many others, he and Sally financially supported themselves during college through hard work; they launched their first car sales business out of an apartment garage. The Lucas Dealership Group eventually became one of America’s 25 largest automobile companies.

In a 2006 Washington Square magazine profile, Don and Sally each expressed gratitude for the role that their SJSU experiences played in their professional and personal lives. Both cast their choice to give so generously to SJSU out of a desire to spur others to help the university fulfill its potential. “All they need is support from alumni who care,” Don said. 

Don Lucas deeply cared for his alma mater. My heartfelt thoughts are with Sally, their two sons, extended family members and friends.

Honoring a retiring Spartan

Ed Mosher ’52 Drama, announced last month that he is closing the last of his venerable men’s clothing shops. Aptly called a “downtown institution” by Mercury News columnist Sal Pizarro, Ed opened his first store in 1955. He subsequently added several more stores throughout the south Bay, bringing what he called an “East Coast style” to San Jose and Silicon Valley for 62 years.

This milestone deserves note for several reasons. Ed Mosher is a Spartan through and through; for decades, he has been a staunch supporter of SJSU arts and athletic programs. He has for decades been a major presence in our downtown. And, during National Veterans and Military Families Month, it especially is fitting to thank Ed for his post-college service as a United States Marine.

I congratulate Ed on an exemplary career and look forward to his continued involvement with SJSU.

Redefining student success

Over the last several years, considerable time and attention has been devoted to studying and addressing chronic issues that have compromised students’ ability to complete their degrees in a timely fashion.

The importance and benefits of shortening the time to a degree cannot be overstated. Students incur less debt and move more quickly to the next step in their lives; employers have access to a larger supply of talented, career-ready graduates; colleges and universities have greater capacity to admit the next wave of prospective students.

SJSU convenes legislative dialogue

Policymakers deservedly are giving these issues heightened attention. SJSU on November 1 hosted a hearing of the State Assembly’s Select Committee on California’s Higher Education Master Plan. The committee heard insights from experts on the importance of ensuring a steady supply of talented graduates to meet future workforce needs.

We were privileged to serve as hosts to this important dialogue; I was invited to offer introductory remarks to the committee.

Immediate action steps taken

In attempting to remediate obstacles to student achievement, there have been four areas of short-term focus, all requiring immediate attention: the readiness of incoming students to handle the rigors of college; the level of advising support available to help students navigate course selection and other choices; our ability to keep students engaged and at less risk of leaving without their degrees; and the prevalence of so-called “bottleneck” courses in which demand exceeds enrollment capacity.

These factors and proposed solutions ultimately were embodied in a plan that has been implemented by leaders and staff in student affairs and academic affairs. There has been considerable progress across several priority areas; in advising alone, we have added 20 professional staff and launched an online application helping students navigate their paths toward graduation.

More to do

I am grateful for all that many of you have done in support of this immensely important endeavor.  The work has laid a foundation for all that we must do going forward. Much work remains if we are to meet or exceed all of the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025 goals. And while we have made progress, our four and six-year graduation rates continue to lag behind the goals we have set for ourselves.

EAB collaboration

Toward this end, I am pleased to report that San Jose State has joined forces with EAB’s (Education Advisory Board) Student Success Collaborative, a consortium of more than 1,000 like-minded colleges and universities—including several of our CSU peers—collaboratively working to develop student success best practices.

Among other things, EAB provides predictive analytics tools and easy-to-understand graphics that both will help us better understand the needs of our students while also helping faculty, staff advisors and others connect students to resources that best meet their unique needs.

This EAB initiative truly is a collaboration; we have meaningful insights of our own to share with other institutions, and there is much we can learn from them. Our EAB partnership and related student success efforts will be guided by AVP for Student and Faculty Success Stacy Gleixner and AVP for Transition and Retention Services Debra Griffith.

Elevating our sights

In the meantime, we also must elevate our sights and transition from operational tactics toward reimagining how we define and support student success. The answers, I am confident, lie in more than statistical measures.

There are many areas and opportunities to explore, including an integrated first-year student experience combining classroom instruction and co-curricular programming; greater focus on student health and wellness; meta-majors, combining practical disciplines and critical thinking skills imbued by the liberal arts; and the increasingly important role of specialized resource centers in ensuring that our highest-risk students are fully equipped to succeed.

Ensuring that every student is prepared for success in work and in life demands that we explore all of these ideas, and others. This is a vital conversation that must involve our entire campus community, and we have an opportunity to ensure broad engagement within the framework of our strategic planning initiative. This work further will be enhanced by soliciting and listening to input from our workforce partners and other community leaders.

I look forward to your participation!

WASC Special Visit Team

Our campus in September hosted a Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) Special Visit Team as a follow up to our 2015 re-accreditation.

I am happy to share their summary report, which highlights the strides we have taken to reaffirm our commitment to shared governance; attain stability in leadership; and ensure that we meaningfully honor and support the goals of inclusivity, equity and diversity in pursuit of a healthier campus climate.  The report also notes isolated areas for continued focus, which especially can inform and enrich our strategic planning process.

The report affirms that many who met with the visiting team—students, staff, faculty and administrators—expressed optimism and enthusiasm in the wake of enhanced internal communication and increased transparency over the last two years.

The visiting team especially was impressed with progress made in fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, including our investment in an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and appointment of a cabinet-level chief diversity officer, and establishing African American/Black and Chicanx/Latinx student success centers, UndocuSpartan and related student resources and services.

The summary report notes several areas for continued focus: improving communication with staff; attending to workplace quality-of-life issues; and investing in additional advising resources for students (a key area of progress we have made in student success efforts).

I want to acknowledge the work of our Accreditation Review Committee and its chair, AVP of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs Thalia Anagnos, for guiding this process to a positive outcome in which we all can take pride.

Commencement: ensuring it is all it should be

If we truly are committed to nurturing “student success” as a holistic experience that begins with admission to SJSU and culminates in the conferral of a degree, then the commencement experience deserves the same thoughtful analysis and attention that we are devoting to other steps along each student’s journey.

No perfect model

Colleges and universities approach commencement in different ways, ranging from single large-scale ceremonies in arenas or stadiums to multiple events over several days organized by college or discipline.

SJSU for many years has held its official commencement—the only ceremony at which degrees officially are conferred—in our football stadium on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. It has been preceded by dozens of smaller events sponsored by colleges, departments or affinity groups.

Campus insights: can we do better?

Based on preliminary conversations with students, faculty and staff members and a review of last spring’s commencement, it seemed timely thoughtfully to review our current commencement programming.

From that review, several key insights have emerged:

  • Many students and others confuse unofficial celebrations (some of which are called convocations) with our official commencement.
  • The official stadium commencement attracts a small percentage of eligible participants (fewer than 25 percent last May). Scheduling the ceremony over Memorial Day weekend likely is partly to blame; its lack of intimacy also may be a consideration. But it also appears that some students who attend smaller celebratory ceremonies skip commencement because they incorrectly believe that they already have “graduated.”
  • Many of the college, department and affinity ceremonies are scheduled close to or during final exams—a clear and problematic distraction for many students and faculty members.
  • These smaller events vary significantly in scope—some are more elaborate than others; some charge special fees to students while others do not—resulting in an inequitable experience for graduates that wholly is contrary to SJSU’s values of inclusion, equity and access.

I realize that contemplating changes to long-standing traditions is hard—especially when it involves important events that have followed a fairly fixed pattern for many years.

Yet the inherent importance of this moment in our student’s lives makes it imperative that we strive properly and equitably to honor every graduate, officially confer their degrees, and ensure that they receive appropriate personal recognition.

Other intervening factors necessitate a new approach

 Meeting all of these goals and ensuring that the commencement experience is meaningful for all concerned is a tall order. It initially was our intent to consider only modest adjustments in 2018 while continuing to imagine more substantive changes in future years.

However, accelerated progress on renovations to our South Campus facilities have forced our hand, rendering it unrealistic to use CEFCU stadium next spring.

Ongoing dialogue with students, staff, and members of our academic community—including thoughtful conversations with deans and Senate executive committee members—helped us reach general consensus on a model to test in 2018:

New framework

  • This framework involves staging several college-based commencement ceremonies over two days (Thursday, May 24 and Friday, May 25) at Avaya Stadium and the SJSU Events Center. Colleges would join together where appropriate to balance the number of graduates and guests at each ceremony.
  • Every graduate would be individually recognized and personally congratulated on the platform by the President, Provost and appropriate Dean.
  • Individual departments and affinity groups would continue to be empowered to organize their own informal celebratory events after the official University commencement ceremonies.
  • We will discuss next spring adding a winter commencement ceremony in December 2018, thereby enabling mid-year graduates similarly to be honored upon completing all degree requirements.

Potential benefits

This approach promises to enhance the commencement experience in several respects:

  • Every graduate would be personally recognized.
  • Graduate students would enjoy a better, more personalized hooding experience.
  • Every graduate would enjoy an equitable experience with event costs absorbed by the university. (Individual celebratory events would continue to be funded by colleges, departments and affinity groups as they have in the past.)
  • The formality of university commencement would be preserved and enhanced; departmental and affinity celebrations would continue at the discretion of individual organizers.

More dialogue, details to come

As I have noted, the prospect of change brings questions and prompts understandable uncertainty. I intend in coming days to continue to solicit and listen carefully to input from campus stakeholders.

I also know that additional details for next spring soon must be finalized so that students, families and others can make personal plans. Those details will be forthcoming soon.

By placing student’s interests and needs first, I am confident that we will create a memorable, meaningful commencement experience that honors our most cherished traditions.

Spartan Athletics

As fall sports unwind, winter programs are heating up. Men’s basketball will be on the road for much of the holiday season; I hope you will get to the Events Center to see first-year head coach Jean Prioleau’s squad during one of their few upcoming home contests. Meantime, women’s hoops will be home for several games during late November and December. Other highlights:

  • Three members of our women’s swimming and diving team already are qualified for the 2018 NCAA Zone Championships. Congratulations!
  • Several sports teams deserve mention. I want to extend one more “kudo” to our women’s soccer team for winning the Mountain West Conference regular-season championship. Men’s soccer deserves congratulations for reaching the Western Athletic Conference Tournament championship match by defeating twelfth-ranked Air Force. Meanwhile, men’s water polo entered its conference tournament ranked eleventh in the country, and women’s volleyball is wrapping up its best regular season since 2006. And women’s cross country placed an all-time best eighth in a 35-team field at the NCAA Regional Championships.

Congratulations to all of our student-athletes and coaches for such stellar competitive efforts!

Finally, we officially will dedicate our new tennis complex, the latest phase in a comprehensive renovation of our South Campus, on December 1. I look forward to participating in the ribbon-cutting for this beautiful facility.

Quick takes

Campus Safety

An array of tools is being installed to enhance campus safety and aid efforts by campus police to detect and respond to security threats that may arise. This includes a network of remote cameras in parking garages and other locations that have the capability to detect and pinpoint the location of gunshots. Although we hope never to have to take advantage of this feature, it will help university police more swiftly respond, as needed, if a shooting incident does occur.

Environmental Leadership

SJSU instructors Bettina Brockmann, Costanza Rampini and Tasha Reddy, who collaboratively teach a Global Climate Change course, recently arranged for their students to view An Inconvenient Sequel, a follow up documentary to the Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth.

During a post-screening live webcast, SJSU student Akash Patel engaged in a brief 1:1 dialogue with former Vice President Al Gore.

Tower endowment tops $150 million

A healthy, growing endowment is essential to making our institutional aspirations and dreams a reality. I am proud to report that the endowment maintained by our Tower Foundation has, for the first time, topped $150 million. Endowment growth will be an important component of SJSU’s next comprehensive campaign.  Kudos to VP for University Advancement and Tower CEO Paul Lanning and his team for hitting this threshold!

Academic excellence recognized

Professor of Computer Science Cay Horstmann has been named by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) as one of a small group of Pioneering Innovators… Advancing the Digital Age.” Professor Horstmann was among five society members recognized for educational contributions to computing. Congratulations!

Spartan Shops board approves issuing RFP

The Spartan Shops Board of Directors last week unanimously approved a resolution to establish a dining master plan aligned with our institutional mission.
The resolution authorizes the board to issue a request for proposals (RFP) from outside entities to oversee food services at campus eateries, and to provide a performance improvement plan for our existing vendor with input from various campus stakeholders.

This performance improvement plan will be presented to the Spartan Shops board at its next scheduled meeting on December 8.

“Tide turning”

A recent article posted on San Jose Metro’s website lauded two recent programs sponsored by SJSU’s Center for Literary Arts—visits by Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer, and William Finnegan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life.

This particularly observation from writer Gary Singh caught my eye:

“…it was great to see literature taking its rightful place in conversations about how the university needs to better connect with the local landscape… I departed the Nguyen gig thinking that SJSU was finally on a path toward becoming an urban university.” 

This is further affirmation that we are on the way to becoming a fully engaged urban public university touching all aspects of life in our city and valley. I am grateful for all that you are doing to help fulfill this vision.

Happy Thanksgiving!

SJSU Hosts Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education

Part 1 (begins at 10:00)

Part 2

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

SAN JOSE, CA – On Nov. 1, SJSU hosted the California State Assembly’s Select Committee on the Master Plan for Higher Education in California. The agenda has been posted. 

Chaired by 24th District Assembly Member Marc Berman, this committee is holding hearings around the state while the legislature is in recess. The hearing on our campus focused on the relevance of the master plan—adopted nearly six decades ago—to California’s contemporary workforce needs.

The hearing was an opportunity to witness our government in action. All were welcome to attend. The hearing began at 9:30 a.m. and adjourned at noon in the Diaz Compean Student Union Theater.

About San Jose State University

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

With more than 33,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.


President Papazian’s October Blog

Society entrusts public universities like ours with the responsibility to nurture the next generation of educated, engaged citizens. But we are more—much more—than conferrers of degrees. The midpoint of the fall semester is an apt moment to reflect on another of our vital responsibilities: public service.

As the founding campus of the California State University and a long-standing member of both the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU), San Jose State University embraces each of the three pillars that collectively form our public mission: increasing degree completion and fostering student success; research and related scholarship; and meaningful public engagement.

The third pillar—community engagement—is every bit as vital to fulfilling our mission as all that we do to educate students and advance knowledge through research and scholarly activities.

Indeed, as I have said on a number of occasions, I believe that active, meaningful engagement between a university and its surrounding community animates and enhances all that we seek to do for students, our region and society.

To that end, this month’s blog highlights some of the ways SJSU strategically is engaging—locally, regionally and nationally—with community partners in government and the private sector. There also are updates on several ongoing strategic initiatives, notable achievements by students, alumni and others, key upcoming events, and a remembrance of a legendary Spartan.

Extending our hands during times of need

Our public engagement efforts extend well beyond our city and region. To this end, I want to begin with a few reflections on the multiple raging wildfires that continue to inflict severe damage across our state, including multiple North Bay counties, Orange County, and elsewhere.

Although the fires largely have been concentrated in multiple geographic areas, their impact has been felt and will continue to touch to every corner of our state and beyond. The skies above San Jose have reminded us of this in recent days.

The numbers shared by authorities are staggering. As of this writing, officials have reported dozens of deaths; hundreds of persons unaccounted for; many thousands of structures destroyed; and hundreds of thousands of acres scorched. These numbers regrettably have continued to rise.

As of the weekend, the wildfires had spread to vast swaths of the North Bay— including the wine country—and migrated east and north toward Solano county, posing a danger to communities there as well.

Worse still, dry and windy conditions have compromised efforts by firefighters to contain these deadly, destructive blazes. Meteorologists say that shifting weather conditions later this week, including the possibility of rain to our north, may help.

Our hearts of course go out to fire victims, including many members of the Sonoma State community. My Sonoma State colleague President Judy Sakaki and her husband Patrick lost their home; Executive Vice President and Provost Lisa Vollendorf, who previously led our College of Humanities and Arts, was forced to evacuate hers. Others of their employees similarly were impacted.

The impact of the wildfires has been felt here as well. The family of at least one of our students lost its home.

First responders, as ever, have responded heroically. We are grateful for their courage and skill. It is during times like these that we are reminded of the true meaning of selflessness and of the critical importance of lending a hand to others in need.

I am proud to say that Spartans, as always, have risen to this challenge.

Members of our faculty with uniquely relevant expertise regularly are being featured in regional and national news coverage. Students have hosted donation drives in support of fire victims; their latest effort continues through this Thursday.

Other efforts have been focused on supporting members of our own CSU family. Locally, we have in recent days provided police, strategic communications, counseling and emergency management support to Sonoma State’s emergency operations center during a mandatory campus closure that is expected to be lifted later this week. As campus operations there stabilize, we will seek other ways to help. Many of our sister campuses also are joining in this effort.

I encourage you to consider joining your CSU colleagues in providing much-needed support to fire victims through the Sonoma State Fire Victims Fund. This fund was established to provide victims with essentials to help get them through what surely will be a difficult recovery period.

Finally, we are mindful of our sister campuses nearer to fires burning elsewhere in California, including the Orange County Canyon Fire 2 wildfires that burned thousands of acres and destroyed more than two dozen structures before containment efforts began to take hold late in the week. Our thoughts are with the victims of these fires and our CSU colleagues who have been affected or are involved in relief efforts.

Celebrating community heroes

California State Senator Bob Wieckowski annually honors “Local Heroes” for impactful community service. The honorees—individuals and organizations with meaningful ties to Sen. Wieckowski’s district, which includes portions of Silicon Valley—are selected for noteworthy individual and institutional accomplishments that improve the quality of life for all community members.

I am immensely proud to share that Spartans were represented among this year’s honorees, who were recognized by the senator at a September 28 ceremony.

The Unity Award was presented to SJSU alumnus and noted sports sociologist Dr. Harry Edwards in honor of his tireless, decades-long efforts in support of human rights and social justice. Dr. Edwards, who received an honorary doctorate in 2016, has been deeply engaged in the launch and early development of our campus’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change and generously entrusted to our care many priceless artifacts from his personal archives.

SJSU B.F.A. student Andy Nguyen also was honored by Senator Wieckowski for meaningful humanitarian and philanthropic efforts. Andy, who has used his expressive artistic skills to illuminate the plight of global refugees, is a past recipient of the CSU Trustee Scholar’s Award and volunteers for SJSU’s Generate program, which supports the unique needs of our first-generation students.

I am grateful to Senator Wieckowski for honoring noteworthy community heroism, and I am immensely proud of these Spartans—one whose legendary efforts over many decades have had uncommon global impact, and another whose work is only getting started.

Honoring a legendary community-minded Spartan

Citizens of San Jose and Silicon Valley long have benefited from the tireless contributions of selfless individuals from public and private life, like those recently honored by Senator Wieckowski.

As one would expect, many of these community heroes have had significant ties to SJSU. One such hero—SJSU alumna Shirley Lewis ’55—passed away earlier this month. She was 84. Lewis’ myriad accomplishments and testimonials from her many admirers easily could fill this blog.

Lewis invested much of her life in community service: twelve years on the San Jose City Council; executive director of the San Jose Symphony and Youth Symphony; president of San Jose Rotary; president of the SJSU Alumni Association; a director for SPUR San Jose (a chapter of what formerly was known as the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association).

Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold aptly called Lewis’ passing the loss of an “authentic patriot.” He recalled the devotion and patience she brought to her work on the City Council and her uncommon openness to civil disagreement and dialogue—which I find especially noteworthy in today’s divisive political climate.

Former San Jose mayor Tom McEnery said that “San Jose meant everything to her,” according to Herhold. A former symphony colleague called her “a force of nature.

In reading about Lewis, I especially am struck by her commitment to her own family—she raised six children, the first of whom was born while she was a married SJSU student—and to her native city, which was her extended family.

A Mercury-News editorial headline may have said it best: “San Jose’s Shirley Lewis persisted in love for family and community.” On behalf of the Spartan family, I offer my condolences and best wishes to Shirley Lewis’ family and all who were fortunate enough to know her well.

Cybersecurity: partnerships, awareness-building

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. As part of our broader academic and research efforts, this annual awareness-building month affords us the opportunity to help students explore opportunities in a globally-relevant field while heightening our collective awareness of threats to data and personal security.

Ably supported by Virginia Lehmkuhl Dakhwe, program director of the Jay Pinson Center for Stem Education in our College of Science, members of SJSU’s Information Security (“InfoSec”) Club competed earlier this month in a two-day national data security competition hosted by Uber at its San Francisco headquarters. Public/private partnerships like these open doors to invaluable relationships benefiting students and faculty and foster productive relationships between SJSU and top technology companies like Uber and Cisco.

Our involvement in national cybersecurity initiatives continues to deepen. The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) K-12 Cybersecurity Education Working group, co-chaired by Virginia, will stage its first annual Cybersecurity Career Awareness week early next month. Through a collaboration with the CSU, this program will help our local K-12 computer science initiatives—which encourage students, especially girls, to explore STEM education—better integrate cybersecurity career exploration into its activities.

Last Thursday, our Information Technology office hosted Sasha Hellberg, Manager of Threat Research at Trend Micro, who shared insights from three decades of experience to illustrate the evolution of cyber-attacks, lessons learned, and best practices for enhancing cyber “hygiene.” She also spoke about technical and non-technical career opportunities.

I encourage you to watch a recording of the presentation.

Legislative update

DNP degrees authorized

There was very good news from Sacramento late last week. Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 422, a bill granting full authority to the CSU to offer Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees. SJSU was one of five CSU campuses selected to launch two pilot DNP programs—one each in northern and southern California—that began in 2012.

The program, designed to ensure a steady flow of new nursing faculty throughout the state to keep up with demand in degree-based nursing programs, would have expired later this year without legislative authorization.

The bill passed both houses of the legislature despite opposition from the legislative analyst’s office, which was hesitant to grant the CSU broader authority to offer doctoral degrees. As one of the participating pilot campuses, I earlier this year was proud to testify in support of the bill in a legislative policy committee.

The enactment of AB 422 stands to benefit the health of all Californians and strengthen quality degree-based nursing programs like ours. College of Applied Sciences and Arts Dean Mary Schutten, in the wake of the governor’s action, observed that “…this was a group effort for an outstanding medicine and health impacting program. I am pleased that SJSU’s joint pilot program contributed to paving the way for Governor Brown’s signing of AB 422.”

I share Dean Schutten’s pride in SJSU’s meaningful contributions to this very important outcome.

Press announcement of legislative protections for Dreamers

Our commitment to Dreamers is well-documented. We were honored to host an October 5 press conference to commemorate Governor Brown’s signing of Assembly Bill 21, legislation authored by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) strengthening DACA protections. I was privileged to stand alongside Assemblymember Kalra, SJSU Associated Students president Ariadna Manzo and assistant professor Patricia Lopez and help contextualize the importance of this legislation.

SJSU convenes important conversations

I often have spoken about the important role played by a public university—especially one intrinsically linked to the affairs of an urban center like San Jose—as a convener of important conversations on issues of broad public import.

Last week, amid heightened interest in the role of public art in community discourse, we hosted a panel discussion, moderated by former San Jose city councilmember Blanca Alvarado, that included SJSU alumnus and assistant professor of Mexican American studies Dr. Jonathan Alcanta and two SJSU faculty members: Mexican American Studies lecturer Gregorio Mora-Torres and Professor and Anthropology Department Chair Roberto Gonzalez.

The panel explored the unique and somewhat misunderstood story of Quetzalcoatl, a Robert Graham sculpture in Plaza de Ceser Chavez.

We are proud to have the opportunity to serve as hosts this week to several other important conversations, meetings and public presentations:

  • Representative Ro Khanna (D–CA) visits campus on Tuesday, Oct. 17. I will have the opportunity to engage in a conversation with Rep. Khanna on numerous national issues of relevance to us all.
  • Also Tuesday evening we will host a public conversation concerning public art and, of local interest, the future fate of the Columbus statue in San Jose City Hall. We are partnering with the City of San Jose in convening this timely dialogue, featuring a strong panel of experts facilitated by SJSU political science professor and department chair Melinda Jackson.
  • This Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 16-17, we welcome CSU government relations and public affairs staff from throughout the state for two days of discussion and professional development.
  • Wednesday evening, Oct. 18 the Hammer Theatre Center will welcome decorated author Viet Thanh Nguyen, the celebrated Vietnamese author, MacArthur Genius awardee and Pulitzer Award recipient for his acclaimed novel, The Sympathizer.

I also want to note the upcoming third anniversary of our agreement with the City of San Jose to operate the Hammer and bring the arts back to our downtown. The opportunity to revitalize an important venue for artistic expression through an eclectic mix of artistic, intellectual and cultural programming has been yet another reminder of the important role SJSU plays in enriching our region’s quality of life. We look forward to continuing this city/university partnership.

Honoring service and achievement milestones

Fall brings several unique opportunities to celebrate the accomplishments of individual students, faculty and staff as well as institutional icons.

2017 CSU Trustee Scholar

The 2017 class of CSU Trustee Scholars includes SJSU awardee Essy Barroso-Ramirez, a first-generation student studying public health, Mexican American studies and legal studies. A Phi Kappa Phi honor society member, Essy is an active participant in numerous campus organizations and is deeply committed to utilizing her education to “pay forward” the educational and societal opportunities that have been made available to her by others.

SJSU faculty member appointed CSU trustee

Governor Jerry Brown’s recent appointment of SJSU Professor of World Languages and Literatures Romey Sabalius to the CSU Board of Trustees is yet another example of SJSU’s growing influence in matters of significant importance to our students, community and state.

Professor Sabalius has served as a professor and coordinator of the German Program in our Department of Foreign Languages since 2003. He joined our campus as an associate professor in 1998. In order to be able to fully focus on his trustee responsibilities, he will step away from active service on the San José State University Academic Senate, California State University Academic Senate and the California Faculty Association San José State University Chapter Executive Board.

I congratulate him on this two-year appointment.

Honoring our literary legacy

I was honored to participate late last month in a celebration of Reed Magazine’s 150 years of distinguished literary excellence as our state’s most venerable literary journal. This stellar model for faculty/student collaboration and experiential learning has nurtured the aspirations of countless writers and solidified SJSU’s relevance in the humanities and liberal arts—an essential ingredient in fulfilling our mission, as I often have said.

Congratulations to Associate Professor and Reed Editor-in-Chief Cathleen Miller, her editorial team and all of the Spartans who have contributed to this journal’s remarkable 150-year legacy.

Seeking faculty service award nominees

Nominations for the 2017-2018 Faculty Outstanding Lecturer Award, Distinguished Service Award, Outstanding Professor Award, and President’s Scholar Award as provided by University Policy S13-6 are being accepted through October 31. I encourage you to review the nomination criteria for each award and offer your input to the Academic Senate office by completing its online nomination form, in writing to extended zip 0024, or in person to ADM 176 by 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 31.

SJSU strategic planning: your input desired

I was pleased to see that 330 individuals participated in early strategic planning conversations last month during our kickoff events. I also know that our students, staff, and faculty have many more ideas to contribute. You can share your insights by completing our online Strategic Planning survey through October 22.

As we develop collaboratively a strategic plan to guide us over the next decade, it will be valuable to think about how to enrich SJSU’s community impact. We have a strong foundation on which to build, and our efforts in this area will be as essential as anything we do to realize our potential to become a preeminent urban public university.

Updates on this important journey toward a long-term campus planning roadmap will be posted to our strategic planning website.

Athletics success

With fall sports in full swing, we can take pride in many first-half season accomplishments. Our first-place women’s soccer team later this month will be poised to seek its second Mountain West Tournament championship in three years. Our women’s cross-country team has won its last three races and will seek to extend that streak at the Mountain West Conference championship meet on October 27 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Finally, men’s water polo—which returned in 2015 after a 34-year absence, has a winning record, is nationally ranked, and has seven home matches remaining before its mid-November conference championship tournament.

Homecoming 2017

A joyful parade through campus. A loud, intense Fire on the Fountain rally. A competitive battle between SJSU and long-standing rival Fresno St. for possession of the Valley Trophy.

Homecoming Week 2017 was memorable in many ways—none more so than the indomitable spirit of Spartan pride displayed at these events and others throughout the week.

I was immensely proud of our community and heartened by the energy and spirit from students, faculty and staff, alumni and our many other supporters.

My sincere thanks—and a big Spartan Up—to all of you.




President Papazian’s Message on the Sonoma Fires

Dear Spartans,

Our thoughts are with the Sonoma State University community and my colleague President Judy Sakaki, as well as the many others coping with multiple wildfires that erupted on Sunday across a wide swath of Sonoma and Napa counties.

As of mid-morning, the fires had destroyed at least 1,500 structures—including President Sakaki’s home—and prompted large-scale evacuations. The Sonoma campus has suspended classes and routine business operations today and tomorrow, but remained open as of late Monday morning.

Our staff has begun reaching out to the approximately 250 SJSU students from Sonoma and Napa counties, offering information about counseling and financial resources. Students also can contact our Economic Crisis Response Team, which assists students experiencing financial crises, for information and support.

On behalf of the entire San Jose State community, I offer heartfelt concern for the safety and well-being of everyone affected by these wildfires. We will continue doing all that we can to lend appropriate support.


Mary A. Papazian


President Papazian’s Message on the Las Vegas Shootings

Dear Spartans,

Like all of you, I am deeply saddened by news of yet another tragic shooting at what should have been a safe event. Please join me in sending your thoughts and prayers to those who have been affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas.

While all members of the San Jose State football team, cheer team and marching band returned safely after our game Saturday night at UNLV, my heart goes out to our friends there. A college campus so close to the site of an event like this one is undoubtedly struggling to come to terms with it.

I am mindful of those on our campus who may be personally impacted. This morning, our Student Affairs team reached out to each of SJSU’s 48 students from Nevada, including 20 from Las Vegas. Please remember that counseling is available at no cost to all students and to all faculty and staff members.

It is my hope that all of you will reach out to your loved ones and friends today. The Spartan family is large, with more than 250,000 alumni, 33,000 students, and 5,000 faculty and staff members. We will provide updates as appropriate.

Kindest regards,

Dr. Mary A. Papazian



President Papazian’s September Blog

President Mary Papazian meets with Student Advocates for Higher Education as she visited clubs tabling outside Tower Hall on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. (James Tensuan/San Jose State University)

President Papazian visits the Student Advocates for Higher Education table at the Fall Student Organization Fair (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Photojournalism).

Each fall our campus brims with a sense of optimism, energy and hope, energized by the presence of thousands of new students—more than 11,000 this year, a record high—and more than 40,000 students, faculty and staff members engaged in myriad activities in classrooms, labs, performance venues, offices, playing fields and recreational spaces.

The energy and intensity of activity is a vivid reminder that truly, we are a “city within a city.” This reality was brought home for me while strolling the campus in recent weeks greeting students, faculty and staff members, neighbors, and other visitors.

Uncustomary start to year

My September blog has updates on various new initiatives, celebrates several points of pride, and highlights important upcoming opportunities to impact and influence the future direction of our university.

These are the sorts of updates that would be anticipated at the beginning of the academic year. Yet, as we know, this has begun as anything but a “customary” year.

Devastating hurricanes have pummeled Southeastern states and the Caribbean. Deadly terror attacks in Europe rattled nerves worldwide. And partisan divisiveness and political rancor have opened new racial, ethnic and cultural wounds while testing the boundaries of free speech and tearing at the fabric of communities near and far.

On our campus, we know that the Trump Administration’s recent decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has heightened anxiety for our immigrant students and others. Although there are suggestions of a possible compromise that could lead to legislation protecting DACA students, its fate—and the future of these students and employees—remains uncertain.

As I observed two weeks ago, my administration stands with the leadership of the California State University (CSU) in its unwavering commitment to our DACA students and employees. We will continue to offer them our support while keeping a close eye on policy developments out of Washington, D.C.

Additionally, we are watchfully observing how neighboring campuses are managing potentially incendiary public events.

Let me be clear that it is not my intent to paint a bleak portrait of the year ahead. Far from it; as I observed during last month’s Fall Welcome Address, I am excited about the year ahead and beyond. There is much about which to be optimistic. Based on what I am hearing and seeing, I sense that many of you agree.

So, while we should take stock of circumstances around us, I am confident that sticking to our core values—a commitment to the success of our students and our legacy as a community that celebrates equity, diversity and inclusion—will keep us focused and on track.

I believe it is important to keep this essential truth in mind, especially as we begin our year-long strategic planning effort and welcome an accreditation team to campus later this month.

I’ll share more on these and other campus news items later in this blog.

Providing expertise as severe weather tests communities

But before turning to those items, I want to acknowledge the important contributions SJSU faculty and staff members and students have made in elevating the public’s understanding of climatic conditions that, in recent weeks, have devastated communities.

Last month, efforts by SJSU’s Fire Weather Research Laboratory to better understanding the behavior of natural wildfires were the subject of a major story in the Mercury News.

The story explored efforts by Professor Craig Clements, faculty colleagues and graduate students to uncover clues they believe can predict the potential spread of future wildfires and save lives.

At the heart of their work is an innovative application of traditional Doppler technology. As the Mercury News reported, “Craig is doing something that’s a little different,” said Chris Waters, a battalion chief with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

Meanwhile, climate scientist Professor Alison Bridger has been providing periodic commentary on severe weather as a contributor to Her latest installment, published online last Friday, was an update on Hurricane Irma in the wake of its destructive course through the Caribbean and Florida.

Professors Clements and Bridger are well-established experts in their respective disciplines, and they are joined by many of their campus colleagues in sharing their expertise while elevating SJSU’s national profile. I want to thank all of our subject-matter experts for contributing their time and expertise to this important public service.

Our strategic journey begins

At my investiture last spring and during last month’s Fall Welcome Address, I stressed the importance of openness to embracing change if we are fully to leverage opportunities to serve students and our region as Silicon Valley’s public university.

Thursday’s official launch of our strategic planning initiative started this journey. It is clearer than ever to me that this university is capable of wonderful things. And I am confident that the work we collectively will do through next fall—strategic dreaming, as I’ve characterized it—will point us in the right direction.

We have structured the process—dialogue and study this semester; a solid draft plan developed by next spring and ready for review in May; further review and formal adoption by next December—to ensure ample time for inclusive input. During the week of Sept. 18, you will be able to attend one of many guided in-person and online conversations for various campus stakeholders.

Academic leadership searches

Searches for two key academic leadership positions—deans of the College of Humanities and the Arts and the Lurie College of Education—are underway. A third, seeking candidates to lead our College of Science as it matures plans for a science and innovation complex, will be underway very soon. We also will be preparing to launch a national search for a vice president for Student Affairs.

Updates on all searches will be published throughout the fall, and I will share key developments in future blog posts.

Accreditation follow-up

Over the last several years, our campus community engaged in discussions, data gathering and self-reflection in preparation for a routine accreditation review by the Western Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

These efforts culminated in an institutional self-study report that was submitted to the commission in August 2014. WSCUC representatives reviewed that report, visited our campus in April 2015, and submitted a report to the commission in May 2015. After consideration of the visiting team’s report, the commission reaffirmed SJSU’s accreditation for seven years (this is more fully summarized in its findings in a July 2015 letter.)

Special Visit by the accreditation team is scheduled Sept. 26 and 27 to follow up on developments in the areas of leadership, organizational climate, shared governance, and campus climate. Two open forums—one for students and another for faculty and staff members—have been scheduled for Sept. 27. Details on these forums and other background has been published online.

I am grateful for the considerable work that has gone into our accreditation review and preparations for this follow up visit. I particularly want to thank Kathleen McConnell, associate professor of rhetorical studies, who took on this important work when Professor Cami Johnson transitioned into the provost’s office and has seamlessly moved it forward.

An important note: Our accreditors understand that not everyone who may wish to participate can attend these meetings, and therefore they have established a confidential email account to give everyone the opportunity to communicate with the team.

To write to the team, please address your email to This email account was created by a WSCUC staff member and only authorized WSCUC staff and team members have access to it. The emails will not be viewed by any representative of SJSU.

Building relationships with parents, families

An eclectic mix of informative, engaging campus and social programming has been created for our second annual SJSU’s Parent and Family Weekend, Thur.-Sun., Sept. 21-24.

This year’s program includes a Friday evening reception, Saturday breakfast and conversation with members of the SJSU administration, pre-game tailgate at CEFCU Stadium and tickets to SJSU’s Mountain West Conference opening game against Utah State. Optional programming includes San Jose Sharks and San Francisco 49ers home contests, both on Thursday.

Meaningfully engaging parents and families of students is an easily-overlooked, yet important contributor to student success. When families are connected to and proud of their student’s choice of school, that pride extends to students and those around them. And, parent and family engagement fosters relationships that can deepen long after graduation.

If you are a parent or family member of a current student, please take part! And please pass along this information to others.

Community building

As we seek strategically to engage students’ families, we also continue to build bridges with partners that share our commitment to this region’s future.

Earlier this month we hosted the Knight Foundation’s national board of directors and staff for a lunch meeting in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. Knight’s representatives were in San Jose for a two-day site visit to explore ways to help vitalize our city; our library—a great example of civic/university collaboration—was the perfect venue.

Knight’s local program manager Danny Harris was instrumental to bringing our institutions together; I am grateful for his commitment and efforts.

Wednesday evening, in partnership with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, we hosted a dinner for a small group of Silicon Valley CEOs at the president’s residence. This was an important opportunity to serve as a convener of meaningful dialogue among key regional leaders.

I also want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and congratulate Muhammed Chaudhry ’04 Finance as he transitions away from the Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) after serving for 16 years as its founding CEO.

A proud Spartan, his story is San Jose State’s story. Chaudhry transformed SVEF from a fledgling non-profit into a thriving, dynamic enterprise supporting college access for K-12 students from underserved areas.  Under his leadership, the foundation became especially known for innovative approaches to STEM education, especially math readiness.

The Spartan East Side Promise is another byproduct of Chaudhry’s efforts. And, well beyond education reform, he has emerged as a leading national voice on issues affecting American Muslims.

I join other Silicon Valley leaders and the SJSU community in wishing Muhammed Chaudhry all the best as he moves forward.

Healthier campus: stronger campus

Health and wellness are top-of-mind issues for our campus.  We were an early adopter of tobacco-free policies; we have taken meaningful steps toward becoming bike-friendly; we boast a state-of-the-art Student Health Center.

SJSU has taken another step, joining Healthy Campus 2020, a growing cohort of colleges and universities nationally in a movement aimed at supporting better health among students, faculty and staff members.

The national affiliation provides to us a broad strategy and practical framework for developing wellness programs uniquely suited to our community’s interests and needs. Locally, our steering committee has adopted SJSU—Treat Yourself Well! as its launch theme.

This fall, the campaign was softly launched during Weeks of Welcome with booth presence and flyers promoting “10 Ways to Treat Yourself Well.” Healthy campus information also is available on the SJSU Sammy mobile app for Android or Apple devices. A website is in the process of being developed. The steering committee eventually hopes to create a searchable inventory of existing and planned health-related resources, programs and initiatives.

There also are plans to incorporate Healthy Campus 2020 into appropriate curriculum. Commitments already have been secured from faculty teaching two health-related courses (HS 1 and HS 104); the Center for Faculty Development is planning lunch and learn sessions; and health-related messaging is planned for faculty communications this year.

Much appreciation is owed to our steering committee and its co-chairs Kathleen Roe, chair of the Department of Health Science and Recreation; Romando Nash, associate vice president for Student Services; and Christine Wong Mineta, assistant director, Wellness and Health Promotion.

Here’s to a healthy year!

SJSU among nation’s “coolest” schools

In addition to abiding commitments to personal health and wellness, SJSU has actively promoted community health and global sustainability through meaningful creative activities and productive community partnerships.

This work—performed by our faculty and staff members and students with supreme dedication and little fanfare—was rewarded last month when the Sierra Club’s annual “Cool School” rankings placed SJSU among the nation’s 50 most sustainable colleges and universities and first among 23 CSU campuses.

This top-50 national ranking was buttressed by successes in sustainability outreach and events; waste management; and innovation.

Programs like the Spartan Superway Solar-Powered Automated Transit Network, Green Ninja, and CommUniverCity’s efforts to combat illegal dumping in partnership with the City of San Jose have established SJSU as a model for sustainability leadership among higher education institutions.

I would like to take a moment to thank all who have made this recognition possible—students engaged in community activism; faculty engaged in creative classroom and field activities; and our committed staff members in facilities development and operations. All share in this hard-earned, well-deserved recognition.

U.S. News: SJSU regionally strong; nationally recognized for supporting veterans

In U.S. News’ just-released 2017 rankings of colleges and universities, SJSU maintains its strong #6 ranking among regional public comprehensive universities.

More notably, we for the first time appear among the nation’s top veterans-serving academic institutions, ranking 20th overall and fourth among public universities. Helping veterans transition from military service into academic and career opportunities long has been a campus priority and point of pride; our latest U.S. News ranking affirms this.

Congratulations to all those in our community who support this important work and helped garner this national recognition.

Spartan Athletics: tournament success, and respect

With fall Spartan athletics squads in action all over the country, a few recent highlights deserve special mention.

Our volleyball team has opened 8-3, with a signature victory over Pepperdine and winning the Drake Invitational in Des Moines, Iowa. They defeated local rival Santa Clara Saturday for the first time since 2001, and open conference play at Nevada Tuesday.

Women’s cross country last weekend dominated the Fresno Invitational, sweeping all three podium spots and winning the team competition.

It often is said that intercollegiate athletics is about character as much as it is about wins and losses. Sometimes, that sounds very cliché; on other occasions, it rings very true.

At the SJSU/Texas football game in Austin earlier this month, Head Coach Brent Brennan and his entire staff wore “Houston Strong” t-shirts in in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

Texas fans took note. I wanted to share with you two especially poignant messages:

“As a Texas Longhorn football fan, I’d like to commend Coach Brennan and the entire football staff/team on their class. Wearing the Houston strong shirts was greatness. Not many football coaches would even consider that. Please let the coaching staff, team, and entire athletic department know it was greatly appreciated. I am now a San Jose State University sports fan…”

“I am a lifelong Texas fan and Texas native and think that was one of the classiest things I have seen in College football.”

Spartan pride, indeed.

I hope that the coming weeks of fall bring our community inspiration and hope.


President Papazian’s 9/11 Remembrance

Captain Jason Dahl, an SJSU alumnus, and his crew are memorialized at The National September 11 Memorial Museum (Photo: InSapphoWeTrust, Wikimedia Commons).

Capt. Jason Dahl, an SJSU alumnus, and his crew are memorialized at The National September 11 Memorial Museum in New York (Photo: skinnylawyer, Wikimedia Commons).

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 11, 2017.

Dear Campus Community,

As we watch with deep concern the devastating hurricanes pummeling the southeastern United States and Caribbean, we pause this morning to remember the acts of terror on American soil 16 years ago today that stunned and forever changed our nation.

Many of our students were so young at the time that it is unlikely they recall the chilling details. Dennis and I were working and living in Michigan at the time, but I subsequently served for twelve years on campuses in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut and repeatedly encountered the painful, personal aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Capt. Jason Dahl

Capt. Jason Dahl

That pain was no stranger to the San Jose State community. Captain Jason Dahl, ’80 Aeronautics Operations, was at the helm of United Flight 93 when it crashed in western Pennsylvania after passengers and crew fought back against terrorists’ efforts to commandeer the plane.

Aviation program faculty, students and staff have paused each September 11 to remember Captain Dahl. Today, in honoring the memory of all who lost their lives on that fateful day, we especially remember one of our own for his heroism and bravery.

It also would serve us well in these times to recall what his widow, Sandy, said the following year: “If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate.”

Dr. Mary A. Papazian

A San Jose elementary school was renamed in Capt. Dahl's honor (Photo: Sugimura Finney Architects).

A San Jose elementary school was renamed in Capt. Dahl’s honor (Photo: Sugimura Finney Architects).

President Papazian’s Message on Title IX

Editor’s note: The following message is being emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Sept. 8, 2017.

Dear Campus Community,

In the time that I have been president, I have made clear—both in our words and our actions—our commitment to supporting gender equity, diversity and inclusion. Among many things, this means honoring the principles and policies enumerated in federal Title IX regulations and Executive Orders promulgated by the California State University. Our values demand nothing less. I also have acknowledged that we would learn from past actions and apply what we have learned moving forward.

Establishing and maturing an Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to lead diversity and equity programming and training was a seminal step. Growing our pool of trained Title IX investigators and other community members was another. Together, this has enabled us to offer expertise, support and guidance to students, faculty and staff members; adhere consistently to all rules governing how we investigate and resolve complaints under Title IX and other regulations; and ensure that all parties—complainants, respondents and witnesses—are treated fairly.

Progress to date includes:

  • Hiring four Title IX officers and training 20 “divisional liaisons” able to interpret Title IX processes for faculty and staff members across the university;
  • Investing in an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, including new personnel and expanded programming;
  • Training more than 1,100 faculty and staff members to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities to recognize and report Title IX violations;
  • Implementing equity and diversity programming for new students and faculty in the on-boarding processes, and;
  • Delivering face-to-face training to 9,000 new freshmen, transfer and graduate students during summer orientation, as well as to continuing students, faculty and staff members.

While considerable progress is being made, there is much more to be done. I will update you throughout the year on our efforts. Meanwhile, we will be monitoring closely the developments from the U.S. Department of Education as it unveils any new directives regarding Title IX guidelines relating to sexual assault investigations. At the same time, I want to assure our community that we will continue to be guided by policies and protocols established by CSU Executive Orders, which themselves conform to California law and require swift and thorough action by our university in all cases.  We will continue to uphold all standards of due process and maintain unwavering commitment to the requirements of these laws and policies.

I will be in touch as we learn more about the latest federal regulatory actions and how they might impact our community.

Dr. Mary A. Papazian


President Papazian’s Message on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Sept. 5, 2017. California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White shared a message on the same topic with the CSU community. Five of the state’s top educational leaders shared a message with California’s congressional delegation.

Dear campus community,

The phase out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program just announced by the attorney general will impact many members of our community—those with DACA status as well as the many who work, live, and learn alongside them—while heightening fear and anxiety.

As I previously have observed, ensuring access to a quality education is neither a partisan nor political issue; it is our mission. Since its adoption in 2012, DACA has provided stability and opportunity to many students and some of the faculty and staff members who serve them. Every one of these individuals is intrinsic to the fabric of our uniquely diverse community. Viewed through this lens, today’s news is deeply disappointing.

It would be imprudent of me to speculate about the scope or speed of changes that may be coming our way. But I want to offer this assurance: my administration stands with the leadership of the California State University (CSU) in its unwavering commitment to DACA students.

Some students who may be affected by changes to DACA also receive state financial aid under AB 540. That support is not affected by today’s action.

I also want to assure you that I will lend my voice and influence, as I have been doing, to urging that all of our students continue to enjoy the freedom, safety and security to lift themselves and their communities through the pursuit of knowledge.

In the meantime, we are continuing to collaborate with student organizations and other campus partners to ensure that emotional, academic and other forms of support are available to students and who need them.

The CSU has created and is continuing to update an FAQ with updates on many DACA-related issues. As new information becomes available, we will be sure to share it.

Mary A. Papazian

President Papazian’s Pre-Semester Reflections

Dear Campus Community,

In the days preceding the start of each academic year, our focus ordinarily is on welcoming resident students during move-in weekend, preparing for the beginning of fall classes, and readying our campus for the return of all students and faculty.

It should be a time of optimism and excitement—and we are busily engaged in this important work. Yet this is no ordinary year, as recent incidents at home and abroad have starkly reminded us.

The deadly violence, racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism on display recently at the University of Virginia were an affront to our sensibilities. I was sickened by what I observed, and can imagine there may be concerns about similar activity occurring closer to home—or even on our own campus.

Meanwhile, in just the last 48 hours, we have been jolted by several deadly terrorist acts throughout western Europe.

As a civilized, caring community, we condemn this outrageous, indefensible behavior while affirming our commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and respect for individual differences.

All of these incidents understandably may make it harder to focus on all that we have to look forward to this year. It is important to acknowledge our concern for the victims of these attacks, as well as our own feelings of sadness and outrage. I encourage you to take advantage of the counseling services available to students, faculty and staff members.

In the meantime, much effort has gone into making move-in weekend memorable and as smooth as possible. If you are among our resident students arriving over the next few days, be assured that you can expect a warm Spartan welcome from the many members of the campus community there to lend a hand.


Mary A. Papazian

President Papazian’s Mid-Summer Blog

In one of her popular novels, Along for the Ride, author Sarah Dessen writes that “… in the summer, the days were long, stretching into each other. Out of school, everything was on pause and yet happening at the same time, this collection of weeks when anything was possible.”

Things are on pause for many students and faculty members, although some faculty members are teaching and many more are conducting research or otherwise participating in university service, while many students are working or taking summer courses. I hope some of you also are finding time to travel, spend time with family and friends, or simply to rest!

For our staff, while the summer months somewhat alter the rhythm and tenor of daily campus life, much important work is happening. I doubt that many would say things have slowed down!

Much is happening and, as Ms. Dessen observes, anything is possible. I have updates on several summer priorities later in this blog. But first, I want briefly to reflect on the Commencement season and its meaning for our community.

2017 Commencement: Institutional, personal milestones reached

As I noted in my last blog, the opportunity to confer degrees and celebrate with graduates and their families is a signature moment of each academic year. This year’s Commencement celebration at CEFCU Stadium was noteworthy in several respects.

Record degrees awarded

A record number of degrees—slightly under 10,000—was conferred this spring, including the first-ever doctoral degrees awarded by SJSU to graduates of the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program. (The Doctor of Nursing Practice, or D.N.P. degree, is offered in collaboration with Fresno State.)

With 2017 graduates added to the existing living alumni population, Spartan Nation has now grown to nearly 270,000, a significant majority of whom live and work in the Bay Area. This is a powerful reminder of the enormous contribution Spartans make to the rich diversity, intellectual vibrancy and economic vitality of our region and state.

It also is a reminder of the importance of forming and sustaining connections with recent—and all—graduates through alumni, athletics and other university programming. Ensuring our long-term institutional impact depends on it.

Spartans honored

Two Spartans were honored at the May Commencement ceremony: SJSU alumna Ysabel Duron, ’70 Journalism, delivered an impassioned Commencement address, and Phil Boyce, ’66 Business Administration, was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters. I had the opportunity to spend time with both Ysabel and Phil and was impressed by their Spartan pride and the honor each felt at being invited to participate meaningfully in such a signature university event.

Deferred celebration

Speaking of pride, one of our graduates and his family celebrated some 44 years after he wrapped up his studies. I encourage you to read this wonderful story of Spartan grit and determination.

Directional shift

Meanwhile, a tweak in this year’s stadium Commencement ceremony moved the platform ninety degrees from its traditional location, with field seating for graduates and faculty members facing south instead of west.

As a result, access to the field and visual sight lines for guests improved. These were small, yet important shifts intended to improve the Commencement experience for all participants. Feedback from participants and others generally was positive; we also received helpful suggestions for further refinements.

We all know how important Commencement is to graduates, their families and friends, and our community. And we surely appreciate its centrality to our mission.

With this in mind, throughout the year I have solicited input from campus stakeholders and others on how we might further enhance the planning and staging of this seminal campus ceremony. I have received much heartfelt, substantive input. There are several oft-repeated points:

  • There appears to be strong desire to find ways to increase participation among students and faculty in the official degree-conferring Commencement ceremony.
  • While there are many opinions about the factors contributing to generally low student and faculty participation, some have wondered if scheduling Commencement over Memorial Day weekend, as well as staging many smaller celebrations in advance of the formal Commencement, are prominent factors.
  • There is an openness to rethinking how Commencement is staged. Some have asked if we might hold several smaller Commencement ceremonies (perhaps organized by college) in lieu of one large-scale stadium event. There also is sentiment for moving the official ceremony away from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, perhaps to a mid-week day before the holiday.

I want to express appreciation to all members of our community whose dedication to student success made it possible to confer a record number of degrees this spring and to all who make Commencement itself the memorable, celebratory moment we all desire.

I also am grateful for the interest many of you have expressed in further improving the Commencement experience, and for the specific ideas and suggestions that have been offered. This conversation surely will continue into the forthcoming academic year!

Meantime, much is happening

In the wake of a very active and consequential year, we now are regrouping and looking forward, with, I hope, a bit of time for reflection and rest.

There are many reasons to be excited. Among them:

Spartan student-athletes honored for academic success

We all can celebrate a record number of SJSU student-athletes garnering academic all-conference recognition this year. Seventy-seven Spartans from nine spring sports squads were honored by the Mountain West conference, while 158 student-athletes throughout the 2016-17 academic year were recognized by the four conferences with which SJSU is affiliated.

Each of these students maintained at least a 3.00 grade point average while competing in at least half of their team’s competitions—no easy feat. Congratulations to each of these stellar Spartans!

Facility construction and upgrades

Work is completed, underway or planned in many areas of campus. Among them: safety upgrades in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library and several residence halls; construction of the recreation and aquatics center; the recent opening of the south campus golf practice facility and ongoing planning for a second phase of upgrades on our South Campus; modernization of Morris Dailey Auditorium; and the return to campus of our College of International and Extended Studies (CIES) to the first floor of the Diaz Compean Student Union.

Administration and Finance will continue to offer updates on these and other ongoing efforts to make our campus more hospitable to students, employees and visitors.

Campus strategic planning

Under the shared leadership of Provost and Senior Vice President Andy Feinstein and Academic Senate Chair Professor Stefan Frazier, a roadmap for developing a long-term campus strategic plan is being constructed while a comprehensive report summarizing the impacts of Vision 2017 is finalized. We will publish that closing report in August.

I am pleased to see such collaborative progress in developing a rubric for future planning. At present, the tentative plan calls for us to kick off our strategic planning process with a campus event on September 14, followed shortly thereafter by a series of facilitated input-gathering conversations for all campus and community stakeholders.

The insights from those initial conversations will form the basis for further campus analysis and study during the 2017-18 academic year, culminating in a draft plan for us to review and discuss next spring.

How we go about developing our long-range plans is every bit as important as the plans that will evolve from this work. I am fully committed to involving campus and community stakeholders in thoughtful, transparent dialogue. Developing a long-range strategic plan for propelling SJSU to the forefront of urban public universities will be as important as anything we undertake this year. I am counting on and look forward to your active engagement in this conversation.

The president’s cabinet also will devote considerable time this summer—including a multi-day retreat—to long-range strategic issues. I will update you on those conversations in future blog posts.

Strengthening our capacity for excellence

As SJSU continues to evolve into a first-choice destination for many prospective students, we also are focusing on addressing the implications of enrollment growth. This fall, we anticipate that undergraduate enrollment will exceed earlier projections by several hundred students, as we welcome more than 4,300 new freshmen and another 4,300 transfer students to our campus community. This will create multiple impacts, including our ability to offer campus housing to all interested students.

The pace of activity on campus recently has picked up as new first-year students and family members began arriving for the first of sixteen summer orientation sessions taking place between July 7 and August 16. Our last graduate student orientation will take place on August 17.

Summer orientation and related programming for new students demands considerable planning and effort. I am grateful to the many campus community members who contribute to this important work and help prepare students for the rigors of university life.

When students do arrive each fall, faculty are central to their university experience. Added financial support from the state has permitted us to hire 130 new tenure-track faculty members in the last two years. We hope to continue this pace of hiring in the coming budget year.

We have strengthened our capacity to act strategically, hiring Bob Lim as SJSU’s vice president for IT and CIO. Bob, who started work on June 30, brings deep academic and technology industry expertise, abiding passion for the mission of the public university—himself a graduate of San Francisco State University—and a track record for student and faculty-focused innovation. I know you will enjoy getting to know him.

We also are strengthening our academic leadership. Our new dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, Dr. Sheryl Ehrman, joined us earlier this month. I want to take this opportunity to welcome Sheryl to campus and to express gratitude to Professor Ping Hsu for his interim leadership. Recruitments for deans to lead the Lurie College of Education, College of Science, and College of Humanities and the Arts all will be active this fall.

I also am pleased to welcome several faculty members to new administrative roles for the coming academic year. Dr. Michael Kimbarow, long-time faculty member in Communication Sciences and Disorders and recent chair of the Academic Senate, has been named interim AVP for Faculty Affairs; Dr. Michael Kaufman, chair of Physics and Astronomy, has been named interim Dean of the College of Science; and Dr. Shannon Miller, chair of English and Comparative Literature, has been named interim Dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts.  Thanks to all of our colleagues for agreeing to take on these new roles!

Mixed news from Washington

We’ve seen both positive and unsettling news out of Washington.

On a positive note, the U.S. Department of Education recently announced that summer Pell Grants will be available to eligible students beginning July 1. I was in Washington D.C. for meetings with university and federal policy leaders, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, when this long over-due news was announced.

This is an important policy change, helping eligible students shorten their time to degrees by allowing them to enroll in summer coursework without incurring additional personal debt. This also could meaningfully impact the utilization of our campus during the summer months; it may be a worthwhile topic for campus consideration in strategic planning.

Students with questions about the Pell Grant program may contact our Financial Aid office.

At the same time, the United States Supreme Court last month authorized the federal government temporarily to implement certain provisions from the international travel ban, originally proposed last winter but on hold pending multiple judicial challenges. The high court also agreed to take up the broad executive order this fall.

We have been seeking clarity as to how these developments may impact current or prospective international students and others. But, as I observed in January when efforts to restrict international travel to the U.S. from specified countries were first proposed, we have been and will remain focused on supporting all students, faculty and staff members impacted by travel or other immigration restrictions.

As soon as we are better informed about the potential impacts of these actions, we will be sure to offer additional guidance.

Encouraging development(s) in downtown San Jose

Many of you have heard me observe that great universities and great cities are inextricably connected.

Two downtown development opportunities have been announced in the last month; each would help revitalize our city’s downtown core and offer intriguing opportunities for SJSU students, faculty and community members.

In early June, city leaders announced that they had entered discussions with Google about building a mixed-use development near the Diridon transit hub and SAP Center that could bring up to 20,000 jobs and millions of square feet of office and R&D space to the center of our city. And late last week, Adobe Systems disclosed plans to expand its downtown headquarters by acquiring adjacent property that could house 3,000 additional workers, more than twice its local workforce presence.

With a daytime population exceeding 40,000 (combining students, employees and visitors), SJSU is downtown San Jose’s oldest, largest and busiest epicenter of activity. The addition of a Google “village” and expansion of Adobe’s presence would add dynamism to the western edge of downtown San Jose even as we remain its easternmost anchor.

This poses interesting questions for city and regional planners as they sort out related infrastructure issues, including the strategic placement of downtown BART stations and access to affordable housing. And as Silicon Valley’s go-to provider of talent across many disciplines, SJSU naturally will look to forge deeper ties with Google and Adobe benefiting our students and faculty.

Stay tuned!

Putting SJSU on the map

The colorful banners adorning the perimeter of our main campus and adjacent to Hammer Theatre were part of a limited, internally-focused rollout of a new SJSU visual identity and brand platform.

Other iterations of this work include profiles of Spartans showcased on banners along campus paseos and a companion website; various creative treatments throughout the interior of the Diaz Compean Student Union; and selected Spartan apparel and other merchandise.

As the fall semester gets underway, our branding campaign will expand to include SJSU banners flying along several additional downtown streets, around the entire perimeter of our South Campus, and inside CEFCU Stadium.

You also will see several buses running through portions of downtown between the South Campus park-and-ride lot and main campus. These “roving billboards” will help amplify SJSU’s presence and, I believe, further enhance Spartan pride.

In the meantime, I hope that you are able to enjoy summer’s longer, warmer days, and I look forward to resuming monthly blog posts as we approach the start of the fall term.

President Papazian’s May Blog

I want to begin this month’s blog by expressing heartfelt concern for the victims of Monday’s terror attack in Manchester, U.K., their families and friends, and all those who are impacted by this senseless act of violence.

Six SJSU students have been studying abroad in England; I’m able to report that all six have been contacted since the attack and we have confirmed that they are safe and sound.

Closer to home, we are at long last enjoying some of the fruits of spring—sunnier skies; blossoming trees; a sense of new possibilities. It is about time!

April was National Poetry Month, established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States.

As a student and scholar of literature I long have found unique inspiration from poetry, ranging from the works of such classic poets as John Donne—the subject of my own scholarly efforts—to contemporary, less heralded writers such as British poet Angela Wybrow.

Wybrow observes in a poem called Spring: New Beginnings that “…the season heralds a bright new dawn,” and “…there’s a sense of hope at this time of year.”

This indeed is a hopeful and bright season, dawning with possibilities. On our campus, it is a time to celebrate SJSU’s legacy as we prepare to plan for our future; to bid farewell to this year’s graduates; and to continue to deepen our relationships with community partners.

Inaugural Week Reflections

The many events and activities that preceded the May 4 inaugural ceremony celebrated our campus’s remarkable legacy and promise, showcased the creative, academic and operational excellence of our students, faculty and staff, and illuminated issues of global significance.

Ours is a community of uncommon cultural, intellectual and personal diversity. These attributes were revealed in the array of lectures, exhibits, concerts and other pre-inaugural events that were held on campus and in our community. As I observed on several occasions throughout the week, these moments afforded us a unique opportunity to celebrate our storied past and reflect a bit on the grand promise that awaits us. It is my hope that you were able to enjoy some or all of them.


The investiture ceremony itself brought together members of our campus community; professional colleagues who have profoundly influenced my career and life; leaders from the CSU and numerous sister campuses; elected and community leaders; and members of my immediate and extended family and friends.

While mindful of the important ceremonial and symbolic nature of this moment, the investiture—taken from the term “investment”—affirmed my commitment to the campus and to you. This is a promise that I take very seriously, and which I attempted to convey in my inaugural address while also reflecting on SJSU’s legacy and promise and the personal and professional journey that brought me here.

I am deeply grateful for the trust that has been placed in me by CSU trustees, Chancellor White, the individuals who served on the presidential search advisory committee and our community. My first year here has fully affirmed my belief that together, we can fulfill our extraordinary potential.

Many of you have heard me say that coming to SJSU was a “homecoming” after nearly three decades of service to public universities in Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.

Dennis and I indeed feel very much “at home,” and we deeply appreciate the extraordinary effort that went into planning the investiture and all of its accompanying activities. Select news coverage and social media content and a video of the ceremony are available online.

Gala Celebration

The Inspiration to Innovation gala in our Event Center beautifully capped the week. SJSU alumnus Luis Valdez, ’64 English, the acclaimed playwright, activist and father of Chicano theater, received the 2017 Tower Award. Joe Pinto, a senior vice president at Cisco Systems and collaborator in several nascent academic initiatives, received a community partner award.

Luis’ spellbinding remarks truly embodied the meaning of “inspiration.” He spoke lovingly and passionately about his experience as an SJSU student, declaring that “…I learned diversity, I learned multi-versity in this university.”

The resumption in 2016 of an annual gala celebration at SJSU, benefiting students through individual and institutional philanthropy, is an important building block in broader efforts to attract private support.

Building on this momentum, the 2017 gala attracted a diverse array of sponsors. The support of these partners reflects growing respect for and belief in SJSU’s role in powering Silicon Valley.

Please bookmark October 18, 2018 for the next Inspiration to Innovation gala. I promise you, it will be special!

Commencement Season

Among the most powerful of our celebrations this spring are those that showcase the success of our students. Commencement season  culminates this Saturday, May 27 with the official campus commencement ceremony at CEFCU Stadium.

I was thrilled to see the large number of students who achieved President’s Scholar or Dean’s Scholar status and were recognized in front of a capacity Event Center crowd at this year’s Honors Convocation on April 28. It truly was a pleasure to participate in honoring these outstanding graduating seniors and to witness the immense pride and excitement among family members, friends and campus community members there to celebrate with them.

In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of the entire Class of 2017, this Saturday’s commencement ceremony will confer doctoral degrees on SJSU’s first cohort to complete the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership; hear what I know will be an inspiring commencement address from Spartan alumna, legendary journalist, cancer survivor and Latina leader Ysabel Duron ’70 Journalism; and confer an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Tower Foundation Board member and long-time Silicon Valley business leader Phil Boyce.

I strongly encourage you to join us the morning of May 27 for what I truly believe is the signature moment of our academic year.

Fall 2017 Admissions

As we prepare to bid farewell to the graduating Class of 2017, we also are preparing to welcome a highly diverse and large—potentially, the largest ever—cohort of new students this fall.

Throughout the spring, Student Affairs worked strategically and diligently on outreach to this year’s admitted applicants. Admitted Spartan Day in early April attracted a spirited crowd of ten thousand prospective students, families and friends to campus for a day of programming and personal engagement.

I want personally to thank the many members of the SJSU community—450 volunteers from all over campus—who ensured that this important annual outreach event was welcoming and successful.

Although we will not know the precise size or composition of the new class until late summer—some students inevitably withdraw their commitments prior to the first day of the fall term—we should be proud of the very strong response from this year’s admitted first-year and transfer students. San José State clearly has become a “first choice” institution!

Key Leadership Recruitments

A strong institution depends on strong leadership, and I am pleased to report that we are nearing completion of recruitments for several key academic and administrative leaders, each of whom will play an important role in strengthening our leadership and enhancing our capacity to serve students and all members of our campus community. Here is an update on each:

Dean, Lurie College of Education

Campus visits by finalists for this important academic leadership role concluded on May 8.  Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Andy Feinstein and I are grateful to search committee chair Professor Michael Kimbarow and other members of the committee for their efforts to date.

We also have been conducting two cabinet-level positions:

Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer

As I have shared in previous communications, the successful candidate will play an integral role in developing university-wide strategies and action plans to enhance the use of technology in support of our strategic goals. Given our presence in Silicon Valley and proximity to the world’s most innovative technology companies, SJSU should be a leader in the deployment of technology to support student and institutional success. The addition of an experienced technology executive will help enable us to fulfill this vision.

Several finalists recently visited campus. We will update you as soon as we have determined next steps.

Director of Athletics

Last Friday we announced the appointment of Marie Tuite as SJSU’s next director of Athletics. Marie stood out among a group of excellent candidates, demonstrating the unique mix of experience, expertise and commitment to educational values needed to ensure that intercollegiate athletics is deeply woven into the fabric of campus life.

We already are seeing evidence of momentum in Spartan athletics in the wake of the hiring of Brent Brennan as head football coach, a comprehensive sponsorship agreement with Adidas, and philanthropic support that is fueling a comprehensive renovation of our South Campus facilities.

I am convinced that Marie can sustain this energy while providing strategic leadership and direction for a program placing a priority on student success through academic achievement and athletic excellence.

Congratulations, Marie!

Community Engagement

My last blog included some reflections on SJSU’s role in shaping policies that meaningfully will impact the future of central San Jose and the broader region. In particular, I focused on looming decisions about transportation enhancements including the extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) into San Jose’s downtown.

This is only one among numerous policy issues in which SJSU, as the downtown’s top employer and landowner, should meaningfully be involved. With 10,000 students living within four miles of our campus, a total student and employee population exceeding 40,000, and more than 200,000 average monthly visitors to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. library, we have an important role to play in housing, public safety, economic development and transportation planning.

Last month, I was invited to share some of our long-range thinking about these issues at a breakfast meeting convened by SPUR San Jose. My presentation included a campus update as well as historical perspective on SJSU’s enduring role in shaping—literally and otherwise—the character of downtown San Jose over the past century-and-a-half.

This is a conversation that we should continue to have, both within and beyond our campus community, and we will be seeking opportunities to do so in coming months. I look forward to engaging campus urban planning experts and others as we evolve and broaden this dialogue.

In Pursuit of Equity, Locally and Globally

I believe we should help remove barriers to success for everyone. No identity characteristic—including one’s gender—should impede or limit educational or career opportunities.

The third annual Silicon Valley Women in Engineering Conference, hosted in late March by our Davidson College of Engineering, was designed with this aspiration in mind.

Professor Belle Wei, who as Guidry Chair for Engineering Education spearheads efforts to broaden opportunities for all SJSU engineering students, shared a startling statistic: women account for less than twenty percent of engineering and computing graduates while representing close to sixty percent of all college graduates.

More than 80 SJSU faculty members joined presenters from Silicon Valley technology companies—some of them Spartan alumni—in a day of programs focused on emerging technologies and personal and professional development.

I am heartened to see this type of creativity and resourcefulness in preparing our students for future workplace opportunities and challenges.

Barriers to personal and professional growth—particularly for women—are not confined to Silicon Valley. In late April, I attended a conference hosted by the American University of Armenia (AUA) on the Empowerment of Girls and Women, where I served as the opening plenary speaker.

This was a meaningful opportunity for me professionally and personally, bringing me to my ancestral home—a fledgling republic established 25 years ago after the breakup of the former Soviet Union—just days before the April 25 anniversary of the 1915-1923 Armenian Genocide.

In my remarks, I highlighted unique issues facing women in Armenia and the extent to which, to the surprise of some attendees, they are similar to conditions confronting women in America and all over the world. These synergies form the basis for opportunities for a global academic and cultural partnership between AUA and SJSU, and other higher education institutions in Armenia and globally, which we will explore in the coming months.

Telling SJSU’s Story

Throughout the spring, SJSU has garnered a steady stream of national and local news coverage highlighting the expertise and accomplishments of students, faculty and staff. Faculty experts commented on reaction to the U.S. military strike on Syria; deliberations in the U.S. Senate on the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; cutting edge research projects involving fire weather science and vehicles of the future; Facebook’s response to live crimes and fake news; and reputation challenges facing major U.S. companies and the White House.

Closer to home, there were features on the Paseo Prototyping Challenge and Festival at the Hammer Theatre; a creative potential solution to local homelessness; a Money Magazine feature ranking SJSU favorably among public universities delivering the strongest “rate of return” for humanities graduates, and a study ranking SJSU ahead of all Ivy League schools for placing graduates in Silicon Valley’s 25 largest technology companies.

And, as a strong dose of Spartan pride, I encourage you to view the video of assistant football coach Alonzo Carter’s “dance moves” that inspired players and fellow coaches. Upon going viral, it was featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show and ESPN and attracted at least fourteen million online views on social media.

I also am very proud to share this video profile of our own Dr. Debra Griffith, winner of this year’s CSU Wang Family Excellence Award in the Outstanding Administrator category.

Dr. Griffith’s work as associate vice president, Transition and Retention Services and director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) is a stellar example of our institutional commitment to student success. Congratulations, Debra! You are an inspiration to all Spartans.

Athletics Update

Hearty congratulations to our Spartan softball squad, which qualified for the NCAA tournament after winning the Mountain West Conference championship. Over last weekend in Los Angeles, the team opened with a victory over CSU Fullerton—the first NCAA win in program history—before being eliminated in a 1-0 loss to Fullerton on Saturday night.

This accomplishment is all the more impressive considering that they spent the entire 2017 season away from their home field due to ongoing renovations to South Campus athletic facilities.

Speaking of those renovations, we will celebrate the official opening of the South Campus golf complex at a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 1.

I wish everyone the very best in these final days of spring term as we prepare to celebrate commencement and the beginning of summer.

And, I look forward to seeing many of you at Saturday’s commencement ceremonies at CEFCU Stadium as well as other end-of-semester celebrations taking place on and around campus.


Mary A. Papazian to be Inaugurated as San Jose State University’s 30th President

Dr. Mary A. Papazian (Photo by: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications)

Dr. Mary A. Papazian (Photo by: Neal Waters, ’07 Geography, ’16 MS Mass Communications)

Media contacts:
Pat Harris,, 408-924-1748
Robin McElhatton,, 408-924-1749

SAN JOSE, CA — In accordance with academic tradition, Dr. Mary A. Papazian will be inaugurated as San José State University’s 30th president at the end of her first academic year in office. The event will begin at 9:30 a.m. May 4 on Tower Lawn.

The ceremony will be enriched by Papazian’s personal history and journey as the descendant of Armenian immigrants, as an English literature professor, as one of 11 women to serve as presidents of Cal State campuses.

SJSU asks members of the media to RSVP now so that arrangements can be made for parking and reserved seating.

Distinguished speakers

She will be joined by Cal State and San José State leaders, and friends and family including her husband and daughters. Confirmed speakers are listed below.

Among the symbols of office to be bestowed upon her is a bronze and glass medallion designed and forged at San José State, reflecting her ethnic heritage and her love for learning and the poetry of John Donne.

Papazian and Pasquerella each will deliver a major address. Papazian will describe her dreams of leveraging San José State’s legacy and Silicon Valley location to transform the university into the world-class urban college campus. Pasquerella will speak about demonstrating the value of the humanities at public universities like SJSU and in this time of science and technology.

Inauguration Week events

During the evening after the inauguration, the university community will gather for “Inspiration to Innovation,” a gala that this year will honor Papazian and world-renowned playwright and alumnus Luis Valdez, who will receive the 2017 Tower Award. Through his work, Valdez elevated the real-life experiences of the Chicano community while exploring universal themes of social justice and human rights.

The inauguration and gala will be preceded by a related series of events including Legacy of Poetry Day featuring acclaimed author and poet Maxine Hong Kingston and two films on Armenian history, the documentary “They Shall Not Perish” and the historical drama “The Promise.”

More information on the inauguration and gala is available on the SJSU website.


  • Mary A. Papazian, President, San José State University
  • Sam Liccardo, Mayor, City of San Jose
  • Timothy P. White, Chancellor, California State University
  • Debra S. Farar, Member, CSU Board of Trustees
  • Lynn Pasquerella, President, American Association of Colleges and Universities
  • Mildred Garcia, President, California State University, Fullerton
  • Michael Kimbarow, Professor and Chair, SJSU Academic Senate
  • Hector Perea, ’17 Business Administration, President, Associated Students of SJSU
  • Coleetta McElroy, ’97 Public Administration, President, SJSU Alumni Association
  • Edward A. Oates, ’68 Mathematics, Chair, Tower Foundation of SJSU
  • Archpriest Father Datev Harutyunian, The Reverend Jethroe Moore II and a cross-denominational group of Bay Area faith leaders

About San José State University

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

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

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



President Papazian’s March Blog

This week’s break has been memorable for 16 SJSU students spending the week in Washington, D.C., and New York city on an alternative spring break trip led by Associate Professor Michael Cheers. Among the trip’s highlights was a meeting with U.S. Representative and civil rights icon John Lewis (photo courtesy of Professor Michael Cheers).

This week’s break has been memorable for 16 SJSU students spending the week in Washington, D.C., and New York city on an alternative spring break trip led by Associate Professor Michael Cheers. Among the trip’s highlights was a meeting with U.S. Representative and civil rights icon John Lewis (photo courtesy of Professor Michael Cheers).

As we approach the midpoint of the Spring Semester and the rainy winter turns into a beautiful spring, I hope we all take a moment to enjoy the quiet of Spring Recess and to recharge before entering the final weeks of the academic year and the many celebratory activities of Commencement season.

It is my hope that this week brings to students and faculty members some well-deserved restorative time, and that our hard-working staff also can take a bit of a breath during the extended weekend afforded us by the celebration of Cesar Chavez Day this Friday, March 31.

SJSU students meet civil rights icon

This week’s break has been memorable for 16 SJSU students spending the week in Washington, D.C., and New York city on an alternative spring break trip led by Associate Professor Michael Cheers. Among the trip’s highlights was a meeting with U.S. Representative and civil rights icon John Lewis.

The students also were scheduled to tour the African American Museum of History and Culture (an incredible telling of our collective American story that I had the chance to visit earlier this year); visit Howard University’s Graduate School Admission’s Office; tour the Studio Museum in Harlem; and meet with high school students from Satellite Academy “alternative” High School in Manhattan, where three of our students who participated in a study abroad trip to Cuba are sharing their experience.

This remarkable experiential learning opportunity is the result of Professor Cheer’s vision and persistence—the meeting with Rep. Lewis was months in the making—and the support and collaboration of many campus and community partners. I look forward to sharing some of their stories in future blogs.


As many of you likely have heard, CSU Trustees last Wednesday approved a $270 increase in undergraduate tuition for California resident students, bringing the annual tuition rate in 2017-2018 for full-time in-state undergraduates to $5,742.

This action was taken reluctantly after many months of public discussion and deliberation. While the additional funding will make it possible for us to enhance our capacity to serve students, I understand that for many, this was disappointing and frustrating.

Set to take effect this fall, the system-wide increase will provide $77.5 million to the CSU for additional investment in student success initiatives that benefit all students by enabling campuses to hire more tenure-track faculty and add course sections, and it will help address inequities impacting students from low-income backgrounds and underserved communities.

As we digest this news, there are several important things to keep in mind.

Impacts minimized by financial aid

First, for the more than sixty percent of CSU undergraduates already receiving full financial aid, the increase will be fully covered. (In all, eighty percent of CSU students received more than $4 billion in financial aid in 2015-16 from various sources.) I encourage any student concerned about how this increase may impact them to seek help from our financial aid office.

Second, the preliminary budget proposal issued by the governor in January provided to the CSU no additional funding for enrollment growth, new student success initiatives or deferred maintenance needs. All of us in the CSU—from the Chancellor’s Office, to our faculty, staff, and students here at San Jose State and throughout our sister campuses—are continuing to encourage lawmakers in Sacramento to fully fund the 2017-18 operating budget previously adopted by trustees.

Making the case for stronger public support

I traveled to Sacramento earlier this month for meetings with lawmakers and legislative staff and was joined there by many of my fellow campus presidents, Chancellor White and others.

Our message to lawmakers was straightforward and simple: although California’s investment in public higher education is just about back to pre-recession levels, we are educating tens of thousands more students; our facilities are years older; our costs are materially higher.

And, we know there are obstacles that stand in the way of students who are motivated and would otherwise be able to complete their degrees within four years. We want to remove as many of these obstacles as we can.

Doing so, however, will require innovation, a steadfast commitment to making decisions with student needs at the center, and additional resources strategically allocated. I am pleased to say that members of our local legislative delegation with whom I have met regularly since arriving last summer, want to help. There are other legislative proposals under consideration that, if enacted, would generate additional new revenue. We will learn and share more as budget deliberations continue this spring.

In the meantime, we also will continue to work with area lawmakers and local education leaders on creative ways better to enable high school graduates to navigate successfully the transition from high school to college and to ensure that they thrive once they arrive here.

From words to action

Finally, on this topic, I know of no one who wants students to pay more for their education. I want to acknowledge the students and other members of our community who have been and continue to be engaged in advocacy and other forms of expressive action seeking stronger public support for the CSU.

A group of our Associated Student “lobby corps” traveled to Sacramento days before my recent visit; others organized campus informational activities or attended the recent meeting of CSU trustees. Their persistence, eloquence and energetic activism are Spartan trademarks, and they embody what it means to turn words into action.

Philanthropy: helping us reach our potential

State support and revenues from tuition and fees can only take us so far. To achieve true excellence, we also depend on the support of individual and institutional private partners.

Preliminary conversations have begun in anticipation of a major comprehensive fundraising campaign, which would be just the second in SJSU’s history. I recently joined a planning retreat organized by Vice President for University Advancement and Tower Foundation CEO Paul Lanning for the foundation’s board of directors. I was inspired by their enthusiasm and commitment to moving this important work forward.

Additional philanthropic support will allow us to strengthen our student success efforts, improve our support for faculty members in research, scholarship and the creative activity, and continue to improve our physical infrastructure. I especially am pleased with our ongoing conversations with our Bay Area business community, and its interest in developing deeper partnerships with San Jose State University.  I am confident that these early conversations will lead to greater opportunities for our students and faculty, as we continue to invest in the success of our city, region, and state.

Tangible impact

There are reminders of the power of private philanthropy—some of them visible, others less so—all over our campus.

Thanks in part to a transformative $15 million gift, the Diaz Compean Student Union is now a thriving hub of campus life. Students in our School of Journalism and Mass Communications have access to a state-of-the art, technologically advanced campus broadcast studio that was funded through an $8.7 million endowment. And our long-neglected South Campus facilities are now beginning to be renovated as the result of significant private gifts and a multi-year partnership with CEFCU.

Faculty, staff contributions matter

Less obvious, but no less significant, are individual philanthropic contributions from SJSU faculty and staff members.

Your support makes a big difference in the lives of students. Our annual faculty/staff giving campaign Spartans Supporting Spartans —now in its sixth year—fuels many campus programs including a fund that provides critical short-term support to students facing economic emergencies.

This fund was a vital lifeline for students impacted by last month’s San Jose floods. One student described the fund to a local news outlet as “…life-changing. It allows me to stay in school and not to have to drop out.”

Last year’s staff/faculty campaign attracted gifts and pledges for a mix of specific programs and general discretionary use from several hundred individuals. Our highest participation rate came, as it has in prior years, from our colleagues in the Facilities Development and Operations office.

Giving can be arranged automatically through payroll deduction, and your gifts can be designated to any of a wide array of programs. A series of special campus events are scheduled through April 13; I hope you’ll attend one and explore ways to support this year’s campaign.

Toward a better, stronger community

Securing the financial resources we need to support our mission is an essential aspect of our daily work. So is finding ways to collaborate with local partners in imaginatively and actively addressing local and regional quality-of-life issues.

Both as a major employer and a source of significant intellectual expertise, SJSU should be meaningfully involved in community building efforts.

CommUniverCity is a nationally recognized leader in building community-based partnerships that afford experiential teaching and learning opportunities to faculty members and students while also delivering meaningful benefits to San Jose neighborhoods. SJSU invests meaningfully in this city/university/community collaborative.

In April, SJSU’s Community Engagement Collaborative and Center for Community Learning & Leadership will welcome the Santa Clara County Office of Education to campus to display a “tiny house” constructed by local K-12 students in an effort to raise awareness of possible short-term solutions for housing the homeless.

Community engagement

As downtown San Jose’s largest employer and property owner, and with a daytime population of 40,000 students, employees and visitors, SJSU has a responsibility to engage actively with local and regional leaders on major quality of life issues. We want to ensure that our city grows and prospers along with us.

This means taking opportunities to contribute ideas and solutions to our region’s complex housing and transportation challenges, and this has been a priority for my administration since I arrived last summer.

At a macro level, we are actively engaging and collaborating with many local and regional organizations including SPUR, the Silicon Valley Organization, Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley Education Foundation, San Jose Downtown Association, Bay Area Council and others. We also are meeting regularly with local and regional political and community leaders to advance SJSU and its critical and deepening partnership with our city and region.

BART Phase II: Major decisions ahead for downtown SJ

Housing and transportation issues are inextricably linked; the high cost of living in this area obliges many of our employees and students to commute to campus from long distances. And transportation issues—fighting freeway and street traffic, inadequate parking, and uneven transit options—represent barriers to student success.

Our desire to remove these barriers—as well as our commitment to sustainability and the environment—make the extension of BART into downtown San Jose a critically important issue for all of us.

BART has served the Bay Area since 1972; when its so-called Phase II expansion into our downtown core is finally completed, the cities of San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco will for the first time be accessible via a single transit system. This will be an enormous potential benefit to the SJSU students, faculty and staff members living along BART’s route system, as well as the countless visitors who come to campus throughout the year.

For this reason as well as others, the location of the downtown San Jose station and related plans for the corridors along which pedestrians will travel throughout the downtown and to and from our campus are critically important choices that ultimately will be made by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) board at its Sept 7 board meeting.

It is no exaggeration to call these “100-year choices.” And we take seriously our responsibility to ensure that decision-makers consider all of the impacts of station locations and related variables. Earlier this month SJSU submitted comments to VTA as part of the BART project’s environmental review (CEQA) process.

There are two locations under consideration for the downtown station—the West option, near Market and Santa Clara streets, and the East option, on Santa Clara between Third and Sixth streets. I encourage you to review our submission, which articulates our view that the diverse interests of all downtown community members would be better served by the East Station option.

I will be sure to keep you updated as the approval process continues to unfold.

Let me conclude this month’s blog with a few informational updates:

London attack: SJSU students, faculty safe

Our hearts are with the people of London in the wake of last week’s frightening terror attack that claimed several lives and injured dozens of others. We are aware of one SJSU faculty-led program from Humanities and the Arts taking place in London, and we have confirmed that the faculty and students are safe. The Humanities and Arts dean’s office is staying in touch with faculty there.

Our study abroad office also has confirmed the safety of all SJSU students known to be studying in London and other European cities.

Investiture/Inaugural events

I am very much looking forward to a spirited, joyous celebration of our university’s remarkable legacy and bright future during a weeklong series of inaugural events during the week of May 1 – 5. The investiture ceremony, on May 4 at 9:30 a.m., is an opportunity for reflection and vision-setting.

I hope you will join me on the Tower Lawn for my investiture ceremony as we celebrate the history and promise that is San Jose State. If you are interested in participating in the academic procession, please register online by April 13.

Inauguration week will be filled with many wonderful celebrations—from an exhibition on the Near East Foundation’s Near East Relief efforts a century ago on display in the lower level of the Diaz Compean Student Union (from April 21 through May 5), to a variety of musical performances, to a celebration of poetry in the Hammer Theater—that speak to the heart and soul of our values and commitment to social justice, human rights, inclusion and the arts. I hope you take a moment to enjoy these wonderful events!

On the evening of May 4, our Tower Foundation will host the Inspiration to Innovation gala celebration during which we will confer the coveted Tower Award on SJSU alumnus, noted playwright and National Medal of Arts recipient Luis Valdez, ’64 English, ’88 Honorary Doctorate.

Luis is considered the father of Chicano theater; his decades of noteworthy artistic contributions reflect his deep commitment to social justice and human rights. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of our university’s highest honor.

This will be a joyous celebration of what makes us Spartans. Tickets are now available on the Inspiration to Innovations website.

Welcome to Dean Dan Moshavi

Dr. Dan Moshavi, our new dean of SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, joined us at the outset of the month and is settling in. He is an engaging, outstanding, and experienced leader who has returned to SJSU (he began his academic career here as an assistant professor in the late 1990s) after serving in academic leadership roles at two other institutions. I hope you have the opportunity to meet him soon. Welcome home, Dan!

Athletics: team and individual excellence

And, finally, it has been an impressive month for Spartan athletics.

My congratulations to the SJSU women’s gymnastics team for claiming the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s team championship and to student-athletes Haleigh Shepard (vault) and Taylor Chan (floor) on being named individual event champions.

We have nationally-ranked softball and women’s golf teams and nationally ranked competitors in women’s golf and women’s tennis. Ten Spartans earned all-conference honors in men’s basketball and several women’s sports: basketball, swimming and diving, and gymnastics.

The San Jose State men’s and women’s judo teams repeated as national champions, and the cheerleading team placed second at its national championship.

Be sure to check out the Spartan Athletics website for scheduled athletics event, and support our student-athletes as they continue a busy season of spring competition. San Jose State faculty, staff and students are admitted free to home events with a valid Tower ID card.

I hope that Spring break is affording you the opportunity to rest and recharge. Thanks for all you are doing on behalf of SJSU.


President Papazian’s February Blog

I have always thought that February is the most unpredictable month. It sits at the gateway between winter and spring and, as we wait patiently for the gifts of the warm weather, February often takes the opportunity to remind us to pay attention. This past week has been a perfect example of February’s strength.

Extreme weather

We witnessed the shocking development of nearly unprecedented flooding in portions of downtown San Jose and surrounding communities, extensive damage to residences and personal property, and many road closures. SJSU students and employees were among the 14,000 local residents displaced from their homes as of Wednesday morning. Many more have been impacted in other ways.

In the wake of this extraordinary weather pattern, we immediately reached out to our local officials with offers of assistance and began coordinating efforts to identify students in greatest need and ensure that they receive emergency assistance. We have provided temporary housing for a number of displaced students, and Student Affairs continues to reach out with information for our students who are experiencing hardship as a result of the storm damage.

Students financially impacted by the floods can visit the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office in the Student Services Center (8:15 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Friday) or submit a request form online, where information on local evacuation centers and shelters also is available.

We realize that a number of our faculty and staff members also may be experiencing hardship during this time. We will attempt to provide as much support as possible while this situation persists. If any members of our faculty and staff are experiencing difficulty getting to work or must be absent as a result of the situation, I am asking all our supervisors and administrators to be flexible and supportive.

With more rain forecast in the coming days and the possibility of additional flooding, we all must pay extra attention to the needs of those around us. I am grateful for the caring, supportive spirit across campus and throughout our community. As just one example of our commitment to our community, CommUniverCity is accepting donations on behalf of neighborhoods affected by the flooding. They will pass along proceeds to grassroots groups who can distribute them to those who most need help.

If you are interested in helping, please designate your gifts to: CommUniverCity – Flood Relief here or contact executive director Dayana Salazar.

Immigrant and undocumented students

This year, February also brought many changes on the national level, as federal policies have developed and rapidly changed, including federal immigration enforcement measures and travel restrictions. The latest developments have replaced recent policies that have stalled amid multiple legal challenges. Although early indications are that “dreamer” students will be unaffected, these new policies, like those that preceded them, are certain to provoke mixed reactions—especially in regions with large, diverse immigrant populations like San Jose.

On Wednesday, Chancellor White issued a statement speaking to this rapidly changing area and reaffirming the CSU’s commitment to fulfilling its mission in a safe, welcoming, and inclusive environment. My own message offered important details related to the chancellor’s statement.

I realize that the changing developments in this area have unsettled many in our community and I thus reaffirm our commitment to sharing information as soon as possible. We also will continue to provide information on all available support services and make it as easy as possible to take advantage of those services. To this end, information about campus and community resources has been aggregated, updated and posted on a single website. University staff members are monitoring these issues closely, and this site will be updated as new information emerges.

SJSU’s rich diversity is intentional and a part of each student’s learning experience. We are particularly sensitive to the challenges facing our transgender students in the current political climate. Indeed, in this vibrant community of learners, we all benefit daily from the amazing tapestry of friends and colleagues that continue to be woven at San Jose State. We wear our diversity with extraordinary pride, and we will continue to make every lawful effort to provide a safe, welcoming and open campus for all our students, faculty, staff and members of our larger community.

Celebrating social justice, activism

In spite of the many challenges we have faced these past weeks, February also has provided us with opportunities to celebrate SJSU’s legacy of activism in pursuit of social justice, personal equity and human rights. I would like to share several highlights.

Noted author, writer and activist Kevin Powell visited SJSU last week as part of the Spartan Speaker Series, presenting History is a People’s Memory: Celebrating the Past, Celebrating Us. Kevin’s book is a powerful statement on the importance of reclaiming African-American history and culture, not only for the African-American community but for all of humanity.  I encourage you to read it.

This past Saturday, Feb. 25, the Hammer Theatre Center hosted the Black Legend Awards, honoring the regional contributions of 16 African-American community leaders, several of whom have ties to SJSU:

  • Active faculty members D. Michael Cheers and Charles “Buddy” Butler, and emeritus faculty member Dr. Ethel Pitts-Walker.
  • Alumnae Florene Poyadue BA ’75 and Debra Watkins MA ’98.
  • Retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge and former City of San Jose Police Auditor LaDoris Cordell, who led an independent special task force on racial discrimination after an SJSU student was subjected to race-based abuse in 2013.

Event proceeds will help establish a Black History Museum in Silicon Valley. I am proud to see SJSU so well represented in this important effort.

Last week, acclaimed journalist and philanthropist Bob Woodruff was here to receive the 2017 Steinbeck Award and participate in a conversation with local news anchor Dan Ashley. Woodruff was severely injured in 2006 when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Iraq while reporting for ABC News.

His wife Lee subsequently formed the Bob Woodruff Foundation to support the needs of returning U.S. military veterans. This event raised funds for our new Veterans Resource Center, an important element in our efforts to support the academic and personal needs of those returning from active U.S. military service.

Narrowing the graduation gap – integrated efforts

Earlier this month the CSU Academic Senate sponsored a retreat at our sister campus, San Diego State University, for representatives from throughout our system to share and discuss strategies for enhancing student success. Participants included Chancellor White and members of his team; many campus presidents; academic, senate, student affairs and student leaders (including ours); and CSU trustees.

Framed around the primary goal of shortening the time to a degree, I found this to be a rich, eye-opening conversation. In particular, the importance of increasing the number of course units taken each semester (so-called “Average Unit Load”) stood out as a critical variable.

We already have seen a recent, modest uptick in this metric at SJSU, and I am confident that we have the will and focus needed to move the needle further on this and many other fronts. We soon will launch a search for a permanent Associate Vice President for Student and Faculty Success to help guide these efforts.

In addition, SJSU recently staged its second Student Success Summit, a collaboration involving SJSU, Assemblymembers Evan Low and Ash Kalra, community and K-12 education leaders and others. This effort is aimed at identifying ways to ensure that students are ready to transition successfully to the first-year college experience.

Our first summit, held this past September, brought together representatives from K-12 schools and districts, community colleges, local foundations and the legislature and involved broad discussion and information sharing. The most recent meeting was a working session for a group of SJSU, K-12 and elected representatives to conceive ideas for pilot programs.

I am grateful to our local legislators, staff in Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and University Advancement, and community education leaders for collaborating on such an important initiative. Together, we are placing our region at the forefront of efforts to improve college readiness—a priority for our campus, the CSU and our state. This work will help inform and strengthen spring state budget advocacy efforts in Sacramento.

Recruitment for new campus leaders

As I announced recently, we have launched our search for a Vice President for Information Technology/Chief Information Officer. The search committee, chaired by Prof. Michael Kaufman, met last Friday to receive its charge and discuss its plans. The search is on pace to bring finalists to campus prior to the conclusion of the spring semester.

The search for a permanent dean to lead the Connie L. Lurie College of Education has now officially opened and is being led by Prof. Michael Kimbarow. I encourage you to share the position prospectus with potential candidates. Updates will be posted online as this important recruitment continues.

We are also fortunate to be able to continue growing our faculty ranks. Last year, 68 new tenure-track appointments were made; this year, we are working to add 68 more.


As a campus committed to accessibility and sustainability, we must pay special attention to the transportation infrastructure serving our campus community. In this context, we recently learned that the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), which operates our regional public transit network, is planning changes to its service network.

As many of you are aware, VTA’s preliminary plan calls for the elimination of the free DASH downtown shuttle service between the Diridon transit hub and SJSU. (The shuttle also makes intermediate stops at several downtown locations.) SJSU has helped pay for the cost of operating these shuttles for many years. If approved by the VTA board, these changes likely would take effect this fall.

We recognize that many of our campus community rely on this and other transportation services, and thus we are communicating with VTA officials about this and other important regional transportation issues. I want to assure you that SJSU is fully committed to maintaining a shuttle service in the downtown San Jose corridor for members of our campus community—whether through VTA or other options.

Safety update

In last month’s blog, I mentioned that a comprehensive set of safety initiatives was in the works and that Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas soon would provide a detailed update.  The safety report has been completed and is now available. It includes background information, updates on various plans to enhance campus safety and security, links to various compliance reports and other data. I encourage you to review it.

Spartan Pride

I talk often about the relationship between great cities and great public universities, and as I indicated in my address to the campus community at the opening of this academic year, I believe strongly that San Jose State can—and should—be our nation’s premier metropolitan public university.

Our place among the great public universities in the country is supported by a recent report from U.S. News & World Report that ranked the San Jose area as the third best place to live among the top 100 metropolitan areas in the U.S.  In summarizing the report, U.S. News’ executive editor said “…the metro areas that do well are the ones with strong job markets and high quality of life.”

We know that our city and region depend on SJSU for the talent needed to sustain its strong innovation economy. And we should be proud to see San Jose earn long-overdue recognition as a great place to learn and live.

In addition to being an integral part of one of America’s most livable cities, SJSU is, as I shared last month, considered one of America’s top 10 universities for fostering students’ upward social mobility. This impressive ranking, which affirms that we are living our mission, is based on a social mobility index that based its rankings on each institution’s cost of attendance, graduation rates, median early career salaries and percentage of students coming from low-income households.

Top coders start at SJSU

Speaking of great places to live and learn, CodinGame (a computer programming support network) last month ranked SJSU second among U.S. colleges and universities, and 15th worldwide, for the quality of its computer programmers.

Congratulations to all our Spartan programmers!

Infrastructure building

Structural problems at California’s Oroville Dam in early February and storm damage throughout our region—including this past week’s flooding in downtown San Jose—remind us of the importance of national infrastructure investment.

SJSU faculty members are contributing important insight to this issue. Professor of Sociology Scott Myers-Lipton, who authored Rebuild America: Solving the Economic Crisis Through Civic Works, was interviewed for and featured in a recent story on U.S. infrastructure needs.

It is wonderful (and important) to see SJSU experts featured in news coverage of contemporary events; this exposure is integral to raising institutional visibility, building pride and appreciation for who we are and what we do, and attracting public and private support. I want to commend faculty and staff experts for devoting their time and knowledge to these efforts.


Spartan men’s basketball is rising under fourth-year head coach Dave Wojcik. With seven wins in the Mountain West conference—including a sweep of conference and CSU rival San Diego State and breakthrough wins over UNLV and New Mexico, the program clearly has turned a corner.

Coach Wojcik has led this resurgence while coping with the loss of his father in late January. I am immensely proud of him, as well as his staff, student-athletes and others for rallying around such an inspirational leader. A recent Mercury News story adds great context to his inspiring and moving story.

After securing their third straight road victory at Air Force earlier this month, our women’s hoops team delivered head coach Jamie Craighead’s 100th career win. Seniors Dezz Ramos—who scored 1, 000-career points faster than any player in the history of SJSU women’s basketball—and Jasmine Smith have been instrumental contributors all season.

Saturday’s home women’s basketball game against Boise State attracted nearly 400 faculty and staff members and their families to an annual inter-divisional spirit celebration. It was terrific to see so many youth (many, we hope, future Spartans!) in attendance. Student Affairs was recognized as “most spirited” and Provost and Senior Vice President Andy Feinstein and Vice President Reggie Blaylock surprised me at the half with a spirited rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

I also am proud to report that 47 Spartan student-athletes from five sports were named to the Fall 2016 Academic All-Mountain West team. Eligibility for this honor is limited to student-athletes with a 3.0 or higher cumulative grade-point average who competed in at least half of their team’s contests.

This has been a month of transition—in some ways positive, in other respects leaving us searching for answers and paths forward amid adversity.

I want to conclude this month’s blog by sharing this short video, produced by our Strategic Communications team, capturing key moments and insights from the January 24 launch of the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change. The NFL Network also has begun airing an hour-long documentary, portions of which were filmed at SJSU during and after the institute launch, on the role of the professional athlete in social activism.

This institute, through the unique synergies of interdisciplinary education, scholarship and service, is poised to impact meaningfully the pursuit of social justice, gender equity and human rights. It is just this kind of thought, scholarship and activism that makes San Jose State a remarkable place to live and learn. I am truly excited for our future, and I look forward to sharing it with each of you.


President Papazian’s Message on Flood Relief

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Feb. 24, 2017.

Dear Campus Community,

This week brought news of flooding in downtown San Jose neighborhoods and surrounding communities, dislocating thousands of residents and causing extensive damage.

SJSU students and employees are among those who have been most severely impacted. Some of you have been in touch with my office offering information and assistance. I wanted to update you briefly on what we are doing to support members of our community and let you know how you can help.

Student Affairs has arranged temporary campus housing for some displaced students while ensuring that many more have access to information about emergency financial and emotional support.

Any student impacted by the floods can visit the Financial Aid & Scholarship Office in the Student Services Center or submit an online request form and learn about other local support services, including evacuation centers and shelters. Students in need of emergency assistance this weekend can contact University Police at (408) 924-2222; dispatchers will be prepared to connect students with on-call Student Affairs staff.

Flooding and other weather impacts also have been felt by our faculty and staff members. Emergency shelter and other services through the City of San Jose and local relief organizations can be found here.  Those needing assistance with the trauma often associated with this kind of event should reach out to the Employee Assistance Plan.

SJU students and employees still displaced from their neighborhoods will be permitted to park their vehicles in the South Campus Garage at 7th and San Salvador this Saturday and Sunday, February 25 – 26. Parking enforcement will resume Monday, February 27. If neighborhoods remain inaccessible into next week, affected SJSU students and employees will be allowed to park in the south campus Park & Ride lot on S. 7th St. between Humboldt and Alma.

We have reached out to city and community leaders to express concern and offer our help. There are numerous ways you can get involved:

  • CommUniverCity is accepting donations on behalf of neighborhoods affected by flooding. You can designate gifts to: CommUniverCity – Flood Relief here or contact executive director Dayana Salazar.
  • If you would like to participate in neighborhood cleanup and recovery efforts, the City of San Jose has launched a volunteer effort that will continue through Saturday. Learn more or sign up here.

I am grateful for the caring, supportive Spartan spirit on display across campus and throughout our community. I hope you will broadly share the information provided here and encourage others to get involved.

President Papazian’s Message on National Immigration Policies

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Feb. 22, 2017.

Dear Campus Community,

I’m writing to share a statement released this afternoon from CSU Chancellor Timothy White addressing new developments regarding national immigration policies. You can read the full statement here.

For campus assistance with issues referenced in Chancellor White’s message, please contact University Police at (408) 924-2222.  I also encourage you to be acquainted with campus and community resources available to undocumented students.

We will share additional information as it becomes available.

Mary A. Papazian

President Papazian’s Message on Library Closure

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Feb. 1, 2017.

Dear Campus Community,

Shortly before 11 a.m. today (Feb. 1), an individual died after falling from an upper floor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. library. Our hearts go out to the decedent, his family and friends.

The library has closed for the day. We expect that it will reopen at 8 a.m. Thursday. In the interim, Ballrooms B and C on the second floor of the Diaz Compean Student Union have been opened as temporary study space.

The victim was not an SJSU student or employee. According to university police, all available evidence suggests that this was a suicide. The medical examiner will release additional details once its investigation is completed and next of kin are notified.

Our thoughts are also with the library staff, patrons and others who witnessed this tragedy. We are closely collaborating with our partners from the city of San Jose to ensure that library staff, students and others have access to counseling and other forms of emotional support.

Free counseling support is available to SJSU students, faculty and staff members. Students can contact Counseling and Psychological Services at 408-924-5910; faculty and staff can access the Employee Assistance Program, offered through SJSU Human Resources, at 800-367-7474.

Mary A. Papazian