Honors Convocation Recognizes Top Academic Achievers

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

When Kenney Chiu, ’15 Business Finance, joined 4,127 Dean’s and President’s Scholars as part of the Honors Convocation in the Event Center on April 15, someone special shared a seat with him — his baby boy Abraham Charles.

“I snuck him in to sit on my lap,” Chiu said with a laugh. “All the honorees that sat around me were playing with him and they just loved it, too.”

Chiu joined a record number of 3,714 students honored with recognition for earning a 3.65 or higher GPA in at least two contiguous of the past three semesters at San Jose State.

Although Chiu credited his honor with the exceptional teaching found in his home Lucas College of Business, he stressed the impact that his baby boy has had on his academic accomplishments.

“That’s where my motivation comes from,” Chiu said. “I just want to show my kid that he can be proud of his dad.”

Supporters

Interim President Sue Martin took a moment during the ceremony to praise the “unsung heroes,” including family members, friends and spouses who helped support and guide the student scholars.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

For Emily Vann, ’16 Public Relations, her President’s Scholar recognition was a testament to her mother Olivia and her coaches both on and off the basketball court.

Vann joined a record setting 59 student-athletes recognized for academic excellence, including eight student-athletes who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA for at least two contiguous of the past three semesters.

“You have to kind of go into another gear to kind of get this distinction,” Vann said. “I know firsthand how much it takes and how much time, dedication and effort it takes to go through the everyday process of waking up and having to wear two hats as a student and an athlete.”

Vann, a forward on the SJSU women’s basketball team, said she could not have reached the academic milestone without the support of her mother.

“My mom is a teacher and I just feel really blessed to have had her in my life. She helped me and coached me from the time I was little,” Vann said. “[She’s] always letting me know that my academics come first even though I’m an athlete.”

Provost Andy Feinstein said such support by loved ones and faculty members alike married with personal sacrifice helped usher in the record number of honored scholars this year.

“These students have shown a commitment to their studies, through personal, economic, social and educational circumstances, to be among the top one percent at this university,” Feinstein said.

Sacrifice

Kenneth Peter, 2016 Outstanding Professor, said in his keynote speech that students should be fueled by the various sacrifices they make in their quest for higher education.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

“Your talents are not only exhibited in your academic success, but are profound when viewed in light of the struggles you have overcome,” Peter said. “When many of you are first generation college students, when most of you worked more than half time, when many of you have family obligations, when most of you come from public schools with inadequate resources, you are remarkably talented and you have proven this by being in this room tonight.”

Peter’s assertion rang particularly close to home for Jamil Elbanna, ’16 Mechanical Engineering, who spent most of his academic career working two jobs in addition to his schoolwork.

In order to finance his way through college, Elbanna took a job as a courtesy clerk at Safeway and a security officer at a hospital, all while pursuing a degree.

“It’s definitely not the easiest thing but having passion for my major and what I want to study is important,” Elbanna said. “There were times where it almost felt impossible, but I just keep at it and pushed at it day and night.”

Peter concluded his keynote speech by reminding the student honorees that by receiving recognition for their academic accomplishments, they are also receiving an important responsibility.

“Your talent must not be wasted. Each of you should leave SJSU with the kind of education you will need to fight for greater fairness and equality than this world has yet seen fit to offer,” Peters said. “You have likely experienced some hardships. Let those light the fire within.”

 

Los Angeles Times: Uber’s Driver Screening Practices Fuel Political Debate on Rider Safety

Posted by the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 20, 2015.

By Laura J. Nelson and Emily Alpert Reyes

The ride-hailing revolution holds the potential to radically change the way people get around. But the political battle over Uber and Lyft in California has focused on something more obscure: fingerprints.

Uber is facing some of the fiercest challenges to its business practices from an array of California officials who claim the Silicon Valley-based company does not adequately screen its rapidly expanding pool of tens of thousands of drivers…

A number of other issues such as insurance coverage and liability have swirled around the rise of Uber and similar services. But for both elected officials and their constituents, questions of criminal histories are “a much more immediate concern if you’re deciding whether to use one of these services rather than a traditional taxi,” said Melinda Jackson, an associate professor of political science at San Jose State University.

Read the full story.

Aaron Lington

Faculty Notes: How to Win a Grammy

At a University Scholar Series event, Associate Professor Aaron Lington, School of Music and Dance, shared some of the behind-the-scenes realities of producing and recording the album that won a 2014 Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album. He and his 20-piece jazz ensemble, Pacific Mambo Orchestra, “had to do the recording in a little bit of an unorthodox way,” Lington admitted. A $10,000 Kickstarter campaign paid for studio time, artwork, copyright fees and other necessities. Lington plays baritone saxophone.

COOL4ED, a digital library project whose goal is to bring low-cost textbooks to CSU, CCU and UC students, received the Outstanding Instructional Technology Website award at the annual Directors of Educational Technology/California Higher Education conference in December. COOL4ED partners with California Open Educational Resources Council, chaired by Associate Professor Katherine Harris, Department of English and Comparative Literature.

Two Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre Arts lecturers, York Kennedy and Michael Locher, received 2014 Theatre Bay Area Award nominations. Kennedy’s work on Cutting Ball Theatre’s new translation of Samuel Gallet’s Communiqué n° 10 earned him an Outstanding Lighting Design nomination. Locher garnered an Outstanding Scenic Design nomination for his work on Center REP Theatre’s production of Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth.

Lecturer Linda Levine, Department of Health Science and Recreation, and Associate Professor Yasue Yani, Department of World Languages and Literatures, received Helen L. Stevens Outstanding International Educator Awards in October, honored for creating opportunities for SJSU students to study abroad. Stevens is the retired director of International Programs and Services.

Gwen Mok

Gwendolyn Mok, Coordinator of Keyboard Studies

Pianist Gwendolyn Mok, coordinator of Keyboard Studies, performed Robert Schumann’s “Piano Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 44” with the Pražák Quartet at San Jose’s Le Petit Trianon Theatre. “It is a joyful piece. (The composer) wrote it for his wife Clara when he was in a very happy, bucolic period,” Mok said of the work. Mok and the Czech string quartet last performed at the Le Petit Trianon in 2011, collaborating on a piece by Dvořák. Both performances were sponsored by the San Jose Chamber Music Society.

Professor Annette Nellen, Department of Accounting and Finance and director of the master’s program in taxation, announced the publication of the sixth issue of The Contemporary Tax Journal, a student-managed online journal. Launched in 2011, the journal investigates and explains tax law and features the work of SJSU MST students alongside original articles by other academics and tax practitioners.

Congratulations to Joyce Osland, director of the Global Leadership Advancement Center and Lucas Endowed Professor of Global Leadership, for receiving the Scholarship and Critical Thinking Award at the Outstanding Leadership Book Awards in San Diego. Osland shared the honor with the co-editors of Advances in Global Leadership, volume eight (Emerald Group Publishing), a guide for both researchers and practitioners. “It’s a privilege to have a hand in growing this field of study, given its importance on the global stage,” Osland said.

Professor and Chair Lawrence Quill, Department of Political Science, published Secrets and Democracy: From Arcana Imperii to WikiLeaks (Palgrave Macmillan), an investigation of the role secrets play in liberal democracies and the impact of those secrets on the individual citizen’s “right to know.” Quill is a 2015 visiting fellow at the Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Wolfson College, Cambridge University.

Quake Column

Professor San Fratello’s “Quake Column” (courtesy of Emerging Objects).

Working with her partner at Emerging Objects, a 3D printing MAKE-tank based in San Francisco, Assistant Professor of Design Virginia San Fratello invented a 3-D printed earthquake-proof column designed to withstand major seismic activity. “Quake Column” was inspired by Incan earthquake architecture and uses no bricks or mortar.

Humanities Lecturer Emily Leah Silverman, author of Edith Stein and Regina Jonas: Religious Visionaries of the Death Camps (Routledge), talked about her book and research at an event sponsored by Florida International University’s Program in the Study of Spirituality. Edith Stein, a Catholic Jewish Carmelite nun, and Regina Jonas, the first female rabbi, were both executed by the Nazis in Auschwitz.

KQED Arts interviewed Associate Professor Mary Warner, Department of English and Comparative Literature, about the challenges of teaching aliterate students (students who can read but don’t care to do so). Of particular concern: students who identify themselves as non-readers but aspire to become teachers.

SJSU and the 2014 Elections

Evan Low

Evan Low, ’03 Political Science, was elected to the California State Assembly, District 28 (photo courtesy of Evan Low for State Assembly).

Media contact: Pat Harris, 408-924-1748

San Jose, CA – Nearly a dozen Spartans are poised to make an impact on their communities after winning local elections on Nov. 4.

“One reason we see so many Spartan candidates locally is that SJSU students come from this region and when they graduate–unlike alumni of most universities–they tend to stay here,” said Professor Emeritus of Political Science Terry Christensen. “They come from the community and they are committed to the community and this includes public service in elected office.”

Most Spartans who run for office studied political science or public administration. Some majored in other fields. For example, Congressman Mike Honda graduated with a bachelor’s in Biological Sciences and Spanish in 1968 and a master’s in Education in 1974.

However, just about all SJSU alumni who run for office share experiences and traits that will shape their political careers and the communities they serve.

Our students and alumni reflect the diversity of California, with many coming from immigrant and working class families, and representing the first generation to attend and graduate for college,” said Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Political Science Melinda Jackson.

“Issues like immigration reform, public education funding, minimum wage increases and other efforts to address income inequality are not just academic for our students. They have a very real passion for these policy issues that comes from their own life experience.

“Many of our SJSU grads are inspired to pursue a career in public service in order to give back to their communities and to help the next generation of Californians succeed. The ongoing tradition of Spartan civic and political engagement is a point of great pride for SJSU!”

Legacy of Service

All of these alumni are building upon a long legacy of Spartans serving the South Bay and beyond, including Ben Nighthorse Campbell, ’57 Physical Education/Fine Arts, the first Native American to serve in the U.S. Senate, and Gaylord Nelson, ’39 Political Science, Earth Day founder, U.S. senator and Wisconsin governor from 1959 to 1981.

Spartans make good candidates and office holders in part because of this closeness to the community–a genuine grassroots connection because they are of this community,” Christensen said. “But they also make good candidates and office holders because SJSU gives them a hands-on, practical education.”

“Our classes have a real-world orientation and our political science majors (and students in other majors) invariably do internships–sometimes more than one–that give them not only practical experience in politics and public policy but also connections to an extensive local network of alumni who are eager to include and mentor recent graduates.”

These alumni were elected or re-elected Nov. 4. Know of more? Drop us a line by commenting below this story.

  • Frank Biehl, ’75 Political Science, East Side Union High School District Board
  • Dennis Hawkins, ’94 Business Administration, Oak Grove School District
  • Mike Honda, ’68 Biological Sciences and Spanish, ’74 Education, U.S. House of Representatives, District 17
  • Evan Low, ’03 Political Science, California State Assembly, District 28
  • Raul Peralez, ’04 Mathematics, San Jose City Council District 3
  • Andres Quintero, ’06 Political Science, ’11 MA Public Administration, Alum Rock Union School Board
  • David Terrazas, ’92 Political Science, Santa Cruz City Council
  • Omar Torres, ’11 Political Science, Franklin-McKinley School Board
  • Roland Velasco, ’97 Political Science, Gilroy City Council

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

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Celebrating SJSU’s Authors

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Founded three years ago, the SJSU Author Awards have recognized more than 80 members of the faculty, staff and administration who authored, co-authored or edited books (James Tensuan image).

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

SAN JOSE, CA — The remarkable intellectual breadth and depth of the faculty, staff and administration will be on display at the third annual SJSU Author Awards 3 p.m. Oct. 27 in King 225/229. This event is free and open to all university community members.

“By presenting a framework for understanding human rights, exploring the complexity of software creation, or delving into the challenge of screenwriting, these authors inform their readers and move them to think in new ways,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Andy Feinstein.

Lawrence Quill

Lawrence Quill

One of the many satisfactions of publishing is reaching beyond the people you know to influence people you will never meet. These authors are contributing to ongoing intellectual debate and their ideas now have a worldwide reach.”

Each of this year’s honorees will be individually recognized. The guest speaker will be Lawrence Quill, chair of the Department of Political Science and author of “Secrets And Democracy: From Arcana Imperii to Wikileaks” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Worldwide reach

Quill’s work considers the role that secrets plays within liberal democracies and the impact this has on the public’s right to know, the individual’s right to privacy, and the government’s penchant for secrecy and data collection.

Founded three years ago, the SJSU Author Awards have recognized more than 80 members of the faculty, staff and administration who authored, co-authored or edited books. The Office of the Provost, University Library and Spartan Bookstore sponsor the event.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

 

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SJSU and the 2014 Elections

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A professor and student will serve as panelists at the Honda-Khanna debate, and SJSU will be the venue for a San Jose mayoral debate.

Media Contact: Pat Harris, 408-924-1748
Logistics Contact: Fernanda P. Karp, 408-924-1162

San Jose, CA—San Jose State will play important roles in debates between candidates in two pivotal races in the run-up to the November elections.

An SJSU professor and student will serve as panelists when the 17th Congressional District candidates – Mike Honda and Ro Khanna –discuss a wide range of topics relevant to Silicon Valley and the South Bay beginning at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6.  The event will be closed to the public but broadcasted live from the NBC Bay Area newsroom.

Associate Professor of Political Science Melinda Jackson and Associated Students Director of External Affairs LooLoo Amante will pose questions to the candidates, along with representatives from the Huffington Post and KQED.

Retired SJSU Professor of Political Science Larry Gerston and NBC Bay Area Anchor Raj Mathai will conclude the broadcast with a post-debate analysis.

Candidates for Congress

“This race is one of the hottest in the nation for a couple of reasons,” Jackson said. “First of all, it pits two Democrats against each othera popular seven-term incumbent backed by the party establishment and a young challenger with the endorsement of many Silicon Valley tech firms. So it is both a generational contest, and an old-guard versus new-guard battle.

“Second, this is the first majority-Asian-American congressional district in the nation, outside of Hawaii, and the race features a Japanese-American candidate versus an Indian-American. If Khanna were to unseat Honda, it would also signal the growing political influence of the Indian-American community in California. Whatever happens on November 4th, this will be an exciting race to watch!”

To Amante, having a college student leader on the panel presents an excellent opportunity to share the concerns and needs of people her age.

“As a young voter, I want to know they are taking into consideration and addressing the issues college students are dealing with during their campaigns and, if elected, in office,” she said. “It’s great to add a student because it adds diversity in age to the group of panelists.”

Candidates for Mayor

The San Jose mayoral candidates – Dave Cortese and Sam Liccardo – will present their visions for the city that is home to this university at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 in Morris Daily Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required.

The moderator will be Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of SPUR, a nonprofit focusing on urban issues. Founded in San Francisco, the organization opened a San Jose office two years ago, citing this city as “an important location for forward-thinking urban policy.”

“San Jose, the nation’s 10th largest city, is on the cusp of explosive growth, projecting to add nearly half a million people in the next 30 years,” SPUR said. “What happens in the next decade will affect current and future citizens for decades to come.”

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.


10 Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

Spartan Squad Students

Students earn points and prizes for attending home games. Everyone who registers will be entered into a drawing for an all-expenses paid trip to the Oct. 5 football game in Hawaii. (Christina Olivas Photo)

1. Register for Spartan Squad Student Rewards and win a trip to Hawaii!

2. ESPN will broadcast Friday night’s football game. During breaks in the action, see spots on judo, animation, Spartan Racing and Grupo Folklorico Luna y Sol.

3. After receiving the Positive Coaching Alliance’s Double-Goal Coaching Award, kinesiology alumna Valerie Garcia Quintero said this:

“At a banquet last week, I was given the opportunity to speak and when I did, I made sure to speak about how wonderful and amazing the faculty and my department was at SJSU and how much I learned from them. I’ve been asked how I know how to coach and I tell them that I have had great coaches to learn from but I was extremely lucky to have had professionals in the field to teach me through my major.”

4. Check out this video showing how donors power all majors, including nursing, business, and urban and regional planning.

5. The SJSU chapter of political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha was named the best in the nation for the 2012-13 academic year.

“My department is very proud of these students for achieving this national recognition for the first time in SJSU’s history,” Professor Ken Peter said. “Sol Jobrack, chapter president, is a full-time student and new father and commutes daily from Stockton on the train, on which he works as a transit officer. Bill McCraw, who is marking his 50th year teaching at SJSU, was one of the founding faculty members of SJSU’s chapter.”

6. Three Silicon Valley Startup Cup finalists are from SJSU. Their ideas? A gamer lounge, laboratory supply service and cranium x-ray shield.

10 Reasons to be a Proud Spartan

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library presents this six-week series focusing on film history and popular music.

7. Where else can you go to the library to check out the shared history of film and pop music from the blues and Broadway to rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop? Live performances included!

8. George Whaley, professor emeritus of human resource management, has received the 2013 Trailblazer Award from The PhD Project, which helps African American, Native American and Hispanic students earn their PhDs and become business professors.

9. SJSU’s renowned occupational therapy program is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Think of all the people living better lives with help from our graduates.

10. Spartans stay connected online. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.

Student Assistant Amanda Holst contributed to this report.

Reflecting on 9/11

Events on Tower Lawn and at Spartan Chapel will reflect on the terrorist attacks, which will also be discussed in an international politics class (Christina Olivas photo).

Although 12 years have passed since the terrorist attacks, the events of the day remain fresh on the minds of many at San Jose State.

The Veterans Student Organization will host a memorial service from 8:30 to 10:03 a.m. Sept. 11 on Tower Lawn. Speakers will pause three times for moments of silence, signifying each plane crash.

Canterbury Bridge will host a discussions open to all faiths. “The Root Causes of Violence” will begin at 3 p.m. Sept. 11 in the Guadalupe Room of the Student Union.

Reflecting on 9/11 will also be taking place in many classes campuswide. SJSU Today asked Associate Professor of Political Science Karthika Sasikumar about her experiences.

Not only was she teaching in New York on 9/11, but she continues to teach international politics today, connecting an event that many students are too young to recall personally to the shocking news out of Syria this week.

***

Remembering 9/11

Karthika Sasikumar, second from left, leading a first-year writing seminar, “Militaries and Societies in the Modern Age,” at Cornell University shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 (photo courtesy of Robert Barker/Cornell University Photography).

SJSU Today: Please tell me briefly about your experience teaching. Were you in the classroom on 9/11?

Professor Sasikumar: I’m Indian and my family still lives in India. I was living in Ithaca, NY, in 2001. I was a graduate student at Cornell University on 9/11. It was a beautiful Tuesday morning and I was on a bus to campus when I heard about the planes. I rushed to the computer lab and tried to find out what was going on. Most U.S. news websites had crashed due to heavy traffic, so I started looking at Indian websites. So right from the start I had a different, international perspective on the event.

At the time, I was teaching a first year writing seminar with 17 students. It was titled “Societies and Militaries in the Modern Age.” It was the first class where I was the instructor. And I was two weeks into it—when this hit.

Many of my students were from New York City or had family there. Many of them lost either someone they knew or had close family or friends that had lost a loved one. When I saw them for the first time after 9/11, they looked stunned and stiff. For most, it was their first encounter with death.

I changed the syllabus and started looking up material on Afghanistan, as it became clear that the United States would invade that country. In class, I had to be careful because there was a lot of anger and unreasoning emotion which I wanted to respect—I tried not to make the discussion too academic. At the same time, I emphasized to students that it was important to ask hard questions about U.S. policy.

SJSU Today: Tell me a little bit about how your approach to leading students through reflection on 9/11 has changed over the years.

Professor Sasikumar: 9/11 was a very important milestone in my life. It also changed my research. I included a chapter on the emerging counter-terrorism regime in my dissertation. Right after 9/11, Americans, especially the youth, were extremely motivated to learn about foreign countries in general and particularly about South Asia and Islam. Many students told me it was the event that motivated them to become political science majors.

As the years passed and emotions faded, I became less hesitant about questioning people’s assumptions about 9/11. The war in Iraq was key in making Americans more cynical and more insular.

SJSU Today: And how has the student response changed as the years go by, keeping mind your move from New York to California?

Professor Sasikumar: Last year, I used the anniversary of 9/11 as a prompt for an online discussion for my class “War and Peace” (POLS 150). I asked students, who had just encountered various definitions of war, to reflect on the “war on terror.” I started by asking them to recount their own emotions on 9/11.

I was in for a shock. Several of the responses were banal and casual. I realized that there was a new generation of students entering my (virtual and real) classroom. These were students who were too young to have their own memories and were filtering them through the media and family recollections. One student wrote about how her kindergarten teacher lined them up for early dismissal! I can no longer assume that 9/11 was as important to this new generation as it was to me. I would say that distance from the event, rather than distance from the East Coast, has been more important in this regard.

SJSU Today: Finally, in class tomorrow, will you tie 9/11 and Syria? How does our 9/11 experience as a nation inform our response to Syria?

Professor Sasikumar: In class tomorrow (“United States Foreign Policy,” POLS 154) the syllabus topic is foreign policy decision-making. The assigned readings talk about the divisions within the U.S. State Department as well as the conflict between the Pentagon and State.

I will begin by asking students if they think 9/11 influenced them and their leaders. Then I will have them read a piece called “The Taming of Samantha Power,” in which a prominent voice calling for intervention is shown to be tamed by the post-9/11 hatred of the United States. Yet Power is also making the case for the invasion of Syria, by predicting that inaction now “eventually compels us to use force anyway down the line, at far greater risk and cost to our own citizens,” which I take to be a reference to 9/11 and the policies that led up to it—specifically the U.S. decision to extract itself from Afghanistan after the end of the Cold War.

 

Spartans at Work: Mineta San Jose International Airport

(This summer, SJSU Today hit the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job at summer destinations throughout the Bay Area. Our 2013 Spartans at Work series ends with graduate Andres Quintero).

Mineta San Jose International Airport, located in the heart of Silicon Valley and minutes from downtown San Jose, welcomes over eight million passengers annually.

Design elements like Terminal B’s airy paseo and the parking garage’s seven-story “Hands” mural representing diversity and innovation remind visitors that SJC is more than just a travel hub.

Andres Quintero, ’06 Political Science, ’11 MA Public Administration, serves his community as vice chair of the San Jose Airport Commission, an advisory body to the San Jose City Council.

 “I’m glad I’ve been able to provide my prospective and look out for the citizens,” said this San Jose native.

Appointed for two three-year terms ending in June 2015, Quintero first got involved in politics at age 12, when he volunteered to pass out literature for a presidential campaign. He got a taste of “real” politics in 2003, when he interned for Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren in Washington, D.C.

Quintero’s role on the airport commission encompasses advising the city council on many management matters, with a focus on safety, customer service and fiscal responsibility.

 “I have found it very rewarding to be on the commission because you think it’s an airport and you use it every once in a while” but it’s a very important asset, he said.

Quintero helped oversee the airport’s $1.3 billion renovation and played an instrumental role in making the airport more welcoming to international visitors.

He also works as a policy analyst for Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez (who earned a bachelor’s in political science from SJSU in 1987) and serves as vice president of the Alum Rock School District Board of Trustees.

 “The commission has prepared me to realize that the decisions you make have an impact on other people’s lives and you have to make sure that you make the right decisions as best as you can,” he said.

 

Professor Emeritus Ted Norton

SJSU Remembers Professor Emeritus Ted Norton

Professor Emeritus Ted Norton

Professor Emeritus Ted Norton

Please join the university community in celebrating the life and contributions of the late Professor Emeritus of Political Science Ted Norton at a campus service 3 p.m. March 20 in the Spartan Memorial Chapel. Norton, who passed away Feb. 7 at age 90, was by most accounts the most influential faculty member in San Jose State’s modern history, guiding the Academic Senate in a variety of capacities throughout his 53 years at the university.

A native of Alameda, Calif., Norton served in World War II, earning a Purple Heart in the European Theater. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1947 and a law degree in 1949 from Stanford University. He also earned master’s and doctoral degrees in political science, in 1955 and 1960, respectively, from the University of Chicago. He began teaching at SJSU in 1960, specializing in constitutional law, inspiring many students to pursue legal careers.

Academic Senate

Within a few years of his arrival on campus, Norton became a very active member of the Academic Senate, the principal agency for the formulation of university policy. He twice served as chair, drafted more policies and resolutions than any other individual, and volunteered as the senate’s unofficial parliamentarian. After retiring, he continued to serve as an honorary senator and, in 1992, wrote a comprehensive history of the senate.

Professor of Political Science Kenneth Peter aptly sums up his colleague and friend’s career: “Professor Norton helped to bring SJSU through the turbulent 1960s, shaping many of the policies that transformed SJSU from a state college into a modern university. He was a rigorous constitutional law professor with a capacious memory, a wry sense of humor and a modest and soft-spoken demeanor. He will be sorely missed in numerous quarters on campus.”

Endowments

In addition to his many years of service to SJSU, Norton used his modest professor’s salary to create multiple endowments, which are particularly powerful because they deliver a dependable, perpetual source of funding.

In 1995, Norton made a small gift establishing the SJSU Political Science Faculty Endowment, with the hope his contribution would inspire more gifts from faculty members, alumni and friends of the department. Today, thanks to such gifts, income from $45,000 endowment provides grants to political science faculty for research, scholarship and professional development.

In 2004, Norton made a gift of $50,000 to endow the T.M. Norton Campus Enhancement Fund. To ensure the fund would grow, he asked that all income from the endowment be added to its principal until 10 years after his death. The fund will be used to support activities beyond what the state supports, including enhancing the intellectual and aesthetic qualities of SJSU and its campus, such as scholarly conferences, lectures, concerts, authors- and artists-in-residence and scholarly journals.

On Giving

In SJSU’s 2006-2007 Donor Endowment Report, Dr. Norton shared his views on giving: “Faculty usually don’t make enough money to give much away, but they realize that the university is grateful for everything it gets. Even though my contribution is not very big, I believe that something is better than nothing. I asked myself where better to give my money than the place I spent 35 years and have such fond memories of?”

In lieu of flowers, his family asks remembrances be made to the “SJSU Political Science Faculty Endowment” or the “SJSU T.M. Norton Campus Enhancement Fund.” Please send checks payable to the Tower Foundation of SJSU, One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192-0183, or make a gift online at sjsu.edu/giving/.

Norton is survived by his niece, Anne Norton Ayer, two nephews, Robert Rule and Steven Rule, two grandnephews, two grandnieces, a great-grandniece and several cousins. The family has planned a memorial service at 1 p.m. March 23 in Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church of Saratoga, with a brief reception to follow.

Former Governor Gray Davis to Speak at SJSU

Former Governor Gray Davis to Speak at SJSU

Former Governor Gray Davis to Speak at SJSU

Former Gov. Davis (courtesy of gray-davis.com)

Former governor Gray Davis will speak at the next Don Edwards Lecture in Politics and History at 7 p.m. March 19 in the Barrett Ballroom at the Student Union. Davis will reflect on recent changes to the California constitution that may make it easier to govern the state, and the prospects for future reform. He will then participate in a moderated discussion in which he will answer questions from the audience. Assistant Professor Garrick Percival, whose work focuses on American politics, will serve as moderator. This event is free and open to the public. The Edwards Lecture series was launched in 1995 by friends and admirers of Congressman Don Edwards, with the goal of enabling students to meet and hear the stories of prominent men and women who have shaped our history. Edwards represented San Jose for 32 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he earned the title “the conscience of Congress” for his steadfast support of civil rights and his advocacy of all the disadvantaged. In 2003, the House of Representatives honored Edwards with one of the first Congressional Distinguished Service Awards, noting the civility of his work and his refusal to pursue “political ambition at the expense of common decency” or to “sacrifice his soul at the alter of political expediency.”

Spartans Impact 2012 Elections

SJSU's Impact on the 2012 Elections

Olympian John Carlos appeared with Measure D supporters at Legacy Week (photo courtesy of Scott Myers-Lipton).

San Jose State had a profound effect on the 2012 Elections, and vice versa.

An SJSU student started the movement that became Measure D, which will raise the minimum wage in San Jose to $10 per hour.

Marisela Castro won the support of her sociology professor, her classmates and voters, raising the potential of spawning a national movement.

Assistant Professor Melinda Jackson and Professor Larry Gerston took to the airwaves election night, serving as political commentators on KGO and NBC, respectively.

But it was the eight-year-old son of two other faculty members who stole the show. Ethan Percival correctly predicted the electoral college breakdown, winning a politics department contest.

Talk about starting young. Among the professors he beat were his parents, Assistant Professor Garrick Percival and Lecturer Mary Currin-Percival.

Jim Beall, Paul Fong, Barbara Spector, Larry Carr, Debbie Giordano and Rod Diridon, Jr. were among the many Spartans who won local elections. Know of more? Please contact us!

Proposition 30

Voters clearly voiced their support for public higher education by passing Proposition 30, which will stabilize state funding for SJSU in the short term.

President Mohammad Qayoumi will host a post-election budget forum 9 a.m. Nov. 27 in the Student Union Loma Prieta room.  The event will be streamed live online on the SJSU Budget Central website.

Students were of course thrilled to learn tuition would be rolled back to 2011-2012 levels, effective fall of this year. View current SJSU tuition and fees.

Some but not all students will receive refunds. If you’re a student, MySJSU is your first and best source of information.

New Fees?

One week after the elections, CSU Board of Trustees backed off plans to discuss fee increases for three specific groups of students: those who have earned more than 150 credits, those taking 18 or more credits, and those repeating courses.

Administrators want existing students to graduate, opening seats for new students. But trustees need time to “gather additional information and input from stakeholders,” according to a CSU news release.

Around 385 SJSU students with more than 150 credits and 150 students enrolled in 18 or more credits would have been affected if the fees had been implemented this term. Academic advising is available to all.

SJSU and the 2012 Elections

SJSU and the 2012 Elections

Associated Students and the Office of Public Affairs began the election season with a multimedia voter registration drive.

Spartans are playing leading roles in many aspects of the 2012 Elections.

Associated Students and the Office of Public Affairs began the election season with a multimedia voter registration drive.

Voters statewide are weighing in on Proposition 30, which will raise taxes to provide funding for public higher education.

In San Jose, an SJSU professor and students initiated Measure D, which will raise the minimum wage.

On election night, Associate Professor Melinda Jackson and Professor Larry Gerston will serve as political analysts for local TV news programs.

Jackson

Jackson

Professor Jackson

Melinda Jackson, who will appear on KGO Bay Area News, joined the San Jose State University faculty in 2005 after earning her Ph.D. with concentrations in American Politics, Research Methods, and Political Psychology, from the University of Minnesota.

Her research interests center on public opinion, civic engagement, and political participation in American politics with a special focus on political psychology and political identity. She has published research on these topics in a variety of academic journals and books.

Jackson also serves as research director for the Survey and Policy Research Institute at San José State University. Since joining the San José State University faculty in 2005, she has provided numerous media interviews on local, state and national political issues to the San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, Reuters, and several local TV and radio stations.

Gerston

Gerston

Professor Gerston

Larry Gerston, who will appear on NBC Bay Area News, specializes on the public policy process at the national and state levels. He has written 11 books, focusing on a “hands on,” user-friendly approach to politics.

Gerston’s most recent book, Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California (Taylor and Francis, publisher), assesses California’s politics in the context of a complicated, contentious socio-economic environment.

Among his other books about California, Gerston has written California Politics and Government: A Practical Approach (with Terry Christensen), now in its eleventh edition (2011) and the best-selling text in its category. Previously, Gerston and Christensen teamed up to write Recall! California’s Political Earthquake (2004), winner of the prestigious CHOICE award.

NBC Bay Area: Politics Professor Commends Governor for Exercising Leadership on High Speed Rail

Brown’s Perseverance Pays–For Now

Posted by NBC July 8, 2012.

By Larry Gerston

Presidential scholar Richard Neustadt once wrote that the president’s greatest clout lies in his power to persuade. More than signing executive orders or vetoing legislation, Neustadt claimed, the president succeeds when he convinces others to do what they might otherwise choose not to do.

California Governor Jerry Brown showed a bit of Neustadt over the past few months when he convinced a majority of legislators to do what they, too, might have not otherwise done, when they decided on Friday to fund the first portion of the state’s $68 billion high-speed rail project.

Brown had a terrible political headwind to conquer. Public opinion polls showed that the voters were queasy on the idea, given the state’s dreadful economy. Republican leaders in the House of Representatives promised there would be no more federal assistance if they had any say over the matter. And let’s not forget the initial construction site, from Chowchilla to Bakersfield. Who’s going to ride the train there? No one, but that’s where the feds with $3.2 billion in matching funds said the building should commence.

Not a pretty picture. Still, Brown persevered.

In some ways, Brown took a page from the legacy of his father, Edmond G. “Pat” Brown, who also proposed a huge infrastructure project. In 1959, shortly after his election to the state’s highest post, the senior Brown asked the voters to pass a then-huge $1.7 billion bond to create the California Water Project, the backbone of the state’s massive water movement system. At the time, the proposal equaled the size of the state budget. Critics viewed it as an unnecessary boondoggle. Others looked into California’s future and saw nothing but trouble without enough water to meet the state’s needs. Of course they were right.

We won’t know whether the current Brown is right for decades, but we know this: against tremendous pressure he prevailed. And whether or not you believe the high-speed rail project is a good idea, you have give credit to Brown and Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg for exercising a characteristic rarely seen these days–leadership.

Larry Gerston teaches political science at San Jose State University and is the political analyst for NBC Bay Area.

NBC: Politics Professor Assesses Prospects for Governor Brown’s Tax Proposal

Brown’s Tax Proposal in Trouble

Posted by NBC San Diego June 10, 2012.

By Larry Gerston

The latest Field Poll offers some bleak prospects for Gov. Jerry Brown and the state of California. Under the terms of Brown’s November ballot proposal, the state sales tax would increase by one-fourth cent for four years, while income taxes would increase for those earning $250,000 or more for seven years.

The proposal is designed to raise about $8 billion annually, erasing half of the state’s $16 billion deficit.

The findings show that 52 percent of the respondents support Brown’s temporary tax increase proposal, with 35 percent opposed. Proponents should be anything but excited. If history is any guide, those numbers portend defeat.

Generally speaking, money-related ballot proposals are most likely to pass when they have support from 60 percent or more going into the election; that’s because some people drift to the “no” side with the approach of the actual vote. Remember last week’s Proposition 29?

More than the aggregate numbers, the numbers inside the Field Poll tell us much about the divisions within California. In terms of political values, strong conservatives oppose the Brown proposal by a margin of three to one, whereas strong liberals endorse the idea by a hefty nine to one margin.

Age is another area of division. The proposal enjoys solid support from people under 40 years of age, but garners less than majority support from those 40 and older.

Then there’s the matter of income. The higher the income, the weaker the support for the Brown proposal, according to the latest Field Poll. High income voters are the most reliable voters, which underscores the likely outcome as matters now stand.

Some might argue that Brown hasn’t done a good job of making his case, although he’s been beating the drums on the state’s budget woes for more than a year. He has warned us of draconian cuts if the tax vote fails, including three fewer weeks of K-12 public education in addition to the week that most have already lost.

Another possibility is that large numbers of people simply don’t care. They’ve got theirs and it’s up to the rest of us to fend for ourselves. If that’s the case, this state is in a lot more trouble than most people understand, and all of us–haves and have nots alike–will be paying a hefty price.

Larry Gerston teaches political science at San Jose State University and is the political analyst at NBC Bay Area.

San Jose city seal

Five San Jose Mayors to Speak at San Jose State

event poster

Free and open to the public, this will be the final Don Edwards lecture organized by Professor Terry Christensen, who will retire at semester's end after 42 years at SJSU.

By Pat Lopes Harris, Media Relations Director

Five San Jose mayors spanning over 40 years of the city’s history will appear in conversation with Professor Terry Christensen 7 p.m. April 16 in Engineering 189.

“It would be rare in anywhere to be able to gather mayors spanning over 40 years of a city’s history, as it happens the same 40 years I’ve been following city politics,” Christensen said.

“We’re interested in their perspectives on how the city and its politics have changed over that period of time and of course on how well our local government structures suit the changing city.  Should we, for example, move closer to a strong mayor form of government?

“And we’ll be talking about some policy issues, too: pension reform; the perennial issue of development of Coyote Valley; police/community relations; adapting to diversity; the impact of district elections on city governance; the current political climate; and more.”

This will be the final Don Edwards Lecture organized by Christensen, a professor with the Department of Political Science who will retire at semester’s end after 42 years at SJSU.

“Terry was a great hands-on mentor,” Phil Trounstine told San Jose Mercury News columnist Scott Herhold. “He made local government understandable to generations of San Jose State students. That’s a real service.”

Trounstine, a former Mercury News political editor, co-wrote with Christensen “Movers and Shakers,” a 1982 study of political power in San Jose. He’s also a former Christensen student, one of many who went on to contribute greatly to our community and state.

In a column paying tribute to Christensen, Herhold summarized the legendary professor’s legacy:

“‘You should really think about doing an internship,’ Terry Christensen would tell one of his students at San Jose State. With those eight words — a seduction, a mantra, a challenge — he changed hundreds of lives.”

San Jose Mercury News: Columnist Pays Tribute to Professor Terry Christensen

Herhold: A famous San Jose State teacher heads into retirement

Published by the San Jose Mercury News March 30, 2012.

By Scott Herhold

“You should really think about doing an internship,” Terry Christensen would tell one of his students at San Jose State. With those eight words — a seduction, a mantra, a challenge — he changed hundreds of lives.

Now the professor’s own life is about to change. At the end of the academic year in May, the 68-year-old Christensen is retiring, signing off. After 42 years, San Jose State will lose one of its best-known teachers, a one-time young Turk who turned gray but not dour.

It’s impossible to cover San Jose without encountering his legacy. Among his ex-students are Supervisor Ken Yeager, Assemblyman Jim Beall, ex-Supervisor Susanne Wilson and labor leader Cindy Chavez (for a fuller list, see www.mercurynews.com/scott-herhold).

“Terry was a great hands-on mentor,” says Phil Trounstine, a Christensen student and ex-Mercury News political editor who with Christensen wrote “Movers and Shakers,” a 1982 study of political power in San Jose. “He made local government understandable to generations of San Jose State students. That’s a real service.”

Christensen acted as much as he researched, advocated as much as he analyzed, prodded as much as he listened. His optimistic style made it hard for opponents to dislike him. And his 15-page résumé made you wonder if he ever slept.

(Full disclosure: My wife, Sarah, was a student of Christensen’s in the 1970s, and

my daughter, Becky, worked for CommUniverCity, a social-service program he cofounded.)

Man of the left

Christensen is unmistakably a man of the left: He worked for Chavez in her 2006 mayoral campaign. He guided the district election campaign in 1978, a huge change in city politics. He remains close to labor.

Sometimes this causes friction. I throw my coffee mug against the wall when reporters quote Christensen without identifying his allegiances. Yet his analysis is usually very fair.

“Terry has been very courageous in the sense that he’s never been afraid of putting his values out there,” says Larry Gerston, a colleague at SJSU. “A lot of students cherish that.”

Christensen’s teaching stressed a practical, you-can-make-a-difference approach rather than intellectual theory. In Political Science 103, he required students to attend city council meetings. Then came a three-week simulation in which students played council members and lobbyists.

Meantime, he mentored his charges incessantly. “He took an interest in everything we did,” said Patricia Gardner, the executive director of the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits. “He always had an open-door policy, whether you were a student or a graduate.”

With Gerston, Christensen wrote a textbook, “California Government and Politics: A Practical Guide.” He organized the Don Edwards lecture series, which has brought people like Barbara Boxer, Merv Field and Gloria Steinem to campus.

Internship program

But it has been in running the internship program — where he placed students in political offices, nonprofits and civic organizations — that he had his greatest impact. “I like to say that we provide the public sector infrastructure of Silicon Valley,” he told me.

The professor, who says he intends to stay in town, has heirs. Both Yeager and San Jose Councilman Sam Liccardo have taught Political Science 103. And Gerston will work part time for another three years. But it’s hard to think TC, as he’s known, can be replaced. “He’s a legend,” said one student on a rating site for professors. “Take him if you can.”

A retirement party is scheduled for Christensen on Friday evening, April 27, at the IBEW Hall. For an invitation, email vanessa@svcn.org. Contact Scott Herhold at sherhold@mercurynews.com.

San Jose Mercury News: A Professor's Legacy

List: Terry Christensen’s students

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News March 29, 2012.

Read Scott Herhold’s column: “After 42 years, San Jose State will lose one of its best-known teachers, a one-time young Turk who turned gray but not dour.”

———-

Here are some of the ex-students of San Jose State political science professor Terry Christensen:

Jacqueline Duong, Santa Clara County Superior Court judge

Phil Trounstine, Calbuzz.com co-founder

Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County supervisor

Jim Beall, Assemblyman

Susanne Wilson, former Santa Clara County supervisor

Patricia Gardner, executive director, Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits

David Yarnold, CEO of Audubon Society, ex-Mercury News editor

Carl Guardino, CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Steve Wright, vice-president of strategic communications, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Cindy Chavez, executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council

Mary Ellen Ittner, regional public affairs director at PG&E

Angel Rios, assistant director of San Jose’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services

Dustin DeRollo, lobbyist with Saggau-DeRollo

Paul Fong, Assemblyman

Evan Low, Campbell councilman

Cari Beachamp, author

Rod Diridon Jr., Santa Clara city clerk

John Gibbs, aide to Supervisor Mike Wasserman

Jesus Rios, associate principal, Yerba Buena High

Frank Biehl, East Side Union High School District trustee

Rich Robinson, political consultant

Joy Alexiou, public information officer at Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System

Sarah Janigian, development officer for Archbishop Mitty High School

Mike Potter, government affairs officer at Cisco

Edesa Bitbadal, San Jose planning commissioner and city council candidate

Denelle Fedor, San Jose city council aide

Ron Lind, president, Local 5, United Food and Commercial Workers

Barbara French, vice-chancellor, UCSF

David Pandori, deputy district attorney, Santa Clara County

Dai Sugano, photographer, San Jose Mercury News

— Mercury News

San Jose Mercury News: A Professor’s Legacy

List: Terry Christensen’s students

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News March 29, 2012.

Read Scott Herhold’s column: “After 42 years, San Jose State will lose one of its best-known teachers, a one-time young Turk who turned gray but not dour.”

———-

Here are some of the ex-students of San Jose State political science professor Terry Christensen:

Jacqueline Duong, Santa Clara County Superior Court judge

Phil Trounstine, Calbuzz.com co-founder

Ken Yeager, Santa Clara County supervisor

Jim Beall, Assemblyman

Susanne Wilson, former Santa Clara County supervisor

Patricia Gardner, executive director, Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits

David Yarnold, CEO of Audubon Society, ex-Mercury News editor

Carl Guardino, CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Steve Wright, vice-president of strategic communications, Silicon Valley Leadership Group

Cindy Chavez, executive officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council

Mary Ellen Ittner, regional public affairs director at PG&E

Angel Rios, assistant director of San Jose’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Neighborhood Services

Dustin DeRollo, lobbyist with Saggau-DeRollo

Paul Fong, Assemblyman

Evan Low, Campbell councilman

Cari Beachamp, author

Rod Diridon Jr., Santa Clara city clerk

John Gibbs, aide to Supervisor Mike Wasserman

Jesus Rios, associate principal, Yerba Buena High

Frank Biehl, East Side Union High School District trustee

Rich Robinson, political consultant

Joy Alexiou, public information officer at Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System

Sarah Janigian, development officer for Archbishop Mitty High School

Mike Potter, government affairs officer at Cisco

Edesa Bitbadal, San Jose planning commissioner and city council candidate

Denelle Fedor, San Jose city council aide

Ron Lind, president, Local 5, United Food and Commercial Workers

Barbara French, vice-chancellor, UCSF

David Pandori, deputy district attorney, Santa Clara County

Dai Sugano, photographer, San Jose Mercury News

— Mercury News

Bay Area News Group: Politics Professor Comments on Governor Brown’s First Year Back

California Gov. Jerry Brown gets mostly B grades from analysts for memorable, though ultimately disappointing first year back

Published by the San Jose Mercury News Dec. 28, 2011

By Steven Harmon

SACRAMENTO — From his early courtship of Republicans to the witty vetoes he penned to his end-of-year decision to pursue a tax initiative in 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown’s first year back in the governor’s office was lively, offbeat, memorable, but perhaps ultimately disappointing — and just a prelude to possibly an even more volatile year ahead.

That’s the assessment of political observers whom we asked to play teacher and grade Brown’s return to power 28 years after his last stint as California’s governor. They examined five significant aspects of his performance: the vision he brought; his courtship of Republicans; the budget; the bill-signing period; and his final act of pulling the trigger for $1 billion in cuts and announcing his plans to run a ballot measure on tax increases.

To be sure, our pundits’ grades may reflect their political leanings. But there were instances that defied stereotypes. Bill Whalen, a speechwriter for former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson, gave Brown a strong B for his attempts to court the Republicans, for instance.

Brown earned a B overall in his first year. But our batch of picky professors found room for improvement in his sophomore year.

The Vision: From the day he was elected, Brown spoke of bringing California together, asking voters to show loyalty to the state over party. He also laid out, in a series of public talks, the dire situation facing them: a $26 billion deficit that he vowed to close without the typical kick-the-can-down-the-road gimmickry.

Given the tough task handed him, Brown presented a “limited, realistic vision, more honest than what we’ve seen,” said Ethan Rarick, program director at the Robert Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at UC Berkeley. “It’s much easier to have a vision when there’s money to be spent.”

But Brown failed to show a vision of a California a decade hence, said Whalen, who is a fellow at the Hoover Institution. He needed to do so not just in fiscal terms, Whalen said, “but with a forward-looking, imaginative vision you’d expect from a creative thinking guy like Jerry Brown. It just ain’t there.”

Grade: B (2.90 Grade-point average)

The Courtship: The governor poured most of his early energies into wooing the GOP, hoping to get a bare minimum of four Republicans to agree to put a tax extension on the ballot. He attended Republican Party New Year’s receptions, popped in to GOP caucus meetings, and held private meetings in his office. Perhaps he was naive about the hyperpartisanship at the Capitol or overconfident in his ability to charm, but he could not get the Republicans to budge.

Brown had little chance of winning GOP support for anything to do with taxes, said Jack Pitney, a government and political science professor at Claremont McKenna College.

“Given his Jesuit background, he was making a Hail Mary pass,” Pitney said. “He was sincere, gave it his best shot but the differences were just too great to bridge.”

But if he didn’t win over Republicans, he may have won the support of voters for trying, said Larry Gerston, political science professor at San Jose State.

“The more that olive branch has the appearance of being extended, the more the voters say this guy’s done everything he could,” Gerston said.

Grade: B (2.90 GPA)

The Budget: Having already committed to $11 billion in cuts to show good faith in early spring negotiations with Republicans, Brown was forced to close the remainder of the deficit through a series of fund shifts, internal borrowing and other cuts when his tax efforts fell short. He vetoed one budget that Democrats sent to him, saying it was laden with gimmicks that he had sworn to avoid.

But in a move that allowed lawmakers to leave the Capitol for summer recess without facing pay cuts — which a new law would have required if they hadn’t completed it on time — Brown put out a final budget that assumed $4 billion in extra revenues that few believed possible, and never fully materialized.

His strongest suit has been his singular focus on the budget, said Steve Maviglio, a Democratic political consultant.

“He’s given voters a strong dose of reality and honesty about the budget,” Maviglio said. “His veto was a surprise even to Democrats. He stood up to Democrats and labor on a lot of things nobody expected.”

His budget couldn’t be seen as a total success, though, because Brown failed to get the revenues it was predicated on, said Rob Stutzman, a Republican political consultant.

“When he didn’t get a tax measure on the ballot, it really set him back by two years before he could get something before the voters,” Stutzman said.

Grade: B (2.97 GPA)

Bill signings: Brown promised that legislators would be “singing the veto blues” as he prepared to handle the 600 bills sent to him at the end of the summer session. But he proved to be less exacting with his blue pen, vetoing only 17 percent of bills sent to him last summer. His veto messages, however, were must reads.

“Not every human problem deserves a law,” he wrote in one, summing up his cranky mood.

Brown was tough on friends, stinging farm workers and labor unions with a few hard-line vetoes, said Barbara O’Connor, director emeritus of the Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media at Sacramento State.

“They’re well thought out,” she said of his explanations on bills. “He really did vet the bills.”

You couldn’t get much past Brown, said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, political analyst at USC.

“He really takes a detailed, hands-on approach to government,” she said. “Every veto message I read indicated he’d really done his work on evaluating the implications.”

Grade: B-plus (3.36 GPA).

Final Act: When the revenues, as expected, failed to materialize, Brown had to pull the trigger on $1 billion more in cuts, an emphatic ending to a disappointing first year. But the cuts played into the narrative that he hopes to carry to voters next year: The state needs money, and he’ll be asking for more of it through a tax initiative.

After providing a sobering approach to the budget, Brown has done a good job of preparing voters for next year’s tax fight, said Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College.

“He’s done it in a way that makes the public see this as necessary,” Michelson said. “More Californians are aware of budget problems and may be ready to raise taxes. To a large extent, it’s Brown’s leadership that brought the public to this point.”

Brown kept his word, said Patrick Dorinson, a libertarian radio commentator.

“He said there would be cuts if certain things didn’t happen, and he didn’t try to wheedle out of it,” said Dorinson, a former state GOP spokesman.

Grade: B-plus (3.3 GPA)

Contact Steven Harmon at 916-441-2101. Follow him at Twitter.com/ssharmon. Read the Political Blotter at IBAbuzz.com/politics.