Today’s Tech Revolution Requires Some Humanity, Papazian Tells Sacramento Bee Readers in Opinion Piece

President Mary A. Papazain is a strong proponent of the value of the humanities, liberal arts and social sciences in higher education. Here, she served as a featured guest for the Frankenstein Bicentennial Monster Discussion Panel in 2018. Photo by David Schmitz.

An op-ed by San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian published in the October 29 edition of the Sacramento Bee asserts that “the liberal arts must remain a vital part of higher education for the sake of the future of our students, our economy, and our society.”

Drawing largely on her academic background and expertise on the English Renaissance era, Papazian writes that “Just as the Renaissance opened mankind’s eyes to the reality that we do not sit at the center of the universe, today’s technology age has expanded our capabilities beyond the imaginations of only decades ago.” She goes on to note how Renaissance figures such as John Donne and Leonardo di Vinci exemplified many of the humanist principles lacking in today’s technology innovators.

Papazian said the messages conveyed in her op-ed piece are more vital than ever, particularly given the perils of technology and social media that have manifested in attacks on elections and the democratic process.

“It is vital that we understand the true impact of the technology-driven world in which we now live,” she said. “We need to be able to guard our global society against the dangers of this digital age. How we ensure that the next generation interacts more responsibility with technology than we have done this far is critical, and refocusing on the talents of humanists and liberal arts is an excellent place to start.”

In July, Papazian delivered a well-received speech at the Council of Graduate Schools Summer Workshop titled “Humanities for the 21st Century: Innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” There, she pointed out that “the hard skills learned from STEM programs are essential, but employers actually are desperate for candidates who have balanced their personal portfolios with both digital capabilities and human understanding.”

The partnering of STEM disciplines with the liberal arts, she asserted, can lead to true academic impact at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

“Students will work in groups all their professional lives, and they must be able to collaborate effectively with people from a broad array of backgrounds and working styles,” said Papazian. “They must be able to communicate in a variety of ways, using digital tools that we know are evolving with stunning rapidity. And they will be required to be creative and confident.

“Where better to learn all of this than in our labs and studios on our campuses? Where better to learn the capacity for these things than in our classrooms and our community-based projects?” she asks.

Developing the tools and the ability to talk about ethics, unconscious bias and the complexity of emotions within individuals and cultures, Papazian said, can help students recognize the choices that lead to collaboration rather than conflict.

“The liberal arts need to be a vital part of the education spectrum if we are to have any hope of addressing the problems we are seeing and reading about on almost a daily basis,” she said.

“Our challenge—and our opportunity—is to seize the moment to influence and shape history meaningfully in this, our present Renaissance.”

 

University Communications Regarding Spartan Foundation

Editor’s Note: The following statement was issued to the media on May 17, 2019.

I want to assure the SJSU community that I take very seriously the recent allegations that the university misused donor funds. We hold ourselves to the highest values of honesty, integrity, and transparency. First, I want to state that between 2013 and 2016, every student who was eligible and selected for a scholarship received one, and no student scholarship was denied or withdrawn based on the availability of funds. I am looking closely into questions about whether the university’s use of funds honored donors’ intent. I will be asking an independent auditor to do a financial review relating to Athletics donations and will address any unknown problems that surface. If we discover that we have not fulfilled the intent of donors who gave to the Spartan Foundation, we will identify other resources to fulfill donors’ intent or we will return the gift.

Dr. Mary A. Papazian
President


Editor’s Note: The following statement was issued to the media on May 15, 2019.

San Jose State University remains deeply committed to conducting its fundraising and accounting practices in all areas with the highest levels of honesty, integrity, and transparency.

Any donation that is received which is specified for scholarships is directed to scholarships. Student-athletes who were selected for a scholarship received one.
In the past, the Spartan Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, raised funds to support Spartan Athletics in conjunction with University Advancement (UA).

Several years ago, SJSU leadership learned that some of the Spartan Foundation’s marketing and communications did not adequately convey how financial gifts were being used. The university responded in multiple ways. The university changed its marketing and communications to clearly state how donor gifts would be used. In addition, in early 2017, the university began the process of moving the athletics fundraising operation solely to the division of University Advancement to improve management and stewardship of financial gifts to SJSU Athletics.

University Advancement now houses all of SJSU fundraising operations, including Athletics Advancement, with experienced fundraising professionals and improved processes to better support management and stewardship of financial gifts to SJSU.

Dr. Mary A. Papazian
President


Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on May 15, 2019.

Dear Campus Community,

Many of you may have read today’s Spartan Daily article alleging the mishandling of donor funds from the Spartan Foundation during the 2013 to 2016 timeframe.

For many years, the Spartan Foundation, a 501(c)(3) entity, raised money to support our athletics program. In July 2013, accounts were opened in the Tower Foundation for the express purpose of depositing Spartan Foundation funds. The Tower Foundation is SJSU’s auxiliary organization dedicated solely to philanthropy.

Following this transition, and soon after I arrived in 2016, I was made aware that communication to Spartan Foundation donors was not consistently clear regarding use of donor funds to support student athlete scholarships. I understand that from 2013 to 2016, money specifically designated for student scholarships was in fact used for that purpose and that every student selected to receive a scholarship received one. However, I realized that we needed to review our communications with donors and pay closer attention to our internal processes. We have done just that.

Specifically, we began a systematic process of examining our athletic fundraising with respect to accounting, marketing, and communications. We took the following important steps:

The university changed its marketing and communications with donors to clearly state how donor gifts would be used.

In early 2017, the university began the process of moving the athletics fundraising operation solely to the division of University Advancement to improve management and stewardship of gifts to SJSU Athletics.

University Advancement now houses all of SJSU fundraising operations, including Athletics Advancement, with experienced fundraising professionals and improved processes to better support management and stewardship of financial gifts to SJSU.

While there remains some work to be done, our transition to a more streamlined, effective system of fundraising and stewardship is well underway.

We remain deeply committed to conducting our fundraising and accounting practices in all areas with the highest levels of honesty, integrity, and transparency.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mary A. Papazian
President


Read SJSU Media Relations Submits List of 22 Corrections to Spartan Daily’s May 15, 2019 Published Stories.

 

CSU Trustees Appoint Mary A. Papazian as President of SJSU

Mary A. Papazian

Mary A. Papazian

Media Contacts:
Laurie Weidner, lweidner@calstate.edu (562) 951-4800
Pat Harris, pat.harris@sjsu.edu (408) 924-1748

(January 27, 2016) – The California State University Board of Trustees has appointed Mary A. Papazian, Ph.D., as president of San José State University effective July 1. A seasoned higher education leader with more than 25 years of teaching and administrative experience, Papazian is currently serving as the president of Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) in New Haven, Connecticut. She replaces Susan Martin, Ph.D., who was appointed as the interim president in August 2015. Papazian will be the university’s third female president in its 159-year history. Read more.