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, pat.harris@sjsu.edu, 408-924-1748
Robin McElhatton, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu, 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.

Speakers:

  • 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.

Tuition

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.

Transportation

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 Time.com 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.

Athletics

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

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
President

President Papazian’s January Blog

We’re a month into the new calendar year and just days into the spring term—traditionally a time of renewed energy and hope. In spite of the tensions that are in play around the world and close to home, I hope this month’s blog post reflects SJSU’s energy and hope and our collective ability to influence our community, region and beyond.

Acknowledging uncertainties

We can’t, however, ignore the uncertainties that I know are on many of our minds and will influence our efforts moving forward.

Yesterday afternoon I commented on a recent federal order that indefinitely bars entry to the U.S. by Syrian refugees, bars all refugees for 120 days and individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.

Late Monday, the office of the CSU Chancellor released a joint statement from Chancellor White, campus presidents and leaders of the CSU Academic Senate and California State Students Association expressing deep concerns about this action and its potential impact on our mission and our community.

We are—and we will remain—focused on serving the needs of our students, faculty and staff members, and broader community. Ensuring that every deserving student has access to a quality education is neither a political nor partisan issue; it is essential to our mission. And it cuts to the heart of who we are, what we stand for and what we value.

In that vein, I was proud to join thousands of community members two Saturdays ago in my capacity as a citizen, a parent, and a descendant of Armenian immigrants, marching to express my love for our country and its values. And I am proud of all Spartans—from all political perspectives—who exercise their constitutional right to protected free speech.

Supporting international, Dream Act students

With immigration policies in flux, we are working to engage, communicate with and support international students as well as students who are here thanks to the federal Dream Act, California’s AB 540 and related state laws.

Late last year I joined hundreds of leaders from public and private higher education in supporting federal policies aimed at protecting these students, and I renewed my support during visits in early January with lawmakers and other government officials in Washington D.C.

These visits were heartening, and we hope to welcome some members of our delegation to San Jose this spring to meet our students and see first-hand how important it is that we preserve educational opportunities for all who have earned them.

Supporting a safe environment

In last month’s blog I referenced several unsettling reports of sexual misconduct and our commitment to studying ways to enhance student and community safety.

Progress is being made on multiple fronts.

Informed by an inclusive group of campus stakeholders, Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas has developed a comprehensive set of safety initiatives including the hiring of more university police officers, additional campus surveillance cameras and enhanced lighting.

A detailed report outlining these plans will be available soon.

Efforts in support of Title IX, under the auspices of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, are also expanding:

  • Title IX staff are closely coordinating their efforts with University Police, reviewing all reported incidents that may be subject to Title IX regulations to determine if crime alerts should be issued. (This may increase the overall number of alerts.)
  • Communication with complainants and respondents in Title IX cases is intensifying with the goal of more regular and consistent case updates and check-ins to ensure that the needs of these individuals are being met.
  • More frequent campus dialogue; two campus conversations took place last fall; a third is planned for February and others will follow. A commitment has been made to greater transparency, including publishing a comprehensive report of reported Title IX incidents from fiscal year 2015-2016.
  • Enhanced training opportunities for designated confidential-level university community members, to increase the number of individuals eligible and available to support Title IX related processes.

While the outcome of criminal complaints is not within the university’s control or purview, these measures should enhance our ability to respond to Title IX incidents and support the needs of all affected parties. Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) will share more details on these efforts in coming weeks.

Celebrating our values

I’m very proud to share several initiatives and activities that reflect our values and demonstrate a commitment to social justice and student success:

Student Research

In early January, Associate Professor of Photojournalism Michael Cheers led a small group of students to an international conference on education to present research in which the students had participated in summer 2016. (Dr. Ruth Wilson co-led this project, which brought the students to Cuba to study Afro-Cuban culture.)

The project was structured to evaluate opportunities to close the achievement gap among underrepresented students by combining culturally relevant content and teaching methods. Academic Affairs and Student Affairs contributed support to this endeavor, enabling undergraduates to present research to more than 1300 participants representing at least 36 countries.

Upward Mobility

Earlier this month, SJSU was named one of America’s top ten universities for fostering students’ upward social mobility. The Social Mobility Index considered cost of attendance, graduation rates, median early career salaries and the percentage of students coming to campuses from low-income households.

According to the report, “…The SMI measures the extent to which a college or university educates more economically disadvantaged students (with family incomes below the national median) at lower tuition, so they can graduate and obtain good paying jobs. The new SMI rankings show that through wise policy-making, colleges and universities can be part of improving both economic opportunity and social stability in our country.”

We can all be proud to see SJSU ranked among leading American universities described in the New York Times as “…deeply impressive institutions that continue to push many Americans into the middle class and beyond — many    more, in fact, than elite colleges that receive far more attention.” This recognition is the result of everything our faculty and staff members, alumni, donors, and elected and community leaders have done and are doing on behalf of our students, our campus, and the CSU.

From Words to Action

Last Tuesday we celebrated the launch of the nascent Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change at SJSU with a morning symposium, From Words to Action, filling the Hammer Theatre Center and bringing together a luminous group of Spartans and other change agents from sports and the media. Panelists included NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown, Olympic champion Tommie Smith, several active or recently retired professional athletes, and many influential national and local sports journalists.

We are grateful to these individuals for lending their voices to an important conversation, and to institutional partners including the San Francisco 49ers and the York family; San Jose Earthquakes; Golden State Warriors; and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) for their contributions and active involvement.

The institute, guided by an advisory board now being formed, will facilitate educational offerings developed by SJSU faculty from multiple academic disciplines; stimulate research at the intersection of sports and society; and host ongoing community programming. (A panel conversation featuring women in sports media is now under consideration.)

Last week’s symposium—which attracted a large outpouring of national and local news media—and the institute itself bear the heart and soul of Dr. Harry Edwards, a proud Spartan whose commitments to human rights and social equity are well known and well documented.

Thanks to the efforts of many members of our campus community and others, and augmented by Dr. Edwards vision, SJSU is poised to influence and be at the epicenter of the national conversation about race relations, gender equity and human rights. A recent Mercury News editorial affirmed this, declaring that “…the time is right for San Jose State University’s new Institute…and so is the place.”

Personal commitment

We believe that as Spartans, what powers us changes our world. I want to acknowledge SJSU nursing student Annie Ho, whose quick reaction and selflessness helped save a life last November.

Annie helped administer CPR to a runner who fell ill while competing in last year’s annual Thanksgiving Silicon Valley Turkey trot. The Mercury News reported in mid-January on an informal “reunion” of the victim and his emergency caregivers at the race site.

Annie, Spartan nation is proud of you!

A look ahead

  • Efforts to engage and inform state lawmakers about the possibility of a tuition increase and advocate for additional investment in the CSU began last week, with a visit by Chancellor White and campus presidents to the state Capitol and meeting with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. (While there, I met with several lawmakers and administration officials.) This activity will continue throughout the spring.
  • We are continuing to engage local elected, transportation and community leaders in conversations about the future of BART’s downtown San Jose stations and associated regional planning issues. As a hub of downtown activity (more than 40,000 students, faculty and staff members on campus, many of whom also travel to and from nearby destinations, plus daily visitors to MLK Library and other campus destinations), SJSU’s voice and input are important to decisions that will eventually be made by the VTA board.
  • Academic Affairs and Student Affairs will co-host the second Student Success Summit this Friday, Feb. 3 in partnership with California Assemblymembers Evan Low and Ash Kalra. The focus of this working session will be identifying ways to enhance college readiness.
  • Many campus groups are engaged in strategic planning. Work continues on preparing for closure of the Vision 2017 strategic plan, and the Academic Senate last Friday held its winter planning retreat. I look forward to receiving and sharing updates on these and other planning efforts.

As a reminder, please share suggestions for these monthly posts by writing to zaynna.tello@sjsu.edu. I hope you find them informative and useful.

Here’s to a productive month!

 

President Papazian’s Message on International Travel Bans

Editor’s note: SJSU President Mary Papazian emailed the following to all SJSU students, faculty and staff on Jan. 30, 2016.

In addition, California State University Chancellor Tim White, California State Student Association President David Lopez, CSU Academic Senate Chair Christine Miller and the presidents of all 23 CSU campuses have issued a statement.

Dear Campus Community,

The latest federal executive order imposing specific immigration and international travel restrictions has intensified anxieties and concerns for many on our campus and throughout Silicon Valley.

This may be because so many of us are immigrants or descendants of immigrants who came to the United States in pursuit of freedom and opportunity. Seen through this lens, these are neither political nor partisan issues; they reflect our American values.

San Jose State University has a rich legacy in the fight for equity, social justice and human rights. Given this, and the fact that we serve a diverse student population fueling our valley’s workforce needs, caring so much about these issues is both understandable and appropriate.

Over the weekend, federal judges in four states issued orders temporarily delaying the implementation of certain policy provisions. And it appeared yesterday that a ban on reentry to the United States by those possessing green cards might be lifted.

I want to assure you that no matter how these policies unfold, SJSU will continue to seek ways to support any student, faculty or staff member potentially impacted by travel or immigration restrictions. We also are developing plans to ensure ample opportunities for constructive dialogue.

As new information becomes available, we will be sure to get it to you as quickly as possible.

Mary A. Papazian
President

President Papazian’s December Blog

Welcome to the first installment of what will become a monthly communication to the San José State University community.

As I settle into my first year as president of San José State, I want to take the opportunity to reach out to you regularly with updates on the latest developments on campus and beyond. I also will use this space to highlight the accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff—so if there are items that you would like to bring to my attention, please email my assistant, Zaynna Tello, at zaynna.tello@sjsu.edu.

The end of fall term is an apt opportunity for us to celebrate accomplishments and progress on key initiatives and for me to share initial impressions from my early months as your president.

Toward sustained stability, leadership

The traditional academic year unfolds along a somewhat predictable pace that I know is familiar to many of you. While this fall has in some respects been anything but “ordinary,” I am confident that SJSU is on a path toward stability and extraordinary opportunity.

This summer, you welcomed me as your new president—warmly and enthusiastically, I should add—and we have begun to fill other key academic and administrative leadership posts. I observed in August that I was fortunate to have inherited a highly capable leadership team. Several months later, I’m even more convinced of this.

Next year, we will welcome new deans to lead the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business and the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering while conducting recruitments for a new permanent dean of the Connie L. Lurie College of Education and a new vice president for Information Technology/Chief Information Officer. As I mentioned in announcing our intent to elevate the latter role to a cabinet-level position, a truly integrated and strategic technology infrastructure is essential to all of our efforts.

Faculty and staff achievement and collaboration

In the meantime, I have been deeply impressed by our faculty’s dedication, expertise across countless disciplines, and commitment to student success and scholarship. Although it is impossible to cite all of them here, I want to recognize several examples of excellence in teaching and scholarship.  I know you will be as proud of our colleagues as am I!

  • Department of Communication Studies Associate Professor Matthew Spangler’s adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s bestselling novel The Kite Runner opens at Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End on December 21 and runs through March 11, 2017.
  • Associate Professor of Astrophysics Aaron Romanowsky and several international colleagues discovered a massive galaxy that exists entirely of dark matter. (You can read the abstract online.) Romanowsky has another article pending in Nature.
  • Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Rachael French and Assistant Professor of Health Science & Recreation Miranda Worthen received SJSU’s Early Career Investigator Awards for their research efforts.
  • The Online Learning Consortium awarded SJSU the Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching for its exemplary support of faculty development for both hybrid and online courses. Jennifer Redd, the director of eCampus, received the award on behalf of the campus on Nov. 19.
  • Debra Griffith, AVP for Student Transition and Retention Services, in November was named a 2017 CSU Wang Family Excellence Award winner, recognizing her service to SJSU students over the past 16 years.

Supporting diversity and action

Many of you know that faculty diversity lags behind that of our student population. I want to acknowledge the good work of Associate Professor of Mexican American Studies Magdalena Barrera and Associate Professor of Educational Leadership Rebeca Burciaga, who are serving as Faculty-In-Residence seeking to diversify our faculty during a period of intensified recruiting. (We are in the midst of adding more than 130 new faculty positions over a two-year period.)

Magdalena and Rebeca actively have consulted faculty search committees, provided informative data assessments and insights, and meet regularly with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and others to support campus-wide efforts to diversify candidate pools.

Others of you have worked to ensure that we celebrate and support our community’s rich diversity. Our African-American and Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Task Forces have intensified efforts on behalf of student success through academic tutoring, finals week study sessions, other engagement activities and cultural celebrations. In addition, nine faculty members participated in a pilot program this fall, living in our residence halls as part of a pilot program seeking ways to better engage students.

Our Faculty Fellows initiative has amplified the work of our PRIDE and MOSAIC centers, helping identify ways to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment. 2016 Faculty Fellows include Erica Boas, an adjunct faculty member in the College of Social Science Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences Department; Funie Hsu, an assistant professor of American Studies; Manolo Callahan, a Mexican American Studies professor at MOSAIC, and Stephanie Preston, a counselor with SJSU’s Counseling and Psychological Services department supporting the PRIDE Center.

As many of you know, the fall semester also brought us many challenges related to diversity. I am grateful for the dedicated work of our nascent Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, led by Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau). Through campus programming, targeted training, guided conversations and thoughtful engagement with individual campus community members, Kathy and her colleagues are deepening SJSU’s commitment to a welcoming, inclusive community. This work will be more important than ever as we enter 2017.

On January 24, SJSU will host what I am confident will be a compelling symposium at the Hammer Theatre Center, in partnership with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE). This event—Sport, Activism and Social Change: From Words to Action—will feature an impressive array of panelists and also will serve to introduce the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change at SJSU. You will hear much more about this in early January.

Students: at the heart of it all

The success and engagement of our students is something of which we all can be proud.  I feel uniquely blessed by abundant opportunities to see our remarkable students in action. As is the case with our faculty and staff members, I can’t possibly herald everything that our students are doing, but let me offer a few examples:

Helping students succeed 

Even before arriving in San José, I was aware of the impressive, holistic efforts underway at SJSU to ensure college readiness, enhance student retention, and shorten the time to a degree. This work is too complex and requires too much integration to be led by any single campus unit; indeed, every one of us contributes in some way to ensuring student success.

Our Spartan Scholars Program was launched last summer to prepare at-risk students for the difficult transition from high school to college. New advising tools were added to aid students’ navigation through the complex maze of selecting courses and tracking degree requirements. New class sections were added to reduce bottlenecks; and more academic advisors are being hired.

I am very encouraged by signs that this work, collaboratively guided by Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, is paying dividends: Our four-year graduation rate has already risen from 10 to 14 percent; the six-year rate has risen from 57 to 62 percent; the underrepresented student achievement gap (which measures differential achievement among students from multiple racial and ethnic categories) has shrunk from 17 percent to 11 percent.

There is much more to be done if we are to meet (and exceed!) the four and six-year graduation targets established by the CSU by 2025. To that end, we joined with Assemblymember Evan Low to convene a Student Success Summit on September 30, beginning a solution-focused conversation about student success with representatives from K-12, community colleges, the CSU and local education foundations. This work will continue in 2017.

Adding building blocks for our community to thrive

Numerous steps were taken this fall to address our aging infrastructure. We dedicated the beautiful expansion and renovation of our Diaz Compean Student Union, fueled by a $15 million gift from Silicon Valley philanthropist Lupe Compean. Campus Village II opened, adding more than 800 new residential beds. Work began on both a student recreation and aquatic center (on the site formerly occupied by SJSU’s legacy “bricks” residence halls) and the initial phase of a planned overhaul of our South Campus athletic facilities.

Dudley Moorhead Hall is scheduled to reopen in January after months of extensive renovation work. And CSU trustees approved plans for the addition of a Science and Innovation Center, which, when built, will be the first new academic space on our campus in more than three decades.

Engaging beyond our borders

I’ve invested considerable time this fall meeting community and business leaders, elected officials and others to listen, learn and engage. While this at times takes me away from campus, the time invested is essential to building partnerships and attracting support for our shared efforts. I have heard—over and over—tremendous community support for SJSU and a desire that we be at the table for important conversations about the future of our region.

Of course, many of you also are actively engaged with the City of San Jose, County of Santa Clara and innumerable regional organizations and foundations—far too many to mention them all here. I have, however, sensed opportunities for SJSU to step up its regional engagement to ensure long-overdue transportation improvements, find solutions to the region’s housing crisis, and even more effectively meet the region’s evolving and growing workforce needs.

I was energized by strong engagement with local, state and federal officials and their enthusiasm for supporting our students and our mission. We are working actively—in close collaboration with the CSU and others—on an array of opportunities to bring additional resources and enhance our ability to serve students. Several lawmakers have expressed interest in supporting campus capital needs, which today are constrained by limited support from the state.

To leverage these opportunities and others, we will need to be continually attentive, engaged and ready to bring our intellectual assets and other resources to the table. There is room for you to contribute, and I hope that you will.

Milestones

A retrospective look at the fall is incomplete without acknowledging several significant moments of pride for us all, as well as considerable challenges.

We celebrated 50 years of noteworthy marine research and education at the Moss Landing Marine Laboratory. We welcomed home many luminaries from SJSU’s Speed City era of dominance in track and field for a day of celebration as we announced the return of men’s track and field to SJSU in 2018 as an NCAA sport. And the Hammer Theatre Center reopened its doors under SJSU management, restoring an exciting season of diverse artistic programming to downtown San Jose.

President Obama awarded the National Medal of Art and Humanities to alumnus and noted playwright Luis Valdez. SJSU advanced in national U.S. News rankings, rising from 8th to 6th among the West’s public comprehensive universities. The Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering rose from 4th to 3rd among national public comprehensive engineering programs, excluding service academies.

Earlier this month, Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier announced the hiring of Brent Brennan as SJSU’s new head football coach. Brent has deep Spartan roots—his parents met as SJSU students and he previously coached here for six seasons—and is uniquely prepared to support the academic progress and personal development of our student-athletes.

Challenges and opportunities

We end calendar year 2016 with much to be proud of, and much to do. The aftereffects of a highly contentious national election linger, as do concerns for students who may be affected by shifting immigration policies under a new administration. Our campus was shaken in recent weeks by reports of sexual misconduct that victimized numerous members of our community.

These issues, and others, demand—and are receiving—thoughtful, focused attention from university leaders, police and others.

Finally, an advisory group of SJSU faculty, staff and student representatives are collaborating on a review of SJSU’s Vision 2017 strategic plan, preparatory to beginning to imagine a future strategic plan for our campus. This work will continue into the spring.

I hope that this message illuminates my pride in SJSU and optimism about our future. On behalf of our campus leadership team, I wish you and yours a restful and joyous holiday season!

Mary Papazian

President

President Papazian’s Message on Campus Safety

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Dec. 8, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

The University Police Department (UPD) is investigating six cases of sexual battery that have been reported since October 17. These crimes occurred in Duncan Hall, Sweeney Hall, the Student Union, and Boccardo Business Complex. All of the victims were students.

These disturbing incidents have caused understandable anxiety in our community. I’m writing today to update you on the status of the investigations and several steps being taken or contemplated to enhance campus safety and security.

Responding to a tip from the community, UPD has identified and arrested a suspect in the Student Union case. The suspect is an SJSU student and it is believed that he may have committed additional unreported sexual batteries. If you were a victim of a sexual battery within the last week in the area of Clark Hall or the Dining Commons, please contact UPD.

Police are uncertain if other suspects are affiliated with SJSU. They believe that a single suspect may be associated with at least two of the remaining cases. Leads provided over the past few days are being pursued and police foot patrols have been intensified around campus.

It’s important to know what “sexual battery” means: touching intimate body parts without consent. While this may sound less severe than sexual assault, this behavior is deeply traumatizing to victims. I urge anyone who has been subjected to such conduct to contact UPD as soon as possible.

According to annual crime reports published by UPD, 11 cases of sexual battery were reported here in 2015, compared to 17 cases in 2016 (with several weeks remaining this calendar year). While there is no indication that we are experiencing a significant year-to-year increase in these crimes, even one case is too many.

We all know that campus safety and personal security is a real concern. Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas has been developing a comprehensive safety plan in collaboration with other campus stakeholders. Here are key elements:

Additional security cameras: Twenty-four additional cameras will be purchased and installed in the near future to complement existing video surveillance systems. But as a cautionary note, this video will be used as an investigatory tool and is not monitored in real time.

Police staffing: Recruiting is underway for six additional UPD patrol officers, which will increase the number of sworn officers on our campus to 32. UPD has received approval to hire an additional four Public Safety Assistants, which provides our own students with the opportunity to gain professional experience and expands the Safety Escort program.

Enhanced lighting: Like many of you, I often walk this campus late into the evening. I am very concerned about areas that lack adequate lighting or create blind spots for pedestrians. Additional lighting and related work will begin during the winter break, and continue through spring term.

While these plans move forward, I also want to ask for your help. Chief Decena this fall established a Student Advisory Board composed of students from all aspects of the campus community. This group has already offered many valuable insights. If you have suggestions or would like to get involved, please contact Chief Decena directly at peter.decena@sjsu.edu.

As an urban campus located in the center of a major U.S. city, working to enhance our collective safety and keeping you regularly updated will remain an ongoing top priority.

Sincerely,

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Message on Hate Incidents

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Nov. 12, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

This week brought multiple reports of aggressive behavior targeting students of color. Wednesday, an unknown assailant grabbed a Muslim-American student by her hijab in the West (Fourth Street) Garage, yanking her backwards and causing her to fall. And Friday afternoon, a South Asian student was verbally accosted while studying in the Engineering Building.

We’ve been in touch with both students to offer our support and encouragement. University police are investigating both cases.

There have been other reports of students facing subtle taunting and overt verbal attacks. I understand that some of you have experienced or observed this behavior in classrooms and elsewhere on campus.

All of this is deeply troubling. And it leaves students–including those who are undocumented–as well as faculty and staff members concerned for their safety. Many of you are frustrated and unsure how to appropriately respond. Some of you have asked for our help.

I understand. We are just days removed from an election that provoked a dizzying array of reactions ranging from elation to depression. In several U.S. cities, thousands have taken to the streets in protest. And, sadly, attacks against individuals have been reported on other college campuses and in many communities.

As I observed earlier this week, we are a family. We celebrate opportunities for healthy dissent. But no one should face intimidation–or worse–based on a political viewpoint or on racial, ethnic, religious, gender or sexual identity. An attack on any member of our family is an attack on us all.

So where do we go from here?

The university administration will continue to provide support to any student, faculty or staff member who seeks our help. We will explore opportunities to further enhance campus safety and security.

We will continue working with campus and community members interested in fostering healthy dialogue and promoting an inclusive, safe, supportive climate.

And I ask you, as a member of the Spartan family, to join me in approaching the upcoming holidays with respect and appreciation for the unique diversity that sets us apart among our nation’s public universities.

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Message on Election 2016

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Nov. 9, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

We all are processing the results of a long, hard-fought and often-contentious national election.  It is an opportunity to reflect on the resilience of our people and the constitutional freedom we enjoy to express our opinions, our aspirations and our feelings.

As one of America’s most diverse public universities, it is reasonable that this election would provoke uniquely strong–and potentially mixed–reactions.  These will take time to fully absorb, and process.

In his remarks to the nation this morning, President Obama observed that “…everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team… We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first.”

To the president’s comments, I would add this: as members of the San Jose State community, we, too all are members of one team, and one family.  And, as a community devoted to preparing students to be engaged, informed citizens, it is critically important that we provide ample room for diverse opinions to be expressed safely and civilly.

This evening at 7 p.m., we will hold a guided campus conversation: “Together We’ll Rise: A Community Dialogue Moving Us Forward From the Election.” The Residential Life Team, the Student Affairs division, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have collaborated to provide this opportunity to come together, help each other make sense of the election, and continue building the inclusive Spartan community to which we all aspire.

This dialogue will take place in front of the Smith/Carlos sculpture, which honors two Spartans for their brave, civil activism. I encourage you to honor their legacy by joining in this important conversation.

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Follow-up Message on Sexual Assaults

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Oct. 17, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

Recent reports of sexual violence involving several students have disheartened many of us. Many of you have expressed concern for their well-being. I’ve been encouraged by the response from our community.

I also have heard and taken to heart the concerns ​some of you have expressed about the issues illuminated by these incidents.

I write to you today to assure you that I am determined to do everything possible to ensure that SJSU is a safe, caring, inclusive community. I have every confidence that working together, we can make this happen.

But as a recent disturbing account from one student reminds us, there is much to be done–and it must involve our entire community. While we wait for criminal, student conduct and Title IX cases to be adjudicated, I want you to know how we plan to address the systemic implications of these incidents.

First, we will look comprehensively at how to improve communication in the wake of reported Title IX incidents. While many offices and individuals responded in the wake of last month’s incidents, it is clear that we need to better “connect the dots” among resource providers and more clearly identify primary points of contact for students involved in sexual misconduct cases. This review will be co-led by Student Affairs and our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Second, I am asking for a reevaluation of the protocols for determining when campus crime alerts should be issued. Although it appears that we were in compliance with federal guidelines in the recent incidents, I believe it is time to reexamine and consider changes to notification policies. University Chief of Police Peter Decena will oversee this review in consultation with appropriate subject matter experts and campus ​and community ​stakeholders, including students.

Third–and perhaps most critically–each of us must fully understand the gravity of sexual violence, harassment and discrimination and embrace our duty to help combat it. To that end, I’ve asked Title IX Officer Natalie Potts to arrange a series of campus conversations, facilitated by our own experts as well as others, beginning ​as soon as possible and continuing throughout the year. This will supplement existing CSU-mandated and other training that already is offered.

It is easy to say we want to do better. We also need to walk the talk. I ask you to join me on that journey.

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Message on Sexual Assaults

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Oct. 12, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

In the last 24 hours, news reports have surfaced regarding allegations of sexual assault involving a SJSU student and member of our men’s water polo team and two victims, also students. Although student privacy and numerous pending investigations limit what we can say, I want you to know as much as can be shared.

These deeply troubling reports first came to the attention of university staff last month. Because they occurred off campus, city of San Jose police (SJPD) have led the criminal investigation. I am told that the case is now being reviewed by the Santa Clara District Attorney’s office.

In the meantime, our Student Affairs staff and Title IX office have acted to protect and support the students involved while internal student conduct and Title IX inquiries moved forward. Although there are reports that the student is no longer in the U.S., these investigations are continuing.

Pending the outcomes of these investigations, the student accused of these acts was placed on interim suspension, barred from campus, and ordered to stay away from the victims.

I know some are wondering why a campus crime alert was not issued sooner. The totality of information available at the time—including the fact that the suspect had been identified and was being closely monitored—led to the determination that there was no imminent safety threat to the campus community.

While we are confident that this was a reasonable decision based on what we knew, I very much appreciate this concern. We will be reviewing all existing protocols and processes in collaboration with our newly established Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Excellence and many others. Please contact Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) or Title IX Officer Natalie Potts if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Mary Papazian
President

 

President Papazian’s Follow-up Message on Residence Halls

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Sept. 22, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

In the wake of yesterday’s disclosure of two swastikas and hateful language discovered in two of our residence halls, I left CSU meetings in Long Beach a day early and returned to San Jose late Wednesday night. I was back on campus this (Thursday) morning.

While mindful of the need to preserve student confidentiality, I am determined to be as transparent as possible. Let me update you on the latest developments.

First, the University Police Department (UPD) has made enough progress in its investigation that we are able to share some details. One of the two swastikas discovered Tuesday was accompanied by undeniably hateful, anti-Semitic language (“Admit One Jew”). Police have identified the student responsible and determined that this act, while bias-based, targeted no one in particular and is not by definition a hate crime.

The second incident involved a swastika and language scribbled on a white board, in a residence hall suite. The white board was described to police by the student responsible as a “joke board.” While this incident remains under investigation, police are confident that the two incidents are unrelated.

Meanwhile, we are focused on continuing to engage and support open dialogue with, and among, students, faculty and staff members, and community leaders. We all want to understand and make sense of these deeply disturbing acts. I’ve been reminded by several of you that symbols and words can carry different meaning and significance depending on one’s age, ethnicity, race, gender, faith and other factors.

We must ensure as many opportunities for dialogue as are needed to ensure that your voices are heard. Last night, our chief diversity officer and professional housing staff members facilitated a dialogue with 150 students. I’m grateful to our residence life and counseling staff for their dedication to our students’ concerns and needs.

Earlier today, I met with more than 100 faculty members and with the executive director of the local chapter of Hillel; I also briefed the media. This evening, I’ll meet informally with students in the Dining Commons at 8 pm.

A facilitated conversation on campus climate issues has been scheduled for next Thursday, September 29, and I will hold a town hall meeting with students on Wednesday, October 5. Details will follow soon.

While I remain disheartened and outraged by these profoundly hurtful acts, I am also encouraged by the response from our campus and broader community. Together, we can use this difficult moment to grow and learn how to be a fully inclusive and welcoming community.

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Message on Residence Halls

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Sept. 21, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

Staff members were informed Tuesday evening of two swastikas and hateful language found in Washburn Hall and Campus Village (CVC) on floors primarily housing first-year students.

University police (UPD) commenced an investigation last night. It is ongoing.

Chief Diversity Officer Kathy Wong(Lau), Student Affairs Vice President Reggie Blaylock and others have been working to ensure that we attend to the concerns and needs of our students, their resident advisors, and other staff. Guided conversations facilitated by the chief diversity officer and residential life professionals in Student Housing are being arranged for this evening.

I am both saddened and outraged by this news. Although I am in Long Beach for CSU meetings, I have spoken with campus and community leaders and shared our resolve to provide a safe learning environment where difficult issues can be addressed collaboratively and transparently.

As new information becomes available, we’ll share it with you. If you become aware of information that may be useful to investigators, please call UPD at 408-924-2222.

Sincerely,

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian’s Message on Gender Equity

Editor’s note: This was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Sept. 6, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

Our students’ success depends in large part on our determination to build and sustain a learning environment that is safe, affirming and non-discriminatory. We are just as obliged to provide a safe, equitable working environment for every faculty and staff member.

With these principles in mind–and in the wake of new reporting by the Mercury News of the sexual harassment of a student–I am writing to be sure we all are aware of our responsibilities and available resources. This is especially important in the early weeks of fall when, research tells us, students are at particular risk.

As I said during the fall welcome address, each of us has a role to play in supporting student success. That includes encouraging students to report inappropriate behavior to our Title IX office, and reminding faculty and staff members and administrators of their duty promptly to report potential violations, whether they occur on or off campus.

Prompt reporting is essential to supporting victims of inappropriate conduct and protecting others from similar behavior.

We already are benefiting from the leadership and experience of our new chief diversity officer, Kathy Wong(Lau), who brings particular expertise in equity and diversity training. We are committed to building our Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which Kathy leads.

Meanwhile, programs for students, faculty and staff members are being expanded and enriched on multiple fronts. You’ll hear more about them in coming weeks.

The actions alleged and related issues enumerated in news coverage are troubling. We are looking into them, we will learn from them, and we will take appropriate systematic actions based on what we learn. And I’m confident that working collaboratively and creatively, we will be the welcoming, inclusive and supportive community to which we all aspire.

Mary Papazian
President

President Papazian Delivers First Formal Speech to SJSU Community

Media Contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – President Mary Papazian introduced herself to the SJSU community, reflected on the university’s legacy, and shared her optimism about its future at the Fall Welcome Address, held noon Aug. 25 in the Student Union Ballroom.

This was President Papazian’s first formal speech to the campus community since taking office July 1. Academic Senate Chair Michael Kimbarow opened the event and welcome attendees. The speech is an annual tradition marking the start of the academic year.

All students, faculty, staff, community members and the news media were invited to attend. The event was streamed live.

Read the president’s prepared remarks.


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 145 areas of study with an additional 108 concentrations – offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 31,200 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 Martin’s Message on Campus Safety

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on June 29, 2016.

All,

As you may know, a shooting occurred near the intersection of South 11th and East San Antonio streets yesterday, leaving one victim dead and another gravely wounded. This occurred one block east of campus and within the jurisdiction of the San Jose Police Department.

Although few details have been released by police investigators, it has been determined that the victims are not SJSU students, faculty or staff members. That said, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.

I was deeply shaken by this news. The shooting occurred in a neighborhood where many students and other members of the SJSU community live or regularly walk. Our location—in the heart of Silicon Valley and in an increasingly vibrant downtown—is a significant asset. It provides our students with numerous professional and community service opportunities, as well as a rich residential and cultural life. We are working closely with the city of San Jose and other community partners to further enhance and enrich life in our city. If there is one certainty in all of this, it is that we all want a community with less crime and that is safe for everyone.

I would like to express particular concern for those most affected by yesterday’s events, including students living in nearby homes, apartments, sororities and fraternities, and I would like to thank these students for their patience while South 11th Street was closed to traffic as police secured the area during the early stages of their investigation.

As returning students and many others of you know, the Alert SJSU system sends messages about time-sensitive safety issues. New students are automatically registered for the service; if you are a staff or faculty member, I encourage you to register as well. All registered users can and should periodically update their information to ensure we have the appropriate contact data to connect with you for important safety alerts.

This system issued several alerts yesterday afternoon. While important, these updates can also be frightening. It is worth noting that, compared to other large cities, San Jose is among the nation’s safest urban communities.  We will continue to seek ways to further enhance your safety.

Our Student Affairs staff began outreach to affected students yesterday afternoon; those efforts continue today. Please keep in mind that counseling is available at no cost to students, faculty and staff members.

Sincerely,

Sue Martin, Interim President

Interim President Appointed

Susan Martin

Susan Martin

Chancellor Timothy P. White announced today the appointment of Susan Martin as the interim president of San Jose State University.

Martin, the former president of Eastern Michigan University, is a seasoned higher education leader with extensive experience in managing large, diverse universities.

She will assume leadership of the campus on August 18. Martin replaces President Mohammad Qayoumi who is leaving to serve as the chief advisor for infrastructure and technology to Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani.

Read the CSU release.

View Susan Martin’s resume.