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, 2017.

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.

Engineering Hall of Fame Inducts Qayoumi

The buzz was all about energy—human energy, that is—at the Silicon Valley Engineering Council‘s 2015 Engineers Week Banquet on Feb. 19 at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose.

“I believe that learning and imagination are the most potent forms of energy in the universe,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi in prepared remarks following his induction into the council’s Hall of Fame.

Clearly, engineering council members felt the same, devoting much of the event to mentoring the next generation of engineering talent.

Scholarship recipients

Scholarship recipients included three San Jose State students: Jose Alvarez, Biomedical Engineering; Linh Do, ’16 Chemical Engineering; and Giovanni Zecchini, ’16 Mechanical Engineering.

The council is an umbrella organization for engineering societies in the valley. Goals include promoting the career development of engineers and technical professionals.

Among the council’s founders was the late Jay Pinson, an SJSU engineering professor and dean widely recognized for corralling support for the first engineering college fundraising campaign in the 1970s.

Attendees

SJSU continues to engender that sense of community beyond campus. Among the event’s attendees was San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White and Tower Foundation Board Chair Amir Mashkoori.

Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, congratulated Qayoumi with a video message. They were once college roommates. Campus community members in attendance included President Qayoumi’s wife, an excellent example of the power of human energy.

“I am grateful to the love of my life and wife of 36 years, Najia, who has supported my academic and related public policy pursuits while carving out her own niche as an accomplished clinical dietitian and Persian poet,” the president said.

 

President Qayoumi and students

President Qayoumi’s Statement: November 18 Academic Senate Meeting

President Qayoumi and students

“I am hopeful that today’s Senate conversation, and others to come, will bring us closer together and help us exceed our individual and collective aspirations,” President Qayoumi said.

President Mohammad Qayoumi shared the following statement with the campus community following an Academic Senate discussion on Nov. 18 about SJSU’s governance:

Late Monday afternoon, our Academic Senate approved a resolution asking the Chancellor’s Office to initiate a review of university governance.

As a community, let us do all we can to support the Chancellor’s Office in responding to this request.

San Jose State’s tradition of shared governance is embodied in its Academic Senate, where elected faculty, staff, student, administrative and alumni representatives discuss and debate important issues.

Today’s Senate discussion revealed a desire for more transparency about our priorities and explored questions about some aspects of university governance.

San Jose State — indeed, California’s entire public higher education system — has coped for the last half decade with unstable, unpredictable public support. We all know that these economic conditions and related factors have impacted students and their families, and our capacity to serve them.

Since 2011, we have confronted these issues while laying a foundation for a stable, bright future. Together, we have faced and surmounted some tough challenges, including erasing a structural budget deficit of $32 million. Other challenges remain, but I believe we are on the right track.

As I said during the meeting, communication is the basis for effective governance. I am hopeful that today’s Senate conversation, and others to come, will bring us closer together and help us exceed our individual and collective aspirations.

Q&A with President Qayoumi

President Qayoumi leaning against his desk in his office at Tower Hall.

President Mohammad Qayoumi.

During his Fall Welcome Address, President Qayoumi outlined an ambitious strategic planning process that will begin with 40 town hall meetings this fall. In a recent interview, we asked San Jose State’s new president to tell us about himself and his vision for the university.

In your Fall Welcome Address, you told us how important it is to expect to realize our potential. Did you expect to realize your own potential? Where do you get your drive and ambition?

I got my ambition and drive, first, from my family. My father had only an elementary school education, and my mother had no schooling. But they really wanted my siblings and me to have an opportunity to go to college. As I became part of the educational system, their nurturing and my own personal drive really became the force that pushed me. You get to a certain stage where the quest for learning, the quest for knowledge becomes analogous to drinking salt water to quench your thirst. The more you drink it, the thirstier you get.

You have a wide skill set and five degrees. You could have followed many paths. Why did you choose university administration?

There are a number of reasons I chose university administration. Number one: as a value set. And in what place can one be close to such a fountain of knowledge and creativity? The joy and the pleasure of working with so many distinguished faculty members from all the different disciplines. The joy of working with so many students who are not only our future, but who also bring great ideas and enthusiasm. That was really what attracted me. Because I think, first and foremost, that universities are cradles of optimism. In addition to that, universities have always been microcosms of our democracy. We look at the basic structure and the value system of our universities, and what has really strengthened our democracy has been our education system.

People have been saying that you only take off one day a month. Is that true?

Let me start this way: I think a university president’s job is 24-7. You’re expected to be on duty. At the same time, everyone needs time to refresh and rejuvenate.

How do you get so much done while maintaining a work-life balance?

Part of it is how we manage our time. We must recognize that time is the most precious asset that we have. You cannot lend some. You cannot give some. Any minute that is wasted is a lost opportunity. We keep balanced by managing our time.

Do you have any hobbies?

Certainly. I like to read a lot. I like to write and listen to classical music, and my wife and I both enjoy traveling. We also do community service—which makes a contribution, but is also personally rewarding and gives a sense of self-fulfillment.

What do you read regularly? What is your favorite book?

I don’t have a regular reading list. I can put what I read in categories. There’s reading on what is happening in education and technology as it impacts education, policies and world issues. I also have an interest in literature. I read a lot of classics. I don’t have a favorite book; I have many books that have been favorites. There’s a saying in Persian that “every flower has its own fragrance.” I think it’s hard to say that one book is one’s favorite because each book enriches us in its own special way. Some make a stronger impact on us than others.

What is your advice to the campus for keeping up with your pace?

All of us have the same capacity and pace. I don’t think it’s an issue of my pace. It is the pace we have to collectively maintain to be able to stay on par with the rest of the region, the state and the nation. Especially if we want to excel, we have to be able to move at the pace that will sustain our excellence. Part of what keeps us motivated to keep the pace is seeing the positive impact that we’re making.

What is the one thing the San Jose State community should know about you?

I’ll give you a comment that was made about me at my former campus: I say what I’m going to do and I do what I say.

What should the campus expect from the strategic planning process?

The strategic planning process is an opportunity for us to collectively determine our future. That’s why the questions at each of the 40 town hall meetings will be very general, without any preconceived direction of where the discussions will go. Getting input from everyone on campus is critical. I want everyone to participate and to share what goals, aspirations and dreams they have for the university. And I hope that our students, faculty and staff will think of audacious goals.

How will the budget impact the formulation and the implementation of the strategic plan?

The budget should not dampen our imagination and aspirations. To me, the budget is tactical. It gives an indication of how fast we can accomplish our goals. Budget ups and downs have always been a reality. Given the fact that state support has continuously dropped for the last 50 years, we should expect that it will drop further. We must look at other revenue streams, and find innovative ways to accomplish our goals. We can also be more efficient in how we accomplish our tasks.

What are your views on increasing research, scholarship and creative activity here at SJSU?

They are an important part of what universities do. It’s hard to separate those elements from the whole learning process. It’s that joy of discovery that makes universities the exciting places that they are. Learning and teaching are very much connected to the research and discovery. That’s why we should look at other ways to attract more resources—through philanthropic activities and research grant activity. We can also reduce our cost structure to give us more resources to put toward these activities.

Reduce our cost structure?

In other words: enhance our efficiencies. That does not mean reducing staff, but we can reduce costs by better utilization of technologies and fostering innovation. Can we improve the campus’s energy efficiency? That will mean cost savings. How can virtualize more of our IT system as a whole? That will be something that can reduce cost. These two are merely examples.  The key is  how can we use technology in ways that will enhance our efficiencies?

How do you intend to engage our students and show them that we’re putting their needs first?

I have already met with the Associated Students president and student leadership. We will have monthly meetings with the AS president and vice president, as well as the entire board. This will be a way to hear their issues.

We’ve heard that you reached out to 200 Silicon Valley CEOs on your first day as president. In your Fall Welcome Address, you talked about outgrowing old boundaries. Why is connecting with the community important for SJSU’s future?

We’re part of the community and we have to be part of the fabric of the community. Our future and the community’s future are very much intertwined. We need to see how we can support them. As we support them, the value that we bring will be a way to engage all the stakeholders of the university. Everybody wants to support entities that benefit them. Whether that’s public support through the legislative process for more resources, or engaging in philanthropic activity, both with individuals and with corporations, people would like to put their resources where they feel they make a difference. No organization can sustain itself in isolation. We are connected in a multitude of ways with the communities that we serve.

What is San Jose State’s potential?

San Jose State uses the phrase “powering Silicon Valley.” But powering Silicon Valley in the sense of building the human capital, which is the most valuable asset of the Valley. If you really reflect on the last 50 years and the collective impact that Silicon Valley has had on the quality of life all around the world, it’s tremendous. The breadth and depth of it is astounding. We need to recognize our role in that success. We need to use our distinguished past as we move forward because, as the saying goes, it’s only the best that want to get better.

Anything to add?

When we have audacious dreams, we have to have the discipline and the mental fortitude to execute them systematically. Having dreams is great. But if you do not implement them, they are just dreams. It becomes a vision when you take systematic steps to realize them in a very consistent way, with a set of measures, metrics, goals and benchmarks.

We are a large and complex institution. It’s natural that even with the best of intentions that we could have different areas that end up in their own silos—and unintentionally end up without proper alignment with the direction of the university. For us, the more we can align our efforts toward the betterment of the institution, toward the vision of the university, the more we can increase our effectiveness. Our degree of effectiveness will be something that increases our chance of attaining our goals. That’s why it is important for everyone to understand what the vision of the institution is and how the goals and roles that they have really affect the overall direction of the university.

Read more about President Qayoumi in a San Jose Mercury News story.