SJSU Appoints Vice President for University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation

New Vice President of University Advancement, Theresa Davis.

New Vice President for University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation, Theresa Davis.

Theresa Davis has been appointed vice president for University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. She will join the San Jose State campus community on July 1, 2020.

“Theresa joins us at a pivotal moment in SJSU history, and we are delighted to have her on board,” said President Mary A. Papazian.

Davis brings an abundance of relevant experience to the position, including more than 25 years of management and fundraising work. Her background is broad and diverse, with campaign management, major gifts, corporate and foundation relations and annual giving among her areas of expertise.

Most recently, Davis has been serving as the assistant vice president of engagement and annual programs at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In that role, she has had responsibility for Alumni Relations, the Caltech Associates, the Caltech Fund and Parents Program, and Campus Programs—which engages its local community in campus life.

Prior to working at Caltech, Davis was the associate vice president of college and program development at Cal State Fullerton. She had responsibility for the directors of development, who spearheaded fundraising efforts for each of the campus’s eight colleges and athletics department.

Davis previously served as the associate vice president of major and planned gifts at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), where she and her team secured financial support for medical specialties. Prior to that, she was campaign director for the California Science Center, served as senior director of development for the UCLA College, was director of development for the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at UC Riverside and held the roles of associate director of corporate relations and director of the alumni fund, both at Caltech.

Davis has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University and a master’s in public administration from the University of Southern California.

SJSU Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) Honored by YWCA Silicon Valley

SJSU Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau).

SJSU Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) was selected as an honoree for the 2020 Tribute to Women Awards by YWCA Silicon Valley.

San Jose State Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) has been selected as an honoree for the 2020 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award. She is among 53 outstanding women leaders who will be honored by YWCA Silicon Valley at its annual Tribute to Women Awards. Now in its 36th year, the YWCA Awards honor women who have excelled in their fields and have made significant contributions to Silicon Valley through their leadership.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by an organization whose work and history has focused on gender equity, not only through celebration but also through its hard work on the ground,” said Wong(Lau).

Wong(Lau) joined SJSU in 2016 and leads the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. With a clear vision and strong direction, she has worked to ensure SJSU has a safe and welcoming climate for all 36,000 students and 4,500 faculty and staff in the Spartan community.

She’s made significant advances in diversity, inclusion, and equity on campus by designing and implementing university-based diversity programs. The Intergroup Dialogue program is an eight-week session where small groups of people from different social identity groups meet to discuss various scenarios. The purpose of the program is to foster greater understanding and better relations between different groups on campus. Wong(Lau) launched faculty training on inclusive teaching, and designed and led mandatory diversity training for incoming freshmen. She also provides counsel and instruction on diversifying faculty through reducing bias in recruitment and serves as an advisor and liaison to community partners and constituents on a wide variety of diversity initiatives.

“Kathy has been instrumental in making San Jose State a much stronger institution, and her influence has changed the culture of our campus for the better,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. “Her vast knowledge of diversity issues, coupled with an empathetic and people-centric approach, has made her an indispensable member of my leadership team.”

Kathy Wong(Lau)

Wong(Lau) spoke at the fall welcome for the Chicanx-Latinx fall student welcome in 2017. Photo by David Schmitz.

Over the course of her career, Wong(Lau) has become known as a nationally recognized leader in diversity and inclusion initiatives. She joined SJSU from the University of Oklahoma, where she served as director of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE). At the University of Oklahoma and Michigan State University, Wong(Lau) trained faculty on inclusive teaching in STEM and administrators on diversity management. On the national landscape, she consults with other academic institutions on ways faculty and staff can support underrepresented and first-generation students.

Wong(Lau) holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from CSU East Bay and completed a dual master’s/doctorate program in communication with an intercultural concentration at Arizona State University. In 2015, Diverse Issues in Higher Education named her one of “Top 25 Women in Higher Education.”

YWCA Silicon Valley plans to honor Wong(Lau) at an upcoming Tribute to Women Awards dinner, date still to be determined. The awards are an effort to encourage women’s leadership and promote equal advancement opportunities for women of diverse backgrounds.

“Essence of Blackness” Event Educates, Entertains and Builds Community

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Brian Andres & the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel perform at the second annual Essence of Blackness event (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

The pounding of conga drums married with the seductive blare of the trumpet filled the Student Union Ballroom as part of the second  annual Essence of Blackness event.

The African AmericanStudent Success Task Force hosted the event along with its Harambee Committee to explore just one influence of African culture on the world by focusing on jazz music and its rich, diverse history in the United States and beyond.

“Harambee, the arm of the task force that sponsors these kinds of events, brings together not only the African American students, faculty and staff but also reaches out to the larger campus to participate in cultural events,” said Michelle Randle, director of the CASA Student Success Center and chair of Harambee. “And [also it is important] for the African American students to see the support that they actually have on campus beyond themselves.”

The Essence of Blackness theme was born last year following conversations with African American students regarding the type of programming they felt was necessary to share with the campus community, with an educational component being at the forefront.

Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism

Charlie Channel of the Charlie Channel Quartet strums on his bass during a traditional jazz performance at the second annual Essence of Blackness event (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

“I do think young people now are not exposed to jazz and do not always understand that its origins do come from Africa and this country,” Randle said.

Charlie Channel of the Charlie Channel Quartet, one of two types of jazz represented that night, lectured attendees on the history of jazz before delving into a traditional jazz performance.

Channel read Langston Hughes’ poem titled “Drums,” which represents the origin of jazz by chronicling the movement of slaves from Africa while describing the survival and re-emergence of the drums into new lands.

“When you think about slavery and tribes of people who were thrown together, who didn’t know each other, the oppression, the brutality, there was just one thing they had in common — it was the drum,” Channel said. “Ultimately, it resulted in this new form of music that had never been heard before on the planet called ‘jazz.’”

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A server from Sandi’s Cobbler Cups serves American soul food at the second annual Essence of Blackness event (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

The genre’s diversity was introduced to attendees by Brian Andres, the drum set and leader of the Brian Andres & the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel. He discussed how the music evolved in the United States with the help of Mario Bauza, a Cuban clarinetist who played a role in launching the Afro-Cuban jazz movement during the Harlem Renaissance.

While some attendees leapt to their feet and danced as Andres and his band’s upbeat conga drumming and lively trumpeting reverberated throughout the ballroom, others merely indulged in Walia Ethiopian, Caribbean and American soul-food cuisine.

As part of the Harambee Awards, a first in the program’s history, commemorative clocks were given to individuals in the campus community who have served and shown commitment toward the success of African American students.

Six members of administration, four students and two community members were awarded recognition and two students were given special recognition for their “Strength in the Face of Adversity.”

“It means something if it comes from the community out to people to say ‘hey we recognize what you do, and we want to publicly be able to acknowledge your contributions because I don’t think people do it for the recognition,” Randle said. “They do it because they love what they do, they want to see the students succeed, and they want to be a part of a community that supports everybody.”

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Commemorative clocks were given to individuals in the campus community who have served and shown commitment toward the success of African American students (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

Gary Daniels, Harambee awardee, said although he is thankful for the recognition, he is not a student activist to gain accolades.

“Young people should use their talents and energy to make the world a better place regardless of whether they get awarded or recognized,” Daniels said.

Jerusalem Bekele, ’17 Kinesiology and fellow Harambee awardee, said events like Essence of Blackness are essential to not only educating the campus community about various cultures and the origin of traditions, but also to building a sense of community.

“Our perspective is kind of limited to what’s in front of us, and not necessarily outside so events like this kind of reach outside of America,” Bekele said. “I think it introduces a lot of culture and tradition to the SJSU community as well.”

Donntay Moore-Thomas, ’17 Communications, said although it was nice to see familiar faces that comprise the three percent African American population at SJSU, she was thrilled to see people from other cultural backgrounds attend as well.

“If we can share a meal together, I feel that we can come together for a greater cause,” Moore-Thomas said.