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2010-11 Distinguished Service Award: Patricia Backer

Patricia Backer headshot

2010-11 Distinguished Service Award: Patricia Backer, professor of aviation and technology.

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Student Assistant

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes a faculty member for exemplary service in a leadership capacity to the university and/or community or profession that brings credit to San Jose State University.

Patricia Backer, professor in the Aviation and Technology Department, says that service is about being a part of the community and being responsible to people in the workforce. Backer’s personal impact and selfless contributions have earned her the 2010-2011 Distinguished Service Award.

Backer joined the faculty in 1990 and has since made many contributions, including serving tirelessly to faculty governance, devoting time to community support, and working to enhance and enrich student success.

“A key thread that runs through her contributions, is that she has worked in many capacities to promote the education and success of our students,” wrote a nominator. “She has worked collaboratively to develop a number of advanced general education courses, thus striving to deepen and broaden students’ critical thinking and life-long-learning skills.”

Through her work in the General Engineering Department, Backer helps lead faculty members to develop green engineering programs, curricula and initiatives. Backer also works with faculty members on various projects through her leadership positions on committees and organizations on campus, which she says gives her “an opportunity to mentor and give good direction.”

Students also benefit from Backer’s commitment to service. She has enhanced the curriculum in the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering by developing advanced general education sources. Backer is currently working with the Office of the Provost to obtain grants for student success efforts that will provide educational intervention for at-risk students, writing skills support for minorities, and active learning strategies in STEM courses.

Backer has been chair of many committees on campus, including Professional Standards, Organization and Government, Program Planning and Undergraduate Studies. The service that Backer provides in her leadership roles complements her central commitment to service at San Jose State.

“One thing SJSU gives you is opportunities,” says Backer when talking about her ability to go the extra mile in service. “If you have the ability or desire to try it, SJSU gives you a chance.”

Backer earned a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University, two masters’ degrees from Tennessee Temple University, and a master’s degree and doctorate from Ohio State University.