SJSU Center for Literary Arts Presents MacArthur Genius Awardee Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen

In its most ambitious annual program yet, the Center for Literary Arts at San José State University brings to Silicon Valley three 2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning writers. For $100, patrons of the arts, be they paupers or kings, can hear, meet and converse with all three of the 2016 recipients of the nation’s most prestigious literary awards in fiction, autobiography, and poetry.

Our first speaker for the season, Viet Thanh Nguyen, was named a 2017 MacArthur Genius for his work in nonfiction and fiction. Nguyen, who won the Pulitzer for fiction for The Sympathizer, a story of espionage during the Vietnam War, grew up in San Jose in the 1970s and 1980s as a refugee. His parents founded one of the city’s first Vietnamese groceries. The Sympathizer’s nameless main character, a communist spy, expresses a Vietnamese perspective on the war, American politics, and Hollywood’s treatment of the Vietnamese people. Nguyen has become an international literary star, writing fiction and nonfiction about the war and the global diaspora of Vietnamese people. He recently appeared in Elle France magazine. His story, “I’d Love You To Want Me,” from his new short-story collection The Refugees, appeared in Russian Esquire. In conversation with San Francisco writer Andrew Lam, himself a Vietnamese refugee, Nguyen speaks at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo de San Antonio Walk, Downtown San Jose.

California surfer and international political journalist William Finnegan, author of the autobiography Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, described himself as a young man as “general prick,” in a December 2015 interview. He was so fanatical about surfing, he said, that he had no time or interest to give to girlfriends, even those he loved. Finnegan, currently a staff writer for The New Yorker, spent nearly four years beginning in 1978 surfing the world’s beaches, then decades fermenting his autobiography, even as he earned national writing and journalism awards covering politics and wars in South Africa, Mozambique and Mexico as well as U.S. immigration and what it’s like to be an American teenager. William Finnegan speaks in conversation with author Steve Kettmann and reads at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Cafe Stritch, 374 S. 1st St., San Jose.

Historian, memoirist and poet Peter Balakian has researched and written extensively about the genocide against Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The mass murder, including forced marches and concentration camps, claimed at least 1.5 million lives, including members of his family. His grandmother and aunts fled on foot. Growing up in suburban New Jersey after World War II, his family’s history “wasn’t spoken about. It was not discussed,” Balakian told the PBS Newshour on May 30, 2016, after winning his prize. He began writing poetry as a college student and to explore his family’s heritage in the mid-1970s. San José State University President Mary Papazian, who holds a doctoral degree in English and is also Armenian, will interview the poet. Peter Balakian, author of Ozone Journal, appears at 7 p.m. April 12 at the
Hammer Theatre Center.

Tickets for each event may also be purchased individually, with student discounts available. Visit  for details.

October is Academic Success Month

The following message has been shared with students to promote preparation for spring 2018 registration:

Spartans like you are taking advantage of many resources during October’s Academic Success Month to help prepare for the future, starting with spring 2018 registration. Your fellow students are using online tools and attending a number of events to get a jumpstart on planning courses for next semester and beyond. You have access to these resources, too, to begin planning a 15-unit course load that will keep you on track for graduation.

Successful students will check their exact registration appointment in MySJSU on Oct. 24 to be ready when registration begins on Oct. 31. They also email advising questions in advance of their registration time to

Students who use our MyGPS online tools prepare for the upcoming semester and beyond with resources that include: MyRoadmap (four year degree plans for all majors), MyProgess (shows what classes you have left in their degree), MyScheduler (allows you to plan classes around your outside commitments), and MyPlanner (maps out all the classes you need until graduation).

Other events Spartans will be attending include:

  • Ask an Advisor: 10/16 – 10/19 from 11am – 3pm: Advising at tabling on 7th Street plaza
  • One stop Pre-Registration Advising & Resource Fair: Advising Connections/Spartan Up: Wed, Oct. 25 between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.:AS BBQ pits located between the AS house and the West Garage (Fourth Street). Lunch will be available between 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or until the food is gone.)

Your fellow Spartans also take advantage of many resources to support their academic success all year long:

Like many of your fellow Spartans, we hope you find the resources and activities available during October’s Academic Success Month to be helpful in planning your next semester at SJSU.

University Grants Academy Applications Due Nov. 6

Professors applying for grants listen to Amy D'Andrade speak during the start of the University Grants Academy at San Jose State University on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Professors applying for grants listen to Amy D’Andrade speak during the start of the University Grants Academy at San Jose State University on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

Applications for the 2017-18 Universtiy Grants Academy (UGA) are now available and due by Nov. 6, at 5 p.m. The UGA supports faculty members from across the campus through the process of writing a substantial external grant proposal to fund their research, scholarship or creative activity (RSCA). The UGA is a developmental experience designed for faculty members new to external grant-writing. Tenured/tenure track (T/TT) faculty who have not yet received major external grants are eligible to apply. Faculty members developing proposals to fund their research, their scholarly endeavors or their creative activity work will have priority, but those seeking other types of extramural grants (e.g., training grants or program or curriculum development) may be considered if space permits.

Faculty who are accepted into the program receive 0.2 assigned time for T/TT faculty and the resources covering the supporting tools at the disposition of the T/TT faculty during the UGA program:

  • Workshops by campus experts on various asinto of proposal development in fall 2017;
  • A spring program providing technical support, resources and mentoring from campus experts and successful SJSU grant writers in spring 2018;
  • Proposal reviews by senior scholars in the field;
  • $500 in O&E funds if proposal submitted by the first open submission window after UGA completion; and
  • Individualized coaching to support the completion and submission of an external grant proposal.

Applications are due to the Office of Research by November 6, 2017 by 5:00pm.

The UGA application is available via DocuSign. Once the information is completed, it will be sent to department chair and then the College Dean for review/approvals, then sent to the Office of Research once it is completed. If you need assistance with DocuSign, please visit the DocuSign support page. Application Form 2017-18 (PDF) i is also available to be printed and may be submitted via email to the Office of Research (

Proposals must contain the following:

  1. The UGA application form;
  2. A current CV;
  3. A proposal budget and budget justification; and
  4. A draft proposal narrative containing at minimum:
    1. 5-6 pages outlining the scope and methodology of the project to be funded (what you propose to do and how it will be implemented; aka the Research Strategy/Project Description); and
    2. 1-2 pages introducing the problem or issue being targeted and why the problem is important.

Applications will be reviewed and evaluated by members of the RSCA Advisory Council. Final participants will be selected by the Office of Research informed by the RSCA Advisory Council recommendations. The following criteria will be used to evaluate proposals:

  • Completeness of application;
  • Strength of application elements and likelihood of potential funding;
  • Evidence of faculty member’s ability to complete a proposal within the UGA timeframe;
  • Fit of faculty interests and needs with the goals of the UGA.

If you have questions about whether your project would be categorized as RSCA, consult with your chair, your college’s Associate Dean for Research (or relevant contact), and/or your college’s RSCA metrics. You may also email the Associate Dean for Research in the Office of Research at SJSU, Gilles Muller ( or the Assistant Vice President for Faculty Development, Amy Strage (

Additional Information

SJSU Professor Peter Beyersdorf Associated with 2017 Nobel Prize Winners

Peter Beyersdorf

Peter Beyersdorf

San Jose State Astronomy and Physics Associate Professor Peter Beyersdorf had a long association with two of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Physics winners and their Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) Science Collaboration. Beyersdorf was a member of the LIGO organization from its inception until 2014, first as a graduate student at Stanford, then as a post-doctorate at the National Astronomical Observatory in Japan, and then as a faculty member at SJSU.

“During my 14 years working on gravitational wave detection, I primarily developed and tested small-scale prototypes of the large interferometer configurations used in the detectors that recently observed gravitational waves for the first time,” he said, noting that his graduate thesis, “The Sagnac Interferometer for gravitational wave detection,” was the first comprehensive analysis of an interferometer configuration first proposed by Rai Weiss, one of this year’s Nobel Laureates. Barry Barish, another of this year’s Laureates, founded LIGO in 1997.

Beyersdorf has authored or co-authored 76 journal articles related to gravitational wave detection. He has supervised research for more than a dozen students, including two SJSU students, Adnan Alam and Mark Cordier, who worked at the LIGO Gravitational Wave Observatory in Hanford, Wash.

Read more about the Nobel Prize in Physics online.

Provost Office Celebrates Homecoming

As part of the week-long Homecoming festivities, San Jose State University hosted an inaugural golf cart parade on Wednesday, Oct. 4 as an opportunity for Spartans to show their pride. The Office of the Provost Office staff members decorated a cart and donned superhero capes in Spartan gold and blue. The parade participants included student organizations, athletes, cheerleaders and campus departments. The Spartan football team will compete against Fresno State on Oct. 7, at 4:30 p.m. in CEFCU Stadium.


More Homecoming Week activities:

Thursday, October 5th

Photo Bus with Homecoming Court Candidates
7th Street Plaza

6th Annual Student Services Center (SSC) Open House

SSC on 9th & San Fernando Street
The Student Services Center (SSC) is celebrating our Spartans by hosting our sixth annual Open House. Come enjoy refreshments, meet the staff and learn more about how the SSC serves over 120,000 students and prospective students each year. Play games to discover the amazing departments that are housed in the SSC and meet Sammy! Prizes, food and fun!
Fire On The Fountain
Tower Lawn
Associated Students continues the homecoming tradition at SJSU with the annual Fire on the Fountain Homecoming celebration. The event begins at 4pm with free food, student organization activities, and performances. The pep rally ignites later at 8pm with fire dancers, athletics, and homecoming royalty.
SAMMY-Look-A-Like Contest!
SJSU (Various Locations)
Campus-Wide Door Decorating
SJSU (Various Locations)

Friday, October 6th

Spartan Men’s Soccer vs UNLV
South Campus Soccer Field

Saturday, October 7th

Spartan Women’s Volleyball vs. New Mexico
Spartan Gym
Homecoming Tailgate
South Campus – Soccer Practice Field
Pre-game festivities – food, giveaways, music and much more! Buses available beginning at 1:30pm to shuttle students from Campus Village Quad area to South Campus
Spartan Football vs. Fresno State
CEFCU Stadium