Show Your Spartan Spirit at Feb. 25 Interdivisional Competition

Event flier

Event flier

SJSU staff and faculty are invited to attend the second annual interdivisional competition Feb. 25 at the Spartan Women’s Basketball game against Boise State, in the SJSU Event Center. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the game starts at 2 p.m. RSVP online.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Andy Feinstein and Vice President for Student Affairs Reggie Blaylock launched the event last year when they competed to see which division could fill more seats in the stands during a women’s basketball game. Faculty and staff, along with their families, were invited to attend. The pair provided a meal and lots of entertainment throughout the evening, including a free throw competition, a cheer off and a relay race. At the end of the evening, Academic Affairs was crowned victorious for the evening’s competition and Provost Feinstein accepted a trophy on behalf of the division. This year’s event promises even more fierce competition as invitations have been extended to include University Advancement and Administration and Finance colleagues – all four divisions will compete to take home the trophy and the title of most Spartan Spirit.

April Newsletter: Provost Update – SJSU Celebrates Diversity and Promotes Inclusion

University settings bring together people from many different backgrounds in a collaborative environment. This is especially true at SJSU, where we have one of the most diverse campuses in the nation. This month’s newsletter highlights the many ways our life experiences influence our interactions, creating a rich climate for innovation and learning for all members of the SJSU community.

For the past two years, I have been privileged to serve as co-chair of the President’s Commission on Diversity. We have made strides in fostering a dialogue around diversity and inclusion, most recently in April when we held a discussion on the 2015 Campus Climate Survey. Students, staff and faculty members were invited to a presentation on the survey results and then provided with an opportunity to share their feedback in focus groups, while also expressing thoughts on moving toward a more inclusive community. This month also marks the appointment of the first-ever SJSU chief diversity officer, Dr. Kathleen Wong(Lau). She will lead the Office of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. I invite you to join us in finding ways to advance our efforts together.

As provost, I am especially proud of the African American and Chican@/Latin@ Student Success task forces, which have been working hard for more than two years to build a sense of community for underrepresented minority students. The task force members have hosted a multitude of activities, such as the Adelante study breaks and the Essence of Blackness cultural celebration. These task forces began as part of Academic Affairs, but are now moving to Student Affairs where they will be managed by the new AVP for Retention and Transition Services. I remain committed to these efforts and this realignment will allow us to more effectively support student success priorities across divisions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff and faculty members who have served on the task forces, and encourage all of you to join this collaborative effort to connect students to the campus in meaningful ways.

In Academic Affairs, we have also been building more opportunities for students to engage in international experiences through faculty-led programs, online exchanges in on-campus classes and research projects with overseas partners. We recognize the growing relevance of global citizenship in educating college students. Global citizenship encompasses an ability to work with people from around the world, but it also creates empathy between people with different backgrounds, experiences and histories. I encourage you to learn more about how we can provide students with these opportunities by connecting with colleagues in the College of International and Extended Studies.

Andy Feinstein
Provost and VP for Academic Affairs

Professor Connects Science and Philosophy in Research

Dr. Janet Stemwedel will present at the University Scholars Series on April 20. Here, she is shown during a discussion at a Science Online conference.

Dr. Janet Stemwedel will present at the University Scholars Series on April 20. Here, she is shown during a discussion at a Science Online conference.

Dr. Janet Stemwedel received a PhD in chemistry before she realized her true interest was in philosophy.

“A long time ago, when I was 21, I was sure I was going to be a chemist when I grew,” she said. “Then, because I realized that the questions that kept me up at night – like about how humans, with our limited sensory apparatus and our comfortable biases, can manage to build reasonably accurate knowledge about our world – were really philosophical questions, I went back to school to get a PhD in philosophy so I could focus on the philosophy of science.”

Stemwedel, the chair of the Philosophy Department in the College of Humanities and the Arts and the director of the SJSU Center for Ethics, will be presenting the final University Scholars Series lecture of the spring semester on Wednesday, April 20, from noon to 1 p.m., in MLK 255/257. She will be talking about recent research that explores the ethical dimensions of being a good scientist that extend beyond avoiding or responding to scientific misconduct.

While philosophy of science research has been traditionally focused on what scientists do to build reliable knowledge, Stemwedel has been interested in science as a human activity.

“Scientific knowledge is the result of particular kinds of interactions between human scientists who are also interacting with the piece of the world they’re studying,” she said. “Once you have an activity that requires humans to interact with each other, ethics has to be part of the story.”

Stemwedel maintains a blog on ethics, and has contributed to, most recently on the topic of sexual harassment in the scientific community. Through the blogs, she is able to engage with an audience of working scientists and students from different disciplines and countries who are at various states of their careers.

“They tell me if they think I’m missing an important feature of their scientific interactions, or if they find my ethical prescriptions implausible,” she said. “My audience also brings new questions to my attention, whether they’re from breaking news stories or from issues they’re trying to work out in their own lives as scientists.”

The ultimate goal of her research is to find ways to help scientists to their jobs better and to successfully share their findings with nonscientists.

“There are lots of ways to use philosophical tools – like logic and conceptual analysis – to develop strategies to address challenges in the real world, and lots of different challenges for which having a philosopher – or a college graduate with a philosophy degree – on your team might make a difference,” she said.

Read more about the University Scholars Series online.


March Newsletter: Provost Update – Technology and Teaching Intersect

At San Jose State, in the heart of Silicon Valley, we are turning to technology to support student success in many ways. New technology has evolved and expanded the way we teach classes. It is allowing us to use data and predictive analytics to make informed decisions about what resources are needed to improve graduation and retention rates. It is opening up new opportunities for students and faculty to engage together in research.

As Provost, I am encouraged by our staff and faculty who have been early adopters of new technologies and serve as examples for the campus. They have found innovative ways to use the assets we have available to take students beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom. We have faculty members who are redesigning their courses to use new applications that increase student engagement and real-time assessment. Others use telepresence and WebEx to connect with long-distance research partners or bring guest lecturers into their classrooms remotely. Still others are incorporating new software tools into their curriculum to ensure students have the skills they need to land internships in their fields.

Academic Technology, IT Services, and the Center for Faculty Development have been integral in supporting students, staff and faculty as we adopt new technologies. They coordinate group workshop and training activities such as the recent Adobe Day, where 50 staff and faculty members learned how to use new software programs at the company’s downtown office. IT Services also hosts IT Open Forums several times a year, where all students, staff and faculty are invited to learn about the ways in which technology and higher education intersect.Dates of upcoming forums are available online.

Academic Technology and ITS staff are collaborating more closely since ITS joined the Academic Affairs Division in the fall. I am enthusiastic that their joint efforts will greatly benefit us all, especially as student success continues to be a top priority on campus.

I encourage those of you who are interested in learning more about the existing technology resources we have on campus to connect with Academic Technology, IT Services and the Center for Faculty Development, or to consult with them when you discover new resources that could benefit the greater campus community. I look forward to seeing the innovative ways we can collaborate to improve student success, support RSCA and educate the future workforce of Silicon Valley.

From Tuscan Mountains to Moss Landing Marine Lab

Dr. Ivano Aiello’s interest in marine sedimentology started for him not on the shores of his native Italy, but in the mountains and hills of Tuscany. As an undergraduate student at the University of Florence, he learned that the soil in the mountains and hills was once part of the ocean floor.

Aiello, a professor of geological oceanography with the College of Science Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, will share his research on microfossil-rich marine sediments and the information it provides about past climate conditions as part of the Spring 2016 University Scholars Series on March 23, from noon to 1 p.m., in MLK 225/229.

“I want to share that same fascination I had and still have about the fact that many of the mountain chains that surround us are ancient, uplifted seafloors often made up of tiny fossils of critters, mainly marine plankton, that existed in now extinct oceans,” he said, noting that the occurrence of plankton can help in understanding past and future climate.

Aiello completed a master’s in geology, then enrolled in a doctorate program at the University of Bologna, when the opportunity arose for him to travel to California to work with a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Aiello decided to stay in California to complete his doctorate at UCSC and to conduct post doctorate research. He was invited to serve as a shipboard marine sedimentologist with an expedition of the International Ocean Discovery Program in 2011.

“This experience was yet another turning point in my career that extended my research to the field of oceanography, prompted me to obtain grants and write papers that eventually allowed me to obtain a position as a faculty (member) at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories at SJSU,” he said.

Aiello received the SJSU Early Career Investigator Award in 2011 and said he has applied for external funding to purchase much of the equipment his students use in his classes. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society, the CSU’s Council on Ocean Affairs Science and Technology, and on-campus RSCA funds.

He will be continuing his research as a shipboard sedimentologist on the Western Pacific Warm Pool International Ocean Discovery Program Expedition 363 next fall on a journey that will take scientists from Singapore to Guam. He is researching the possibility of teaching some courses remotely using telepresence.

“The purpose is to reconstruct the evolution of the Western Pacific Warm Pool since the Miocene (era) and the implications for our understanding for the evolution of El Nino, terrestrial and marine climate, and monsoons in the Pacific are obvious,” he said. “The results and discoveries that will be produced by this expedition can be very important for the climate community and society.”

The University Scholars Series is co-sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the University Library and the Spartan Bookstore.

Read more about the University Scholars Series online.