Rajnesh (Raj) Prasad Named Permanent Exec Director of Research Foundation

Mr. Rajnesh (Raj) Prasad has accepted the permanent position as executive director of the SJSU Research Foundation (SJSURF), effective December 18, 2017.

As the interim director since June, Raj has implemented a number of strategic initiatives to transform the Research Foundation with a focus on creating effective communication and a team-oriented work environment. He has effectively provided leadership and oversight for research-related activities while also building relationships with the campus community, the Board of Directors, and government, nonprofit and industry partners.

Raj first started with the Research Foundation in February 2016 as the senior director of sponsored programs. In that position, he managed more than $50 million in sponsored grants and contracts while also developing strategic policies to support the university’s mission of increasing research opportunities for faculty and students.

In his most recent position prior to joining SJSU, he served as vice president for Research Operations at University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children’s Hospital and Research Center. He has nearly 20 years of experience developing and managing sponsored grants and contracts from federal, state, local, foundation and industry sponsors. He has an advanced understanding of government and nonprofit funding regulations.

Raj holds a bachelor’s in Chemistry from California State University, East Bay and an MBA from the DeVry University Keller School of Management. He is a member of the Association of Independent Research Institutes (AIRI) and the Society of Research Administrators (SRA).

Shannon Miller Appointed Permanent Dean of H&A

Dr. Shannon Miller has accepted the position of dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts, effective December 1.

Shannon has provided dynamic interim leadership to the college since July 1, 2017. Among her accomplishments, she has expanded Hammer Theatre programming, further fostering our collaboration with the City of San Jose. She has overseen centers of excellence, bringing engaging speakers and artists to San Jose and enhancing our contribution to the local arts scene.

Shannon joined SJSU as a professor and chair in the Department of English and Comparative Literature in 2014. She previously served as professor and chair of the Department of English at Temple University for six years.  Since joining SJSU, she has instituted an innovative curriculum redesign in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. In addition, Shannon has supported the First-Year Writing program in implementing a Stretch English curriculum and a Directed Self-Placement process for all entering freshman that allowed us to eliminate no-credit remediation courses in English.

She received a bachelor’s in English magna cum laude from Dartmouth College, along with a master’s and a doctorate in literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is a scholar of Renaissance literature and the author of two books, Invested with Meaning: The Raleigh Circle in the New World and Engendering the Fall: John Milton and Seventeenth-Century Women Writers.

Spartans Host Safe and Green Halloween Festival Oct. 20

San Jose State University’s CommUniverCity and the city of San Jose partnered to host the 10th Annual Safe and Green Halloween Fiesta at McKinley Elementary School Oct. 20. Students and faculty from many departments, including Health Science, Environmental Studies and the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business worked together to host an afternoon of fun for neighborhood children and their families. SJSU students planned fun activities to teach kids about sustainability and health.

May 2017 Newsletter: Provost Update – Four Pillars Success is Measured through Student Stories

As we end another academic year, I am pleased to share the progress we have made on one of our top priorities – student success. This spring, Vice President for Student Affairs Reggie Blaylock and I updated SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success: College Readiness, Advising, Student Engagement and Clearing Bottlenecks, a plan informed by many campus stakeholders who helped us to identify initiatives that will move us toward improving graduation rates, retention, student experience, and preparing our graduates to pursue advanced degrees or to thrive in their careers.

Our 2016 graduation rates, reported in the fall, show that we are steadily moving toward our 2025 graduation goals. We improved our first-time freshmen graduation rate from 10 percent to 14 percent; our six-year graduation rates improved from 57 percent to 62 percent; and we decreased the achievement gap between our underrepresented minority students and their peers from 17 percent to 11 percent.

Other indicators show that we continue to make progress in shortening the time to degree for students. For spring 2017, 36 percent of our undergraduate students enrolled in 15 units or more, up from 25 percent in fall 2015. We have offered additional courses to clear bottlenecks and hired more advisors while increasing awareness that students need to complete 15 units each semester to stay on track to graduate on time. The Office of Student and Faculty Success launched their #FinishinFour and #TakeTwo campaigns during orientation sessions last summer and worked hard to inform students that to graduate in four years for first-time freshmen or two years for transfer students, they need to take 15 units a semester. These communication efforts doubled the number of first-time students taking 15 units. Our efforts are showing returns and undergraduate average unit load is already trending upward.

We still have much work ahead to meet the ambitious goals of eliminating our achievement gap entirely and graduating 35 percent of our first-time freshmen in four years by 2025. I have confidence that as we continue many of the initiatives launched this year, we will meet these goals (see monthly updates online).

In addition to supporting students once they enroll, we are also looking at ways to partner with K-12 and community colleges to prepare students for university coursework. Reggie and I co-hosted two student success summits with Assemblymembers Evan Low and Ash Kalra that brought together partners from community colleges, K-12 and nonprofits to discuss the ways we can work together to ensure students are prepared for college-level math and English when they arrive at CSU campuses. We have created working groups around three key areas in which SJSU faculty, staff and administrators will partner with local high schools: summer initiatives for high school students; teacher professional development; and college readiness presentations for school boards. I look forward to reporting more in the fall after we launch pilot programs in each area.

While we are measuring much of our progress in numbers, students’ personal stories are also marks of our success. I am pleased to share with you some of the ways our Four Pillars plan is supporting students – from ITS’s internship for students who are using predictive analytics to improve advising processes to the African-American Student Success Task Force’s alternative spring break and Chicanx/Latinx posole study breaks to the record number of students who were recognized for high achievement at this year’s Honors Convocation on April 28 – these student experiences are the reasons we remain dedicated to our plan.