September 2016 Newsletter: Faculty Find Themselves at Home in Residence Halls

Photo by David Schmitz Faculty members Wilson Yuan, far left, Carolyn Glogoski, center right, and Cristina Tortora, far right, pose for a photo with a student on Move-In Day in August. They are part of the Faculty-In-Residence program this year.

Photo by David Schmitz
Faculty members Wilson Yuan, far left, Carolyn Glogoski, center right, and Cristina Tortora, far right, pose for a photo with a student on Move-In Day in August. They are part of the Faculty-In-Residence program this year.

When some San Jose State students arrived with family and friends for Move-In Day on Aug. 20 and 21, they learned their next door neighbor in the residence hall might not be a new student, but a faculty member.

A collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, the new Faculty-In-Residence program launched this fall with nine faculty members who will live in the halls, eat meals with students and plan activities to help them acclimate to university life. The program is one of many initiatives in SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success plan that is focused on improving student engagement and advising. The faculty members, who are provided with housing to forge connections with students outside the classroom, will be planning activities and working with students about 10 hours a week.

Carolyn Glogoski, an associate professor in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts Occupational Therapy department, said she was looking forward to connecting with first-year students through the program. A 27-year veteran at SJSU, she said she was a first-generation student from a working class background which allows her to relate to many SJSU students.

“Transitions are so difficult so we want to look to see if we can develop connections that will help them to seek support,” she said. “Professors can seem intimidating and students have to do more on their own in college. It’s so very different from high school.”

As part of the pilot program, the faculty members will be working closely with housing staff, specifically resident advisors and residential life coordinators, to develop activities throughout the semester to engage students.

Cristina Tortora, a new faculty member in the College of Science Mathematics and Statistics department, said she had already connected with some students who were interested in starting a running club.

“I enjoy living at the university,” she said. “I am new as well so I will get to know the students and the campus.”

She was especially interested in connecting with international students as she herself comes from Europe by way of Canada.

“If they have an issue, I hope they will be comfortable coming to me,” she said.

Steven Del Chiaro, a lecturer in the College of Social Sciences Psychology department, said his career in higher education started in housing and the Faculty-In-Residence program will allow him to have one foot in Student Affairs while still teaching.

His area of focus in psychology is student development and career development.

“The stereotype of faculty is that they are unapproachable and they should be revered,” he said. “We can help to put more of a human face on the faculty, get students more engaged in class and help students find their own strengths.”

The team of Faculty-In-Residence sent surveys to students to see what types of activities they most want to see with a goal of creating a mix of social, educational and recreational programming. The faculty members also plan to develop assessment tools to determine which activities are most successful during the pilot year so the program can be improved next year.

“The biggest challenge will be having students get used to having a faculty member around,” Del Chiaro said.

Both Glogoski and Del Chiaro have the ultimate ice breaker – they both have a dog living with them in the residence halls that draws the attention of the students. Glogoski’s yellow Labrador Cammie is a trained service dog while Del Chiaro’s Boerboel/Ridgeback mix Chiana is a therapy dog, both whom occasionally visit classes with their owners as a teaching tool.

“During Welcome Day while students were moving in, they were so excited that Cammie would be in the dorms with them,” Glogoski said. “And parents were pleasantly surprised that we (faculty) would be in the dorms, too.”

Photo by David Schmitz Faculty members Wilson Yuan, far left, Carolyn Glogoski, center right, and Cristina Tortora, far right, pose for a photo with a student on Move-In Day in August. They are part of the Faculty-In-Residence program this year.

Photo by David Schmitz
Faculty members Wilson Yuan, far left, Carolyn Glogoski, center right, and Cristina Tortora, far right, pose for a photo with a student on Move-In Day in August. They are part of the Faculty-In-Residence program this year.

September 2016 Newsletter: Spartan Scholars Program Enhances College Readiness

Photo by David Schmitz Spartan Scholar Program students engage with a faculty member during a summer course before the start of their freshman year.

Photo by David Schmitz
Spartan Scholar Program students engage with a faculty member during a summer course before the start of their freshman year.17

On a July afternoon, new Spartans filled half of the tables in the Dining Commons, laughing and chatting with each other as though they had known each other for years. The 112 incoming first-year students had only met each other three weeks before when they moved into the residence halls to participate in a five-week summer transition program, but the 12-hour days they spent together allowed them to build strong bonds quickly.

The students were participants in the Spartan Scholars Program, a new summer residential program that provides college readiness support in English and math while also preparing admitted Spartans for the transition from high school to university life.

“It’s an opportunity to get familiar with the campus,” said Kevin Cardona, a student from Oakland who plans to major in civil engineering. “It’s exciting to try out this new thing and get ahead – to be prepared. We have our own little community.”

Cardona is the first in his family to attend college. He said the rigorous schedule for the program that includes English or math classes, tutoring sessions, study hall, and social activities has helped him set his expectations for his first semester.

The five-week summer program is free to students. SJSU covers associated summer costs, including tuition, room and board on campus, textbooks and weekend activities. Students who applied were selected based on admission to SJSU, academic need, financial aid eligibility, English placement test and entry level mathematics examination scores, educational and personal background.

Academic Affairs and Student Affairs submitted a joint proposal for funding for the program through the Student Success, Excellence and Technology Fee, approved by the Campus Fee Advisory Committee, which includes student representatives. SJSU plans to expand access to the Spartan Scholars Program through funding from the Koret Foundation, which awarded SJSU $2 million to use toward student success programs.

The program is one of many initiatives in SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success plan that is focused on improving college readiness. More than 30 percent of incoming freshmen admitted to SJSU require additional support in math, English or both to prepare for college-level courses.

Debra Griffith, the AVP for Transition and Retention Services in Student Affairs, said Drew Agbay, who served as the program director, coordinated with students, staff, faculty and other campus partners to make the summer session successful.

“Launching the Spartan Scholars Program was a huge undertaking and would not have been possible without (them),” Griffith said.

Sabrina Martinez, a kinesiology major from Stockton, said her father is an SJSU graduate who is proud that she is now a Spartan, too.

“It’s great to be able to have a head start and refresh your memory for school,” she said, noting that making friends was one of the best benefits of the program. “Everyone is getting along. We won’t be alone when the semester starts.”

Alyssa Vargas, a psychology major from Fresno, said she also appreciated making connections on campus.

“We will have help in the fall,” she said. “We have people to ask for help.”

Jessica Padron, who is from Long Beach, said the summer program offered a chance to settle in at SJSU from Southern California.

“It made the transition a lot easier,” she said. “I’ve made a lot more friends and I know a lot more resources.”

She wants to be a teacher and minor in public relations.

“It really helped with time management because it was a rigorous schedule,” she said.

Fatima Soriano, who is from Los Angeles, agreed with Padron that living on campus helped her adjust to life in San Jose.

“It’s an opportunity to come in knowing how college works and to build relationships, so you don’t have to come in alone,” she said.

Lia Castellanos, the community director for the Spartan Scholars Program this summer, is a graduate student, ’17, Biotechnology, and Fulbright Scholar.

“The academic part of the program is important, but we need to balance that with time to relax,” she said, noting that despite the stringent weekday schedule, the students had more free time on the weekends. “It’s been great getting to know the students. They have so much energy. I see their faces are so excited for the fall and the possibilities.”

Castellanos said the group activities included a mix of reflective activities and more fun competitions such as a water balloon challenge.

“They understand it is a great privilege to be here,” she said. “It is helping them understand their own skills and they are realizing they can do it. It is amazing to see that process every single day.”

Share Thoughts on Mentor, First-Year Experience Programs

As SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success is rolled out this semester, students, faculty and staff have an opportunity to provide input on two key components of student engagement — faculty/staff mentor and first-year experience programs.

Project Succeed Discussion Sessions

RSVP at or to

Faculty/Staff Mentor Program

Planning and implementing the new faculty mentor program

Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to noon in ENG 285

Coffee and lunch will be provided

First-Year Experience

Brainstorming session on FYE and its future at SJSU

Sept. 23, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in ENG 285

Lunch will be provided

Through a U.S. Department of Education Title III Strengthening Institutions five-year grant, a group of faculty and staff members have been working to establish sustainable best practices for student success.

“We want to provide support to students in the first two years,” said Pat Backer, the director of the grant dubbed Project Succeed and a professor in the College of Engineering. “Many of our students are the first in their family to go to college and they are not from traditional college-going backgrounds. They need to learn how to navigate the college environment.”

In its first year, Backer and her collaborators selected five areas of focus that they believed could be sustainable once the grant period is completed. The areas include block scheduling, the mentor program, peer educators and mentors, first-year experiences, and student living learning communities in the residence halls.

The discussion on Sept. 9 will address how to expand on a pilot faculty/staff mentor program that started in spring 2015. Maria Alaniz, a professor in the College of Social Sciences and the coordinator of the mentor program, helped to implement an online portal that matches students and mentors. For more information on the pilot, visit

The discussion around first-year experience on Sept. 23 will aim to answer questions about what type of programs are sustainable at SJSU, what will fit in with SJSU’s culture and what students want. Models could include a general education course, an extended orientation model, or programming in the dorms.

Bob Wrenn Appointed as Inteirm AVP of ITS/CIO at SJSU

I am very pleased to announce the selection of Bob Wrenn as the interim AVP for Information Technology Services and CIO, effective Sept. 19, 2016.  Bob will succeed Terry Vahey, who has decided to retire and whose last day on campus will be Sept. 16.

Bob joined San Jose State University in September 2015 in a temporary position before being appointed as senior director and associate CIO of Enterprise Solutions in March 2016. In his role, he has been integral in streamlining processes in ITS while also building relationships between developers and the greater campus community.

As associate CIO, he contributed extensively to the creation of an ITS strategic plan and has established a focus on application solutions that support student success. Some of the projects completed or under way include a supplemental application process for transfer students, online advising tools, and the implementation of a student data warehouse, among other projects in line with SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success.

Before joining SJSU, Bob served most recently as vice president of Enterprise Business Applications at Hewlett Packard, where he was responsible for managing and leading teams in enterprise system application development and business operations management. At HP, he was responsible for managing projects, policies, budgets, user expectations and requirements, development, quality assurance and production cycles. In his time there he also held multiple senior management positions in Information Technology and Enterprise Customer Support.

Bob holds a master’s in industrial engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. In addition, he has completed three continuing education courses at Stanford University on “Intelligence with Data,” and has used those skills to work closely with others on campus to start the implementation of a student data warehouse solution and predictive analytics models.

I am confident students, faculty and staff will find Bob to be a capable leader who is adept at balancing the many technology needs on our campus. Please join me in congratulating him on his appointment.


Andy Feinstein

Provost Welcome Message Fall 2016

Dear Academic Community,

Welcome back to another exciting year at San Jose State University. I hope all of you enjoyed the summer and are ready for the start of the fall semester.

Our top priority this year will continue to be student success. President Papazian is committed to improving graduation and retention rates, and enhancing the student experience at SJSU. She brings with her a strong background in developing strategies to assist in such efforts. She is supportive of the work we’ve undertaken and I’m confident she will provide enthusiastic leadership as we move forward.

Over the summer, Academic Affairs and Student Affairs leadership hosted a productive joint retreat in which we solidified our partnership, began refining SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success Plan and developed an implementation strategy for key priorities this fall. This plan will guide us as we continue to work toward improving graduation and retention rates.

SJSU remains committed to contributing to the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025. The Chancellor’s Office has revised targets for each campus, with San Jose State’s goal for first-time, first-year student four-year graduation rates set at 35 percent. It is an ambitious goal, but with all of us working together, it is certainly achievable. We will also be working to eliminate our graduation gap between students who are underrepresented minorities or Pell grant eligible and their peers. More information and other target goals are available on the Provost website.

Our campus is fortunate to be one of the first pilot institutions involved in a new CSU Student Success Dashboard — Faculty Matter — developed by the Chancellor’s Office. The dashboard is a tool to help faculty, staff, and administrators better understand our students. It includes college and department specific information about student demographics, progress to degree, course pass rates and other information that we can use to further support and enhance student success.

As part of our college readiness efforts, I will be co-leading a Student Success Summit on Sept. 30 to explore ways we can work with our K-12 and community college partners, and legislative leaders, to improve graduation and retention rates. While most of the day’s events will be closed to the public, the general campus is invited to hear Martha Kanter, former under secretary of the U.S. Department of Education and a former chancellor for the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District, give a keynote speech from 8 to 9 a.m. in Student Union Room 1.

In addition, SJSU is honored to host the 19th Annual CSU Teaching and Learning Symposium on Oct. 21 and 22. The theme this year is “Promoting Student Success through Innovation, Creativity, Diversity and Teamwork.” For more information on the symposium, visit the Center for Faculty Development website.

As we focus on student success, we will also continue to provide research, scholarship and creative activity support and professional development for faculty and staff. We have a plan in place that aims to increase RSCA opportunities for faculty and students. We will also continue to offer professional development grants for staff, with a call for proposals due out soon.

I appreciate having all of you as partners in this vitally important work.


Andy Feinstein