In February, after a season of heavy rainfall, Coyote Creek overflowed. The resulting flooding displaced nearby residents. As a campus, we quickly offered support to SJSU students, faculty and staff affected by the disaster. Spartans also volunteered to help community members in need, through a fundraiser launched by CommUniverCity that has raised $9,400 to date and by helping with neighborhood clean-up efforts in the weeks following the flood.
As a metropolitan university, we are strengthened by the connections we foster with our community, including the city of San Jose, neighboring residents and the greater Silicon Valley region. SJSU intersects with the city in many visible ways – from the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, which serves as a gateway between downtown and our campus, to the Hammer Theatre along the Paseo de San Antonio, where SJSU operates what has become a prestigious arts and entertainment venue. The theater has also become a place for civic engagement and we hosted the launch of our Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change there.
Our students, faculty, staff and alumni engage beyond the borders of our downtown campus in a variety of ways, from courses that incorporate service-learning projects to internships to research, scholarship and creative activities that enhance the quality of life in our community. We are fortunate to have CommUniverCity and the Center for Community Learning and Leadership fostering partnerships with government agencies, nonprofits and other entities. They provide opportunities for students from many disciplines to further their skills while gaining practical work experience that also prepares them to be engaged citizens when they graduate. Some of our service-learning projects include flood relief efforts, cleaning up our local watersheds and a unique program in which students assist low-income clients who want to expunge their misdemeanor criminal records.
As we focus on student success, we continue to emphasize the importance of student engagement, especially through internships and service learning. This spring, Humanities and the Arts students learned the importance of networking in their industry while interning at the Cinequest Film and VR Festival and engineering students worked in teams as part of the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) course to solve problems for nonprofit clients.
Faculty, staff and students are regularly engaged in research that aims to find practical solutions for important issues. Professor Fritz Yambrach designed a vest that will help transport water in developing countries or in times of disaster around the world, while Tom Reisz is leading work with the Eastside Union High School District on the Math Readiness Challenge Initiative Grant in efforts to improve college readiness.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which our campus is involved in the greater community, and I commend all of you who stay engaged in our surrounding neighborhoods. I am proud of all the ways Spartans are influencing our region.