September 2018 Newsletter: Provost Update – A New Year Full of Opportunities

Dear University Community,

Welcome back! I am pleased to be starting an exciting year with all of you at San Jose State University. We begin this new academic year with nearly 36,000 regular and special session students, a cohort of 65 tenure/tenure-track new faculty and many exciting opportunities to advance our research, scholarship and creative activities, and our student success mission.

In these early weeks, I have immersed myself in getting to know about all of you at events such as the faculty-in-residence and faculty fellows reception; a new faculty reception; and the 15th Anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, among other gatherings. I have also shared a bit about myself. As I said during a marathon of college welcomes on Aug. 20, I have 45 years of experience in higher education dating back to my time as a teaching fellow at New York University. It has been an honor to have had such a long career in the academy, with much of my time spent as a professor of Public Health and administrator at Montclair State University.

These have been rich experiences balancing teaching, research on women’s health issues and administrative work at a public university not unlike San Jose State, and it has been gratifying. When I first visited SJSU last year as a consultant for then-Provost Andy Feinstein, the exemplary record of scholarly accomplishment by faculty and students here impressed me. Early fall events on campus afforded an opportunity to more deeply understand who the faculty are at San Jose State, and,  it was invigorating to meet so many faculty and staff firsthand.

This fall continues with many more events, including the University Scholars Series that highlights the extraordinary work of our faculty, starting with Associate Professor Aaron Romanowsky from the Department of Physics and Astronomy on Sept. 26, at noon, in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Room 225/229. See the full schedule online.

We also begin the academic year with one of our own recognized with the California State University Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award. Margaret “Peggy” Stevenson founded the Record Clearance Project, a program that provides SJSU students an opportunity to work within the justice system while providing community service. These students help those with a criminal conviction expunge their records so they can have a new lease on life. Read more online.

As I shared with faculty in a memo on Sept. 4, we are launching a new Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity (RSCA) Reassigned Time program in January. It will redefine what it looks like to be a teacher-scholar at San Jose State. This program builds on a three-year project started by former Provost Feinstein to understand and develop a means through which RSCA for faculty may be equitably and fully supported by the university, and used as a way to advance the professional work of our faculty.

We recognize three broad areas of faculty endeavor – teaching, scholarship and service – and faculty are expected to be active in each area. Scholarship is a core activity for all faculty members, and scholar/artists are critically important for student development and engagement in the wider academic community. I look forward to working with college deans to implement this new program for tenured and tenure track faculty to help them succeed with their RSCA agendas while also providing our students with conceptual skills that prepare them for careers and a future we can only begin to imagine.

Let’s have a great semester!


Joan C. Ficke
Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Peggy Stevenson Honored with CSU Innovation and Leadership Award

SJSU students partnered with Columbia Law School students during an alternative spring break in which pairs worked to help clients expunge their records for misdemeanor charges. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

SJSU students partnered with Columbia Law School students during an alternative spring break in which pairs worked to help clients expunge their records for misdemeanor charges. Center, Margaret “Peggy” Stevenson, works with students. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

The California State University (CSU) announced its Innovation and Leadership Award recipients on Aug. 28, with Margaret “Peggy” Stevenson from San José State selected as an honoree. Stevenson’s work in creating the SJSU Record Clearance Project was the basis of the award, which honors innovative faculty.

“World-class CSU faculty are leading the charge as our university continues its remarkable progress in improving student learning and degree completion,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “These exceptional recipients demonstrate leadership in their respective fields and incorporate cutting-edge techniques into curriculum. Their commitment to student success ensures that the value of a CSU degree continues to increase.”

A selection committee reviewed 366 nominations to identify the one inaugural awardee from each of the CSU system’s 23 campuses.

The Record Clearance Project is a unique program that involves undergraduates in providing legal services, under Stevenson’s supervision.  Stevenson, an attorney, started the Record Clearance Project at SJSU in 2008.  In 2011 the program was a formalized in three classes in the Justice Studies Department in the College of Health and Human Sciences. Hundreds of students have been involved in what they frequently call “life-changing” work.

Professor Rita Manning, Philosophy, who nominated Stevenson, stated, “As the prelaw advisor at SJSU I strongly recommend this program to all students with an interest in careers in law. They simply will not get an experience like this outside of law school (and many of our students want to work in legal fields that do not involve law school) nor will they have a better opportunity to make such an immediate and positive impact on the lives of people in our community.”

Justice Studies Department Chair James Lee said, “Peggy Stevenson created and manages the most impactful educational experience I have ever seen. Participating students walk away with a deep understanding and appreciation for law, and they take life-long lessons about humanity. I deeply respect Peggy’s dedication to educating our students in this unique, meaningful way.”

SJSU alumnus Earl Cease completed the Record Clearance Project five years ago.  According to Cease, “the Record Clearance Project gave me the encouragement I needed to enter law school. Working with our clients and watching their lives change one petition at a time made me believe I have what it takes to make the strenuous journey through law school and become an attorney.” Since passing the bar exam, Cease has volunteered with the Record Clearance Project as a supervising attorney.

Stevenson ran clinics and taught law students for twelve years at Stanford and Santa Clara law schools before starting the Record Clearance Project. Before that, she practiced law in Legal Services offices in Boston, the Los Angeles area and New Jersey. Besides the RCP courses, she also teaches Courts and Society at SJSU.

Campus Community Invited to CSU Teaching and Learning Symposium

San Jose State University is hosting the 2016 California State University (CSU) Teaching and Learning Symposium, Oct. 21 and 22. Faculty, students and staff are invited to attend. The theme this year is “Promoting Student Success Through Innovation, Creativity, Diversity and Teamwork.”

Registration for the conference is $50. The Office of Diversity, Inclusiveness and Equity has offered to cover the cost of attendance for the first 30  community members who respond to the Center of Faculty Development invitation to register. Call or email Gina Marin at or call 408-924-2303 for more information.

Conference registration is available online and the $50 fee includes:

  • Hands-on workshops, pre-conference sessions and a welcome reception, on Friday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • A keynote address by Kathryn Plank, Otterbein University, as well as dozens of symposia, paper sessions, posters and lightning talks, on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 8 am. To 4:30 p.m.
  • Meals and refreshments both days.

The conference is open to participants from all 23 CSU campuses. Attendees will have a chance to talk with colleagues from throughout the CSU as well as other higher education institutions. Visit the conference website for more information or contact Gina Marin with questions ( or 408-924-2303).


Visit the Innovation and Collaboration Expo

Innovation and Collaboration Expo logo

Students, faculty and staff are invited to the Second Annual Innovation and Collaboration Expo on Teaching and Learning Thursday, Oct. 1 and Friday, Oct. 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the SJSU Student Union Ballroom. The event is hosted by Information Technology Services in collaboration with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, the Center for Faculty Development, Academic Technology and eCampus.

President Sue Martin will deliver opening remarks on October 1 at 10:00 a.m. and Gerry Hanley, the assistant vice chancellor of Academic Technology Services for the CSU system is scheduled to be the keynote speaker on Oct. 2, at 9 a.m., when he will share updates on CSU-wide initiatives to integrate new technology into education.

The event is free to all students, faculty and staff who are interested in exchanging ideas about integrating technology into teaching and learning. During the event, there will be sessions on collaboration technology used in teaching and learning in higher education, with poster presentations highlighting how CSU faculty members have successfully integrated technology into their courses.

Vendor partners will be at the Expo as part of a Resource Fair to share information on emerging technology that will enhance teaching. There will also be a session on classroom technology support.

Students can learn how collaboration technology helps them learn remotely and enhances learning in the classroom; hear from a panel of peers about how technology in the classroom has improved their learning; and discover how to use WebEx, Google apps, and more.

Faculty can get information on new technology that will enhance learning; attend presentations and demonstrations on collaboration technology; meet instructors from other CSU campuses and learn how they have successfully integrated technology in their courses; exchange knowledge and ideas with campus technology staff on improving classroom technology support; and share their expertise and learn from others about academic and collaboration technology.

Staff can learn how to improve productivity through collaboration tools; share collaboration best practices with CSU colleagues; learn how agility through technology improves responsiveness by eliminating procedural obstacles; and learn to use the right tool at the right time for the right task

Visit the ITS website for more information and to register for the event.