Academic Spotlight November 2018: Provost Update – A Moment of Thanks in a Busy Year

As the season changes, some significant changes here at SJSU have begun to take effect as well, although they will always be mixed with the important traditions that honor our past. Most notably, this month we will be reviewing a record number of applications for the Staff Professional Development Grant; we will be announcing the first ever selected faculty for our new Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities Reassigned Time program; AND we will find time to celebrate a holiday or two.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I especially want to share with all of you my gratitude for the support I have received in these few months that I have served as Interim Provost and Senior VP. Thank you first and foremost to the team in the Office of the Provost, who make every day joyful; thank you to the President and her Cabinet; the AALT Leadership Team and a very heartfelt thank you to so many of the faculty and staff with whom I have had the pleasure to interact and to work beside. Taken together, this is a wonderful community that takes its humanity and its work seriously, with kindness and tact.

A few important informational items, starting with our Graduation Initiative 2025 goals. Our four-year graduation rates hit 19 percent this year, up 10 percentage points in the past five years. We continue to make substantial gains on six-year graduation rates, transfer student graduation rates and we are two percentage points away from eliminating our Pell-eligible equity gap. We also continue to move forward with eliminating the underrepresented minority equity gap, which dropped to 10.5 percent this year.

Speaking of graduation, we will be celebrating our fall graduates in just a few weeks with two days of commencement ceremonies on December 19 and 20. These ceremonies allow us to recognize the achievements of our fall graduates with the same fanfare as those who graduate in the spring ceremonies. Students LOVE to see their faculty, introduce them to friends and family, and just basically celebrate with their faculty and staff. I do hope you can be available for these occasions. As a reminder, faculty who would like to rent regalia for the ceremonies can do so for free through the Spartan Bookstore website; the deadline to rent regalia is Nov. 21.

Last month, I had the opportunity to say a special thank you to the hardworking staff members in the Academic Affairs Division at our annual Staff Appreciation Breakfast. It was heartwarming to hear each dean and AVP give thanks to the employees in their college or unit, but especially to see some of the notes of appreciation from colleague to colleague. As our breakfast was held on Halloween, I was very impressed with everyone’s ingenuity and costume design!

On the evening of Nov. 2, I had the chance to interact with honored faculty and staff at the Annual Author and Artist Awards. The dozens of pieces completed this year by SJSU authors and artists have a significant impact on the world: this work adds to knowledge in your disciplines; spurs conversations about societally important topics such as politics, technology and diversity; and provides engaging curricular opportunities for students. As we focus this year on creating more balance for our faculty members to be teacher-scholars, it is especially imperative that we also take the time to celebrate accomplishments like these at events like these.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving break and I look forward to our continuing work together.


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

November 2017 Newsletter: Staff Gain Skills Through Professional Development Grant Program

Provost Andy Feinstein and the Academic Affairs Leadership team host an appreciation breakfast to say thanks to the 500+ staff members who support faculty and students in the division. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Provost Andy Feinstein and the Academic Affairs Leadership team host an appreciation breakfast to say thanks to the 500+ staff members who support faculty and students in the division. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

By David Goll

Whether they traveled across the country, 60 miles up the road — or never left their desks — employees in Academic Affairs made the most of the Staff Professional Development Grant program in 2017.

During the 2016-17 academic year, Academic Affairs Division awarded more than 50 such grants to staff members, which can range up to $1,500 for an individual or $5,000 for a group proposal. Designed to promote employees’ professional development and enhance effectiveness, the grants are primarily used to participate in training programs, in-service activities and team-building exercises, or to attend conferences and staff retreats.

April Gilbert, Institutional Repository Coordinator for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library at SJSU was one of those who traveled cross country. In March, she used her $1,405 grant to attend the biennial Association of College and Research Libraries National Conference held in Baltimore.

“It was a very valuable experience,” Gilbert said. “It’s a great place to find out about best practices in the industry; how to deliver better services and create better work flows; how to help researchers produce, publish and disseminate their work; how to better communicate with your faculty.”

Gilbert said she was especially interested in speaking with librarians from other universities nationwide to get additional ideas on how to promote her library’s collections, attract more people to use them, as well as how to encourage more SJSU faculty members to utilize the material in their own classes. Gilbert said she works closely with Emily Chan, interim associate dean for Research and Scholarship at the university’s library, to accomplish those goals.

“This conference was really great,” Gilbert said. “And I wouldn’t have been able to attend without the grant. It definitely made the trip possible.”

Lin Sao’s professional growth opportunity was a bit closer to home. Sao, who works as an academic advisor for undergraduate business students at the Jack Holland Student Success Center, received about $400 through the program to attend the annual conference of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education, a 30-year-old organization that champions the success of Asian Pacific American college and university students, staff, faculty and administrators. Sao attended the April event held in Oakland.

“This is an organization helping students of Asian and Pacific Islander descent deal with the struggles and challenges facing them in higher education,” said Sao, who previously worked as an admissions communications counselor at SJSU. “At the conference, I learned about new and interesting ways to aggregate data on the Asian Pacific Islander student population. Asians may appear to be doing well when ethnic data is not disaggregated, but that’s not necessarily true of all Asian populations. Some Asian ethnicities such as Southeast Asians struggle in a college environment.”

Dave Daley’s grant-fueled travels were a bit further away. In January, he traveled to Las Vegas to attend the annual Consumer Electronics Show to get the latest on cutting-edge technology for possible application at SJSU. The Information Technology Analyst at the SJSU library used his $1,500 grant to attend the sprawling electronics industry extravaganza — centered on the Las Vegas Convention Center — but held at venues all over the city. The library covered the gap for his $1,711 trip.

“CES is a great place to go to find out about state of the art, cutting-edge technology,” said Daley, a 14-year employee of SJSU. “IT is usually the department frequently viewed by other departments as the place to go for new ideas.”

Daley said the panel discussions at the show can be just as helpful and informative as checking out the latest products being displayed by tech companies. He was particularly intrigued by industry representatives discussing the possibilities for 5G — or fifth-generation wireless systems — that, unlike current 4G technology, promise to operate at real-time speed, no delays and be fast enough to accommodate high-resolution videos on cell phones, he said.

“There are no (5G) products yet, but it’s so important to hear about the latest technology, and see what manufacturers are working on,” Daley said. “It’s good to hear the latest straight from the horse’s mouth.”

Daley’s colleague, Klaus Trilck, didn’t have to travel anywhere to participate in the intensive, two-day online presentation known as the Educause Learning Initiative. Educause is a Colorado-based nonprofit collaboration of colleges and universities that promote advances in education through the application of innovative technology. He received $400 through the staff grant program.

“Technology changes so rapidly it’s important for me to keep abreast of it. The students certainly do,” said Trilck, an eCampus instructional designer since January who has worked at SJSU for five years. His job is to help faculty members develop creative and relevant classroom presentations. “Participating in Educause helps me keep pace with hardware and software development.”

Trilck said he found the Educause online presentation helpful and informative through its dozen or so speakers and interactive format that allowed Web participants to ask questions in real time.

“This is very effective for professional and personal development,” he said. “And it keeps me active and viable as a university employee.”

February 2017 Newsletter: Second Cohort Under Way for University Grants Academy

Professors applying for grants listen to Amy D'Andrade speak during the start of the University Grants Academy at San Jose State University on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Professors applying for grants listen to Amy D’Andrade speak during the start of the University Grants Academy at San Jose State University on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

By Barry Zepel

The thought of writing a research grant proposal can be a mind-boggling challenge for anyone who has never done it before. For a young faculty member with a full 12-unit load of classes, finding the time to do research – and pursue funding to support it – can seem impossible.

Sensing that anxiety from new instructors five years ago, Amy D’Andrade felt she and some of her colleagues in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts (CASA) could help by serving as mentors. They began teaching the many steps of grant writing to a few of their interested CASA associates to allay those fears.

From D’Andrade’s experimental program the professor in the School of Social Work created a campus-wide University Grants Academy (UGA). The program launched in 2015-16 with the enthusiastic support of the Office of Research, theResearch Foundation and the Center for Faculty Development.

“We thought about how a faculty member would benefit in order to maximize the chances of submitting proposals successfully,” said D’Andrade, who now has responsibilities as UGA director and associate dean of research for CASA.

The UGA cohort begins with a series of four workshops, held between September and November, that breakdown the grant writing and funding
process into smaller “essential elements: Time, Information, Idea-to-Proposal, Finding a Funder, Drafting a Budget, and Writing the Narrative.” The fall sessions were open to the all SJSU faculty.

This spring semester, 22 faculty members are continuing with the program. Each participant is working with a set of senior faculty mentors with successful grant writing experience, as well as with the support of grant writing experts from the Office of Research, the Research Foundation and University Advancement. To help them in their participation, each grant writing novice is given three units of assigned time to reduce their spring teaching schedule.

Meekyung Han, a professor of social work at SJSU since 2005, took part in last year’s UGA. She credits D’Andrade and John Lee, a professor of mechanical engineering, for providing strong guidance through the submission process of her first grant proposal “Breaking barriers to empowering family caregivers of persons with mental illness.”

“The UGA certainly enhanced my capacity to plan, develop, complete and submit an external grant proposal independently,” Han said. “My knowledge and confidence in writing a grant proposal for external funders have greatly improved. I successfully submitted my first federal grant proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).”

Jordan Schettler, in his second year at SJSU as an assistant professor of mathematics, submitted a grant proposal on “Research Experiences for Undergraduates to the National Science Foundation. He credits the UGA and faculty members Michael Kaufman (Physics) and Julio Soto (Biology) for “providing tons of useful information.”

“I am a great deal better prepared,” Schettler said. “In particular, I have an infinitely richer understanding of the balance between the budget and the guidelines.”

Additional information about the UGA is available online or by emailing Amy D’Andrade.

Faculty Invited to Apply for Active Learning Certificate Program

Beginning Spring 2017, eCampus and the Center for Faculty Development are pleased to offer an Active Learning Certificate Program. Participants will explore teaching strategies and activities designed to enhance their students’ academic success by increasing their engagement with their courses. The program builds upon the principles articulated in SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success planning document. We invite all faculty (full, associate, assistant and adjunct professors) to submit a proposal for the program. The goal of the certificate program is to create learning environments that are more welcoming, inclusive and supportive while still being academically rigorous; and to help students become more aware of how their own learning works and recognize study practices that will best enable them to master their course material.

Those who are accepted into the program will attend a kick-off session in February, attend three additional workshops on active learning topics during the spring semester, complete activities within Canvas, meet with an instructional designer, record and reflect on a class session that implements active learning strategies. Upon successful completion of all components, participants will receive a certificate, a badge, and $500 professional development funds.

Review the entire program description for complete program requirements and additional details. Proposals are due via online submission by Jan. 29, 2017.

Faculty Offered Access to NCFDD Resources, Eligible to Apply for Faculty Success Program

San Jose State Univeristy faculty are invited to take advantage of the university’s institutional membership to the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD). Every SJSU faculty member is eligible to take advantage of individual member benefits, including a core curriculum of monthly webinars, a series of online multi-week courses, a discussion forum where faculty can exchange ideas and professional productivity strategies with peers at institutions from across the nation, and a weekly “Monday Motivator” newsletter. If you are interested in becoming a member, please email Assistant Vice President for Faculty Development Amy Strage at for assistance with registering to gain access.

Additionally, the Office of Research and the Center for Faculty Development will be sponsoring a small number of memberships for tenure-track and tenured faculty of all ranks in the highly acclaimed Faculty Success Program, a 12-week virtual boot camp for spring 2016 (Jan 22 – Apr 15, 2017). This program offers intensive and personalized support to faculty as they articulate and advance a scholarly agenda. Those interested in participating in the Faculty Success Program, must submit a brief statement (approx. 2-3 pages, double-spaced) and a current CV by Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 5 p.m. to The statement should include the following:

  • A description of the focus of your current or planned research, scholarship and creative activity (no more than 1 page)
  • A description of what you hope to accomplish during the 12-week “boot camp” (no more than 1 page)
  • A statement about why you think the sorts of support offered through the “boot camp” will help you achieve your goals (no more than 1 page)