Larry and Elaine Sparling Give $500,000 to the Spartan Athletics Center

Media contacts
Lawrence Fan, SJSU Athletics media relations director, 408-924-1217, lawrence.fan@sjsu.edu
Robin McElhatton, SJSU media relations specialist, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University is pleased to announce that it has received a $500,000 gift commitment from Larry and Elaine Sparling. The gift will support the Spartan Athletics Center, the future home of San Jose State football and men’s and women’s soccer.

“Larry and Elaine Sparling believe in the direction of this Athletics program and understand the importance of the Spartan Athletics Center,” said Marie Tuite, San Jose State’s director of intercollegiate athletics. “I spend quite a bit of time with this wonderful couple and I can tell you they support the efforts of our coaches and student-athletes. They are so positive and encouraging when it comes to the important work our coaches are doing. They are terrific Spartans and we are so thankful and appreciative of their generous gift.”

The Spartan Athletics Center will include new locker rooms, an auditorium, coaches’ offices, position-specific classrooms, stadium game day suites and a state-of-the-art athletic training room that will be accessible to all student-athletes.

About the Sparlings

Elaine and Larry Sparling.

Elaine and Larry Sparling. Photo by David Schmitz.

Though the Sparlings did not graduate from San Jose State, they are longtime supporters of Spartan football. Over the years, they have driven their RV all over the U.S. to watch the football team compete. The Sparlings are leadership donors to the Spartan Athletics Fund and attend many Spartan sporting events. They believe that by supporting San Jose State, they are investing in their community and helping their neighbors and friends succeed.

“I love the fact that at San Jose State we can be so connected to everybody, from the coaching staff to the athletic director and the university president,” said Larry. “We know how crucial the Spartan Athletics Center is for all the athletes at San Jose State. I like donating to student-athletes because we can tell how much it means to them to play their sport and get a degree from a great college.”

In 1966, the Sparling family took over Tiny Tots, a cotton diaper home pick-up and delivery service based in Campbell. At that time, they had only 80 customers, two Kenmore washer-dryers and a delivery vehicle. The couple helped grow the business before Larry’s sister and brother-in-law took the reins. Over the past 50 years, Tiny Tots has laundered more than 680 million diapers. Tiny Tots has offered free Diapering 101 classes to members of the community since 1980, as well as monthly support groups, workshops and CPR trainings. Larry went on to found Healthcare Laundry Services.

“This gift from Larry and Elaine Sparling is a tremendous support to the university and our athletics program,” said Interim Vice President of University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation Peter Smits. “By investing in the Spartan Athletics Center, they are establishing a legacy that will help countless generations of Spartan student-athletes. We thank them for their contribution to San Jose State.”

“The Sparlings have always been very dedicated supporters of SJSU Athletics,” said SJSU Football Head Coach Brent Brennan. “This gift will make a huge difference to our football program, as well as Spartan soccer and all of athletics. Thank you, Larry and Elaine!”

To learn how you can support Spartan Athletics, please contact Joshua Thiel, deputy athletics director for advancement, at 408-924-1697 or joshua.thiel@sjsu.edu.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is proud of the accomplishments of its more than 270,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

About San Jose State Athletics

San Jose State sponsors 22 (nine men’s and 13 women’s) NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports programs for approximately 470 student-athletes annually. In football, the Spartans are a member of Division I’s Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the NCAA’s highest level of competition.

The Spartans’ primary conference affiliation is with the Mountain West. Selected teams belong to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the Golden Coast Conference (GCC).

San Jose State has 10 NCAA team championships and 52 NCAA individual titles. Sixty-two Spartans have competed in one or more Olympic Games. San Jose State athletes have won seven gold, six silver and seven bronze medals at the Olympics.

Annually, about one-third of the student-athlete population earns either an institutional, conference or national recognition based on outstanding academic performance.

 

Commencement 2019 Highlights

Media contact: Robin McElhatton, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University honored more than 6,800 graduates during spring 2019 commencement with seven ceremonies held on May 22-24. All ceremonies were streamed live on the SJSU website.

Spartan Superheroes

Graduating Spartan superheroes celebrate the power of an education.


Among the class of 2019 were outstanding students Hyung Ik “David” Han, ’19 Psychology, and Qurat Syeda, ’19 Accounting, and former firefighter and SJSU’s Fire Weather Research Lab graduate Carrie Bowers, ‘18 MS Meteorology and Climate Science, who received the 2018 Outstanding Thesis Award. Graduating students such as Devdutt Srivastava, ’19 MA Education, Teaching Credential, overcame significant obstacles while pursuing their education. Marie Bello, ’19 Chemistry, arrived at SJSU’s Event Center with her extended family in tow. Bello will be attending the University of the Pacific Stockton to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy. The act of accepting a college diploma was very important to Alice Perez, ’76 Graphic Design, who flew from Glendale to San Jose on May 22 to recognize her degree 43 years after completing her education.

The SJSU Experience

San Jose State graduates describe their Spartan experience.

SJSU Graduates Will Change the World

Spartan graduates share how they plan to apply newfound skills to change the world.

Melissa Anderson contributed reporting to this story.

Graphic Designer Crosses Stage, Honors Family 43 Years After Graduating

Alice Perez, ’76 Graphic Design, walks across the stage 43 years after completing her degree. Photo by Josie Lepe.

In the quiet moments before the SJSU College of the Humanities and the Arts commencement ceremony began, Alice Perez waited patiently in graduation cap and gown for her onstage moment. Perez, ’76 Graphic Design, could not participate in her own commencement ceremony 43 years ago due to illness, and for years regretted not being able to attend. Earlier this spring, she reached out to the College of Humanities and the Arts, who collaborated with SJSU’s Special Events team to include her in the 2019 ceremony. Her mother Jennie, sister Trish McRae and best friend Diana Gomez approached her with leis, all four of them smiling and giddy as they anticipated her crossing the stage.

“This is a dream come true,” Perez said as she watched the deans approach the podium. “I am forever indebted to the San Jose State University Special Events folks and the dean for helping me. I am turning 66 next week, and this is proof that anything is possible.”

Perez bedazzled her grad cap with an image of her father Rudy wearing one of his famous garlic hats that he made for the Gilroy Garlic Festival. Originally from Gilroy, Perez sought out San Jose State’s graphic design program as an undergraduate. For years, she said she worked for a print design shop before transitioning to work in design and IT for the county of San Francisco. She moved to Glendale following her retirement, but said she still volunteers her expertise as a graphic designer for organizations such as the Kiwanis La Cañada, the Chamber of Commerce of La Cañada and the Community Scholarship Foundation of La Cañada Flintridge.

Sisters Trish McRae, Alice Perez, ’76 Graphic Design, with their mother Jennie Perez. Photo by Josie Lepe.

“I am doing graphics and PR—all of the things that I learned here,” she said. “San Jose State really gave me a wonderful education. It’s exciting to be back on campus.”

Though it had been decades since she completed her degree, Perez felt it important to include her mother Jennie in her ceremony.

“Alice was the first of all the grandkids in our family to graduate from college,” said her sister McRae. “Many of us went on to graduate, but she was the leader in our family. Our parents only had an eighth-grade education, so to have our 88-year-old mother here is exciting. We’re so proud of Alice.”

During the ceremony, College of Humanities and the Arts Dean Shannon Miller included a special shout-out to Perez.

“Hers is a great story—like so many of yours—about defying expectations and becoming the first in her family to get a college degree,” said Miller. “She wanted to honor her mother and family by going through today’s ceremony. We are delighted that she is here with us today.”

 

Center for Community Learning and Leadership Earns Community Award

 

SJSU's Center for Community Learning and Leadership received the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award from Third Street Community Center. Pictured here from left to right: Elena Klaw, CCLL faculty director and psychology professor, Rosemary Baez, executive director of Third Street Community Center and Patrick Day, vice president for Student Affairs pose for a photo as the SJSU program is recognized with a Community Photo by: Karen Guerrero, ’19 Communications

SJSU’s Center for Community Learning and Leadership received the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award from Third Street Community Center. Pictured here from left to right: Elena Klaw, CCLL faculty director and psychology professor, Rosemary Baez, executive director of Third Street Community Center and Patrick Day, vice president for Student Affairs pose for a photo.
Photo by: Karen Guerrero, ’19 Communications

San Jose State University’s Center for Community Learning and Leadership (CCLL) was recognized by the Third Street Community Center as its 2019 Outstanding Community Partner on Saturday, May 4. Vice President for Student Affairs Patrick Day joined faculty and staff members to accept the honor, which recognizes CCLL’s service learning and community engagement.

“We are honored that Third Street Community Center is recognizing the Center for Community Learning and Leadership and each college at San Jose State for our significant contributions,” said Psychology Professor Elena Klaw, who directs the CCLL, in addition to the Veterans Embracing Transition program. “Our center has partnered with Third Street Community Center for the past 19 years to educate, enrich, mentor and inspire downtown  youths through course-based service-learning.

During an event at Third Street Community Center, where SJSU's Center for Community Learning and Leadership received the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award, a group poses for a photo. Left to right: Avizia Long, assistant professor of World of Languages and Literatures, Kara Bench, SJSU Spanish student, Andrea Tully, CCLL coordinator, Sheryl Ehrman, dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering, Patrick Day, vice president of student affairs, Elena Klaw, CCLL faculty director and psychology professor, Peggy Arana, CCLL administrative support coordinator, and Mei-Yan Lu, educational leadership professor. Photo by: Karen Guerrero, ’19 Communications

During an event at Third Street Community Center, where SJSU’s Center for Community Learning and Leadership received the 2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award, a group poses for a photo. Left to right: Avizia Long, assistant professor of World Languages and Literatures; Kara Bench, SJSU Spanish student; Andrea Tully, CCLL coordinator; Sheryl Ehrman, dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering; Patrick Day, vice president of Student Affairs; Elena Klaw, CCLL faculty director and psychology professor; Peggy Arana, CCLL administrative support coordinator; and Mei-Yan Lu, educational leadership professor.
Photo by: Karen Guerrero, ’19 Communications

The Third Street Community Center provides comprehensive and enriching support to greater downtown San Jose youths, including college preparatory STEM education, peer role models and mentors, and family engagement in a safe and nurturing environment. Since 2010, SJSU has provided 1,518 service-learners to support academically at-risk children at the center. This year alone, SJSU students have provided more than 5,000 hours of service to academic enrichment programsmore than 70 percent of Third Street’s 2,102 volunteers since fall 2010. The Center for Community Learning and Leadership is proud to report that SJSU service-learning students provide 45,000 hours of service within the city of San Jose each year.

“The Center for Community Learning and Leadership has done an extraordinary job of providing service learning experiences for San Jose State University students,” said Day, who attended Saturday’s event. “Through their partnership with the Third Street Community Center, they have demonstrated an optimum example of community-engaged learning experiences that have a real impact on our neighbors in the city of San Jose.  The leadership of Professor Elena Klaw and the staff in CCLL are a hallmark of an innovative urban university.”

The CCLL is staffed by a team of three that supports curricular service learning and assessment at San Jose State: Klaw; Andrea Tully, community engagement coordinator, and Peggy Arana, administrative support coordinator.

 

Steve and Cheryl Caplan Commit $2 Million Gift

$1 Million to Spartan Football and $1 Million to Endowments


Media contacts

Lawrence Fan, SJSU Athletics media relations director, 408-924-1217, lawrence.fan@sjsu.edu
Robin McElhatton, SJSU media relations specialist, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University is pleased to announce that it has received a $1 million gift commitment from Steve and Cheryl Caplan. The gift is the latest commitment in a growing list of seven-figure gifts that will support a new football operations center on the east side of CEFCU Stadium, Home of the Spartans.

An additional $1 million from their estate will establish the Caplan Family Faculty Fellowship in the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business, the Caplan Family Teacher Innovation Fund in the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, and a Spartan Athletics Fund Scholarship endowment.

“My favorite donor stories are those that begin with ‘They met while they were students at SJSU.’ Throughout a lifetime of giving back, Steve and Cheryl’s passion, commitment and love for San Jose State has never wavered,” said Marie Tuite, director of intercollegiate athletics. “This gracious gift reflects their strong belief in and support of SJSU Athletics. However, more importantly, this gift also confirms their pledge to the educational mission of the university. Countless students will benefit from their impactful and inspirational gift. A sincere ‘thank you’ to two great Spartans.”

The Caplans met at San Jose State and recognize the role that the university plays in the economic well-being of Silicon Valley. They hope this gift will enable SJSU to continue its good work for future generations, help build a stronger foundation for Spartan football and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, and inspire friends and fellow alumni to invest in the university.

Spartans For Life

Photo courtesy of Steve and Cheryl Caplan

A 1965 graduate of San Jose State’s College of Business, Steve is the retired owner and president of KBM Workspace, an office furniture and design company. He joined the firm when he was a senior at San Jose State and purchased the company in 1984, helping it grow from a local dealership to a large company with business throughout the U.S. and Canada. He is a founding board member of the Tower Foundation of SJSU, an auxiliary organization whose sole mission is to serve the philanthropic purposes of San Jose State. Currently serving his third term as a board member, Steve is also an active volunteer, helping alumni discover ways to support athletics, including the development of a new football operations center.

Cheryl taught public school after graduating from San Jose State’s College of Education in 1967. The mother of two boys, she served as a volunteer in the rural Loma Prieta School District and worked with the principal and superintendent, researching and implementing curriculum, and creating a preschool testing program that helped parents, teachers and children prepare for kindergarten. She became well-versed in the issues challenging education, including communication between families and schools, adequate funding and teacher preparation.

Steve’s goal with Spartan Athletics is to raise awareness and support the funding effort for the renovation of the east side of CEFCU Stadium. The Caplans believe that the future of San Jose State Athletics is very bright, they said, as there is a very cohesive team in place that understands the critical nature of the need for competitive facilities that will put the university on equal footing with others in the conference.

The Caplans have been on the boards of service organizations such as the San Jose Hospital, Samaritan Health Systems, The Health Trust, YMCA of Silicon Valley, KTEH/KQED Public Television, Santa Clara County Boy Scouts of America, the San Jose Rotary Club and Tahoe Maritime Museum and Gardens.

“Through this magnificent gift and with hearts full of appreciation, Cheryl and I acknowledge the gift of education we received as young adults,” said Steve. “We hope these gifts will enable San Jose State to continue its good work for future generations of students and student-athletes alike. We also wish to model philanthropic behavior for our family members, friends and future generations of Spartans.”

“The Caplans are longtime, incredibly dedicated supporters of San Jose State. This generous commitment is a testament to their deep and abiding passion for this institution,” said Vice President for University Advancement and Tower Foundation CEO Paul Lanning. “They believe in the importance of both academics and athletics as vital elements of a comprehensive university. We’re so thankful for their leadership as dedicated alumni, volunteers and donors to their alma mater.”

“Steve and Cheryl Caplan have been incredible partners with San Jose State football over the years,” said SJSU Football Head Coach Brent Brennan. “They are helping us connect with and inspire Spartans to invest in our program, and they’re leading by example through this most generous gift. I am grateful to the Caplans, as this gift represents another step forward in providing our program the facilities it needs to compete at the highest level in the Mountain West.”

To track fundraising progress and learn how you can support Spartan football, please visit sjsufootball.com or contact Josh Thiel, deputy athletics director for athletics advancement, at 408-924-1697 or joshua.thiel@sjsu.edu.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is proud of the accomplishments of its more than 280,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.


About San Jose State Athletics

San Jose State sponsors 22 (nine men’s and 13 women’s) NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports programs for approximately 470 student-athletes annually. In football, the Spartans are a member of Division I’s Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the NCAA’s highest level of competition.

The Spartans’ primary conference affiliation is with the Mountain West. Selected teams belong to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the Golden Coast Conference (GCC).

San Jose State has 10 NCAA team championships and 52 NCAA individual titles. Sixty-two (62) Spartans competed in one or more Olympic Games. San Jose State athletes have won seven gold, six silver and seven bronze medals at the Olympics.

Annually, about one-third of the student-athlete population earns either an institutional, conference or national recognition based on outstanding academic performance.

Two Major Gifts Support SJSU Football Operations Center

Media contacts
Lawrence Fan, SJSU Athletics Media Relations Director, 408-924-1217, lawrence.fan@sjsu.edu
Robin McElhatton, SJSU media relations specialist, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University is pleased to announce that it has received two major gifts to support a new football operations center on the east side of CEFCU Stadium, Home of the Spartans. Thomas Thompson, ’72 Behavioral Science, and his wife, Jane Bradley, have committed $500,000 to support the development of the new football facility, with a remaining percentage of their trust to establish the Thomas E. Thompson Athletics Scholarship. SJSU Athletics is also proud to share that an additional gift of $500,000 has been committed to support the football center by an anonymous donor.

“Both of these gifts come from long-time football season ticket holders and steadfast supporters of our Athletics program,” said Marie Tuite, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “They are also keenly aware of the importance and significance of completing the funding for the football operations center. Tom and Jane believe in San Jose State and support the mission of the entire university. Our anonymous donor may be one of my favorite individuals–he simply wants us to build the football center and enhance the opportunities for our football program. I’m offering a sincere and gracious ‘thank you’ to these terrific Spartans.”

By supporting the creation of the new SJSU football operations building, these gifts will enable future generations of Spartan athletes to pursue an education while playing NCAA Division I sports.

Bringing Sport to New Heights

At 6 feet 8 inches, Thompson gravitated toward basketball at a young age, playing in high school and community college. He later transferred to San Jose State. Thompson was the first in his family to graduate from both high school and college–achievements that made it possible for him to pursue careers in juvenile probation, construction management, trade association management and real estate. He and his wife are grateful for the opportunity to give back to his alma mater.

“Jane and I want to show our appreciation to SJSU and to assist future students,” said Thompson, a long-time fan of SJSU football and basketball. “San Jose State provided my only opportunity for a good education at essentially no cost, and a great foundation to help me later earn a graduate degree. With the scholarship, we hope that students will have the chance to play football or basketball while earning a degree, just like I did.”

The anonymous donor, who graduated from San Jose State in the 1960s, is also a loyal fan of Spartan football.

“I am making this gift because I believe the football program is moving in the right direction under the leadership of Marie Tuite and Coach Brennan,” the anonymous donor said. “I know there are other Spartans like me who care deeply about this program and want to see it thrive. It is my hope that other Spartans will join the growing group of donors in doing what they can to provide Coach Brennan and the program with the resources necessary to compete in the Mountain West.”

“Our momentum continues to build as we move closer to our goal of creating modern, vibrant spaces for our student-athletes and our fans,” said Paul Lanning, vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. “We are so excited to see donors like these and so many others investing in the future of SJSU football, Athletics and the university.”

To track fundraising progress and learn how you can support Spartan football, please visit sjsufootball.com or contact Josh Thiel, deputy athletics director for athletics advancement, at 408-924-1697 or joshua.thiel@sjsu.edu.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its eight colleges. With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce. The university is proud of the accomplishments of its more than 270,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

About San Jose State Athletics

San Jose State sponsors 22 (nine men’s and 13 women’s) NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports programs for approximately 470 student-athletes annually. In football, the Spartans are a member of Division I’s Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the NCAA’s highest level of competition.

The Spartans’ primary conference affiliation is with the Mountain West. Selected teams belong to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the Golden Coast Conference (GCC).

San Jose State has 10 NCAA team championships and 52 NCAA individual titles. Sixty-two (62) Spartans competed in one or more Olympic Games. San Jose State athletes have won seven gold, six silver and seven bronze medals at the Olympics.

Annually, about one-third of the student-athlete population earns either institutional, conference or national recognition based on outstanding academic performance.

Computer Science Receives $1.6 Million Gift

A student is working on a laptop.

Photo: Robert C. Bain

Media contact:
Robin McElhatton, SJSU media relations specialist, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University is pleased to announce that it has received a $1.6 million planned gift from an anonymous donor. The gift will endow a lectureship in the computer science department, establishing a teaching position upon the donor’s death and expanding opportunities for computer science majors to hear from experts, and explore research, career and internship programs in the field.

“Gifts like this one allow us to provide students with co-curricular experiences that expand their horizons, allow them to encounter diverse viewpoints, and hear from leaders in their future industries,” said Michael Kaufman, dean of the College of Science. “All departments would benefit from such programs.”

San Jose State’s computer science program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, a nonprofit organization that accredits competitive programs across the nation. In addition to undergraduate and master’s degrees, the department offers a Computer Science Certificate in Cybersecurity, and a bachelor’s of science in software engineering offered in partnership with the computer engineering department. Computer science, jointly with the biological sciences and mathematics and statistics departments, will offer a master of science in bioinformatics, starting later this year.

Connecting San Jose State to Silicon Valley Industry

Although the donor is not originally from this area, after moving here the donor has been able to take advantage of the many opportunities that the Silicon Valley offers in the tech industry. However, over the years, the donor noticed that many local students who grow up surrounded by these great companies don’t have a clear idea how to tap into the opportunities that surround them.

“San Jose State is full of local students. They have a lot they can contribute and they just need a little guidance,” said the donor. “While there are many great ways to help students accomplish their educational goals, this gift helps to get more great faculty to help students prepare for the many local opportunities for computer science majors.”

By endowing a teaching position in computer science, the donor is hoping to ensure that Spartans interested in the field continue to receive an excellent education.

“I have found so much gratification in computer science, and I want to make sure that students who are interested have that opportunity too,” the donor said. “Teachers have been a great influence on me, so I really want students who come here to have great people to learn from.”

“It is so exciting to see a member of our community investing in our future students and faculty members with a commitment like this,” said Paul Lanning, vice president for University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. “I hope this gift serves as an inspiration to others to think about how they might provide for future generations at San Jose State.”

To learn how you can support the College of Science, please contact Emily Lane, director of development, at 408-924-1145 or emily.lane@sjsu.edu.


About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its eight colleges. With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley, the state and the world, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce. The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 270,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

 

Spartan Football Receives $1 Million Gift from Kevin and Sandy Swanson

Kevin and Sandy Swanson at the Spartan football All In campaign event in 2017. Photo: David Schmitz

Media contacts:

Robin McElhatton, SJSU Media Relations Specialist, 408-924-1749, robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu
Lawrence Fan, SJSU Athletics Media Relations Director, 408-924-1217, lawrence.fan@sjsu.edu

San Jose, Calif.— San Jose State University is pleased to announce that it has received a $1 million gift commitment from alumnus Kevin Swanson, ’87 Finance, and his wife Sandy Swanson. Their gift will contribute to a new football operations center on the east side of the CEFCU Stadium, Home of the Spartans.

“This gift reflects the support and love Kevin and Sandy have for our football program and for San Jose State University,” said Director of Athletics Marie Tuite. “Win or lose, they are committed to improving the experiences and well-being of our student-athletes through their generous donation. They understand the value of the football operations center to San Jose State, and their generosity is an indication of their belief in Coach Brent Brennan and his staff. We offer a sincere and heartfelt ‘thank you’ to two of the best Spartans in our community.”

Supporting Common Goals

The Swansons’ San Jose financial services office is decorated in Spartan regalia, from a SJSU flag hanging on the wall to Kevin’s diploma. As an undergraduate, Kevin was active in the Delta Upsilon fraternity, a network of friends and colleagues who invited him back after graduating to serve as a fraternity advisor. For 11 years, he mentored Spartans and Sandy attended countless pledge dances and university events. The chance to connect with students on a personal and professional level inspired the Swansons to attend Spartan football games, enjoying tailgates with a community of friends.

“One thing I love about athletics is the opportunity it brings to students who wouldn’t otherwise have an opportunity to pursue an education,” said Kevin. “It offers the opportunity for young men and women to learn more about themselves and to work on a team with a common goal as a community.”

In 2018, the couple learned about Beyond Football, which offers unique programming for Spartan football players to develop career and life skills that extend beyond the sport. Together, they volunteered to offer mock interviews alongside a cohort of Silicon Valley professionals to critique the students’ interview techniques. The chance to interact one-on-one with football players in a professional capacity inspired them to find a lasting way to give back.

“It really struck us that the football team and the Beyond Football program were really making a difference in these young men’s lives,” said Sandy, a CSU Hayward graduate who calls San Jose State her adopted alma mater. “That type of foresight on the part of the athletics department is inspirational for us, and we’d love to see those types of things continue.”

“Kevin and Sandy Swanson have been amazing to us since we came on board two years ago,” said SJSU Head Football Coach Brent Brennan. “They believe, like many of us do, that in the process of building a top-flight football program, we need to invest at a high level. This gift is another huge step in the direction of giving our program the facilities it needs to compete at the highest level in the Mountain West. I am so thankful for their belief in what we are building here.”

Football Matters

The Swansons believe that by supporting the football program, they can multiply their impact for all student-athletes at San Jose State.

“The impact that athletics has on athletes in any sport is significant and one of the reasons we are making this donation,” said Kevin. “We believe that on most campuses football is a major factor in fundraising and revenue generation for the entire campus. When you have a strong football program, you have a strong athletics program. Athletics really does change students’ lives.”

“Kevin and Sandy are longtime passionate supporters of San José State University and of Spartan football, and this commitment speaks volumes about just how passionate they are,” said Paul Lanning, vice president for university advancement and CEO of SJSU’s Tower Foundation. “We’re grateful and proud to count them among the growing number of major benefactors who believe in this project and want to see it happen as quickly as possible.”

To track fundraising progress and learn how you can support the football operations center, please visit sjsufootball.com or contact Joshua Thiel, deputy athletics director for athletics advancement, at 408-924-1697 or via email at joshua.thiel@sjsu.edu.

About San Jose State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San Jose State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San Jose State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce

The university is proud of the accomplishments of its more than 260,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

About San Jose State Athletics

San Jose State University sponsors 22 (nine men’s and 13 women’s) NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports programs for approximately 470 student-athletes annually.

In football, the Spartans are a member of Division I’s Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the NCAA’s highest level of competition.

The Spartans’ primary conference affiliation is with the Mountain West. Selected teams belong to the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) and the Golden Coast Conference (GCC).

San Jose State has 10 NCAA team championships and 52 NCAA individual titles. Sixty-two (62) Spartans competed in one or more Olympic Games. San Jose State athletes have won seven gold, six silver and seven bronze medals at the Olympics.

Annually, about one-third of the student-athlete population earns either an institutional, conference or national recognition based on outstanding academic performance.

“They Migrated So I Graduated”

Photo: Josie Lepe

On December 19, hundreds of San Jose State University graduates crossed the stage at the Event Center at SJSU to accept their degrees. Among those celebrating, a young woman in her cap and gown sat, quiet and contemplative, on the cold cement. The Mercury News photographer Randy Vazquez, ’15 Journalism, tweeted a photograph of Tania Soto, ’18 Child and Adolescent Development, that included the phrase she’d written across her cap: “They Migrated So I Graduated.” The tweet quickly went viral, begging the question: Who is Tania Soto and what is the story of her cap?

Soto says that her cap is dedicated to her parents, who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to provide a better life for her and her brother. When she was in third grade, her father confided that he’d only been able to attend school through second grade—her mother through third—because he had to help support his family. Motivated by her parents’ sacrifices, Soto resolved to pursue a college degree and create the life her family envisioned for her.

“My parents had to work jobs that no person with an education would do, because it’s hard work,” she says. “They had to live with other family members, because rent was too high and the income was too low. I wanted to show my dad and mom that their sacrifices weren’t being thrown away. They were the ones who motivated me and gave me strength every time I felt like dropping out. I am where I am today thanks to them.”

“While her husband and mother were there to celebrate her achievement, Soto was heartbroken to learn that her father couldn’t get off work. She says that crossing the stage, accepting her diploma and shaking President Mary Papazian’s hand was her father’s moment as much as it was hers. Still, she savored the experience.

“I had been waiting for this moment for six years and to finally be able to walk across the stage was so surreal that I just wanted to cry and scream with happiness,” she says. “This accomplishment represents hard work. It taught me that any goal is reachable, no matter the obstacles that come to you.”

When she spotted Vazquez’s tweet, Soto was surprised and humbled by its response. Her belief in the impact of education is echoed in her work at an infant toddler center in Palo Alto. She plans to use her experience, coupled with her expertise in child development, to inspire kids to plan for college.

“I want to work with children and families in the community where I grew up,” says Soto. “Many of the families and children in my community do not have aspirations of obtaining higher education, and I want to change that. I want to make sure children learn about college and all the resources available.”

Perhaps some of Soto’s future students will one day follow in her footsteps, crossing the stage at the Event Center at SJSU, becoming Spartan graduates themselves.

More than 4,000 San Jose State University students graduated in December 2018, joining a community of 270,000 Spartan alumni.

 


 

San Jose State Commencement Celebrates 10,000 Graduates

San Jose State University concluded the year with its largest graduating class ever and a speaker who encouraged the Class of 2017 to “stand up for truth and reason” in a fast-paced and changing world.

Nearly 10,000 students received degrees this year. Among all those diplomas were 3,000 master’s degrees and 27 doctoral degrees, including the first graduating class of a new doctoral program in educational leadership.

“Your lives will change in ways that you can’t yet imagine,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “Your San Jose State degree, and the critical thinking skills you’ve gained from a caring, devoted faculty, will help you navigate that 24/7, ever-changing, unimaginably fast-moving world.”

Family members and guests arrived as early as 7:30 a.m. May 27 to find optimal seats to see graduates on the floor of CEFCU Stadium, Home of the Spartans. The morning fog burned off just in time for President Papazian to address the graduates on the football field.

Doctoral degrees

A ceremony highlight: the hooding of eight new doctors of education focusing specifically on educational leadership, earned while many of the new Ph.D.s worked full time.

Their goal? To grow in their careers while serving their communities as leaders of primary and secondary schools, as well as colleges and universities.

The graduates pursued dissertations on such varied topics as project-based learning and closing the achievement gap, harkening back to the university’s roots as a teacher’s college, founded in San Francisco shortly after the Gold Rush.

Inspiring speech

Award-winning television journalist and CEO of Latinas Contra Cancer Ysabel Duron, ’70 Journalism, delivered the Commencement address, appealing to the graduates to recognize that their degrees empower them to use their voices and contribute to society.

She brought a clock and a typewriter with her to the podium, pointing out that despite changes in technology, the values of a university endure.

“An educated, diverse society is needed to address the problems of our times,” Duron said. “And even more so, it takes a well-informed society to see the issues ahead and begin to address them in a humane way.”

A pioneering Latina broadcast journalist, Duron covered regional, national and international events for 43 years, culminating in two decades as a Bay Area reporter and anchor before launching an encore career as founder of Latinas Contra Cancer.

Giving back

During the ceremony, Phil Boyce, ’66 Business Administration, received an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Boyce has dedicated his career as a banker, businessman and philanthropist to cultivating healthy communities.

As chairman of the board of the Valley Foundation, Boyce helped establish a simulation nursing lab and create an endowment to support what is now known as the Valley Foundation School of Nursing.

“I’d like to congratulate our graduates. You have the tools to move forward,” Boyce said. “May I suggest one thing? I’d like to see you all give back to our community and this university. We need your help, we need your knowledge.”

Proudest moment

Following the speeches, the dean for each of San Jose State’s colleges took to the podium to confer master’s and bachelor’s degrees upon the graduates. As the ceremony finished, SJSU’s newest alumni joined in singing the alma mater while guests cheered.

Perhaps the proudest moment for the thousands of graduates in attendance came at the end, as they gathered with family and friends on the field for hugs, tears and, of course, photos.

Congratulations, Class of 2017!

See and share photos and messages from commencement with #SJSU17 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Returning Student Finishes His Degree 61 Years Later

Robert Lewis George in Yosemite, 1960 (all photos courtesy of the George family).

Robert Lewis George in Yosemite, 1960 (all photos courtesy of the George family).

In May 2017, Robert Lewis George visited San Jose State to deliver his senior project to his faculty committee—61 years after first enrolling at SJSU. His final presentation, entitled “Visualizations,” detailed a photography workshop he took with Ansel Adams in Yosemite in 1960, and covered his 50-year career since leaving San Jose. The two-week workshop, which was conducted all over the park, made a lasting impact on the way George took photos—and saw the world.

“Learning with him was an anticipated challenge, a memorable experience and an appreciation of true genius,” George, age 83, writes in his senior paper. “The way he inspired me, shared his perspective, and taught us to see the photographic possibilities as well as the sheer pleasure of being with Ansel for those two weeks will be with me always.”

Though George will not be present to participate in the university’s Commencement ceremony May 27, he enjoyed visiting San Jose State for his presentation earlier this month. When asked if he recognized the campus, he said, “Only the Tower. Everything else is different.”

George originally enrolled at SJSU in 1956 after returning from the military, where one of his jobs was to take photos. Photography became especially important to him after meeting San Jose State Art and Art History Professor Morton Boss. Though he was a Life Sciences, Preparation for Teaching major at the time, his passion for photography led him in 1960 to open the Town and Country Camera store in San Jose with his father-in-law. Boss worked there for several years, maintaining a friendship with George that lasted decades.

George at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah. His team won gold medal in an age bracket for players in their 80s).

Robert Lewis George at the Huntsman World Senior Games in St. George, Utah. His team won the gold medal for its age bracket.

In the early 1970s, George and his wife moved to Oregon with their children. He sold school buses before working as a transportation consultant for Oregon’s Department of Education. Following his retirement in 1995, George and his wife wintered in Arizona and stayed busy with family, fishing and playing senior softball. Watching his children and grandchildren pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees and delighting in their success, he realized that something still remained on his bucket list: a college degree.

George worked with a team of deans, professors and evaluators at San Jose State to determine his pathway to a degree. The team included Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Wendy Ng, Associate Dean of the College of Sciences Elaine Collins, University Articulation Officer Delia Chavez and Admissions Evaluator Yvette Fierro. In early 2017, he declared a special major entitled Life Sciences Visualization with Preparation for Teaching and enrolled in an independent study course with Ng, who is also a sociology professor at SJSU.

“It feels absolutely wonderful to complete my degree,” he said. “I’m not going to get a better job because of it, I’m not going to make more money because of it—it’s just something that needed to be done. Once I identified that, then it took some work, but it was not as hard as I thought it would be. Wendy was a great mentor for me. I would do it again in a minute.”

SJSU Presents 2017 Top Seniors and Outstanding Thesis Awards

San Jose State President Mary A. Papazian will recognize this year’s top graduates at Commencement, beginning at 9:30 a.m. May 27 in Spartan Stadium. Lauren Cordova and Fatema Elbakoury have been named Outstanding Graduating Seniors for their leadership roles on and off campus, contributions to the community and personal achievements as undergraduates. Mary Okin and Paul Zimmer have received the Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the quality of their research.

Lauren Cordova (all photos courtesy of the students)

Lauren Cordova (all photos courtesy of the students)

Lauren Cordova, ’17 Behavioral Science and Sociology, has been involved in LGBTQ+ organizations since her freshman year at San Jose State and during a year studying abroad at the University College Dublin in 2014. In leadership positions at SJSU’s Queers Thoughtfully Interrupting Prejudice, Peers in Pride and Peer Connections, and through her work at San Jose’s LGBTQ+ Youth Space Speaker’s Bureau, Cordova has demonstrated her commitment to her fellow Spartans while maintaining a 3.846 GPA. Her research on underrepresented minority students in the College of Social Sciences, conducted alongside Professor Amy Leisenring, resulted in a paper which they presented at the Pacific Sociological Association conference in April. Cordova will be attending the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

Fatema Elbakoury

Fatema Elbakoury

Fatema Elbakoury, ’17 English, has enriched San Jose State through her work as a diversity advocate intern at SJSU’s MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center, as a peer mentor through Peer Connections and as a Salzburg Scholar. She offered workshops on feminism, Islam, whiteness, transphobia, mass incarceration and body image through MOSAIC. Upon returning from Salzburg, she developed a workshop addressing complacency in the globalized world. She represented SJSU at Harvard Divinity School’s Diversity and Explorations program and Northwestern University’s Community for Human Rights conference—while maintaining a 3.974 GPA. Elbakoury was one of 47 scholarship recipients nationwide chosen by the Islamic Scholarship Fund in recognition of her work using the arts to shift the perception of Muslim Americans.

Mary Okin

Mary Okin

Mary Okin, ’11 BA Liberal Studies, ’16 MA Art History, worked for San Jose State’s Humanities Honors Program, became an SJSU Salzburg Scholar and helped develop this campus’ Cultural Showcase. She is also a California State University Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar who won awards at the San Jose State and CSU student research competitions and conducted summer research at University of California, Berkeley. Her master’s thesis, “Uncovering ‘New Man’ Feminism: Arthur F. Mathews at the San Francisco School of Design, 1890-1896,” is the first feminist reading of this 19th century California painter. She is in her first year of doctoral study at University of California, Santa Barbara, and is revising her master’s thesis for publication.

Paul Zimmer

Paul Zimmer

Paul Zimmer, ’17 Geology, analyzed 27,000 cross-sections derived from Sierra Nevada bedrock valleys in pursuit of his master’s degree in geology—challenging conventional understandings of how glacial erosion modifies the shape of mountain ranges. He developed his master’s thesis, “Assessing Glacial Modification of Bedrock Valleys in the Sierra Nevada, California, Using a Novel Approach,” by creating a new, semi-automated technique for extracting valley cross-sections from digital elevation models using custom scripts written in the programming languages MATLAB and Python. He used this approach to produce an unparalleled dataset and to validate a new method for quantifying the geomorphology of bedrock valleys.

A 1973 Graduate Returns to Participate in Commencement

When Elizabeth López learned that her uncle Jesse Musquez, ’73 Math, had completed his degree but never walked in Commencement, she asked why. As an undergraduate graduation evaluator at San Jose State’s Office of the Registrar, she knew how important it is for college students to celebrate their graduation.

“Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in graduation,” López said. “It’s a celebration of a big achievement, and I thought he would enjoy being a part of it.”

Back in 1973, Musquez was a young father of two, with a third on the way. As a Vietnam veteran, Musquez had already overcome significant obstacles in pursuing his education. When he was a young child, his family had worked for the automotive industry in Michigan before moving out west to pick apricots, cotton and grapes in the Valley of Heart’s Delight.

Musquez family 2017

The Musquez family in the 1970s. From left to right, Christopher Daniel, Maria, Jesse, Marcos and Anna (all photos courtesy of the Musquez family).

Determined to be the first in his family to complete a college degree, Musquez put himself through school on the G.I. Bill and worked full-time to support his wife and children. Just as he was completing the final requirements for graduation, his sister-in-law passed away unexpectedly, leaving three small children. Instead of donning his cap and gown, Musquez, along with his wife and his in-laws, focused on providing care for their family—a consistent theme throughout his life.

When she heard this story, López felt moved to do something. She investigated what it would take to bring her uncle to CEFCU Stadium on May 27 in cap and gown.

Achieving the American Dream

“My father is a fantastic example of someone who came from very simple means and has accomplished so much. He is an example of the American dream,” said Musquez’s daughter Anna Martorana, ’99 Molecular Biology.

Musquez, age 73, had originally pursued math as a pathway to coding, though at the time that he graduated, there weren’t any jobs in the field. Instead he chose a career in electronics, working for several years for Fairchild Semiconductor before entering international sales.

Musquez family today

The Musquez family today.

“For being someone who picked cotton and worked in the fields to graduating from San Jose State, it’s been a long journey,” Musquez said.

Throughout his successful career, the focus has always been on family. It’s no surprise that he’ll be surrounded by 15 family members on the big day, many of them flying in from out of town.

Family man

Jesse Musquez in cap and gown

Jesse Musquez in cap and gown.

“My dad is so much about everyone else in the family,” said Martorana, who attended San Jose State as a young parent herself and now works for Novartis Pharmaceuticals. “He is the foundation of the family but he is often in the background. We’re thrilled to get this opportunity to recognize him and what he’s accomplished.”

When he went to pick up his cap and gown, surrounded by graduates of the Class of 2017, he says the excitement was palpable.

“It’s going to be fun to put on a gown and sit there with all these young people,” he said. “When I went to get my gown, you could feel the energy of all the students. You can feel their hard work and you can sense that their families have done the work to get them where they’re at. I’m happy to do this.”