Diversity in STEM Master’s Degrees Recognized

Professor sits with science students in lab.

Photo courtesy of Miri VanHoven.

The July 23 issue of Diverse Issues in Higher Education highlighted a list of institutions that best produce minority post-baccalaureate graduates in STEM fields. San José State took multiple honors.

In addition to its regular annual top 100 rankings, Diverse published an expanded list highlighting master’s degrees in the STEM fields of engineering, math and statistics, and physical science. SJSU was included on all three lists.

In granting a master’s in engineering, SJSU ranked #5 in diversity among all institutions, any size, public or private. Rounding out the top five were Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley, USC, and Stanford. Minorities also earned SJSU master’s degrees at high rates in:

  • Mathematics and statistics: #13
  • Physical sciences: #52

This analysis was based on master’s degrees conferred in the 2017-2018 academic year.

Marc d’Alarcao, dean of the College of Graduate Studies, said, “One of our priorities in the College of Graduate Studies (CGS) is to assure that the grad student population reflects the diversity of the community. Although we still have more work to do, we’re delighted to be recognized in this way.”

In March, the CGS hired Dr. Amy Leisenring as associate dean of inclusive student success. Her work, d’Alarcao said, would “continue to deepen an examination of our practices in the College of Graduate Studies, focusing on making them inclusive and equitable.”

“San Jose State University is proud of its role in serving all students seeking graduate degrees in STEM fields,” President Mary A. Papazian said. “SJSU has a legacy of a commitment to inclusion, and sending our diverse group of talented STEM graduates into the Silicon Valley workforce and beyond, and on to advanced degrees, is just one way we demonstrate that commitment.”

In 2019, SJSU ranked #1 for total minorities receiving master’s degrees in Diverse’s library science category, and #1 for Asian Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans.

Bachelor’s Degree Diversity across All Fields

San José State University has also previously topped the magazine’s charts for diversity in bachelor’s degrees awarded.

San José State was the #1 school in the country in Diverse‘s rankings for producing Asian American bachelor’s degree graduates in visual and performing arts, and in business administration, management and operations. For both those undergraduate majors, the school ranked #3 nationwide in total minorities (including Hispanic, African American, Native American, and graduates who list multiple ethnicities).

For all disciplines combined, SJSU ranked #5 in the 2019 data for Asian American bachelor’s degrees, split evenly between men (1285) and women (1262).

Those same rankings show SJSU placing tenth in all minorities completing a bachelor’s in the two fields of communication/journalism/related degrees and natural resources and conservation. Nationally, SJSU ranked #6 in engineering bachelor’s degrees for all minorities.

“The diversity of the undergraduate program reflects the larger community,” d’Alarcao said, “and we hope undergraduate students stay on for graduate school, further increasing our diversity there.”

These recognitions come on the heels of recent rankings demonstrating SJSU’s excellence at facilitating social mobility. Last year, U.S. News and World Report added a ranking for social mobility that compares how well universities and colleges do in graduating Pell grant-eligible students. SJSU ranked #3 among public universities in the West, and #5 overall for the region.

A Gold Star for Sustainability, and a How-to Series for Viewers at Home

Water fountain with a recycled water sign next to it.

Water fountain on El Paseo De César E. Chávez. Photo: David Schmitz.

Improving sustainability demands more than a string of individual actions. It requires partnerships.

That’s why the SJSU Office of Sustainability is working with a long list of campus partners to continue making the campus cleaner and greener.

Its achievements were rewarded last March when SJSU received a Gold rating from STARS, the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. STARS is a “transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance,” awarded San José State its level Gold ranking this spring, with a score of 71.91.

The Gold ranking is not merely a measure of good recycling or energy-efficient buildings but evaluates numerous efforts: academics, campus and public engagement, facilities, transportation, waste management, and energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The Gold ranking recognizes not only the buildings, but what’s happening inside and outside them–the web of partnerships geared toward improving sustainability on campus.

Senior Utilities and Sustainability Analyst Debbie Andres said that the challenge of a three-year campus-wide audit was important in helping to infuse sustainability practices throughout campus. “In 2016, we were the first CSU to get the Gold ranking,” she said. “That was really exciting.”

This summer, together with a list of partners, the Office of Sustainability is hosting a Summer Workshop Series, short videos offering tips on using public transportation, reducing food waste–even “conscious closet cleaning.”

The first offering in the video series, in partnership with the Women’s Wellness Center, was Conscious Closet Cleaning Part 1. Soozy Zerbe, zero waste student intern at the Office of Sustainability, explained much more than shared ideas about how to reduce unwanted clothing. Zerbe said the global fashion industry has a higher carbon impact than airlines or shipping. Student president and co-founder of the Women and Wellness Club Guadalupe Moreno said in the video that in addition to reducing waste, “cleaning out your closet is great for your well-being and a method of self-care.” The video contains a tidy closetful of highly informed data about how much clothing we unthinkingly send to the landfill. “Cluttering takes up space, and decluttering can make you feel calm and relaxed,” Moreno said.

Andres said the idea for the topic originated with Moreno, who noticed how often students are posting questions and sharing information via videos on sites like Instagram. The summer video series evolved from an initiative dreamed up by students into a broader way to help the campus community think about sustainability at a time when regular modes of outreach can’t happen.

“It’s on YouTube, so people can access these videos any time. I thought there was so much information we could share out there.” Students pay attention to and learn through media like Instagram videos, Andres said—and all the more so now, when they aren’t crossing campus or dropping in the sustainability office, which they have always done frequently in the past.

The workshop series, Andres said, was formed during events earlier this summer, with the goal of offering people at home a set of “how-to” guides in an easy to watch format. “For me, and for my office, sustainability isn’t just about environmental sustainability. It’s about people. If we’re not protecting people on the planet, we’re not protecting the planet.”

More tips on keeping sustainability in mind in the home and office will appear in three more videos throughout July. Videos coming in August include gardening at home in small containers (with AS Community Garden), public transportation tips (with AS Transportation Solutions), and cooking tips when shifting to a plant-based diet, with the Spartan Veg Club. Spartan Eats partnered on a video about how to reduce food waste when on campus, and how SJSU incorporates sustainability in food options. The last video in September, made with SJSU’s Spartan Food Pantry and SJSU Cares, will discuss how to apply for Cal Fresh benefits, and how to access the Spartan Food Pantry and other basic needs resources on campus.

“It just started morphing into ‘What else would students be interested in learning about?’ It was a team effort with my students to reach out to organizations that were doing awesome things that tied in with sustainability.”

Follow @sjsugreencampus on Twitter to get the full schedule of videos and their release dates.

Papazian Named California Campus Compact Executive Board Chair

San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian has been selected as chair of the California Campus Compact (CACC) executive board.

“I have enormous respect for Mary and know that California Campus Compact will benefit immensely from the vision and wisdom she will bring to her new role as chair of the executive board,” said Leroy M. Morishita, outgoing board chair and president of Cal State-East Bay, in a CACC press release.

President Mary A. Papazian speaks at a SJSU commencement ceremony

The CACC executive board supports and promotes the mission of California Campus Compact throughout the state, recommends programs, plans and budgets that sustain and promote the vision and mission of the organization, and exercises oversight and stewardship of the resources of the organization.

CACC is a coalition of leading colleges and universities that works to build the collective commitment and capacity of colleges, universities and communities throughout California to advance civic and community engagement for a healthy, just and democratic society.

“I am looking forward to working with colleagues across the state to support student engagement in civic life, something that has never been more important,” said Papazian, a CACC board member since 2017, who was also involved in Campus Compact during her years as a higher education administrator and leader in Connecticut.

“I believe CACC’s focus on students and connection to community is central to our educational mission,” she said. “SJSU has a long and rich history of such engagement, as evidenced by our partnership with the city of San Jose, our Center for Community Learning & Leadership (CCLL) and our CommUniverCity program. SJSU’s CCLL team, in fact, manages all service-learning and Campus Compact activities for our faculty and students. I could not be more proud than to represent San Jose State in this leadership position.”

Papazian praised the strong leadership of Morishita and characterized the work of CACC Executive Director Elaine Ikeda as “the glue that makes California Campus Compact a model for the nation.”

Joining Papazian on the 2020-2021 CACC executive board is its newest member, California State University, Dominguez Hills President Thomas A. Parham. Other board members include:

  • William A. Covino, president, California State University, Los Angeles
  • James A. Donahue, president, St. Mary’s College of California
  • James T. Harris, president, University of San Diego
  • Leroy M. Morishita, president, California State University, East Bay
  • Linda Oubré, president, Whittier College
  • Rowena Tomaneng, president, San Jose City College

Through innovative programs and initiatives, grant funding, training and technical assistance, professional development and powerful research studies and publications, California Campus Compact each year invests in and champions students, faculty members, administrators and community members involved in diverse and groundbreaking activities that support and expand civic and community engagement throughout California.

Papazian joined San Jose State as its 30th president on July 1, 2016. Notable milestones since her appointment include the groundbreaking for the Interdisciplinary Science Building and approval of plans to build a Science Park; development of the East Side Promise program to support talented local students; and working collaboratively with the university community to launch a ten-year strategic plan, Transformation 2030, that positions SJSU for long-term excellence in the 21st century in the nation’s tenth largest city.

SJSU’s Lisa Millora and Marie Tuite Named 2020 “Women of Influence” by Silicon Valley Business Journal

San Jose State University’s Lisa Millora and Marie Tuite have been named to the 2020 list of 100 “Women of Influence” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Millora serves as chief of staff in SJSU’s Office of the President and acting vice president of university advancement, while Tuite is the university’s director of intercollegiate athletics.

“Lisa and Marie are extraordinary women and leaders,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian, herself a SVBJ “Woman of Influence” in 2019. “San Jose State is a better institution because of them, and I am grateful they are part of our leadership team.”

Each year, the SVBJ honors and celebrates the 100 most influential women in Silicon Valley. Honorees have been selected from the private, public and nonprofit sectors and include leaders in corporations, startups, small businesses, nonprofits, healthcare, education and community services. The SVBJ will honor its 2020 Women of Influence award-winners at an October 15 dinner event.

Lisa Millora, SJSU chief of staff

Lisa Millora, SJSU’s Chief of Staff, Office of the President.

“While I’m honored to be recognized in this fashion, the real ‘influencers’ at San Jose State are the faculty and staff who work each day—often unnoticed—to provide our students with the best education imaginable while helping them to become educated citizens and the next generation of leaders,” said Millora. “They, along with our students, are the true inspiration.”

As chief of staff, Millora works with the president’s cabinet to oversee the day-to-day operations of the university and its 40,000 students, faculty and staff. She drives progress on strategic priorities and promotes operational effectiveness across the top levels of leadership, through oversight of the Office of the President, Strategic Communications and Marketing, Community and Government Relations, University Personnel and, for a period of time, the Division of University Advancement. The values she learned during her days at an all-girls Catholic school, said Millora, led to a career path that would let her work toward social justice outcomes.

“Through Catholic social teaching, I learned that justice meant caring for the most marginalized in society,” she said. Working for a university early in her career, Millora said, helped her discover “the connection between the values I embraced as a child and the path I wanted to pursue professionally.”

Marie Tuite, SJSU athletics director

Marie Tuite, SJSU’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. Photo by: Thomas Sanders/San Jose State University.

Tuite, a two-sport student-athlete and Athletics Hall of Fame inductee at Central Michigan University, leads and manages a college athletics program with a $34 million budget that supports 22 sports programs, 490 student-athletes and more than 150 coaches and staff members. She is one of only 11 women nationally with the responsibilities of athletics director at a NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institution, that organization’s highest level of college athletics competition among 130 colleges and universities nationwide. In addition, she is the only woman with the athletics director leadership position among the seven NCAA Division I FBS schools in California.

“When I read the names of the other honorees and noticed the footprint of their professional work, I was so honored to be included with these extraordinary and influential women,” said Tuite, who leads a program that has earned 10 NCAA team championships and 52 NCAA individual titles over the years. Tuite oversees a population of student-athletes, coaches and staff members who collectively participate in more than 10,000 hours of community service and campus engagement activities annually.

“I imagine the professional journey for many of them may not always be an easy path to navigate,” said Tuite. “So this wonderful acknowledgement serves as a positive beacon for all women—from every imaginable background—and a reminder to believe in and listen to our inner spirit that speaks to us every day. It’s a privilege to stand with and be included among these women of Silicon Valley.”

In addition to Papazian, Millora and Tuite join Karen Philbrick, executive director of SJSU’s Mineta Transportation Institute, and Stacy Gleixner, former associate vice president for student and faculty success, as past SVBJ Women of Influence award winners from San Jose State.

SJSU’s Top Academic Achievers Recognized

Students jumping up in the air and cheering with pom poms.

Photo by David Schmitz.

San Jose State University’s top academic achievers—including 1,582 President’s Scholars who obtained a 4.0 grade point average in spring or fall 2019—are being honored and celebrated this month for the hard work, determination and dedication that earned them a place at the top of their class.

“It is always a pleasure to recognize and celebrate the academic excellence of our students,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian. “They’ve spent hours on end in the library. They’ve asked penetrating questions in the classroom. They’ve been industrious and unflagging in pursuit of knowledge. In short, they represent the best of our Spartan student community, and we are very proud of them.”

Ranked against an average undergraduate enrollment of 26,518 during spring and fall 2019, President’s Scholars rank in the top six percent of the undergraduate population.

In addition to the President’s Scholars, 5,783 students made the Dean’s Scholars list for achieving a 3.65 GPA in spring or fall 2019. All Dean’s Scholars will be recognized with certificates from their college deans.

“These students clearly have a limitless future in front of them,” said Provost Vincent Del Casino. “They are tomorrow’s leaders of Silicon Valley, the State of California and beyond. On behalf of our faculty and staff, I congratulate each of them.”

“The student scholars we recognize this spring have reached this level of excellence through their own individual sacrifice and through the support of their families, friends and our faculty and staff,” said Papazian. “Their grades are more than letters; they represent an unwavering commitment to academic excellence that have earned them our admiration and respect.”

The academic success and scholastic performance of San Jose State’s top students, said Del Casino, is demonstrable proof that they have high standards of achievement and are capable of attaining lofty goals.

“I truly commend each of these students for their accomplishments and their future promise,” he said. “Their academic success is just a prelude to the significant contributions to society they will make after they graduate.”

Papazian said it was also important to acknowledge the people behind the scenes who work hard to guide and support students.

“Parents, spouses, significant others, children, relatives and friends make crucial contributions that help to support these scholars on their educational journey,” she said. “They couldn’t do it without those important people in their lives.”

Papazian also notes that with recognition comes responsibility.

“We expect much from these gifted and hard-working students,” she said. “I am confident that their academic success will translate into meaningful civic engagement, career success and other positive outcomes that will make our world a better place.”

SJSU Students Awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

Nebat Ali

Nebat Ali, ’19 Biological Sciences, has received an NSF graduate research fellowship.

Nebat Ali, ’19 Biological Sciences, felt huge excitement and validation when she learned in March she had received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP), one of two SJSU students honored this year.

“It was so affirming to me as a young scientist because it means students like myself really do belong in academic research labs,” she said.

Ali, who graduated from San Jose State last year, and senior Jocelyn Valenzuela, who will graduate with a degree in chemical engineering, were among the 2,076 fellowship winners across the nation who will be pursuing academic science research at the highest levels.

Jocelyn Valenzuela

Jocelyn Valenzuela, ’20 Chemical Engineering, has received an NSF graduate research fellowship.

“The NSF fellowship will give me more options for selecting projects and mentors that will help me pursue my research passions,” said Valenzuela. “I couldn’t have done this by myself without the help from my professors and other students here.”

The NSF GRFP is the country’s oldest fellowship program that directly supports graduate students in STEM fields. Winners of the fellowship receive a stipend and tuition support amounting to $46,000 per year for three years.

“This is as good as it gets,” said Pamela Stacks, SJSU Associate Vice President for Research. “The NSF honors academic excellence, and we’re enormously proud of our talented students who gain genuine respect, confidence and independence with this fellowship.”

NSF GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation of the GRFP follows recipients and often helps them become lifelong leaders who contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching.

Stacks said the NSF program also validates the role of research and strong academic preparation on campus. “Even though San Jose State and other schools in the CSU system are often seen as ‘teaching universities,’ our commitment to research is incredibly strong,” she said. “We’re preparing outstanding young scientific researchers who definitely can hold their own among students from other top universities.”

Over the past six years, 18 SJSU students have received NSF GRFP fellowships, and another 11 have received honorable mentions. Three other San Jose State students received honorable mentions this year: Austin Betancourt and Anjum Gujral in the field of ecology and evolution, and Michelia Dam in chemistry.

“This is a consistent record of accomplishment that speaks well of our efforts to encourage our students to pursue scientific research,” said Cleber Ouverney, professor of biological sciences who also heads the San Jose State’s Maximizing Access to Research Careers program (MARC).

MARC is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to provide support for undergraduate students who are underrepresented in biomedical sciences to engage in research and improve their preparation for high-caliber graduate training at the PhD level.

“We have several programs on campus that offer a practical framework for students interested in scientific research but who often face a range of challenges that can frustrate their ambition,” said Ouverney. “However, through a combination of some financial assistance, close support from our faculty, and a peer network that provides encouragement, we’ve been able to successfully prepare our students for the rigors of graduate school.”

As a chemical engineering major, Valenzuela’s research work at SJSU concentrated on nanoscale materials and their potential for medical applications such as early cancer detection. She’s worked in the labs with professors Abraham Wolcott in physical chemistry and Katy Kao in chemical engineering. Valenzuela will be starting her PhD program in chemical engineering at Stanford this fall.

“I’m looking forward to using the knowledge and skills I learned at San Jose State and the genuine collaboration I’ve found in both academic and industry labs to pursue basic research that can result in real world benefits,” she said.

While at SJSU, Ali worked with Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Miri VanHoven’s lab in the field of neurological science looking into molecular and genetic mechanisms of neural development and behavior. Now a first-year PhD student at University of California, San Francisco, she’s focusing on microbiology and the impact of microbes on higher organisms.

“I’m truly grateful for all the support I received at San Jose State that helped me become competitive for the NSF award,” said Ali. “The MARC program especially was valuable to me because of the mentorship from my professors and the community of students who help each other prepare applications and proposals.

Ali and Valenzuela are both eager to get back to their respective lab benches as soon as the coronavirus crisis has passed.

David Vossbrink

Spartan Food Pantry Celebrates One Year of Service at SJSU

Food Pantry employees in blue aprons.

Alexandra Gerrick, CAPS counselor and chair of the Student Hunger Committee, Cat Fillmore, CAPS Clinical Case Manager, Tania Moran Hernandez, Marjourie Quintanilla, Aseem Chhabra, Marko Mohlenhoff, Student Affairs Case Manager and Ben Falter, Sr. Student Affairs Case Manager at the Spartan Food Pantry. Photo: David Schmitz.

On March 25, the Spartan Food Pantry recognized its first full year of service at San Jose State. The pantry was established as an expansion of SJSU’s commitment to supporting students who are experiencing food insecurity, and is a partnership between SJSU Cares, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley (SHSV) and individual donations. According to monthly data collected on the SJSU Cares website, there have been more than 18,880 SJSU student visits between March 2019 and January 2020 and approximately 24,000 visits since the pantry opened its doors. The pantry has served 4,900 unique visitors, 48 percent of whom visit it weekly.

The pantry, located in the Diaz Compean Student Union with an exterior entrance across from the Engineering Building rotunda, is set up like a grocery store. Eligible students can “shop” through six zones including fresh produce, chilled items, dry goods and toiletries. Once students complete the Spartan Food Pantry intake and agreement form, eligible students can stop in once every calendar week for groceries.

Though the Spartan Food Pantry is a valuable resource year-round, it provides an especially critical service during the COVID-19 health pandemic. Even with in-person classes suspended, all SJSU Cares, case management, and Spartan Food Pantry operations are still available. As of March 2020, the pantry has had to move from a “shopping” model to a “distribution” model where students can receive pre-packaged items while maintaining updated protocol regarding social distance when picking up food. Since Santa Clara County issued its “shelter-in-place” mandate on March 17, there have been approximately 900 visits to the pantry.

“Every day, and especially during times like this, it’s so fortunate to be in a job where the work I do lets me connects students with resources, in some cases almost immediately, and the pantry is the clearest example of that,” said Marko Mohlenhoff, student affairs case manager of SJSU Cares. “The pantry is the most accessible resource to the greatest number of students. The COVID-19 crisis is affecting many people’s employment and directly increasing the level of need with many students. How fortunate that we can offer this pantry to our students.”

Over the past year, Second Harvest has donated nearly a quarter million pounds of food to the Spartan Food Pantry, according to Ben Falter, SJSU behavioral intervention chair and senior student affairs case manager. Of that, the pantry received more than 70,500 pounds of fresh produce—resources that are often hard to find in community and college food banks. These numbers do not include donations of food, toiletries and hygiene items from SJSU’s Community Garden, as well as SJSU staff, faculty, students and the San Jose community at large, including churches and mosques.

“The first anniversary of the Spartan Food Pantry represents a key milestone in SJSU’s efforts to ensure every student has the resources and support they need to succeed,” said Interim Associate Vice President for Student Services Catherine Voss Plaxton. “Now a recognized fixture on campus, the Pantry offers not only nutritious food to resolve a student’s immediate need for food assistance, but also an entry point to comprehensive services to resolve ongoing basic needs concerns. I am so proud of the work of the SJSU Cares staff and the Economic Crisis Response Team, whose motivation to care for students led us to realize this anniversary.”

“Like many people, I see the offering of food as a symbol of care. Every time I’m at the pantry, I see a line of students getting connected to food—a basic need—and know that we are supporting them getting to graduation,” said Falter. “I’m very proud of the way our team has engaged students to increase the use of fresh produce which is vital to good nutrition when you are experiencing food insecurity ”

Updates are posted regularly on social media at @SJSUFoodPantry on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Occupational Therapy Professors Earn National Recognition

Two San Jose State Occupational Therapy professors have received national recognition from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Assistant Professor Luis de Leon Arabit and Associate Professor Megan C. Chang have been named AOTA fellows, an honor that recognizes occupational therapists who have made significant contributions to the profession with a measured impact on the consumers of occupational therapy services and/or members of the Association. Arabit is recognized as an “occupational therapy expert clinician, leader and advocate,” while Chang is being honored for “supporting the profession through evidence-based research.”

Occupational Therapy Association Fellow, Luis de Leon Arabit.

SJSU Occupational Therapy faculty member Luis de Leon Arabit has been named an American Occupational Therapy Association Fellow. Photo courtesy of Luis Arabit.

Arabit says that occupational therapists are health professionals and experts who help improve and support people across the lifespan in their everyday activities or “occupations,” which includes self-care, work, leisure, play, physical activity, sleep and much more.

“When you participate in meaningful activities that occupy your time and your life, it stimulates and promotes your own physical and mental health,” says Arabit, who specializes in neurorehabilitation and physical rehabilitation. He holds numerous certifications in practice, including board certification in physical rehabilitation and neurorehabilitation as well as neuro-developmental treatment techniques.

Growing up in the Philippines, he was first introduced to the field after his grandfather suffered a stroke and was treated by an occupational therapist. A practitioner and clinician for many years, Arabit transitioned into academia because he has a passion for teaching and loves working with students who share his goal of helping clients live their healthiest lives. He is an advocate and leader of the occupational therapy profession, serving in volunteer leadership positions as a former vice president and chair of the Advocacy and Government Affairs Committee of the Occupational Therapy Association of California. He serves on the American Occupational Therapy Political Action Committee, where he is director of the western region states.

“If there is a piece of legislation that affects our practice or affects the way we deliver care for our clients, or if we are prevented or limited from providing certain treatments, then our clients suffer,” Arabit says. “That’s the reason I became an advocate for clients, as well as for the occupational therapy profession.”

Chang says that occupational therapists help people increase their quality of life by overcoming barriers that might impede daily activities. She worked in a hospital daycare in Taiwan where she collaborated with a psychiatrist and a music therapist to create a music therapy group for young adults living with intellectual disabilities, including those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Chang observed that many of the young adults exhibited sensory processing issues and wondered how occupational therapists could best support clients by assessing their senses. While pursuing her PhD at USC, she worked in the department of Public Health, where she developed research skills in biostatistics that later translated into her own academic pursuits. Her work revolves around “the three Ss: sleep, sensory processing and stress.”

Occupational Therapy Association Fellow, Megan Chang

Megan Chang is one of two SJSU faculty members to receive an AOTA fellowship. Photo courtesy of Megan Chang.

“Occupational therapists also help disease prevention,” says Chang. “We focus on mind and body interactions and adopt a holistic approach.”

Chang has collaborated with SJSU Lecturer Rochelle McLoughlin, ’00 MS Occupational Therapy, on the Mindfulness-Based Healthcare and Human Services (MBHH) Advanced Certificate Program, which is designed to help healthcare providers integrate mindfulness skills into their personal and professional lives. Chang has also recruited students to help her research how to assess sensory processing disorders in adults—a gap in OT research that she believes needs to be addressed. She wants to cultivate a love for research in her students, both for their growth and for the benefit of their future clients.

“My students are scholar-practitioners, which means they not only collaborate on research projects, but they can be research producers,” she says. “They can contribute to the field with clinical expertise. Students are our future and I am glad that that I get a chance to be a small part of their learning process and OT journey. I have learned a lot, not only from my mentors and colleagues, but also my students. They enrich my occupational experience and nourish my research soul.”

Arabit and Chang join Assistant Professor Deborah Bolding, Professor Heidi Pendleton, Associate Professor Gigi Smith and Department Chair Winifred Schultz-Krohn, current OT faculty who have also been honored with this prestigious award.

History Professor Ruma Chopra Named 2020-21 ACE Fellow

The American Council on Education (ACE) has named San Jose State History Professor Ruma Chopra an ACE Fellow for the 2020-21 academic year. She is one of 38 fellows selected for this prestigious program, which prepares faculty, staff, and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership.

Ruma Chopra has been named an 2020-2021 ACE Fellow. Photo: Josie Lepe.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Ruma Chopra. “I am excited to work with and learn from innovative leaders in higher education.”

Chopra joined San Jose State in 2008. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to immigration, urbanization, racialization, poverty, and violence. She has published three books related to colonialism and slavery; her fourth book project examines the global consequences of pre-Darwinian climatic theories.

Her research has taken her to archives in the United States as well as in Sierra Leone, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Britain. Last year, she received fellowships from the Rachel Carson Center (Munich), the Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington DC) and the John Carter Brown Library (Providence).

“As a scholar, Professor Chopra continues to have a passion for learning, as she thinks of multiple ways to contribute to the mission of our institution,” said SJSU Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino, Jr. “The ACE Fellowship provides her with a unique learning space to think about how to extend her intellect to higher education administration. I am excited to see what she brings back to SJSU.”

Chopra holds a doctoral degree from the University of California, Davis, and a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

The ACE Fellows program combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, visits to campuses and other higher education-related organizations, and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year.

At the conclusion of the fellowship year, fellows return to their home institution with new knowledge and skills that contribute to capacity-building efforts, along with a network of peers across the country and abroad.

CommUniverCity Receives 2020 SPUR Impact Award

CommUniverCity Executive Director Katherine Cushing (center, holding plaque) stands with members of the CommUniverCity team.

CommUniverCity Executive Director Katherine Cushing (center, holding plaque) stands with members of the CommUniverCity team at their 15th anniversary reception, Celebrating Partnerships: A Quinceañera on November 13, 2019. Photo: Brandon Chew, ’18 Photojournalism.

On Friday, March 20, 2020, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association will honor CommUniverCity, a three-sector partnership with San Jose State, the City of San Jose and the community, at the 2020 SPUR Impact Awards, a free online event that will start at 11:30 a.m.

Graphic of illustrations that says SPUR impact awards.

The SPUR Impact Awards will take place online on Friday, March 20.

A civic planning organization with offices in San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, SPUR is known for its independent and holistic approach to urban issues. The SPUR Impact Awards acknowledge outstanding impact by public sector employees in city and county government in Santa Clara County who are making a difference in government and the community at large in the areas of housing, transportation, placemaking and urban design, and sustainability and resilience.

Four members of CommUniverCity’s Community Planning Team will be recognized with a 2020 Impact Award: SJSU Urban and Regional Planning lecturers Richard Kos and Jason Su, ’13 MUP, Community Director Imelda Rodriguez and Project Coordinator Ralph Robinson, ’21 MUP. The Community Planning team organizes and implements a year-long engagement project with underserved neighborhoods in San Jose. Using community planning principles, the team works with local residents, key stakeholder groups and other partners to identify neighborhood assets, challenges and opportunities. This information leads to creation of a professional quality planning report at the end of every academic year that the community can use to advocate for its top priorities.

“Receiving this honor demonstrates CommUniverCity’s and SJSU’s value as advocates for amplifying the voice of underserved communities,” says CommUniverCity Executive Director Katherine Cushing, who is also an environmental studies professor and director of SJSU’s Global Studies program. “Too often urban planning processes involving public input can be pro forma. They are seen as a required part of procedural compliance for moving a development project forward. CommUniverCity’s community assessment processes are the antithesis of that. Using the power of SJSU faculty and students, who work in partnership with neighborhood leaders, businesses, and other partner organizations, we focus on listening to residents and communicating their priorities to relevant city departments in San Jose. Through collaboration, we are able to capture resident perceptions of opportunities and obstacles for their neighborhoods and translate them into actionable items that city departments can work on.”

“This award recognizes our long-standing collaboration with the community in developing urban village plans that reflect the community’s vision, our commitment to work along with neighbors to revitalize our neighborhoods, and the value of the work our faculty and students perform to capture the community’s vision,” says Rodriguez, who has worked with CommUniverCity since 2009.

“We strengthen San Jose communities by linking them with San Jose State faculty and students, and with City of San Jose staff and elected officials,” says Kos. “It’s a powerful model of collaboration and coalition-building focused on three things: community health, education and neighborhood revitalization. But do you know where the real power lies, in my experience? The students of San Jose State University. You’d be amazed at how warmly they are welcomed by underserved communities in central San Jose. They give community residents a voice in advocating for their own interests.”

Since 2004, CommUniverCity’s Community Planning projects have worked with 15 neighborhoods on important urban planning issues to help community members understand smart growth principles. Reports have resulted in direct infrastructure improvements such as Safe Routes to School projects for two area schools, which included the installation of flashing beacons and median islands. Other infrastructure improvements included the design and construction of an outdoor living room and mural in Northside Neighborhood supported by a $45,000 grant from Knight Foundation. CommUniverCity attends neighborhood association meetings and maintains a running Community Wish List used to recruit SJSU faculty members to participate in community-identified neighborhood improvement projects.

“The award honors what CommUniverCity has always believed in—that the community are experts in guiding the future prosperity of their neighborhood, that robust engagement starts from a place of trust, and that our voices are stronger when together,” says Su, who also serves as the executive director of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy. “I’m honored to be part of a long-standing tradition of learning from the community and leveraging the energy and expertise of San Jose State students to further their goals.”

SPUR is arranging to share physical awards with recipients at a later date.

Connie L. Lurie College of Education Impresses in Best Graduate School Rankings

San Jose State’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education had an impressive showing in the 2021 U.S. News and World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings.

Lurie College Rankings

The Lurie College of Education ranked well in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings.

The rankings, released on March 17, show the Lurie College placed in these four categories:

  • Tied for #2 among CSU schools of education
  • In the top 5 for schools of education in the Bay Area
  • Tied for #16 among schools of education in California
  • Debuted at #158 for best education schools in the country

“All of us in the Lurie College of Education are proud that we have been recognized for our efforts to prepare transformative educators, counselors, therapists, school and community leaders,” said Lurie College Dean Heather Lattimer. “We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with our students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community partners to expand our college’s opportunities and impact in the region!”

The magazine bases its ranking of best graduate schools of education on two types of data: reputational surveys of deans and other academic officials and statistical indicators that measure the quality of a school’s faculty, research and students. They also assess both the preparedness of a school’s incoming students and the career or academic outcomes of a school’s graduates.
 

President Mary A. Papazian Joins Council of Graduate Schools’ Humanities Coalition Advisory Committee

SJSU President Mary A. Papazian.

SJSU President Mary A. Papazian speaks at a 2018 Frankenstein Bicentennial event at San Jose’s Hammer Theatre. The event was one of several that SJSU’s College of Humanities and the Arts sponsored that year to explore the ethical, artistic and imaginative impacts of Mary Shelley’s literary masterpiece. Photo: David Schmitz.

San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian has agreed to serve on the Council of Graduate Schools‘ (CGS) Humanities Advisory Committee for The Humanities Coalition, a new effort that will expand CGS’s work to understand and support the careers of PhDs.

The endeavor seeks to further enhance CGS’s understanding of humanities PhDs and their careers, and to refine humanities-specific strategies for curricular change and program improvement. One component of the new initiative is additional research to better understand the nature of early career transitions for humanists.

A scholar of the 17th century metaphysical poets and English Renaissance era, Papazian has long been a staunch advocate of the arts, humanities and creative disciplines in higher education.

In an op-ed published in the October 29 edition of the Sacramento Bee, she asserted that “the liberal arts must remain a vital part of higher education for the sake of the future of our students, our economy and our society.” The partnering of STEM disciplines with the liberal arts, she writes, can lead to true academic impact at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Last summer, Papazian delivered a well-received speech at the CGS Summer Workshop titled “Humanities for the 21st Century: Innovation and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” There, she pointed out that “the hard skills learned from STEM programs are essential, but employers actually are desperate for candidates who have balanced their personal portfolios with both digital capabilities and human understanding.”

In a CGS press release announcing grant funding for The Humanities Coalition, CGS President Suzanne Ortega said, “We hope to learn more about the kinds of transitions humanities PhDs face as they move from graduate school to career. Humanities PhDs have a wide variety of career pathways in front of them. We need to make sure they know what they are and how to access them.”

Over the course of the five-year project, the advisory committee is expected to guide CGS’s efforts to increase the impact and reach of The Humanities Coalition and provide insights for addressing challenges and opportunities specific to various humanities disciplines.

CGS will issue a Request-For-Proposals (RFP) to CGS member institutions to participate in the project as funded partners and will continue to work with its current partners to collect data in both STEM and humanities fields.

Joining Papazian as Advisory Committee members are a distinguished group of educators and academics, including Carlos Alonso, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University; Susan Carvalho, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Alabama; and Patricia Easton, executive vice president and provost at The Claremont Graduate University.

SJSU Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) Honored by YWCA Silicon Valley

SJSU Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau).

SJSU Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) was selected as an honoree for the 2020 Tribute to Women Awards by YWCA Silicon Valley.

San Jose State Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) has been selected as an honoree for the 2020 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award. She is among 53 outstanding women leaders who will be honored by YWCA Silicon Valley at its annual Tribute to Women Awards. Now in its 36th year, the YWCA Awards honor women who have excelled in their fields and have made significant contributions to Silicon Valley through their leadership.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by an organization whose work and history has focused on gender equity, not only through celebration but also through its hard work on the ground,” said Wong(Lau).

Wong(Lau) joined SJSU in 2016 and leads the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. With a clear vision and strong direction, she has worked to ensure SJSU has a safe and welcoming climate for all 36,000 students and 4,500 faculty and staff in the Spartan community.

She’s made significant advances in diversity, inclusion, and equity on campus by designing and implementing university-based diversity programs. The Intergroup Dialogue program is an eight-week session where small groups of people from different social identity groups meet to discuss various scenarios. The purpose of the program is to foster greater understanding and better relations between different groups on campus. Wong(Lau) launched faculty training on inclusive teaching, and designed and led mandatory diversity training for incoming freshmen. She also provides counsel and instruction on diversifying faculty through reducing bias in recruitment and serves as an advisor and liaison to community partners and constituents on a wide variety of diversity initiatives.

“Kathy has been instrumental in making San Jose State a much stronger institution, and her influence has changed the culture of our campus for the better,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. “Her vast knowledge of diversity issues, coupled with an empathetic and people-centric approach, has made her an indispensable member of my leadership team.”

Kathy Wong(Lau)

Wong(Lau) spoke at the fall welcome for the Chicanx-Latinx fall student welcome in 2017. Photo by David Schmitz.

Over the course of her career, Wong(Lau) has become known as a nationally recognized leader in diversity and inclusion initiatives. She joined SJSU from the University of Oklahoma, where she served as director of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE). At the University of Oklahoma and Michigan State University, Wong(Lau) trained faculty on inclusive teaching in STEM and administrators on diversity management. On the national landscape, she consults with other academic institutions on ways faculty and staff can support underrepresented and first-generation students.

Wong(Lau) holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from CSU East Bay and completed a dual master’s/doctorate program in communication with an intercultural concentration at Arizona State University. In 2015, Diverse Issues in Higher Education named her one of “Top 25 Women in Higher Education.”

YWCA Silicon Valley plans to honor Wong(Lau) at an upcoming Tribute to Women Awards dinner, date still to be determined. The awards are an effort to encourage women’s leadership and promote equal advancement opportunities for women of diverse backgrounds.

2020 Faculty Award Winners

San Jose State has recognized four distinguished faculty members for noteworthy achievement in teaching, scholarship and service. Read more about each recipient:

President’s Scholar: Lawrence Quill, Department of Political Science

Outstanding Professor: Charlotte Sunseri, Department of Anthropology

Outstanding Lecturer: Sharmin Khan, Department of Linguistics

Distinguished Service: Karen Singmaster, Department of Chemistry

Spartan Service Celebration Honors Staff and Introduces Three New Awards

The 53rd annual Spartan Service Celebration honored staff milestone years of service and awarded three exemplary Spartans new annual awards—Distinguished Service, Spartan Spirit and Staff of the Year—on Thursday, March 5 at the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom.

Dora Ozawa and President Papazian

Dora Ozawa accepts the Staff of the Year Award from SJSU President Mary Papazian. Photo: Robert Bain.

Staff of the Year: Dora Ozawa

Dora Ozawa, systems coordinator for Registrar’s Office, received the Staff of the Year award in recognition of her commitment to the campus, her extensive knowledge of registration policies, procedures and her 43 years of service to San Jose State. Originally hired as a student employee, Ozawa describes SJSU as her “second home,” a community of friends, students and colleagues who have encouraged her to grow in her various roles. She said that seeing the campus evolve over the last four decades has taught her so much about streamlining processes, supporting students and brainstorming ways to improve registration systems. Ozawa has been a critical force in transitioning the university to the PeopleSoft database for record-keeping.

“When I first heard that I’d been nominated for this award, I was pretty overwhelmed emotionally,” said Ozawa, who is used to working behind the scenes. “It’s been amazing to see how much we accomplished with so little technology back in the day and how far we’ve come. I like knowing that the work I do helps students make it to their goal of graduating.”

Vuong Vu and Joanne Wright

Joanne Wright presents Vuong Vu with the inaugural Spartan Spirit Award. Photo: Robert Bain.

Spartan Spirit Award: Vuong Vu

The Spartan Spirit Award, which is intended to highlight someone who is “spirited, passionate and proud to work at SJSU,” while embodying campus values of social justice, diversity and innovation, was awarded to Graduate Admissions and Program Evaluations (GAPE) Evaluator Vuong Vu, ’01 Psychology.

“I enjoy knowing that my work makes a difference,” said Vu. “I know that education, especially graduate education, changes lives, not only for students, but for their families and communities. Every application that I review, I do so with attention and care because I know that once you are a graduate student at SJSU, your life will change forever—for the better. I love my team and look forward to coming into work every morning. GAPE Director Tricia Ryan encourages and fosters independence and creativity. This allows me to enjoy my work and find it meaningful.”

Nancy Day and Ravisha Mathur

Nancy Day accepts the 2019-2020 Distinguished Service award from Ravisha Mathur. Photo: Robert Bain.

Distinguished Service Award: Nancy Day

Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos describes the inaugural Distinguished Service recipient Nancy Day as an “invaluable resource.” Day, who works in undergraduate e-advising, is adept at navigating PeopleSoft and quick to field questions from students, staff and faculty across campus.

“There are a lot of students that need help and assistance getting through college,” said Day. “Working in Undergraduate Education on the degree audit project, we are really able to help students. We want to see people graduate and the tools that I work on really help facilitate that.”

“Due to the work done by Nancy and her team, the Lucas College and Graduate School of Business has been able to replace paper major forms with MyProgress,” wrote Anagnos in a 2019 “Stepping Beyond” blog post. “This helps our evaluators complete graduation checkout much more quickly and gets diplomas to our students just days after the semester is over. Every day of the year, Nancy steps beyond.”

Each of the award recipients received $1,000, sponsored by the Office of the President. Two honorable mentions in each category were awarded $250. Ana Navarette Avina of the UndocuSpartan Resource Center and Robert Davis of the Veteran’s Resource Center received Spartan Spirit honorable mentions. Virtual Servers and Networking Analyst Altaful Khan of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Information Technology Services and Ramon Perez, ’01 Biological Sciences, ’04 MA Economics, of the College of Health and Human Sciences received honorable mentions in the Distinguished Service category. Staff of the Year honorable mentions went to Kim Le of the Valley Foundation School of Nursing and Tom Reisz of Academic Preparation programs.

In addition to these inaugural awards, more than 100 Spartan staff members were recognized for their years of service, ranging from 15 years to more than 40. See the full list of honorees here.

SJSU Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Center for Community Learning and Leadership

It takes a community to build a service-learning legacy: Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos, CCLL Director Elena Klaw, CCLL Founding Director Debra David and former CCLL Director Michael Fallon. Photo: Robert Bain.

SJSU’s Bowling Center.

Attendees of the celebration bowled together at SJSU’s Diaz Compean Student Union Bowling Center, illustrating how CCLL ensures students and community members do not “bowl alone,” in the words of Robert Putnam. Photo: Robert Bain.

San Jose State University’s Center for Community Learning and Leadership (CCLL) commemorated 20 years of curriculum-based service-learning at an event on February 6 in the Diaz Compean Student Union Bowling Center. Over the past 20 years, 80,000 SJSU students have contributed 1.4 million hours of service to the community as part of their coursework.

Having the event at SJSU’s Bowling Center was a nod to Robert D. Putnam’s Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, a book that served as a catalyst for service-learning infrastructure on university campuses, explained CCLL Director Elena Klaw. In the book, Putnam described the precipitous decline of all the forms of in-person social relationships that once formed the basis of Americans’ lives and provided opportunities for enrichment and education.

“Instead of joining leagues in activities like bowling, we bowl alone, missing civic discussions that might occur in a club or a local association. Putnam suggested that service-learning programs are a primary solution to the problems of bowling alone,” said Klaw. “The antidote to apathy, isolation and disregard is education and civic involvement.”

SJSU President Mary A. Papazian shared highlights from the center’s programming, including the AmeriCorps Bridging Borders Program, which brought $3 million in federal funding to the campus over a span of nine years; the Students Helping in the Naturalization of Elders (SHINE) program; the Veterans Embracing Transition (VET) project; and the SJSU Chapter of Students Demand Action (SDA), developed to provide students the opportunity to support the mission of Everytown USA in advocating for common sense laws that promote gun safety and reduce violence.

President Mary A. Papazian and Elena Klaw.

President Mary A. Papazian and CCLL Director Elena Klaw celebrated 20 years of SJSU service-learning. Photo: Robert Bain.

“In many ways, CCLL is the embodiment of everything we hope to achieve with our students at San Jose State” said Papazain. “Educating students about how they can most effectively influence change on issues that matter to them is what our Center for Community Learning and Leadership is all about.”

In addition to San Jose State Academic Senate Chair Ravisha Mathur, who presented a Sense of the Senate, entitled “Celebrating 20 Years of Service-Learning at San Jose State University,” the center welcomed CCLL Founding Director Debra David, former CCLL staff members, and community partners, without whom many programs would not be possible. A representative of the city of San Jose presented a commendation on behalf of San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, Councilmember Raul Peralez (District 3) and other members of the City Council.

To the crowd gathered in SJSU’s Bowling Center, President Papazian revealed that SJSU would announce receipt of $566,288 in grant funding for a one-year pilot California Volunteers AmeriCorps Service Fellowship program at a Feb. 10 press conference in the California state capitol. For the pilot year of the AmeriCorps Service Fellowship, San Jose State’s Civic Engagement Fellows will build on CCLL’s current Cyber Spartans program, addressing educational equity needs within the city of San Jose. Since launching in 2018, 26 Cyber Spartans have mentored 75 underserved youths, teaching them cyber skills. In turn, they use what they learn to create engaging computer programs. With the new grant funding, these numbers are expected to increase substantially.

“CCLL’s own program of research shows that community initiatives boost civic participation, academic engagement and career readiness for students,” said SJSU Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino, representing SJSU at the press conference in Sacramento. “San Jose State is always looking for ways to expand or create initiatives that develop our students as leaders in the diverse sectors of Silicon Valley.

At the anniversary celebration, CCLL named SJSU kinesiology major Erika Lisina the Service-Learning and Community Engagement Student of the Year. Described as a “devoted resource for students,” Lisina volunteers at SJSU’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library as a homework coach.

“Students are the reason we’re here,” said Klaw. “CCLL’s service-learning does not add to education. We are the education.”

African-American Studies Department Receives Commendation for its 50th Anniversary

Members of SJSU's Department of African-American Studies pose with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo at San Jose City Hall.

Members of SJSU’s Department of African-American Studies pose with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo at San Jose City Hall.

The SJSU Department of African-American Studies received a commendation for its 50th anniversary from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo at the November 19 city council meeting held in the San Jose City Hall.

Speaking at the event, council member and SJSU alumnus Raul Peralez, said how the department is serving African-American populations and the community by engaging in intellectual traditions that take into account historical, cultural, philosophical, political, social and theoretical perspectives.

The Department of African American Studies launched its first set of classes in the fall of 1969 after a long series of campus protests heralded a new beginning for the university and its relationship to ethnic studies. San Jose State was the second university in the country to offer an African American studies program.

The department has seen a substantial increase in the number of courses and faculty members since its humble beginnings, when the department offered only 17 courses with 10 faculty members.

By December 1973, the number of courses spiked to 35 with 1,500 students enrolled.

In February 2002, the department implemented a new program called “San Jose State University’s Model for Black Studies.” SJSU was the first of five universities in the nation to adopt such a program.

More recently, in August 2019, the department launched a new minor in black women’s studies at the urging of students who wanted to know more about the contributions of black women in American society and various fields.

Half-a-century later, the department continues to be a place rooted in intellectual endeavors, one that dives into knowledge and experiences in the African diaspora. In October, the department celebrated its 50th anniversary under the theme “The Significance of African American Studies at SJSU.” The event brought together students, faculty and alumni from the community.

Tyler Gordon poses with Steven Millner after gifting him his live painting.

Tyler Gordon poses with Steven Millner after gifting him his live painting.

Supervisor Cindy Chavez, State Senator Jim Beall, Assemblyman Ash Kalra were among a number of public officials that attended the event and awarded commendation to the department. The department also chose the occasion to celebrate Steven Millner, ’70 Sociology, for his 40 years of relentless academic service and vast contributions to the community. Millner is the department’s longest-serving faculty member who now serves as professor emeritus at SJSU.

Millner was a sociology student and also part of the SJSU protest movement that brought African American Studies to the university.

“I was humbled to receive a tribute on the occasion of the department’s 50th anniversary, and I was especially glad to be the subject of young Mister Tyler Gordon’s creativity. In a wonderful manner, his youthful energy and attention to accurate detail capture what the department has tried to stand for over the years,” said Millner.

12-year-old Tyler Gordon came under the spotlight when he made a live painting of Millner and presented it to him at the end of the event.

At the celebrations, several alumni with deep ties to the SJSU community spoke about the significance of African-American studies as well as how Steven Millner changed their lives.

Assistant Professor Wendy Thompson Taiwo talked about the history of African-American studies and that it’s important to remember and include the history of black struggle in California. While faculty members talked about the history, purpose and goals of the department, students presented original works, such as poems.

San Jose State Celebrates CommUniverCity’s 15th Anniversary

CommUniverCity partners and participants gather for the 15th anniversary celebration. Photo by Brandon Chew.

SJSU’s student mariachi group. Photo by Brandon Chew.

San Jose, Calif. — San Jose State University’s student mariachi group opened CommUniverCity’s Celebrating Partnerships: A Quinceañera on Wednesday, November 13 in the Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom. The event highlighted CommUniverCity’s 15 years of work to create healthy and vibrant neighborhoods through a unique partnership between underserved communities in central San Jose, San Jose State and the city of San Jose.

“CommUniverCity has come a long way over the past 15 years. We are fortunate to have trusted neighborhood leaders, collaborative city of San Jose staff, and engaged SJSU faculty members and students,” said CommUniverCity SJSU Executive Director Katherine Kao Cushing. “Our collaboration is the strongest it’s ever been and we can’t wait to see what the next 15 years have in store for us.”

More than 115,000 community members have engaged with more than 21,000 SJSU students in community-based projects. SJSU students alone have invested more than 394,000 hours in community service, valued at $8.4 million.

“Community engagement is a centerpiece of SJSU’s strategic plan, Transformation 2030,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian. “CommUniverCity’s work brings together dozens of SJSU faculty in departments ranging from materials engineering to urban planning, and this kind of interdisciplinary collaboration is critical to achieving our future goals.”

CommUniverCity received commendations from the city of San Jose, CA State Senator’s Jim Beall and U.S. House of Representative Zoe Lofgren’s Office. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo learned of CommUniverCity as a city council member. He said it is a model for bringing the classroom out into the community.

“I’m honored to be here to celebrate 15 years of partnership,” said Liccardo. “As long as I’m around, I want to do all we can to cultivate this incredible partnership.”

SJSU Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos presented CommUniverCity’s awards to partners and community members. The Golden Brick award was presented to Paul Pereira, senior policy advisor for the San Jose Mayor’s Office. The Community Partner Award was presented to Jaime Torres, CORAL site manager at Olinder Elementary School. And the Government Partner Award was given to the city of San Jose’s Housing Department.

“The event was a powerful evidence that town-gown collaboration can be transformative for cities and college students,” said Cushing. “Seeing elected officials at the municipal, regional, state and national levels all voice their support for the collaboration is a wonderful affirmation of the partnership’s positive impact in San Jose.”

Alumni Tommie Smith and John Carlos Inducted into U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame

John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the Olympic Statues on the San Jose State University campus during the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. (Photo: Josie Lepe/San Jose State University)

San Jose, CA – Fifty-one years after San Jose State University alumni Tommie Smith and John Carlos were removed from the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is awarding Smith and Carlos their highest honor. On November 1, 2019, the Olympic sprinters were inducted into the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Hall of Fame.

“The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame represents the pinnacle of competitive excellence in our nation, and its inspiring members are champions who have transcended sport through the legacy they leave both on and off the field of play,” said USOPC CEO Sarah Hirshland. “It’s an honor to welcome the class of 2019 into this prestigious and celebrated honor roll. We thank them for their impact on sport and society, and for continuing to inspire the next generation of athletes and fans.”

Tommie Smith, ‘69 Social Science, ‘05 Honorary Doctorate, and John Carlos, ‘05 Honorary Doctorate, were SJSU track and field team members when they qualified to compete in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. After earning gold and bronze medals, respectively, they bowed their heads and raised gloved fists on the medal stand while the national anthem was playing. In doing so, they created an iconic moment in athlete activism

“It is never too late to do what is right—especially regarding those who have sacrificed so much for so long—not to benefit themselves, but in defense of human rights. Congratulations Tommie and John—two extraordinary athletes and human rights advocates who will be remembered and treasured as heroes as long as the Olympic Games shall exist. Never has induction into this prestigious Hall Of Fame been more deserved,” stated Harry Edwards, ’64 Sociology, ’16 Honorary Doctorate, and Kenneth Noel, ’66 BA, ’68 MA, Sociology, co-founders of SJSU’s Olympic Project for Human Rights.

Smith and Carlos are the second and third San Jose State athletes inducted into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame. They join fellow Spartan teammate and two-time Olympic gold medal winner Lee Evans, ‘70 Physical Education, who was inducted in 1989.

“I cannot say enough about the sacrifices John and Tommie have made and the rich tradition of student activism they both represent for our university,” said Mary A. Papazian, president of San Jose State. “More than 50 years after Mexico City, they are still working to improve people’s lives. We are very proud that John and Tommie got their starts as San Jose State Spartans, and I am delighted to see them honored by the USOPC for the work they did and continue to do on behalf of others.”


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 145 areas of study with an additional 108 concentrations — offered through its eight colleges.

With more than 36,000 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 more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

 

SJSU Presents 2018 Outstanding Seniors and Thesis Awards

Media contacts:
Pat Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University President Mary A. Papazian will recognize this year’s top graduates at commencement ceremonies to be held May 23-25 at the SJSU Event Center and Avaya Stadium. Nardos Darkera and Sierra Peace will each receive the 2018 Outstanding Graduating Senior Award for academic achievements, leadership roles, contributions to the community and personal achievements. Emily Moffitt is the recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Thesis Award in recognition of the quality of her research.

Nardos Darkera

Nardos Darkera (all photos courtesy of the students)

Nardos Darkera, ’18 Public Health, has given back to the Spartan community while maintaining a 3.85 GPA. She has represented San Jose State as a United Nations Foundation Global Health Fellow, served as a peer teaching assistant, worked as a lead peer advisor in the College of Applied Sciences and Arts Success Center, and interned with Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. Darkera is a recipient of the Louie Barozzi Scholarship for academic excellence and community service, the Dean’s International Scholarship to study abroad in Puerto Rico, and the Health Science Scholarship to attend the American Public Health Association Meeting in Atlanta. She will continue on to the University of California, San Francisco, to pursue a master’s degree in global health. Health Science Professor Kathleen Roe predicts that Darkera “will be a leader of thought, social action, professions — and maybe even politics.”

Sierra Peace

Sierra Peace

Sierra Peace, ’18 Psychology, arrived at San Jose State as a 16-year-old freshman with her sights set on medical school. A member of SJSU’s International Neuroeconomics Institute research lab since 2015, Peace has presented two posters at the Western Psychological Association Conference. She juggled four jobs while volunteering with the Third Street Community Center, the Associated Students of SJSU community garden and the Regional Medical Center of San Jose. Her 3.97 GPA qualified her for Educational Opportunity Program Honors for four years. She was also a 2016 and 2017 Dean’s Scholar, a 2017 Hoover-Langdon Scholar and a 2018 President’s Scholar. Psychology Professor Cheryl Chancellor-Freeland describes Peace as “the most exceptional student I have encountered in my 23 years of teaching.”

Emily Moffitt

Emily Moffitt

Emily Moffitt, ’17 Environmental Studies, collected feathers from 169 birds at San Jose’s Coyote Creek Field Station, and then analyzed the feathers for stable isotopes to reveal where birds spent their breeding season. Her thesis “Using Stable Isotope Analysis to Infer Breeding Latitude and Migratory Timing of Juvenile Pacific-Slope Flycatchers (Empidonax difficilis)” revealed the species’ migratory patterns, critical information for preserving habitats the birds need to survive. She partnered with the University of California, Davis, Stable Isotope Facility to develop statistical programs and used ArcGIS to portray probable breeding origins, and support her research using isotope reference and Breeding Bird Survey data.


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