SJSU Receives $1 Million Grant From Adobe as Part of Inaugural Anchor School Program

The growing partnership between downtown San José neighbors, San José State University, and Adobe got stronger on Wednesday, with San José State being named an inaugural member of Adobe’s new Anchor School Program. As part of the program, SJSU will receive a $1 million grant and will work with Adobe to determine how the grant will be used. 

“We are very excited for the opportunity afforded by this gift from Adobe,” said President Mary A. Papazian “Adobe has long been a leader in the San José community, investing in programs that help advance the important learning of our students and research of our faculty.”

SJSU plans to use the grant to enhance the university’s mission to provide access to students from underrepresented backgrounds.

“We are excited to receive funds that further our efforts as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPASI),” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino, Jr. 

“We can provide our faculty with the resources to engage in new forms of pedagogy and practice that infuse principles of digital and creative literacy. Among our goals is a faculty fellows program that identifies and trains champions committed to closing the equity gaps for all our students.”

Adobe will also provide 100 scholarships of up to $15,000 to students of color to be distributed amongst SJSU, Bowie State University, and Winston-Salem State University — the other two inaugural members of the Anchor School Program — as well as students at other universities. 

A variety of resources and opportunities to help students and faculty prepare for careers in tech, including evolving curriculum and hands-on work experience through Adobe programs like Experience Days and the Adobe Career Academy, is included in the program. Student-athletes will also be able to access micro-internships to enable them to balance their athletic and professional aspirations.  

“Longstanding change requires a conviction to innovative solutions and a willingness to lead,” said Brian Miller, Adobe’s chief talent, diversity & inclusion officer. “Our Anchor School Program gives us the opportunity to partner with universities to develop unique solutions that expose students to careers in tech and prepare them with the creativity and digital skills of the future. We will strategically invest in providing students with training, career readiness, internships, financial assistance and digital tools to fuel their professional careers at Adobe or elsewhere.” 

In 2020, SJSU was recognized as an Adobe Creative Campus for its commitment to using technology to provide students with a transformative path to success.

New U.S. News Rankings Place SJSU at Top of Many in the West

Students walking between classes on the SJSU campus.

Students walking between classes on the SJSU campus. Photo: Robert Bain.

College of Engineering is #4 in the nation among public universities, and the university ranks in the top three among public universities in the West for veterans, top seven overall. 

Although 2022 is more than three months away, San José State University is already starting the year off with an impressive showing in the 2022 U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings.

Nationally, the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering continued its tenure as a top five Best Undergraduate Engineering Program – Non-Doctorate, coming in at #4 among public universities — and #19 overall. Electrical engineering ranked #6 among public universities in the country, while mechanical engineering is ranked #8 among public universities.

In regional rankings, SJSU is ranked #7 among public universities — and #22 overall — in Best Overall, Western Regional Universities. Fifteen states make up the U.S. News and World Report’s West region.

SJSU also ranked in the top 10 among public universities in the West in other key areas:

  • #3 in Best Colleges for Veterans
  • #7 in Top Performers for Social Mobility
  • #8 in Best Value Schools

“These outstanding rankings serve as further proof that SJSU is one of the premier universities in the West,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “Especially during the pandemic and these challenging times, these rankings are a tribute to the dedication and commitment to learning our fantastic faculty and staff exhibit each and every day. When combined with our students’ personal and academic growth during their time at SJSU, you can see the transformative experience that comes with being a Spartan.”

U.S. News and World Report’s rankings focus on academic excellence, with institutions ranked on 17 measures of academic quality, including graduation and retention rates, social mobility and undergraduate academic reputation.

Camino Chronicles Arts Series: a Celebration of Mexican and Latin American Music Influenced by California History

Historically, the Camino Real connected Spanish missions along the state of California. Image by Chandler O’Leary.

How can music reframe the story of the ancient road we know as El Camino Real?

Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz and the folk Americana band the Ronstadt Brothers will celebrate California history through their music on October 1-3, during a weekend of activities presented by San José State University’s College of Humanities and the Arts, The Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies, TomKat MeDiA, CaminoArts and Symphony Silicon Valley (SSV). The Ronstadt Brothers will also offer a moderated conversation on the business of music.

“CaminoArts celebrates the folk and classical music of Mexico and Latin America through an excavation of El Camino Real, the historical indigenous trade route used by the Spanish to colonize Mexico and what is now the U.S. Southwest and South America,” said Marcela Davison Aviles, managing partner and executive producer at TomKat MeDiA, a production company founded by Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor to inspire creativity for the common good.

“We brought this idea to the Center for Steinbeck Studies as a way to catalyze writing a new fourth-grade curriculum about the history of El Camino Real.”

Gabriela Ortiz.

Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz.

Ortiz’s new composition, a concerto for flute and orchestra entitled “D’Colonial Californio,” will make its world premiere at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2, with SSV at the California Theatre, and again at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3.

Her work is a joint commission underwritten by the TomKat Foundation and presented in collaboration with TomKat MeDiA, SSV, CaminoArts and San José State as part of a broader initiative to examine California history through arts and education.

Admission to the Ronstadt performance is free. Tickets for the symphony performance are on sale through Symphony Silicon Valley.

“The stories and songs inspired by El Camino Real — the transcontinental pathway forged by Indigenous peoples and later colonized by the Spanish and other European powers — set the stage for the Camino Chronicle Arts series,” said Kat Taylor, founding director of the TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation (TKREF) and one of Camino Chronicles’ sponsors.

“We’re thrilled to illuminate the work of Mexican composer Gabriela Ortiz, Mexican American singer/songwriters Peter and Michael G. Ronstadt, concert flutist Marisa Canales, the musicians of Symphony Silicon Valley under the baton of Maestra JoAnne Falleta, and project music director Benjamin Juarez Echenique,” she added.

“And we’re doubly delighted to thank San José State University and the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies for believing, as John Steinbeck did, in the unique power of harmony, dissonance, cadence and rhythm of diaspora and migration.”

The symphony will also perform “New World Symphony” by Antonín Dvořák, a piece that was especially meaningful to John Steinbeck, added Steinbeck Center Director and Assistant Professor of American Studies Daniel Rivers. Canales, who also is a co-founder of CaminoArts, will serve as soloist for both the Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon performances, under the direction of Grammy-winning conductor Maestra Falletta.

Ronstadt Brothers

The Ronstadt Brothers will be performing at the Hammer Theatre on Oct. 3. Image courtesy of Marcela Davison Avilas.

The Ronstadt Brothers will perform the world premiere of their new album “The Road,” commissioned by the Camino Chronicles Project and underwritten by the TomKat Foundation, at the Hammer Theatre at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3. The event is free and open to the public.

“This full-length album from the Ronstadt Brothers centers on the theme of roads, migration and the existential experience of travel,” Rivers said.

Multi-instrumentalists Michael G. Rondstadt and Peter D. Rondstadt describe their music as a “new and fresh take on traditional Southwestern and Mexican folk songs” that carries forward the legacy of their aunt Linda and their father Michael.

“The curricular connections of the Camino Chronicles with the university are related to music, history, humanities and education,” said Shannon Miller, dean of the College of Humanities and the Arts.

“Ortiz’s work rethinks the identity of the El Camino around issues of migration, while the Ronstadt Brothers are composing work in the American folk music tradition while also exploring connections to their Mexican heritage and the Camino’s indigenous roots. This introduces a lot of interesting issues related to decolonizing the curriculum and the arts,” Miller added.

Visit the Symphony Silicon Valley to learn more about the Oct. 2 and 3 performances of Ortiz’s work.

Learn more about the Rondstadt Brothers’ performance and work with the Steinbeck Center.

Read about TomKat MeDia and CaminoArts.

Advancing Quality and Student Success at SJSU

Paseo walkway on SJSU's campus

SJSU’s campus is alive with activity as students bustle along one of its main walkways, the Paseo de César E. Chávez.

What to know about SJSU’s 2021 WSCUC accreditation review.

More than 36,000 students are enrolled at San José State University. How do we hold ourselves accountable to them and the rest of our community in achieving our mission? The answer starts with SJSU’s commitment to ensuring students succeed and includes an accreditation, which is an independent, third-party evaluation process.

This fall, San José State will begin its next review of our accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission* (WSCUC), the regional accreditation body for universities in California, Hawaii and American territories in the Pacific.

What does WSCUC accreditation mean for SJSU?

Put simply: WSCUC accreditation is our university’s report card of our academic quality and educational effectiveness. In other words: How do we define and assess student learning, and how are we ensuring we are delivering a high quality, effective, equitable and sustainable educational experience?

SJSU’s WSCUC Accreditation Liaison Officer Junelyn Peeples, who is also vice provost for institutional effectiveness and strategic analytics, explained the goal for accreditation “is to help higher education institutions evaluate the efficacy of their educational delivery and its impact on student success.”

Furthermore, WSCUC’s approach to accreditation, she added, “aids institutions in developing and sustaining effective educational programs and assures the educational community and the general public that an accredited institution has met high standards of quality and effectiveness.”

Every regional accrediting body has core competencies that its institutions must uphold, such as oral and written communication, information literacy and quantitative reasoning. WSCUC’s particular set of core competencies has been developed considering what the public would expect a global citizen to look like upon graduating at any given higher education institution.

Accreditation is also periodically reaffirmed by the WSCUC to allow the university to review and reflect on how it’s doing in relation to standards set for the colleges and universities in our region.

Read more about SJSU’s accreditation history.

Why is it important to SJSU?

“The accreditation process provides us a way to make an evaluation of what we’re doing and determine our direction moving forward: where we’re going to direct our attention, where we’re doing really well, and where we may need to readjust what we’re doing,” said Pam Richardson, professor of occupational therapy and faculty chair of SJSU’s accreditation review committee.

Accreditation is also tied to federal funding and impacts schools and colleges within our university — they would not be able to have accreditation of their professional programs if the university was not accredited.

“WSCUC focuses its attention on how we deliver curriculum and our support services to our students, particularly how students are able to demonstrate their learning,” added Peeples.

“And they do it very collaboratively, so we really engage in the process. For example, if there are major changes in the expectations of what institutions need to deliver, universities are part of the conversation about how to meaningfully focus our attention to make those adjustments.”

“I think [WSCUC] is very forward looking,” said Thalia Anagnos, vice provost for undergraduate education and member of SJSU’s accreditation review steering committee. “They see trends happening at the national level, and then create guidelines to help us stay up-to-date with them. Requiring meaningful assessment practices is a good example of how WSCUC has helped us maintain our accountability to the public and also our own students.”

What is the process of accreditation like for SJSU?

SJSU’s last accreditation reaffirmation was in 2015. Over the last 18 months, SJSU conducted a self study of its activities that involved eight components, including progress on the recommendations from WSCUC’s prior report and follow-up special visit in 2017.

A team of independent evaluators from other universities, including one from another California State University, will review SJSU’s self-study later this fall and then meet with representatives from the university for clarity on any questions they have before they make a campus visit in early spring 2022.

During our site visit, the team of evaluators will meet with the president, provost, chief financial officer as well as students, administrators, faculty and other stakeholder groups from the SJSU community over the course of three days.

The external review team then provides their recommendations about SJSU to WSCUC. WSCUC will determine whether we receive a 10-year or shorter term of accreditation and/or a special visit in a few years, in which case SJSU will work to address any outstanding issues that were noted by the reviewers.

Take a deeper dive into SJSU’s accreditation process.

What is important to note about SJSU’s 2021 self study?

As someone who has experience as a peer reviewer for other institutions’ accreditation, Peeples was energized when she reviewed SJSU’s self-study report.

“I’m really proud that San José State has focused on general education, and the work that we’re doing most institutions don’t tackle because it is such a heavy lift to assess, and this is one of the foundational pieces of how we demonstrate our educational effectiveness,” she said.

“We also are taking a holistic, comprehensive advising approach,” which she explains is reflective of our focus on student success.

“The report also does a nice job of linking our Transformation 2030 strategic plan to our initiatives supporting student success,” added Richardson.

SJSU has also worked to address leadership, campus climate as well as social injustice, equity and inclusion, which came up as recommendations in the last self study. Both Richardson and Peeples recognize progress in these areas, but they also acknowledge more work is still needed.

The true measure of San José State’s education as an accredited institution is that students are graduating with a degree for which they can competently identify the skills, knowledge and understanding of that subject matter in a meaningful way, and that they did it in a timely manner.

What else should the SJSU community know about this process?

Of particular note, explained Anagnos, is that this report was put together by several stakeholders at SJSU from every single division and area of the university — including a 25-member, faculty-led accreditation committee.

“Accreditation is really a collaborative effort, and we’ve been working on it for almost two years,” she added. “By having this kind of self reflection and cross-divisional discussion, we learned a lot about each other, and that’s a really important piece of the process.”

Peeples emphasized the opportunity this gives our community to take a step back and assess not only how we help students but also in what ways we may influence the impact our alumni make once they graduate. “As alumni of San José State University and global citizens, they bring something with them to the world that helps change it, and this is our chance to tell that story and how we make it happen.”

SJSU’s self study is available to view online. Coming soon, student, faculty and staff forums will be held for the community to respond and ask questions about the report and the process.

About WASC

*WASC was created in the early 1960s to “promote the development and accreditation of higher education in the western region of the United States.” Today, WASC accredits public and private higher education institutions throughout California, Hawaii, the Pacific and around the world and is recognized as an accrediting body by the US Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Two Must-See Speaker Series at SJSU This Fall

San José State University is offering a number of opportunities to hear from faculty experts and prominent public figures this semester through two unique speaker series: the Spartan Speaker Series and University Scholar Series.

The Spartan Speaker Series, organized by the Division of Student Affairs, will host five free online events covering topics important to and requested by San José State students, according to Sonja Daniels, associate vice president of campus life.

“The Spartan Speaker Series covers a range of topics or theme areas that we feel are critical to the lives of our students,” she said. “We choose a wide array of speakers from politics to the arts, writers, activists, as well as disability, LGBTQ+, gender and sexual assault advocates.”

Daniels indicated that many speakers are also selected to complement activities related to cultural heritage months, such as Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), Native American Heritage Month (November), Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May), and Pride/LGBTQ+ Heritage Month (June).

The University Scholar Series, hosted by the Office of the Provost, in partnership with the SJSU Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, showcases faculty research and scholarly pursuits.

“The University Scholars Series provides a space for the campus community to engage with faculty whose research, scholarly, and creative activity is insightful, engaging and forward-thinking,” said Provost Vincent Del Casino, Jr. “We get to see the breadth of topics, challenges and issues that faculty consider. It is an amazing opportunity not just to hear each other speak but to also create an intellectual community.”

Spartan Speaker Series Event Schedule

Attendees should register in advance to receive the Zoom link required to attend.

Reframing American History with Nikole Hannah-Jones

Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 1 p.m., Zoom

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones will discuss The New York Times’s 1619 Project, an ongoing initiative that aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the center of our national narrative.

Register for Nikole Hannah-Jones

Exploring Creativity with Gabby Rivera

Gabby Rivera.

Gabby Rivera. Photo by Julieta Salgado.

Tuesday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m., Zoom

​​Gabby Rivera, the first Latina to write for Marvel Comics, penned the solo series “America” about America Chavez, a portal-punching queer Latina powerhouse, as well as the critically acclaimed novel, “Juliet Takes a Breath.” Rivera will speak about the importance of prioritizing joy in queer and transgender people of color (QTPOC) communities.

Register for Gabby Rivera

Simu Liu’s Reflections on Family, Career and Persistence

Simu Liu.

Simu Liu.

Wednesday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m., Zoom

Join Canadian actor, writer and stuntman Simu Liu for “Journey to Success: Reflections on Family, Career and Persistence.”

Liu is known for his performances as Jung Kim in the award-winning CBC Television sitcom “Kim’s Convenience” and Shang-Chi in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Shang-Chi and the Legend of Ten Rings,” released in early September.

Register for Simu Liu

Green Girl Leah Thomas on Intersectional Environmentalism

Leah Thomas.

Leah Thomas.

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 7 p.m., Zoom

Join Leah Thomas, founder of eco-lifestyle blog Green Girl Leah and The Intersectional Environmentalist Platform, a resource and media hub that advocates for inclusivity within environmental education, to learn how to dismantle systems of oppression while protecting the planet. This is Associated Students’ Cesar Chavez Community Action Center Legacy Week speaker.

Register for Leah Thomas

Seeking Voice, Purpose and Place with Janet Mock

Janet Mock.

Janet Mock.

Tuesday, Nov. 9, 6 p.m., Zoom

As the first transgender person to sign a production pact with a major studio, Janet Mock is no stranger to breaking barriers. The Emmy-nominated writer, director and executive producer of the FX drama series “Pose” and the Netflix limited series “Hollywood” and “Monster,” Mock is also a New York Times-bestselling author of two memoirs, “Redefining Realness” and “Surpassing Certainty.”

Register for Janet Mock



University Scholar Series Events Schedule

All events will be offered in a hybrid (“live” in-person and virtual) format. Please register online to get the most up-to-date event information.

Fascism Versus Fact with Professor Ryan Skinnell

Wednesday, Sept. 22, noon, Zoom and MLK 225

Fascists don’t just come to power — they use rhetoric. One key to understanding fascist rhetoric is to understand fascists’ relationship to truth.

Join Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing Ryan Skinnell as he distinguishes between two kinds of truth: factual and fascist. An expert in political rhetoric and public discourse, Skinnell has written, edited or co-edited six books, including “Faking the News: What Rhetoric Can Teach Us About Donald J. Trump and Rhetoric and Guns” (forthcoming).

Register for “Two Truths and a Big Lie: The ‘Honest’ Mendacity of Fascist Rhetoric.”

Disorder to Diversity with Professor Pei-Tzu Tsai

Wednesday, Oct. 20, noon, Zoom and MLK 225

One out of 100 people experience stuttering, a speech disorder that is genetic-neurological in nature. Associate Professor of Communicative Disorders and Sciences Pei-Tzu Tsai will explore the underlying factors of stuttering and stuttering therapy to develop culturally and linguistically responsive services for individuals who stutter.

Recipient of the 2020 SJSU distinguished faculty mentor award, Tsai has worked at a summer camp for kids who stutter and at a gender-affirming voice and communication clinic at the Kay Armstead Center for Communicative Disorders. She has also established a fluency specialty clinic.

Register for “Learning from Stuttering: A Path from Disorder to Diversity.”

Mobile Money and Financial Inclusion with Susanna Khavul

Wednesday, Dec. 1, noon, Zoom and MLK 225

In the United States, 50 million adults and their 15 million children have no access to formal financial services. Mobile money has made low-cost transfers, payments and financial services available to more people.

Join Susanna Khavul, professor in the School of Management for the Lucas College of Graduate School and Business, executive director of the Global Leadership Advancement Center and visiting professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, as she shares how innovative high technology firms compete in a global economy — and how mobile finance could be part of the solution.

Register for “Is Mobile Money a Digital Gateway to Financial Inclusion?”

Learn more about the fall 2021 Spartan Speaker Series and the University Scholar Series.


What’s New at SJSU: Updates to Campus Services, Events and Resources

Students walking through the SJSU gates on campus.

The Spartan community is back on campus for the first time in a year and a half, and the campus looks a bit different, including several changes made to facilities. Here’s a preview of what to expect this fall.

Air Filtration

San José State optimized building ventilation systems to maximize outside air intake (fresh air) and installed MERV 13 filters to filter re-circulated air and remove as many aerosol particles (i.e. very small particles containing the virus) as possible, in accordance with EPA recommendations for indoor public spaces.

In places that have been determined to have poor ventilation or have a use case scenario that would warrant increased ventilation beyond what the building system could provide, SJSU will deploy a portable air filtering HEPA unit.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library

As of Aug. 2, all floors of King library are open to the SJSU community. To access the study spaces and research collections on floors six through eight, you will need your Tower ID.

Hammer Theatre

The beloved Hammer Theatre is welcoming back patrons this fall with a full list of exciting in-person performances. Visit the Hammer Theatre website for more information on these performances and what you need to know regarding COVID-19 safety protocols before you attend a show.


There are now solar panels and 50 EV charging stations at the South Campus Park & Ride; 25 of them have dual charging capability. There are currently eight to 10 charging stations on main campus that were installed this summer with four-hour maximum use.

Solar panels were also added to provide electrical power to the CEFCU Stadium area, lightening our carbon footprint while providing some shade during events.


Panda Express in the Student Union has upgraded their wok station to speed up orders. In addition, you can now place your order and schedule a pickup through the Boost app to save time when you’re on the go.

San José State is introducing Burger 408, its first “ghost kitchen,” featuring delicious burgers, fries and sides, fried chicken sandwiches and tenders, and more. All orders are made through the Boost app and picked up at the window at the Student Union.

In spring of 2022, Halal Shack will replace Steak and Shake and will offer authentic and delicious Halal food for the entire community.


SJSU opened the new South Campus Multi-Level Parking Structure and Sports Field Facility, including a 2-acre recreation field with a state-of-the-art synthetic playing surface and art honoring the “Speed City” athletes and track and field coach Bill Winter. The four-level, 1,500-stall parking structure overlooks the new field, which features a dedicated public walkway around the perimeter.

Fans planning to cheer on the 2020 Mountain West champion Spartan football team will notice a new state-of-the-art scoreboard at CEFCU Stadium. Don’t miss the first home game on Saturday, Aug. 28, against Southern Utah.

Health and Well-being

YOU@SJSU is a wellness learning and resource tool for students, including tips and tools for everything from mental and physical health to friendships and finding balance. Students can also set personalized goals and track their progress in achieving them with interactive support included in the app.

SJSU Cares will open a new space (anticipated in fall) on the first floor of Clark Hall. Students can receive the confidential support to address basic needs through individual meetings with case managers, on-site connections to partner agencies that support self-sufficiency, and workshops.

The Office of Sustainability and SJSU Cares have partnered to establish the Clothes Closet, a new resource for SJSU students providing a steady source of gently worn clothing and new essential items such as underwear and socks. It is also tentatively scheduled to open in fall.

Technology and Cybersecurity

Outdoor WiFi will blanket almost all of the SJSU campus in WiFi 6, the latest standard for stable, reliable wireless broadband connectivity. This will activate more spaces around campus for learning and studying.

A new SJSU Events Calendar is mobile friendly, more visible and plugged into social media, allowing events to be searchable via hashtags and listings to be populated directly into Google Calendar and Outlook. The “I’m interested” feature provides logged-in users with recommendations for upcoming events based on ones they’ve already attended.

SJSU Welcomes Spartan Community Back With SJSU Together Campaign

After nearly 17 months of remote learning and telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic, San José State University is preparing for the return of students, faculty and staff to the campus this month.

As part of the SJSU Together campaign, a wide variety of activities and events are planned to celebrate the community and invoke a sense of pride. Spartans can also expect to see a host of new and upgraded facilities and resources on campus that took place over the last year and a half.

Here are a few of the ways San José State is gearing up for the start of the new academic year.

Celebrating Faculty and Staff

Aug. 9 through Aug. 25

San José State’s faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure the campus kept moving forward during this unprecedented year. Now, some will be returning after more than a year away, while others will be setting foot at 1 Washington Square for the first time.

That’s why SJSU has organized activities to honor its employees, including outdoor yoga, group walks around campus, social gatherings outside with new and familiar colleagues and much more.

Events to note:
Aug. 11, 3:45 – 5 p.m. New Employee Social, Bell/Rose Garden
Faculty and staff who joined SJSU since Mar. 17, 2020, can meet colleagues in person and connect.

Aug. 25, 3 – 4 p.m. | Faculty and Staff Social, Bell/Rose Garden

Weeks of Welcome (WOW)

Aug. 16 – Sept. 22, times and activities vary

At the start of each academic year, SJSU organizes campus-wide programming spanning the first five to six weeks of instruction. The goal is to welcome returning students and greet and support new students in their transition to the Spartan community.

Students have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of events and activities in areas including academics, wellness, social justice*, career, Spartan spirit, social/community building and campus resources. Programming this year will be a mix of hybrid, fully online and in person.

*Social justice activities refer to those that promote students’ development or self advocacy and voice and engage in topics around social justice and community transformation.

Events to note:
Aug. 16, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. | New Student Convocation, virtual
SJSU’s formal welcome of our new Spartans and their parents, family members and/or supporters.

Aug. 19, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Weeks of Welcome Kick-Off, 7th St. Plaza
Pick up your schedule for all Weeks of Welcome events and enjoy snacks, music and SJSU giveaways.

Aug. 23, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Weeks of Welcome Kick-Off, Tower Lawn

Aug. 24, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Weeks of Welcome Kick-Off, Housing Quad



The SJSU Loves SJ initiative is a partnership between San José State and Visit San Jose, the Downtown Association, Japantown Business Association, and San José City Hall to help increase students’ connection with and appreciation of the culture of San Jose’s vibrant surrounding community. The university plays an important role in the economic vitality of downtown San Jose, and there are many local venues and landmarks students, faculty and staff can explore just steps from campus.

Events to note:
Aug. 19, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. | Student welcome event, Swenson Gate on 4th Street and the Paseo de San Antonio
Student social event on the first day of classes, includes snacks and giveaways from local businesses.

Aug. 19 – 20, dusk – 10 p.m. | Lighting of City Hall Tower and Rotunda, 200 E. Santa Clara St.
San Jose’s City Hall plaza will be lit up with SJSU’s blue and gold colors at dusk.

Aug. 23, 9 a.m. | SJSU flag raising at City Hall
Marks the return of the SJSU community to downtown and celebrates our partnership with the city.

(Re)Discover SJSU


Now in its second year, (Re)Discover SJSU is a digital campaign that invites the San José State community to utilize their informational website and social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) to learn about and share campus programs, services and events.
The dashboard updates regularly throughout the academic year with new opportunities to explore and engage with the campus community.

New Campus Facilities and Services

In addition to welcome festivities, here are a few of the new things to expect on campus this year.


Behind the scenes, university personnel have been planning ahead to ensure Spartans, many of whom have yet to set foot on campus, feel properly welcomed to SJSU. This includes banners decorated with colorful art and the SJSU logo — some featuring the word “welcome” stated in multiple languages — hanging along the pedestrian paseos spanning the length of campus.

Health and Well-being

YOU@SJSU is a wellness learning and resource tool that provides students with tips and tools for everything from mental and physical health to friendships and finding balance. Students can also set personalized goals and track their progress in achieving them with interactive support included in the app.

SJSUCares will open a new space (anticipated in fall) in Clark Hall. Students can receive the confidential support to address basic needs through individual meetings with case managers, on-site connections to partner agencies that support self-sufficiency, and workshops.

The Office of Sustainability and SJSU Cares also partnered to establish the Clothes Closet, a new resource for SJSU students providing a steady source of gently worn clothing and new essential items such as underwear and socks. It is tentatively scheduled to also open in fall.

Technology and Cybersecurity

Outdoor WiFi will blanket almost all of the SJSU campus in WiFi 6, the latest standard for stable, reliable wireless broadband connectivity that can host far more devices than previous standards. This will activate more spaces around campus for learning and studying, as well enabling a future strategy for an IoT-based Smart Campus.

A new SJSU Events Calendar is mobile friendly, more visible and plugged into social media, allowing events to be searchable via hashtags and listings to be populated directly into Google Calendar and Outlook. The “I’m interested” feature provides logged-in users with recommendations for upcoming events based on ones they’ve already attended.

Duo Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is now live for all SJSU accounts. MFA significantly reduces the potential impact from ransomware and phishing attacks.

SJSU partnered with industry-leading software security companies to give our campus population free access to security software for their home devices.


SJSU welcomes the new South Campus Multilevel Parking Structure and Sports Field Facility, including a 2-acre recreation field and art honoring the “Speed City” athletes and their famed track and field coach Bill Winter. The four-level, 1,500 stall parking structure overlooks the new field. The field itself is a state-of-the-art synthetic playing surface and features a dedicated public walkway encircling its perimeter.

Fans planning to cheer on the 2020 Mountain West champion Spartan football team will notice a new state-of-the-art scoreboard at CEFCU Stadium. The first home game is Saturday, Aug. 28, against Southern Utah.


There are now solar panels and 50 EV charging stations at the South Campus Park & Ride; 25 of them have dual charging capability. There are currently eight to 10 charging stations on main campus that were installed this summer with four hour maximum use.

Solar panels were added to provide electrical power to the CEFCU Stadium area, lightening our carbon footprint while providing some shade as well.

Panda Express in the Student Union has an upgraded wok station to speed up orders. In addition, you can now place your order and schedule pickup times through the Boost app to save time.

San José State is introducing Burger 408, its first “ghost kitchen,” featuring delicious burgers, fries and sides, sauces, fried chicken sandwiches and tenders. All orders are made through the Boost app and picked up at the window at the Student Union.

In spring of 2022, Halal Shack will replace Steak and Shake and will offer authentic and delicious Halal food for the entire community.

SJSU Alumnus Colton Brown Going for Gold at Tokyo Olympics

A photo of Colton Brown

Colton Brown, ’15 Business Administration, will compete in the 2021 Summer Olympics. Photo courtesy: David Schmitz.

Colton Brown, ’15 Business Administration, will represent Team USA in judo at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, later this month. This is Brown’s second Olympic games after competing in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2016.

Brown is the latest judoka who graduated from SJSU to compete on the world’s most storied athletics stage — a legacy that began with Yoshihiro Uchida serving as the head coach of the first U.S. judo team in 1964, the last time the Summer Olympics were held in Tokyo. Race walker Robyn Stevens joins Brown as the two Spartans who will compete for Team USA at the 2021 Games. 

Editor’s Note: See the timeline of SJSU-affiliated participants representing Team USA in nearly every Olympics since 1924. 

Ahead of Brown’s quest for his first Olympic medal, which begins with his first match on July 28, he shared his thoughts on representing the U.S. at the Olympics, how the pandemic affected preparation for the games, and what it means to him to be part of SJSU’s judo legacy. 

1) What does it mean to you to be able to represent the U.S. again at the Olympics?

The more time I spend competing at the highest level, the more I realize that I am very fortunate to be able to do what I love every day. Representing my country on the Olympic stage is an incredible honor, and I am happy to have gotten this opportunity twice. 

2) With the pandemic pushing the Olympics back a year, did you see that as a benefit or difficult to manage — especially since you likely have a routine as you prepare for the Olympics?

Great question. During the beginning of the pandemic, things were very confusing. There was a lot of uncertainty, so I wasn’t sure whether or not the Olympics were even going to take place. I was used to training three to four times a day, but when everything shut down, the only thing I was able to do was run and bike through the mountains. 

To be honest, I was a little sad that the Olympics weren’t happening in 2020 because I felt my preparation up to that point was great. But, I soon realized the severity of the situation and understood that it was best for the world if they postponed the games. 

Throughout the months that I wasn’t able to do judo, I realized how much I genuinely loved the sport. When something is taken away from you, I feel like it gives you a new perspective. I found that I was no longer worried about whether or not the Olympics would happen, I was just excited to be able to train again. It took me back to when I was a child doing judo because I loved it. So, at the end of the day, the pandemic made me realize why I started judo and restored my love for the sport.

3) This will be a return to Tokyo for you since you competed there in 2019 at the World Championships. Although there will be restrictions in place there, what are you most looking forward to?

Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the world. A lot of people don’t know this, but when I graduated high school, right before I went to SJSU, I lived in Japan for four months. I went there to train at Nihon University, and I was the only American in the all-Japanese dormitory. Between the training and language barrier, it was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but the amount of friendships that formed because of that experience are priceless. 

Since then, I have traveled back to Japan twice a year to train, so I’m very familiar with Tokyo. I’m looking forward to performing in front of my friends and the Japanese fans that are allowed to attend the Olympics. I’m also looking forward to the amazing food that Tokyo has to offer.

Editor’s Note: As of July 8, fans will not be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics.

4) You are a standout in a storied history of judo competitors and coaches from SJSU,  starting with Yoshihiro Uchida. What does it mean to you to be a part of the Spartan judo legacy?

Mr. Uchida is one of my idols. Throughout my time at SJSU, he taught me countless lessons on and off of the mat. When I first arrived at SJSU as a freshman, I was impressed by all of the amazing individuals who came through the judo program. I remember looking up to people like Marti Malloy and Mike Swain. Hearing stories of how they trained and the obstacles they had to overcome throughout their careers really inspired me. 

As I began to achieve some success, I realized that I could be an example for the younger generation. SJSU graduates like Mike and Marti gave me hope when I was younger that I could be something special. The thought that I could now have that impact on the lives of other Spartans truly means the world to me.

Editor’s Note: Watch Brown train with Yoshihiro Uchida ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics. 

5) Is there anything from your time at SJSU that you still carry with you today (a training method, something a professor or coach told you, etc.)?

SJSU is a great place. I tell people all the time that my time at SJSU was the most fun I’ve ever had in my career. I think when you put a bunch of people together who are trying to achieve a common goal, it makes for a special place. The one thing that SJSU taught me was to lead by example. I’ve learned so much by simply watching successful people who came before me. Without that example, I don’t know if I would be where I am today. 

6) Any words for Spartan Nation as they get ready to cheer you on at the games?

I just want to say thank you to all of the Spartans supporting me! I appreciate all of the love and will keep the Spartan mentality in mind when I’m out there fighting. 

Inaugural Economic and Social Impact Report Shows SJSU Contributes $4.1 Billion to California Economy

As the most transformative university in the nation, San José State’s impact on the lives of its students, faculty, staff and alumni is apparent in a multitude of ways. Thanks to a new economic and social impact report conducted by Beacon Economics using 2018-2019 fiscal year data, SJSU’s contribution to the state of California is quantifiable — generating more than $4.1 billion in total economic output for the Golden State. 

As the only public university in the Silicon Valley — a haven for investment in global innovation, entrepreneurship, and cutting-edge technology — SJSU’s return on investment is transformative for the city of San José, the region and the state. For every dollar in state funding, SJSU generates $24 in economic output in California. 

“This report highlights the tremendous value our campus brings to our communities and neighborhoods,” said President Mary A. Papazian. “Our local businesses thrive, our arts districts crackle and our civic pride swells, all due to the tens of thousands of students, staff, faculty members and other university supporters and stakeholders who populate and visit our campus.”

The report shows Spartan pride is present throughout the state, with SJSU supporting 25,462 jobs in California. A little more than 52 percent of those jobs are in the Bay Area — meaning SJSU generates employment opportunities that support the region while also maintaining and expanding existing jobs at other companies through SJSU-related spending. Overall, SJSU generates $2.4 billion in economic output for the Bay Area.

It’s not all about the money

SJSU’s impact is much more than just dollars and cents. SJSU’s true value, a direct reflection of the university’s mission to help students achieve their higher education goals in pursuit of a career, is showcased throughout the 84-page report. 

The university’s student population is 83 percent people of color and 42 percent first generation. As a top seven public school in the West, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 rankings, underrepresented students are gaining access to a world-class California State University (CSU) education at an affordable rate. This leads to upward social mobility, the foundation of the #1 Most Transformative University ranking by Money magazine.

“With a degree from a university located in the heart of innovation and creativity, students are laying the foundation for generations of their families and communities to not only have their voice be heard but also be the leading voice in important conversations in our world,” said Vincent Del Casino, Jr., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Beacon’s report says, on average, SJSU undergraduates graduate with $15,720 in student debt, less than half the average debt of California college graduates ($34,861). In turn, SJSU graduates are recruited by the world’s most influential companies, some of which are in Silicon Valley.

“SJSU’s alumni demonstrate that spending tens of thousands of dollars more on education is not necessary to achieve success or to work for competitive companies,” writes Beacon in their report. 

“SJSU’s College of Engineering provides more entry-level engineers to Silicon Valley’s Cisco Systems and Apple than any other university, and SJSU’s Lucas College and Graduate School of Business is the largest provider of business graduates to Silicon Valley.”

Local impact is global impact

Undergraduates are also well equipped with research experience as early as their first year of college. SJSU is a top 200 research university in the nation in spending, second in the CSU system. Along with pioneering research collaborations, SJSU’s cutting-edge exploration in areas like wildfires and marine science — through the nation’s largest wildfire research center, the Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center, and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, respectively — help students begin to transform the world during their time in downtown San Jose. 

“Given the far-reaching nature of Silicon Valley, research done at SJSU on a local level truly has a global impact,” said Mohamed Abousalem, vice president for research and innovation. “Our emphasis on having students participate in research early in their academic careers leads to experience with top-notch faculty that helps prepare them for success once they graduate.”

SJSU’s research, curriculum, and activities are community-centered. Spartans give back in a variety of ways, including:

  • CommUniverCity, which contributed $982,900 worth of community service in one year alone. Since its inception in 2005, CommUniverCity has contributed over $8.4 million in service to the local community, engaging over 115,000 residents directly.
  • Partnerships with the City of San Jose expand arts and cultural resources to city residents through the Hammer Theatre and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.
  • The Center for Development of Recycling provides research and technical support to the Counties of Santa Clara and San Mateo on their recycling programs. Students contributed over $1.7 million in in-kind services to the counties.
  • Giving community members a second chance at building their lives. The Records Clearance Project (RCP) allows Justice Studies students to provide legal assistance to low-income community members. With a 99 percent success rate, RCP has helped residents remove over $120,000 worth of debt and helped dismiss over 1,600 convictions for more than 550 individuals.
  • The Beyond Sparta program. Beyond Sparta engages all student-athletes with the community to not only provide service, but also provide them opportunities to professionally develop their own skills.

Editor’s Note: Beacon Economics’ full report is available on the SJSU Economic and Social Impact Report website.

Recognizing SJSU’s COVID-19 Campus Heroes

Many in the Spartan community have not set foot on campus for more than a year. But during the pandemic, the university remained open, and some reported to work on campus every day to keep it clean and beautiful for when SJSU students, faculty and staff would return. Meet Lila Garcia and David Johnson, two of SJSU’s COVID-19 heroes who cared for the campus during the pandemic.

Valerie Coleman Morris Receives Honorary Doctorate from SJSU


SJSU conferred an honorary doctorate degree to alumna and trailblazing journalist Valerie D. Coleman Morris, ‘68 Journalism, as part of the university’s celebration of the Class of 2021 on Wednesday, May 26. 

Coleman Morris served as a reporter for the university student newspaper “Spartan Daily” during her time at SJSU, covering significant campus events such as the Dow Chemical protests and the Black Power salute by Tommy Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympic Games.

Coleman Morris went on to become a broadcast journalist in San Francisco and Los Angeles and also created and narrated the CBS network radio show “With the Family in Mind.” In 1996, Coleman Morris joined CNN, and in 2011, she published the book “It’s Your Money So Take It Personally.” 

Coleman Morris has three California Emmy awards and was a major contributor to KCBS radio’s Peabody Award team coverage as co-anchor following the 1989 Loma Prieto earthquake. Other awards she’s received include Black Woman of the Year and Outstanding Contribution to Broadcasting from American Woman in Radio and TV. 

During her speech to the graduating class, Coleman Morris spoke about her love of threes and how it has played a role continuously throughout her life before imparting this wisdom on SJSU’s newest alumni:

“Congratulations to each member of the class of 2021. I leave with this thought: My late father and his regularly repeated lesson about looking in the rear view mirror. It’s important to do, he’d tell me. Glancing in the rearview mirror reminds you where you’ve come from. 

“And then dad would pose the question, and then he would also pose the answer and say, ‘What happens if you look in the rearview mirror for too long or too often?’ The answer: You won’t know what you run into. I need to explain, my dad was not talking about having an accident. He was talking about running past opportunities that were right in front of you. 

“Graduates, for each of your rearview mirror memories or realities, always hear you say, I am looking forward.”

View Coleman Morris’ entire speech above.

Spartan Gold Standard: Remembering Lee Evans (1947-2021)

Above: Watch NBC’s TODAY segment “A Life Well Lived” on Lee Evans that aired Sunday, May 23, 2021.

Editor’s Note: This story originally ran on the SJSU Athletics website.

Best known as a 1968 two-time Mexico City Olympic Games track and field champion, Lee Evans, ’70 Physical Education (1947-2021) died at age 74 in Nigeria.

At 21 years old, the Madera, Calif., native was a pillar of San José State’s world-renowned brand known as “Speed City.” As a slender 158-pound college student by his own admission, he won gold medals in the men’s 400 meters and the men’s 4×400 meter relay at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games in world and Olympic Games record-setting times. Mr. Evans is the university’s first and only two-time Olympic Games gold medal winner.

Lee Evans was the first person to run 400 meters under 44.0 seconds with his winning time of 43.86. And, Mr. Evans ran the anchor leg of the victorious USA 4×400 relay team that crossed the finish line with a clocking of 2:56.16. The gold-medal winning 400-meter time remained a world record until 1988 and the 4×400 relay world mark stood until 1992.

Lee Evans with coach Bud Winter

Lee Evans (right) with coach Lloyd (Bud) Winter. Courtesy: SJSU Athletics

The winning performances were in the shadow of controversy. Evans had considered withdrawing from Olympic competition following San José State and USA teammates Tommie Smith and John Carlos were expelled from the Olympic Village. After Smith won the men’s 200-meter dash with Carlos finishing third, both athletes raised a clenched fist in the air during the victory stand ceremony. Approaching the victory stand following his 400-meter victory, Mr. Evans, silver medalist Larry James and bronze medalist Ron Freeman wore black berets as their sign of support for the Olympic Project for Human Rights.

For his gold medal-winning performances, he was named Track & Field News’ U.S. College Athlete of the Year. From 1966 through 1968 and again in 1970, he was ranked #1 in the world in the 400 meters by Track & Field News. Mr. Evans also was ranked in the top-10 in the 400 by Track and Field News in 1969 (second), 1971 (ninth) and 1972 (third).

The 1970 San José State graduate was captain of the Spartans’ 1969 team that won the NCAA Division I Men’s Outdoor Track and Field championship in Knoxville, Tenn. While at San José State, Mr. Evans also was a member of the Spartans’ 1967 world-record-setting 880-yard relay team that included Tommie Smith, Ken Shackelford and Bob Talmadge.

Editor’s Note: Watch SJSU’s profile of the SJSU Speed City legacy

“Social Justice Advocate”

His track and field notoriety runs parallel to his humanitarian contributions in the United States and, particularly, in the African continent.

According to Dr. Harry Edwards, the founder of the Olympic Project for Human Rights and San José State graduate, “Lee Evans was one of the greatest athletes and social justice advocates in an era that produced a generation of such courageous, committed, and contributing athlete-activists.

“He was an originating founder and advocate of the Olympic Project for Human Rights and what evolved in the late 1960’s into an all-out revolt among Black athletes over issues of injustice and inequality both within and beyond the sports arena. In no small measure, today’s athletes can stand taller, see farther and more clearly, and reach higher in pursuit of achievement and change in both sport and society because they stand on the shoulders of GIANTS such as Lee Evans.”

From left to right: Ken Noel, Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Harry Edwards, San José State student body president James Edwards.

1967 – The Olympic Project for Human Rights first/organizing meeting. From left to right: Ken Noel, Tommie Smith, Lee Evans, Harry Edwards, San José State student body president James Edwards. Courtesy: Dr. Harry Edwards

Mr. Evans shared his knowledge and experiences in track and field with interested parties of all ages domestically and internationally.  There were college coaching appointments at San José State, the University of Washington, and the University of South Alabama.

He served as the director of athletics for Special Olympics International from 1988 to 1990. Evans provided technical assistance to Special Olympics programs in the United States, its territories and 90 countries around the world.

The United States Information Service (U.S.I.S.) agency appointed Mr. Evans as a track and field clinician for Sports America as a leader of coaching clinics throughout the world, particularly, in developing countries.

Editor’s Note: Read the 2018 Washington Square feature on Lee Evans

The Humanitarian – Nelson Mandela Award Recipient

A Fulbright Scholar, Mr. Evans spent much of his post-competitive life on the African continent as a track and field coach and a humanitarian. He was a professor of biomechanics at the Cameroon National Institute of Youth and Sports and an associate professor of physical education at the University of Ife in Nigeria.

Mr. Evans coached the national track and field teams of Qatar, Cameroon and Nigeria.

In 1991, he was a recipient of a Nelson Mandela Award given to those who “…stood for the values of equality and friendship and respect of human rights, against apartheid and any form of racism.” In the 1980’s, Mr. Evans was focused on the Madagascar Project which included providing a fresh water supply, power, and electricity; creating economic self-sufficiency through profitable cash crop farming; improving the transportation system; and access to medical care.

Lee Evans in 2016

Lee Evans at a Hall of Fame banquet in 2016. Evans won two gold medals at the 1968 Olympics. Courtesy: SJSU Athletics

More Honors

A member of the San José State Hall of Fame, he also is enshrined in the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, U.S.A. Track and Field Hall of Fame, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame, the city of San Jose Sports Hall of Fame, and the African American Athletes Hall of Fame. Mr. Evans also was a 1994 recipient of a NCAA Silver Anniversary Award honoring exceptional student-athletes for their life’s work 25 years after completing a college career.

“The first time I walked into the old gym at SJSU as an undergraduate, I learned of the legend of Lee Evans,” said Marcos Breton (Class of 1986, journalism) and a Sacramento Bee columnist. “The records of Mr. Evans were emblazoned on the wall along with Tommie Smith, John Carlos and other world class sprinters and Olympic champions who were Spartans. His Olympic gold medal will always be a source of pride for all Spartans. I’m honored to have met a kind and truly humble man and like many, I’ll never forget the grace with which Lee Evans represented his country and our university.”

SJSU Recognizes Outstanding Spartans at 10th Annual Student Leadership Gala

10th Annual Student Leadership Gala.

San José State is home to over 350 student organizations, including fraternities and sororities, academic and honorary societies, cultural and religious groups, special interest organizations and club sports. On Tuesday, May 4, outstanding student organizations and individual leaders were recognized in the 10th Annual Student Leadership Gala.

The yearly event is a collaboration between SJSU’s Campus Life departments, including Associated Students, Student Involvement and the Solidarity Network, which is composed of the César E. Chávez Community Action Center, the Black Leadership and Opportunity Center (The BLOC, formerly the African American/Black Student Success Center), El Centro (formerly the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center), the Gender Equity Center, the MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center, the PRIDE Center, the UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center, and Wellness and Health Promotion.

“The Student Leadership Gala is a great way to bring together the greater campus community because there’s so much to do here at SJSU, and it’s great to hear the stories of students who are doing amazing work,” said Student Engagement Coordinator for Recognized Student Organizations Jordan Webb.

The virtual event recognized 112 individuals or organizations in several categories such as organization awards, operation awards, program awards and individual awards. Fraternity and Sorority Life honored four exemplary Greek life groups as well.

Each year, Associated Students also honors unsung heroes who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the university and have given back to the campus or local communities with the AS 55 leadership award. This year, A.S. awarded 11 students the AS 55 award and recognized 13 additional individuals in other categories as well.

“Educating our students on their civic responsibility, developing their leadership skills, and helping to equip them to be engaged in their communities are vitally important aspects of our public mission at San José State,” said SJSU President Mary Papazian at the May 4 gala.

“We know that our student leaders can become transformative agents for positive change in their communities, and that is why I am so proud of organizations like Associated Students, Student Involvement, the Solidarity Network and many others here on campus that are working so hard on this aspect of the higher education experience.”

Patrick Day, vice president of student affairs, also recognizes students with exceptional promise with a special VPSA award.

In addition to the awards recognized by Campus Life, 63 students who completed the Career Center’s Leadership and Career Certificate Program received their certificates of completion. The program offers students opportunities to enhance and develop their existing leadership and career skills in an online format.

“I love taking the time each year to intentionally honor and recognize student leadership,” said Dylan Mazelis, leadership development coordinator and co-chair of the program. “Over the past 10 years, the gala has become more intentionally collaborative, recognizing the intersectionality of our students and the all-encompassing leadership that they exhibit.

“It’s not just about recognizing specific titles or roles but rather recognizing all of the work that these students are doing every day in their many different spaces and communities — as well as the impact they have on San José and Silicon Valley.”

Visit the Student Involvement website to learn more about the 2021 awardees.

Updates on SJSU Athletics Department and Investigations

Editor’s Note: This transparency news feed includes updates on relevant matters in SJSU Athletics Department, including personnel information, university action steps, frequently asked questions, timelines, and pertinent information regarding former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw.

August 16, 2021

In the April 15 open letter to the campus community, President Papazian referenced a chaperone policy that was being finalized no later than fall 2021. The Wellbeing Attendant Policy, developed by the Athletics Department, in conjunction with the Student Health Center and the Title IX Office, is now finalized.

June 12, 2021

San José State University President Mary Papazian has named Jeffrey (Jeff) Konya the university’s fifteenth director of athletics. Konya will be responsible for athletics department stewardship, effective July 12. Konya succeeds former Athletics Director Marie Tuite.  

“Jeff brings over two decades of leadership and award-winning collegiate athletics administrator experience,” stated President Papazian. “We are confident that Jeff’s commitment to student success, integrity, and innovation will continue to increase our students’ academic accomplishments, cement an inclusive and equitable culture, and position Spartan Athletics as a leading department known for creativity and excellence.”

“I am incredibly honored to be selected to lead the Spartans. I want to express my sincere appreciation to President Papazian, the SJSU search committee, and TurnkeyZRG for being given this wonderful opportunity,” stated Konya. “I am truly inspired by President Papazian’s vision for San José State University. I am excited by the role athletics can play in furthering that vision.” 

Konya comes to SJSU from Northeastern University in Boston, where he was a two-time Under Armour NACDA Athletics Director of the Year (2016-17, 2020-21) making him one of just four Athletic Directors in DI-AAA in the history of the award to earn AD of the Year twice in a four-year span. Under Konya’s leadership, Northeastern Athletics worked with the student-athletes to form the first-ever Black Athlete Caucus. The NUBAC was established to represent the voice of and bring exposure to the Black Athletic community on campus. 

Konya also served on the first-ever college hockey National Social Justice Committee and oversaw the Huskies entry into Esports as a varsity program. As the first New England area Division I institution to join the Esports Collegiate Conference (ESC), the Huskies competed in four games – Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League and Hearthstone – and the Hearthstone team finished the season ranked No. 2 in the country.

Traditional collegiate programs at Northeastern also benefited with Konya at the helm. The ice hockey programs maintained their national relevance, men’s basketball earned its fourth CAA regular-season championship in 2020-21, men’s cross country won its first-ever CAA title in 2021, and women’s basketball made its first-ever appearance in the WNIT in 2019. 

Konya achieved great success in competition and in the classroom while athletic director at Oakland University. During his tenure there, the university was a three-peat winner of the Horizon League’s McCafferty Trophy (2015, 2016 & 2017), amassed 22 Horizon League championships since 2014, including a men’s basketball title in 2017 and led the Horizon League in Academic All-League and Honor Roll selections from 2014 to 2017, with his student-athletes posting a record 3.30 collective grade point average in 2017.

Further, he spurred innovation across the athletic department by increasing external financial support by 60 percent and sponsorship support by 90 percent, introducing new digital media packages for fans, increasing attendance at men’s basketball game attendance to set new ticket revenue records, and launching a branded all-sports rivalry with the University of Detroit-Mercy, called the Metro Series. The Rochester Area Chamber recognized the athletic department with its Innovative Culture award in 2016.

In addition to his duties at Oakland, Konya served as chair of the Horizon League Executive Council and is a member of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee.

As athletic director at California State University, Bakersfield, a member of the NCAA Division I Western Athletic Conference, Konya spearheaded fundraising efforts for multi-million-dollar facility additions and improvements, including a year ranked No. 1 nationally in fundraising compared to peer I-AAA institutions. Konya orchestrated a rebranding of the athletic department and, under his direction, the university’s athletic marketing team was named a NACMA Division I Marketing Team of the Year finalist. During his tenure at CSU Bakersfield, men’s and women’s basketball programs both earned postseason bids, baseball twice ranked in the top 25 nationally, and the volleyball and men’s basketball teams earned perfect NCAA Academic Progress Rate scores.

As senior associate athletic director at Southern Methodist University, Konya served as sport administrator for the men’s and women’s basketball programs, supervised all marketing efforts and game-day activities, and managed NCAA compliance. During his SMU tenure, the women’s basketball team won the Conference USA tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament.

Konya began his athletic administration career in 1996 at the University of Iowa, and worked in positions of increasing responsibility at the University of South Dakota, Bucknell University, the University of Texas San Antonio, and the University of Memphis.

He received his juris doctorate with honors from the University of Iowa College of Law and earned a bachelor’s degree in politics from Princeton University, where he was a member of the football team.

Konya’s hiring marks the conclusion of an extensive nationwide search led by President Papazian, who named a search committee to research, interview, and evaluate a diverse and innovative group of collegiate athletics administrators. The search committee was chaired by Vice President for Strategy and Chief of Staff Lisa Millora and included Faculty Athletics Representative and chair of the kinesiology department Tamar Semerjian; Super Bowl-winning wide receiver, NFL Network Analyst, and SJSU alumnus James Jones; and Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas.

TurnkeyZRG was retained to help President Papazian and the search committee in strategic search planning and management areas, including application, evaluation and review processes, background checks on potential candidates, and vital SJSU internal and external stakeholder and constituent information gathering. TurnkeyZRG Managing Director Chad Chatlos led the collaborative effort. Chatlos specializes in senior executive searches across the sports industry with a focus on roles in the ever-changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics.

# # #

Quotes from College Athletics on the SJSU Hire of Jeffrey Konya as AD

“I have worked with and known Jeff for many, many years. I can tell you he will instantaneously make any athletics program better in the way he thinks, acts and leads. The coaches will love him. This is a fantastic hire for the Spartans.”

John Calipari, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Kentucky

Congratulations to Jeff Konya on being named Director of Athletics at San Jose State University. Jeff is dedicated to the student-athlete experience, understand the needs of coaches, and he values the important role college athletics plays in higher education. He is an outstanding leader and communicator that values relationships with all. I am so very happy for the Spartans on an outstanding hire.

Jeff Capel, Head Men’s Basketball Coach at the University of Pittsburgh

“Jeff is an experienced and transformational leader who will inspire excellence for San Jose State athletics. He is well respected for his ability to hire excellent coaches, innovate, build community and provide a first-class experience for student-athletes. His vision will take the Spartans to the next level.”

Jen Cohen, Athletics Director at the University of Washington

“San Jose St. has aligned itself with one of the most energetic forward-thinking leaders in intercollegiate athletics. Jeff is a true difference maker that has consistently overseen and implemented impactful change. His transformative ambition will be a true asset to the Spartan’s athletic department as well as the entire San Jose St. community.”

Joe D’Antonio, Commissioner, Colonial Athletic Association (CAA)

“Jeff Konya is a terrific hire for SJSU. He was instrumental to our success at SMU and understands the ins and outs of the game. Coaches and student-athletes will love working with him and there’s no better person to lead the Spartans into the future.”

June Jones, Former NFL Head Coach, Former Head Football Coach at the University of Hawaii and SMU

“This is great news for San Jose State University. Jeff is a strong and dynamic leader and a phenomenal person who has a proven ability to build programs to new levels of excellence. I especially appreciate his focus on student-athlete well-being. He’s one of the good guys in the business and I know he’ll accomplish great things in San Jose.”

Candace Storey Lee, Athletics Director at Vanderbilt University

May 22, 2021

San José State University President Mary Papazian has named CFO and Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas as its interim director of athletics. Faas will be responsible for stewarding the athletics department until the university names its 15th Director of Athletics.

“Charlie Faas is a strong leader with professional integrity,” stated President Papazian. “His sports and business acumen will help us maintain forward progression during this transition. We are grateful for his teamwork.”

Faas has working knowledge of the athletics department, playing instrumental roles in the development of the Spartan Athletics Center and South Campus renovations. As CFO, Faas leads SJSU’s financial, administrative and business functions. This includes Administration and Finance, Facilities Development and Operations, the University Police Department, and Spartan Shops. Faas is the chair of the Board of Directors of the San Jose Sports Authority. He served as executive vice president and CFO for Sharks Sports & Entertainment and CEO of the USA Pavilion at Expo Milano. In addition, he has held senior roles with numerous entities in Silicon Valley and New York, including IBM.

President Papazian has also formed a search committee chaired by Vice President for Strategy and Chief of Staff Lisa Millora, Faculty Athletics Representative and chair of the kinesiology department Tamar Semerjian, Super Bowl-winning wide receiver, NFL Network Analyst and SJSU alumnus James Jones, and Faas. The President and search committee will work collaboratively with TurnkeyZRG, led by Managing Director Chad Chatlos, in a national search for its next Director of Athletics. Chatlos specializes in senior executive searches across the sports industry with a focus on roles in the ever-changing landscape of intercollegiate athletics.

“I am confident in this diverse group of leaders who represent our cabinet, faculty, alumni, and collegiate athletics to evaluate the finest candidate to lead the Spartans,” stated President Papazian. “Together we will identify an athletics director who will continue to build competitive programs, increase academic success, positively represent our community, and build an inclusive, equitable and sustainable culture for our student-athletes, coaches and staff.”

TurnkeyZRG will support the President and the search committee in strategic search planning and management areas, including application, evaluation and review processes, background checks on potential candidates, and vital SJSU internal and external stakeholder and constituent information gathering.

May 21, 2021

San José State University President Mary Papazian has met with Director of Athletics, Marie Tuite, about the future leadership of the Athletics Department and agreed that Ms. Tuite will step down from her current role.

“My tenure as the Athletics Director at SJSU has been one of my greatest joys and accomplishments,” stated Ms. Tuite. “I am proud to have worked alongside many incredible coaches, administrators and educators as we built world-class facilities and won conference championships, but nothing will ever compare to seeing the success of thousands of student-athletes who have competed and graduated as Spartans.”

Effective immediately, Ms. Tuite will transition to the role of special director of external relations and capital project development. Her responsibilities will include increasing financial support for the athletics department, with an emphasis on a variety of facilities on the South Campus.

“I love San José State University and I am committed to its mission. My new role allows me to continue this important work, and I am grateful for the opportunity to do so,” stated Ms. Tuite.

In 2019, President Papazian requested an external investigation into allegations of misconduct in 2009 by Scott Shaw, SJSU’s former director of sports medicine. The 2009 allegations of improper touching during physical therapy were substantiated, as were more recent allegations raised in the course of the investigation.  The investigator concluded that the conduct at issue violated the university’s policies in effect at the time of the conduct. The investigation was conducted by an external attorney investigator and was supervised by the CSU Systemwide Title IX Compliance Officer. The findings are now final.

In response to the finding Ms. Tuite stated, “As a leader, I am deeply sorry our student-athletes were impacted by Scott Shaw. I will continue to fully cooperate with any and all investigations. My key objective here is to let our community heal.”

In 2020, President Papazian requested an external Title IX Procedural Response Investigation to answer questions about the original 2009 investigation and how the university responded to the findings. At the conclusion of that investigation, President Papazian pledged to, “hold ourselves accountable, make necessary changes, and continue to share our progress with the SJSU community.  She added, “accountability, action, and transparency are critical to rebuilding trust.”

Ms. Tuite began her tenure at San José State University in 2010, shortly after the conclusion of the initial Shaw investigation. Following seven years of university service in several executive athletics administration positions, she was promoted to the position of director of athletics. As of May 21, 2021, Ms. Tuite was one of 13 women athletics directors at an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) institution.

San José State University has made many strides in the department of athletics over the past several years, including increasing competitiveness in all sports both in conference play and nationally. During the 2020-2021 academic year, the football and women’s tennis teams won their conference championships. Several other teams, such as women’s and men’s water polo and men’s soccer, finished with high national or conference rankings. The department’s overall Academic Progress Rate (APR) has grown with a 65% increase in the number of student-athletes who earned President’s Scholar and Dean’s Scholar honors. The department also received some of the largest philanthropic gifts over the last several years.

Read President Papazian’s open letter to the campus community on April 15, 2021.

Read a detailed document with frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding the investigation into Scott Shaw, former director of sports medicine. The FAQ will be updated as necessary.

Read a summary of the results of the 2019 external investigation into Scott Shaw, former director of sports medicine.

May 4, 2021

The university and President Papazian will continue to provide the SJSU community ongoing factual information regarding former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw, and the action steps SJSU is taking to keep our community safe.

  1. On April 15, 2021 President Papazian announced the results of an investigation into the 2009 allegations of improper touching by SJSU’s former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw. That investigation substantiated the allegations and confirmed more recent allegations raised in the course of the investigation.
  2. As a result of the investigation into Scott Shaw, President Papazian announced a new investigation known as the Title IX Procedural Response Investigation to determine why the matter was not addressed sooner.
  3. On May 4, 2021 President Papazian released a detailed document with frequently asked questions (FAQ). There are currently 20 questions with detailed and factual responses. The FAQ will be updated as necessary.

As President Papazian stated in her open letter, “Accountability, action, and transparency are critical to rebuilding trust in the face of troubling events like these. You have my promise that as we go through this difficult process and move forward together, we will hold ourselves accountable, make necessary changes, and consistently share our progress with the SJSU community. I am determined that we will learn from the past and never repeat it.”

SJSU Among Top Universities in U.S. in Times Higher Education Impact Rankings

A picture of Tower Hall

San José State University’s streak of impressive showings in national and international rankings continues with today’s release of the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings. SJSU finished in the top 30 among U.S. institutions and top 500 worldwide.

The third edition of the worldwide rankings — which measure university progress around Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — included SJSU for the first time. SDGs were adopted by all member states of the United Nations in 2015 in an effort to establish a global partnership to end poverty and other deprivations while also preserving the planet. Universities can participate in some or all of the 17 SDGs.

SJSU participated in five SDGs: Good Health and Wellbeing; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Life Below Water; Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; and Partnership for the Goals — a mandatory category for all 1,115 institutions across the globe who participated in the rankings.

“Sustainability and equity remain two of the big priorities of our time, not only here at our campus but also around the world,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. 

“Our good showing in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings reflects how SJSU has become an innovative leader in these areas. It is a tribute to our interdisciplinary approach and commitment on the part of so many in our campus community.”

Along with continued progress in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion — including action steps the university is taking to address systemic racismPapazian said SJSU is striving toward a future whereby all students graduate with a firm understanding of what it means to be sustainable. This entails students learning through curricular, and co-curricular, activities how their actions and choices can have a positive or negative impact on the sustainability of our environment. 

The university is also working to help faculty members incorporate sustainability into their curricula, she added.

The results

SJSU’s best showing was in the Life Below Water SDG, finishing in the top 10 in the U.S. and #62 in the world. In this category, THE focuses on how “universities are protecting and enhancing aquatic ecosystems like lakes, ponds, streams, wetlands, rivers, estuaries and the open ocean.” SJSU’s scores in water-sensitive waste disposal and research — led primarily by Moss Landing Marine Laboratories — helped elevate the university high in the rankings.

“SJSU is truly transformative for students, faculty and staff, not only in the classroom but also for our communities and the environments we live in,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino, Jr., who, along with SJSU’s Office of Institutional Research, led the charge in submission of materials for the ranking. 

“This ranking is a testament to the partnerships we continue to foster and grow and the impact we are leaving behind for not only this generation, but future generations as well.”

San José State finished in the top 15 in the U.S. in Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and top 25 in Sustainable Cities and Communities. Among participants worldwide, SJSU was in the top 200 in both categories.

According to THE, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions focused on “universities’ research on law and international relations, their participation as advisers for government and their policies on academic freedom.” 

SJSU’s university governance measures and work with local, state and national governments played a role in the top 15 U.S. ranking.

Sustainable Cities and Communities, according to THE, highlights the “interaction between universities and their communities, urban and rural” and how higher education institutions must “act as custodians of heritage and environment in their communities, a sustainable community must have access to its history and culture in order to thrive.” 

SJSU’s expenditures and support in the arts and heritage were the strongest factors in the ranking.

This is the first major ranking for SJSU in 2021. Last year, SJSU was named the #1 Most Transformative University by Money magazine based on the magazine’s exclusive value-added scores for graduation rates, post-graduation earnings and student loan repayment.

New SJSU Performance “Alone Together” Explores Life During the COVID-Era at the Hammer Theatre April 24

When Elisha Miranda, chair of San José State’s Film and Theatre Department, saw Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Kirsten Brandt at the Hammer Theatre Center for the first time in more than a year, she felt like crying. Though they had collaborated closely on many creative projects over the past year, they had yet to work together face-to-face. 

They came together in person in March 2021 to collaborate on “Alone Together,” a series of plays and monologues written during and about the pandemic. The production is the department’s first in-person performance on the Hammer stage, which will be performed by SJSU actors and livestreamed by Film and Theatre Lecturer Christine Guzzetta, ’86 Radio, Television, Video and Film (RTVF). 

“COVID is a universal issue, though it has impacted different communities in different ways,” said Miranda, who is the show’s co-producer with Barnaby Dallas, SJSU’s director of production for film and theatre.

“Even with our students in “Alone Together,” COVID has become the universal fulcrum that ties us all together and makes us stronger storytellers, more accountable educators and artists.” 

"Alone Together" at the Hammer Theater.

SJSU students rehearse “Alone Together” on the Hammer Theatre Center stage. Photo by Oluchi Nwokocha.

Film and Theatre Lecturer Oluchi Nwokocha, ’12 Theatre Arts, is directing the evening, which features eight short plays and monologues written by professional and distinguished playwrights who were commissioned by UC Santa Barbara’s LAUNCH PAD program in spring 2020: Jami Brandi, Anne García-Romero, Lynn Rosen, Enid Graham, Brian Otaño and Arlene Hutton.

“‘Alone Together’ deals with all the emotions that we have been going through during this time, either with our partners or with ourselves, friends or family,” said Nwokocha. 

“It’s very funny. I think it’s actually pretty cathartic.” 

“With so much death and so much decay happening in the world, knowing that we can create art out of this has been really important,” said Brandt, who is the play’s artistic director. 

Because the plays were written during the pandemic, stage directions recognize the need for actors to socially distance themselves on stage. Most of the pieces are performed by one or two actors to allow them to stay six feet apart. 

In addition, cast and crew are required to comply with strict COVID-19 protocols inside the theater. 

Performing pandemic challenges in real time

Nayeli Roman in "Alone Together"

Nayeli Roman is one of the SJSU students performing in “Alone Together” on April 24.

For Nayeli Roman, ’24 RTVF, “Alone Together” is her first time performing at the Hammer—and her first time performing beyond the confines of her computer screen in over a year. 

During her first semester at SJSU, she performed in “Betty’s Garage,” a radio play adapted by Miranda, and co-wrote a play inspired by folk tales that was produced remotely as part of Brandt’s fall show, “Mementos: Tales for a New Century.” The first time she approached the Hammer Theatre Center in person to buzz inside and rehearse, Roman filmed her entrance on her cell phone—it was that surreal, she recalled.

“All of our creativity is heightened because we are trying to recreate how we perform theater,” said Roman, who plays lead characters in two of the short plays. 

“It was wonderful to see how the sets were built, how our director Oluchi has directed our movements. It almost feels like we’re not doing it all on purpose to keep each other safe. After a year of not being able to perform in person, it reminded me of how much I love theater—the lighting, the excitement, the collaboration. It’s almost indescribable.”

The monologues and vignettes tackle the plight of essential workers, the anxiety and angst of living through a pandemic and even the humor of the unexpected. For example, in “Neither Here Nor There,” Roman plays Katie, an undergraduate in Florida who tries to catch up with her college roommate over Zoom and discovers just how different their lives are. 

The magic of “Alone Together,” Roman said, is the opportunity to inhabit characters who are living through many of the same experiences that she has as a college freshman making the most of school during a global pandemic. 

“‘Alone Together’ not only expresses how the pandemic has become a setback to society but how it is opening new doors to the future,” said Roman. 

“It is teaching us important lessons—reminding us not to take things for granted. This is the beginning of our new normal.”

“Alone Together” is being livestreamed from the Hammer at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 24. 

Tickets are free for students and $10 for general admission. 

To learn more, visit

President Papazian’s Update Regarding Independent Investigation Opened in December 2019 and Action Steps

Editor’s Note: The following message was sent to the campus community on Thursday, April 15. To view on the web, visit the SJSU FYI site.

Dear students, faculty and staff,

The safety and well-being of our community are of paramount importance at SJSU. These are obligations we owe to each and every one of our students. Unfortunately, we have not always lived up to those expectations.

As many of you know, in December 2019, I requested an external investigation into allegations of misconduct in 2009 by Scott Shaw, SJSU’s former director of sports medicine. Today, I am sharing the results of that investigation with you. The 2009 allegations of improper touching during physical therapy were substantiated, as were more recent allegations raised in the course of the investigation. The investigator concluded that the conduct at issue violated the university’s policies in effect at the time of the conduct. The investigation was conducted by an external attorney investigator and was supervised by the CSU Systemwide Title IX Compliance Officer. The findings are now final. More information about the findings can be found on the SJSU FYI site [pdf].

To the affected student-athletes and their families, I apologize for this breach of trust. I am determined that we will learn from the past and never repeat it. We all need answers to questions about the original 2009 investigation and whether the university properly responded to subsequent concerns about that process. A new investigation, described below, will help us identify issues that must be addressed and improvements that should be made. This new investigation will be conducted by an external investigator and overseen by Systemwide Human Resources in the Chancellor’s Office. We will not, however, wait for that process to conclude before taking action. To that end, we are taking the following steps effective immediately:

Accountability & Facts

  • The new investigation is underway to determine the adequacy of the 2009 investigation and whether the university properly responded to subsequent concerns about that original investigation. I encourage anyone with relevant information to share their concerns with the external investigator, Elizabeth V. McNulty, who can be reached directly at 949-399-5026.
  • Individuals with questions, concerns or reports about any Title IX issues (such as sexual misconduct or other discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender or gender identity) should contact Wendi Liss at 408-924-7289 or Jenny Harper at 408-924-7288 in the Title IX Office or

Policy & Staffing

  • The Athletics Department, in conjunction with the Student Health Center and the Title IX Office, is finalizing a new sports medicine chaperone policy, which will be implemented no later than Fall 2021.
  • We are adding resources to and restructuring the Title IX Office.
  • We are increasing confidential support resources, including a full-time campus survivor advocate, before the start of the fall semester.

Training & Education

  • We will enhance education and orientation programs focused on sexual assault prevention, reporting options, and resources for survivors, witnesses, and bystanders.
  • Education will be provided to student-athletes, practitioners, and chaperones to ensure all persons involved in medical, physical therapy, and training sessions share a common understanding of what is expected.

Culture & Communication

  • We are responding to findings related to Title IX from the 2020 Belong@SJSU campus climate survey, geared towards improving awareness of resources, reporting options and empowering our students to come forward.
  • We will initiate an awareness and information campaign to encourage our student-athletes, coaches, and staff in the Department of Athletics to use Spartan Speaks – SJSU Athletics’ anonymous reporting tool.
  • We will provide user-friendly access to information about student rights and resources.
  • We will communicate updates and next steps across campus and throughout the San José State community.

Accountability, action, and transparency are critical to rebuilding trust in the face of troubling events like these. You have my promise that as we go through this difficult process and move forward together, we will hold ourselves accountable, make necessary changes, and consistently share our progress with the SJSU community.

Mary A. Papazian, Ph.D.

Virtual Admitted Spartan Days Provide an In-Depth Preview of the SJSU Experience

Admitted Spartan Days

Admitted Spartan Days launches online on April 10.

While the pandemic has shifted much of the college search for prospective students online, San José State University has excelled at creating virtual experiences to showcase all that SJSU has to offer. Starting April 10, newly admitted students can choose from more than 100 virtual presentations and workshops to get the information they need to enroll in fall 2021. 

By making resources available online in both real time and pre-recorded videos, future Spartans can navigate the offerings at their own pace and determine if SJSU is the best fit for them. Cathy Hernandez, ’24 Software Engineering, attended the virtual Admitted Spartan Days in spring 2020—and the experience sealed the deal for the Los Angeles native.

“Everywhere else I applied, I had seen or visited in person,” said Hernandez. “But I realized that SJSU was a really solid option for me after I followed SJSU social media and attended the online Admitted Spartan activities. It was really nice attending all the online events with my parents in our living room.”

Hernandez signed up for virtual campus tours, Q&As with her college and department, and a few other informational sessions. An aspiring software engineer, Hernandez was impressed with the Charles Davidson College of Engineering’s offerings, as well as the benefit of the university’s location in the heart of Silicon Valley. 

She searched for fellow Spartans using the hashtag #SJSU on Instagram to find other engineering majors and ask student ambassadors questions about life on and off campus. By late spring, she was convinced that San José State was a good fit, even though her start at SJSU would be atypical due to the pandemic.

“I know this isn’t the college experience I had been anticipating, but I still feel like I am getting a good education, one where I enjoy learning,” said Hernandez.

This year’s Admitted Spartan Days virtual events will kick off with welcome sessions  from college deans and videos that introduce students to life at SJSU. The two-week event will continue with virtual tours, Zoom workshops and presentations. Additional webinars will highlight student success centers, athletics, university housing, financial aid and scholarships, career planning, student advising and more. 

To access the full list of virtual Admitted Spartan Days events, visit 

SJSU Looks Ahead to Fall Semester at Recent Adapt Town Halls

An infinity symbol with SJSU Adapt inside the inner circles

The recent town halls are part of the SJSU Adapt plan, a four-phase approach for the continuation of campus operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the past week, San José State outlined how the university plans to adapt to an expected increase of students, faculty and staff on campus in the fall. In December, the California State University announced an anticipated return to delivering courses primarily in person during the fall 2021 semester. 

The SJSU Adapt Town Halls on March 10 and March 16 featured short presentations by President Mary A. Papazian, Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino, Jr., and Dr. Barbara Fu, acting medical director of the Student Wellness Center, before shifting to a Q&A format. The Q&A featured questions submitted by attendees prior to the event as well as during the town hall.  

Most of the discussion was focused on fall 2021 courses and repopulation of campus for employees and students, with an emphasis on how the continued progression of the COVID-19 vaccination process plays a role in SJSU’s planning for the fall. 

“We live in a time of flux and fluidity, and we are doing the best we can to plan for fall while also understanding that a lot could change between now and August,” Del Casino said.

Del Casino added that he expects more face-to-face opportunities for learning in the fall while also remaining flexible for students who like learning in an online or hybrid environment. SJSU will continue to closely follow Santa Clara County and state of California public health guidelines as it finalizes the course schedule. 

Joanne Wright, senior associate vice president for University Personnel, said SJSU will not require the COVID-19 vaccination for students, faculty and staff. She added that departments will spend the coming weeks finalizing repopulation plans for employees. 

“Our mission is to educate our students, so as we repopulate, that will be foremost in our minds,” said Wright. “For individual units, the question will be: ‘How do we need to staff to best support our mission given that we anticipate a larger campus population for fall semester?’”

Wright added that some positions may continue telecommuting. SJSU currently has employees working on campus to support the limited on-campus population for the spring 2021 semester. 

To view the town halls in their entirety, visit the SJSU Adapt Town Halls page

Spartan Speaker Series to Focus on Racism, Mental Health, Gender and More, Kicks Off Feb. 10

This semester, the San José State community can take a deep dive into topics such as racism, activism, mental health, gender and identity. The Spring 2021 Spartan Speaker Series at SJSU kicks off virtually on Wednesday, Feb. 10, with comedian, host and producer Baratunde Thurston. The entire series is free and open to the public.

Baratunde Thurston
Deconstructing Racism with Baratunde Thurston

Thurston will give his talk, “How to Deconstruct Racism and Laugh at the Same Time,” at 7 p.m. via Zoom. An Emmy-nominated host who has worked for The Onion, produced for The Daily Show and even advised the Obama White House, Thurston is the author of the New York Times bestseller “How to Be Black.” He’s also the executive producer and host of “We’re Having a Moment”—a podcast examining the intersection of the global pandemic, the fight for racial justice and the spotlight on policing in the U.S—as well as “How to Citizen with Baratunde,” which offers different perspectives on how to improve society collectively.

Student Affairs, who produces the series in collaboration with the César E. Chávez Community Action Center (CCCAC), received requests for speakers focusing on racial justice, journalism and the media. “Baratunde Thurston is a wonderful choice to represent these topics,” says Adrienne Jensen-Doray, assistant director of Student Involvement. “He addresses the social and political landscape in the U.S., as well as trauma and healing. He also provides perspectives on life as an entrepreneur and a podcaster—two topics of interest to many of our students.”

When planning the series as a whole, Jensen-Doray says themes such as “racial justice and mental health and wellness were critical, given the needs and interest of our students and current events. We also considered heritage months, such as Black History Month, Women Herstory Month and Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month.”

Thurston will conclude his presentation with a Q&A.

Alok Menon

Exploring Gender and Identity with ALOK

Later in the month, Alok Vaid-Menon (ALOK) will serve as the keynote speaker for the 15th anniversary of the CCCAC. In “Beyond the Binary,” on Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m., ALOK, a gender non-conforming writer, performance artist and mixed-media artist, will explore themes of gender, race, trauma and belonging. They are the author of “Femme in Public” and “Beyond the Gender Binary.” In 2019, they were honored as one of NBC’s Pride 50 and Out Magazine’s OUT 100.

Since its inception in 2006, the CCCAC has sought to connect SJSU students with civic engagement opportunities that deepen educational experience while promoting a lifelong commitment to activism and social justice, which are at the heart of the legacy of César Chávez.

“As we move into thinking about the next 15 years for the CCCAC and the world, it’s important we bring a keynote speaker that represents a community not often given the platform to influence the next generation of social justice leaders,” explains Diana Victa, department manager of the CCCAC. “ALOK is the best fit because of their leadership in spreading awareness of gender identities, specifically gender non-conforming folx.”

Thea Monyee

Bridging Mental Health and Activism with Thea Monyee

The CCCAC will also present the “A Conversation with Thea Monyee: Sustaining Joy in the Midst of Social Change: Bridging Mental Health and Activism,” on Tuesday, March 2, at 3 p.m. Monyee, a poet and marriage and family therapist, self identifies as a “Black Woman Creative.” She has appeared on HBO, BET, Spectrum, OWN, Fox Soul and TV One, and her work stems from her commitment to healing, which she believes can only occur in a liberated and non-oppressive society.

“It was very important to us to address mental health this semester,” says Jensen-Doray. “Monyee does this through an activist lens, which we hope will resonate with students.”

Simon Tam

Making Trouble with Simon Tam

Finally, the series will conclude on Wednesday, April 14, at 7 p.m. with a talk by Simon Tam. In “Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court,” Tam will share how he helped expand civil liberties for minorities through the unanimous victory of the U.S. Supreme Court case, Matal v. Tam, in 2017. “He offers a unique perspective on identity and justice, as well as the intersection of arts and activism,” says Jensen-Doray.

Tam is the founder and bassist of The Slants, an all-Asian American dance rock band. He also leads the nonprofit The Slants Foundation, which supports arts and activism projects for underrepresented communities. Tam’s talk will include a musical performance, and he will take questions from participants after his talk.

Attendees of any of the talks should register ahead of time in order to receive a Zoom link.

“I hope those who attend multiple events in this series notice the commonalities and prevalence of specific advice—whether it is about forging your own path, building resilience or mentorship and the role mentors have played in our speakers’ lives,” says Jensen-Doray.

She also adds that Student Involvement seeks input from SJSU students, faculty and staff to identify pertinent themes and speakers-of-interest for the 2021-2022 series. Those interested can provide feedback here.