New “21@2021” Virtual Exhibit Elevates an Ancient Chinese Artform to a New Realm

21@2021 Virtual Exhibit

What do the ancient art of Chinese brush painting and virtual reality have in common? Hint: It’s not their age.

SJSU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Library’s new “21@2021” virtual exhibit showcases the more than 6,000-year-old art of Chinese painting done on colorful lanterns — including a virtual reality (VR) experience that puts guests literally in touch with the artwork — in celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month.

As one of the oldest styles of painting in the world, Chinese brush painting is considered a living art. Its themes typically reflect serenity and peace and easily lend themselves to contemporary execution for modern day artists and enthusiasts.

The exhibition highlights the artwork of three generations of the Chan Lim family, who have been pioneering new media, styles and techniques that integrate Western art with the Chinese brush style in the United States and around the world for more than half a century.

Unlike Western brushes, the Chinese brush features a handle made of bamboo and topped with animal hair used for making meticulous strokes on rice paper — which is also very difficult to correct if mistakes are made. The finished works are then stretched and mounted on thicker paper to make them stronger and often attached to scrolls, or in this case lanterns, for hanging.

The driving force behind “21@2021” is Lucas College and Graduate School of Business faculty member Bobbi Makani-Lim, PhD, who contributed to and curated the exhibit along with her husband Felix Chan Lim, PhD, a faculty member of Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Program who works in the Silicon Valley semiconductor industry. The pair also co-teach a course about the tradition of Chinese brush painting at Stanford.

Art binds the family together

As Makani-Lim describes, it is a common language among them: “When you talk about Chinese brush painting, everyone understands this is what we do as a family.”

Pre-COVID-19, the family would put on exhibits of their work around the world, including Japan, Taiwan, Philippines and China; in shopping malls in Asia, thousands would attend to view the 300-400 works of art in a given show. The Chan Lim family currently has artworks on exhibit at the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.

They held their first art exhibition at San José State in 2018. In addition to the Chinese brush, they displayed oil and acrylic paintings, Chinese fans as well as ceramics. The show was so well received, they decided to return for the 20th anniversary of the Chan Lim family’s artistic collaborations in 2020, but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The family had already begun shipping lanterns from overseas to contribute to what had originally been planned as an in-person exhibit. They pivoted quickly and came up with a new gameplan: a digital experience that would include a virtual reality component.

“The digital format allows our guests to have a feeling of being in a natural exhibit, and if they have VR goggles, they can go in and actually play with some of the lanterns,” said Makani-Lim.

“VR isn’t just for gaming, it can be for art exhibits,” too, she added.

Taking art to the next level

For the King Library, “It is the first example of an interactive VR experience,” says Lesley Seacrist, the library’s ‎project and communications manager. “That means multiple users can be in the same room at the same time and can interact with each other. It’s like being in an actual museum.”

All visitors can enter seven different themed “rooms” and use their keyboard to navigate around and view the hanging lanterns and paintings on the virtual walls. There are also slide shows that play in the background that describe the themes and their popularity in Chinese painting.

More than 500 hours of human and computer time went into creating the virtual reality piece, including setting the scenes, rendering the lanterns, and developing digital galleries for the artwork, according to Jon Oakes, the library’s technology labs coordinator. They had to take photos and videos of the more than 70 lanterns to capture every angle, horizontal and vertical, over several weeks.

With VR goggles, guests can reach out and touch the lanterns, a feature that would not normally be possible in a physical environment because of their delicate nature.

Sharing culture and tradition

It’s been over a year since students, faculty, staff and community members have been able to freely wander the halls of the King Library’s fifth floor, where “21@2021” would have been held.

The fifth floor is also where the Africana, Asian American, Chicano, and Native American Studies Center’s (AAACNA) collections of art, artifacts, books, resources and other documents of cultural heritage are housed. Among the goals of the center is to provide a gathering space for SJSU and community members that promotes and supports programming that celebrates historically underrepresented groups.

“We are bringing a very traditional art into a very modern sort of space,” said Kathryn Blackmer Reyes, librarian and director of the AAACNA center and curator of its multifaceted collections. To her, it’s an exciting space — a gallery of art and culture — with a lot of room and potential for creativity and technology to come together.

“I think what’s so beautiful is that we are exhibiting this very traditional art with contemporary artists, and to bring it to students and communities who don’t necessarily know [Chinese brush painting], it’s exciting that we are incorporating people into the art in a very innovative format,” she added.

Ultimately, postponing the exhibit brought the opportunity to reimagine how visitors can experience the art into a new realm of virtual reality — one that allows them to experience art in a tangible way again, interacting with others while remaining in the comfort of their own spaces.

“We’re hoping we’re able to reach different generations and help them get that feeling that this art is thousands of years old,” said Makani-Lim. “We’ve got to keep it going, so it doesn’t end up like another one of those things that you just read about but no longer exists,” she added.

“Usually for younger generations, Chinese painting is not something that they like to do, but because you’re adding technology, now you’re doing something different, enticing them to look at the art another way,” said Lim.

Learn more and view the “21@2021″ virtual exhibit, including a recording of a recent special talk about Chinese culture and brush painting, and demonstrations from exhibition artists and of the virtual reality experience.
 

SJSU Joins National Alliance to Redesign the Future of Higher Education

Student-designed innovations will be rapidly tested and scaled to address access, engagement and equity gaps in higher ed

San José State University has joined five other colleges and universities, hundreds of high schools, and community partners to launch REP4 (Rapid Education Prototyping) – a national initiative to change the future of education. Unique to the alliance, students will take the lead conducting “Rapid Education Prototyping” to address the urgent challenges of access to education and fully deliver on higher education’s promise of social and economic mobility.

“Educating a diverse student population for professional success and civic engagement is part of our core mission at San José State, and the REP4 initiative is well-aligned with that goal,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. “Our participation in REP4, we believe, will help us strengthen existing efforts and build new approaches that will empower our students to design a learning framework that suits their individual needs and create a climate where all students feel a sense of belonging.”

The REP4 name underscores how student-led Rapid Education Prototyping will engage the voices of learners to design innovative, actionable solutions for pressing challenges. Learners will co-design education prototypes, and the best ideas will be scaled nationwide through the alliance to maximize impact.

American Council of Education (ACE) President Ted Mitchell called the alliance’s approach unique and exciting.“Flipping the model from learners simply giving feedback to learners being designers of education is a truly innovative idea,” Mitchell said. “It’s unprecedented to engage learners directly in the designing experience, and REP4 can serve as a model for higher education nationwide.”

Tackling the crisis in education

The REP4 alliance formed as a response to a growing number of challenges facing higher education: low completion rates, lack of access, and persistent racial gaps across nearly all measures.

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, citing a 2016 Pell Institute study, the country has struggled to close a persistent gap related to income and degree attainment. From the study: among students in the bottom socioeconomic quartile, 15 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree within eight years of their expected high school graduation, compared with 22 percent in the second quartile, 37 percent in the third quartile, and 60 percent in the top quartile.

COVID-19 has further exacerbated the crisis in education. A December 2020 McKinsey & Company study estimated that “students of color could be six to 12 months behind, compared with four to eight months for white students. While all students are suffering, those who came into the pandemic with the fewest academic opportunities are on track to exit with the greatest learning loss.”

By employing this innovative approach of allowing learners to design solutions, REP4 will focus on improving outcomes and eliminating these barriers.

“As we look to the future of higher education, it is critical that we center the voices and priorities of students who are from communities that have historically been marginalized,” said Connie L. Lurie College of Education Dean Heather Lattimer. “If we re-design to value and build on the experiences and strengths that they bring, we will create universities that better serve all students and communities.”

First prototype

Grand Valley State University designed and held the first prototype last summer and has implemented two ideas from the Learner Engagement Challenge. “We are inspired by young learners with keen perspectives on what their future can be,” said Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella. “These learners gave us ideas that will play a key role as we lead the national conversation on a new vision for education. Their insights will help us create a model for an education system designed for learners by learners.”

Each of the six founding partners will hold its own regional summit for REP4, with Grand Valley State University hosting the national convening  August 4 – 5, 2021.

Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Development Ellen Middaugh at the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, an expert in youth civic engagement, will help design and implement SJSU’s REP4 summit. “Transformative change requires imagination,” said Middaugh. “This is something adolescents and young adults are great at — creative thinking and imagining a better future. Our Child and Adolescent Master’s students recognize this and will serve as youth-centered facilitators to create a space for our high school, community college, and SJSU undergraduates to dream big and grapple with what it would take to bring their ideas to life.”

The six founding colleges and universities in the alliance collectively serve more than 100,000 students. The founding partners are San José State University; Amarillo College; Boise State University; Fort Valley State University; and Shippensburg University. Grand Valley State University is the organizer and convener of the REP4 alliance.

Microsoft will participate in the REP4 summit to support the alliance in reimagining student-centered experiences, consistent with its recent whitepaper on student-centered learning in higher education. Microsoft will help shape how technology, particularly data and AI, can empower personalized and inclusive learning experiences.

The alliance is intended to grow over time, and other institutions are invited to become involved with REP4. Visit rep4.org for more information.

Two SJSU Students Win at CSU-Wide Research Competitions

Lupe Franco and Muhammad Khan

(From L-R): Lupe Franco, ’21 MS Environmental Studies, received the Audience Choice Award at the CSU Grad Slam. Muhammad Khan, ’22 Biological Sciences, won first place in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences Undergraduate category at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition.

Turning months — even years — of in-depth research into a concise, engaging presentation isn’t easy. Yet two San José State students were triumphant at two recent California State University system-wide competitions that required them to do just that.

Lupe Franco, ‘21 MS Environmental Studies, received the Audience Choice Award at the first-ever CSU Grad Slam on May 6, which was hosted by San José State.

Her research analyzed how California cities and counties are considering homeless populations in their plans to address the effects of climate change. Franco placed first in the SJSU Grad Slam, held April 29 during the university’s annual Celebration of Research event.

Muhammad Khan, ‘22 Biological Sciences, earned first place in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences Undergraduate category at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition — hosted by Cal Poly Pomona on April 30 and May 1. Khan presented his research on population control of a mosquito known for spreading diseases such as Zika, Dengue fever and yellow fever.

In the CSU Grad Slam competition, graduate students condensed the theses of their research projects into three-minute presentations to be understandable by a lay audience. Prizes are awarded based on the success of their presentation, and the Audience Choice Award is selected live by the attendees of the event.

At the CSU Student Research Competition, both graduate and undergraduate students present their research through pre-recorded videos followed by a live Q&A with a jury and an audience. The event is held to recognize outstanding accomplishments from students throughout the CSU system.

Giving a voice to a vulnerable population

In her presentation (shown here at the SJSU Grad Slam), Franco included a painting by student artist Gina Geissinger of Greg Tarola, a homeless man who died on the streets of Sacramento.

Franco began her presentation with the story of Greg Tarola, a homeless man who was found dead on the Sacramento streets in November. It was 37 degrees Fahrenheit the morning he was found, and his blankets were wet from the previous night’s rain.

What’s more, Tarola had told CapRadio News just days before that he had never heard of warming stations in Sacramento.

“This is the reality for over 150,000 Californians who are experiencing houselessness, of which 68 percent are considered unsheltered,” Franco said in her presentation.

“This danger is only going to increase as climate change brings California more frequent and intense weather events, such as heat waves and floodings.”

Franco analyzed 15 climate action plans from cities and counties in California with the largest unhoused populations to understand how they were considering that demographic in their strategies to address climate change.

Her findings? No jurisdictions had met with unhoused populations before developing their plans.

“This is what researchers call the power of representation dilemma, meaning that as outsiders, planners can only make assumptions of what the community faces, which leads to the development of strategies that do not accurately reflect what the local needs are,” she explained.

Franco’s research provided an analysis of the 15 plans, and she provided a list of recommendations that the cities and counties can consider as they continue to update their plans, such as “requiring planners to have on-the-ground training with local organizations in their jurisdictions, so they can learn about important street-level issues.”

Costanza Rampini, assistant professor of environmental studies and Franco’s thesis advisor, said that Franco is tackling issues most people see as completely separate.

“Her work speaks to people’s desire for better solutions, for better systems, for better communities,” she said. “Lupe is a fantastic researcher and asks all the right questions.”

Marc d’Alarcao, dean of the College of Graduate Studies, agreed.

“Lupe effectively engaged the audience by presenting her work through the lens of the tragic story of an unhoused man in Sacramento who suffered because the policies that could have helped him were not designed with his circumstances in mind,” he said.

Franco plans to continue her research and interview unhoused individuals to better understand their needs as she pursues a PhD in geography from UC Davis. She’s hopeful her research can make an impact on local communities.

“With these findings and recommendations, my research can spark the initial conversation about creating equitable and just strategies that give unhoused individuals a voice and access to critical resources,” she noted. “This is what Greg Tarola deserved.”

Watch the full CSU Grad Slam event, including Franco’s presentation, here.

A new approach to mitigating disease spread

Muhammad Khan research presentation

Khan’s research explores population control of the Aedes aegypti mosquito through mutagenesis and recombinant expression.

Khan researched mutagenesis and recombinant expression in the Aedes aegypti mosquito — known for spreading potentially lethal diseases like Zika, Dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya — in hopes of providing a safe, new approach to control their population.

“Studying the midgut digestive enzymes of the Aedes aegypti mosquito is important locally and nationally because simulated models based on current climate data predict the expansion of mosquito ecological niches in the near future,” Khan said in his presentation.

He noted one study that estimates 390 million Dengue fever infections every year, while another found that 3.9 billion people worldwide are at risk of the disease. Current control strategies for mosquito larvae and adults include pesticides and biocides. But Khan said most of these treatments can have devastating effects on the environment.

Khan began his research through FIRES, the Freshmen Initiative: Research to Engage Students program sponsored by the W.M. Keck Foundation and led by a team of SJSU chemistry professors.

“We are very pleased to see Muhammad Khan winning a first place award at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition,” said Mohamed Abousalem, vice president for research and innovation at SJSU.

“This is a great achievement and a testament to his capabilities and the sound guidance he received from his faculty mentor, Dr. Alberto Rascón, Jr. We hope that Muhammad will be encouraged by this recognition to embrace research as a way of thinking and doing throughout his career.”

Learn more about Khan’s research here.

James Nguyen contributed to this story.

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.

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.

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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.”

Celebration of Research Event Honors Investigators, Highlights Creativity

Ellen Middaugh

Ellen Middaugh, assistant professor of child and adolescent development, is one of this year’s winners of the SJSU Early Career Investigator Award. Her work was honored at the Celebration of Research on April 29.

Thomas Madura studies the lives of massive stars — from how they’re born to how they die a giant, explosive death.

He also investigates ways to teach young blind or visually impaired students about astronomy, which Madura, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at San José State, says is usually thought of as a “visual science.” By 3D printing models of nebulae, planets, star clusters and the like, Madura’s work lets those students hold pieces of the galaxies in their hands.

Madura was one of two faculty awarded the prestigious SJSU Early Career Investigator Award (ECIA) for his work at the university’s annual Celebration of Research, hosted virtually by the Division of Research and Innovation on April 29. The ECIA recognizes tenure-track faculty members who have excelled in research, scholarship and creative activity at an early point in their careers.

The Celebration of Research, which drew more than 400 attendees, honored both students and faculty for research, innovation and creative activities. In between awards and recognitions, the event also featured artistic performances and accomplishments.

Ellen Middaugh, assistant professor of child and adolescent development, also received the ECIA award for her work on youth civic engagement — particularly on how to teach social media and Internet skills to those aged 15 to 25.

The goal of Middaugh’s work is to create informed, empowered and ethical civic engagement among adolescents and young adults, “so that people really understand the issues that affect them, they feel that they can have a voice, and they’re mindful of how their words and sharing of information impact other people,” she said.

The event also recognized the work of the two ECIA recipients from 2019, who would have been honored during last year’s Celebration of Research had the event not been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kim Blisniuk, associate professor of geology and 2019 ECIA recipient, was celebrated for her work investigating how landscapes change overtime from earthquakes and climate change.

Also a 2019 ECIA recipient, Yue “Wilson” Yuan, assistant professor of justice studies, was honored for his research studying the origins of fear of crime and how individuals and communities — Asian and Latino, in particular — react to criminal victimization.

The program also featured a special highlight of the “Teeter-Totter Wall” design project, created by Virginia San Fratello, the chair of the Department of Design, and UC Berkeley professor Ronald Rael. Earlier this year, San Fratello was presented with the prestigious Beazley Design of the Year award for her creativity, which brought together people at the U.S.-Mexico border on bright pink seesaws and received international recognition.

Guadalupe Franco, a student in the MS Environmental Studies program, won first place in the SJSU Grad Slam. She presented her three-minute thesis presentation on tackling homelessness and climate change.

Recognizing student research and creative activities

SJSU students took part in two research-based competitions — the 2021 SJSU Grad Slam and the SJSU Student Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA) Competition — for which the winners were announced at the event.

In a Grad Slam competition, graduate students condense the theses of their research projects into engaging, three-minute presentations — which must be understandable by a lay audience. Prizes are awarded based on the success of their presentations.

Guadalupe Franco, in the MS Environmental Studies program, received first place for her thesis, “Wicked Problems: Understanding How Cities and Counties in California are Tackling Climate Change and Homelessness.”

Second place went to Remie Gail Mandawe, who is in the Physiology master’s program, for “Targeting the Source of our Sixth Sense Using Blue Light.”

Celebration of Research attendees voted live for the recipient of the People’s Choice Award. They selected Holt Hanley, who is in the Meteorology master’s program, for his thesis “Estimating the Key Drivers of Wildfire Using Artificial Neural Networks.”

Both Franco and Mandawe will represent SJSU at the CSU Grad Slam on May 6 — the first system-wide competition, which San José State will host.

The eight RSCA Competition finalists — Aeowynn Coakley, Muhammad Khan, Terri Lee, Tomasz Lewicki, Victor Lui, Alaysia Palmer, Nicholas Roubineau and Hung Tong — went on to compete in the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition, held virtually on April 30 and May 1.

Khan, ’22 Biological Sciences, won first place in Biological and Agricultural Sciences – Undergraduate category at the state-wide event for his research, “Mutagenesis and Recombinant Expression of Aedes aegypti Serine Protease I (AaSPI), a possible N-Terminal Nucleophile (Ntn) Hydrolase.”

The SJSU Choraliers gave a socially distanced performance.

Amid the honors and recognition, the ceremony elevated artistic feats. Directed by Jeffrey Benson and featuring Vocal Performance major Daniel Rios, the SJSU Choraliers performed a socially distanced rendition of “I’ll Be On My Way” by Shawn Kirchner.

Spartan Film Studios showed their short film “Breakfast,” based on the short story by John Steinbeck and made in large part by SJSU students. The film has been accepted into the Beverly Hills International Film Festival.

The pathway to transformation

In 2019, Mohamed Abousalem joined San José State as the inaugural vice president of research and innovation with a goal: to realize the university’s potential for growth and increased societal impact through research. The Celebration of Research highlighted accomplishments in achieving that goal.

“No wonder San José State University is ranked the #1 Most Transformative University in the nation,” Abousalem said.

“Through the great research work that our faculty and students do, we are able to contribute to solving today’s problems and mitigate tomorrow’s challenges, alongside our industry and community partners.

“Public impact is the primary goal for the San José State University research enterprise,” he continued. “We are focused on bringing real value to our local and global communities, while supporting the scholarly careers of our faculty and providing our students with unique experiential learning.”

SJSU President Mary Papazian noted that when the university developed its Transformation 2030 Strategic Plan, leadership “quickly realized that research was a strategic growth area for the university.”

For example, one of the goals within the plan is to Excel and Lead.

“One of the ways we do that is by engaging students through faculty-mentored research, scholarship and creative activities,” Papazian explained. “Another one of our Transformation 2030 goals is to Connect and Contribute. And indeed, our research aligns with this goal.

“Our research and innovation brings value to our communities by contributing to an improved overall quality of life and by fueling economic growth. This will become even more critical as the state and regional economy emerges from this pandemic.”

Those who missed the event or want to catch it again will soon be able to access a recording on the Division of Research and Innovation website.

Computer Engineering Faculty Receives NSF Grant to Protect Biometric Data

Nima Karimian, assistant professor of computer engineering

Nima Karimian, assistant professor of computer engineering, recently received a National Science Foundation grant to better understand how to protect biometric data. Photo courtesy of Nima Karimian.

When your password on an account is compromised, you change it. But what happens when your password is your fingerprint?

Facial recognition, fingerprint Touch ID, iris scanning and even voice commands to Alexa or Siri are all examples of technology that use our biometric data to access personal information. Nima Karimian, assistant professor of computer engineering at San José State, recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to better understand how to keep that data as safe as possible.

Karimian was awarded $175,000 from the NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Research Initiation Initiative (CRII) to strengthen biometric security systems, particularly from breaches known as side-channel attacks. Those infiltrations rely on details gathered when a system is designed and implemented — like the amount of time it may take a user to enter a password.

The NSF CISE award supports research among early-career faculty who are in their first three years in an academic position after earning their PhD. The CRII program provides resources to help early-career primary investigators launch a career in research.

Karimian said that biometric data will be used in many ways in the future to “make everyday tasks more efficient and comfortable.” Think bank account access, airport security, border identity checkpoints, patient authentication in health care settings and more.

“At the same time, sharing biometric data may introduce theft, privacy threats and illegal access to confidential information,” he explained.

“For instance, if your fingerprint or face biometric data is compromised by an adversary, it could be reused to gain unauthorized access to a system or even duplicate the biometric data to hack into victims’ devices or accounts.”

While side-channel attacks are well understood in other contexts, Karimian argues they’ve been understudied in systems that use biometric data. His research project, “Physical Side-Channel Attacks in Biometric Systems,” will develop metrics, deep-learning algorithms, protocols and tools for physical side-channel attacks and countermeasures in biometric systems.

“Receiving this prestigious award is a great honor for me,” Karimian said. “This grant allows me to launch my independent research here at SJSU and to start new research directions developing secure biometric systems that can protect citizens’ privacy.

Karimian added that he hopes the grant will allow him to support both graduate and undergraduate students from underrepresented groups.

“Dr. Karimian’s grant is right in line with the Davidson College of Engineering’s objectives to conduct research that addresses important societal needs,” noted Sheryl H. Ehrman, the Don Beall Dean of the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering.

“In the case of this project, our college will play a part in advancing hardware security, with the potential for significant global impact based upon the increasing use of biometric data.”

Karimian emphasized that “biometric data is part of your identity, which represents the entire you and can never be changed. When a password is compromised, it can be changed, but you can’t change your identity if the same scenario happens with biometric data.”

“Hence, it is important to find the vulnerabilities of biometric technologies and protect them from being hacked and leaked.”

To learn more about Karimian’s work, visit nimakarimian.com.

SJSU FAQ Update Regarding Athletics Department and Investigations

Editor’s Note: The following frequently asked questions (FAQ) is also available on the SJSU FYI site.

2009-10 INVESTIGATION: FORMER DIRECTOR OF SPORTS MEDICINE, SCOTT SHAW, AND THE SJSU ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT

Q: What do we know about the 2009-2010 investigation into the former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw?

A: The following timeline reflects our current understanding.

December 2009: SJSU Women’s Head Swimming and Diving Coach Sage Hopkins reported to SJSU administrators that students on his team had reported to him that during physical therapy sessions [then] SJSU Head Athletic Trainer Scott Shaw sometimes touched their breasts (under the bra) when treating shoulder injuries and/or touched their bikini line when treating back or hip injuries.

December 2009: Coach Hopkins reported what he learned to his supervisor, Jody Smith, assistant athletics director for events and facilities, and to Athletics Director Tom Bowen.

December 2009: Tom Bowen requested Sage Hopkins report the facts to Arthur Dunklin, SJSU’s equal opportunity manager.

December 2009: Arthur Dunklin, SJSU’s equal opportunity manager, initiated an internal investigation. The investigation included interviews with 14 female student-athletes, one male student-athlete, two SJSU trainers, and Scott Shaw.

December 2009: The SJSU Police Department received a report regarding inappropriate touching during physical therapy sessions by then SJSU Head Athletic Trainer Scott Shaw and conducted interviews regarding the allegations. No charges were filed against Scott Shaw.

May 2010: Arthur Dunklin, SJSU’s equal opportunity manager, concluded the investigation. The investigation found no violation of university policy because the alleged improper touching was determined by Arthur Dunklin to be a form of pressure or trigger point therapy which is “a bona fide” means of treating muscle injury.

TIMELINE REGARDING PRESIDENT PAPAZIAN’S ACTIONS REGARDING FORMER DIRECTOR OF SPORTS MEDICINE, SCOTT SHAW, AND THE SJSU ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT 

Q: When did President Papazian hear about the 2009 allegations involving former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw?

A: In December of 2019, President Papazian learned of a nearly 300-page packet of emails and notes that was circulated to the NCAA and Mountain West Conference by an SJSU coach concerning alleged misconduct by Shaw in 2009. Although President Papazian had been told in 2016 by Human Resources that the allegations had been investigated and not substantiated, she had many unanswered questions, so she promptly reopened the matter. In January, SJSU hired an independent investigator, and President Papazian asked the California State University systemwide Title IX Coordinator to oversee the investigation.

In connection with that investigation, President Papazian reviewed materials, including a 2016 email, that she had received her first week on campus from outgoing Interim SJSU President Sue Martin. Sue Martin’s email noted a variety of workplace employment concerns about the athletics department and referred to a complaint about Shaw that had been investigated years before. President Papazian did not recall that reference to Shaw until she reviewed Martin’s 2016 email.

Q: What did President Papazian do in response to Sue Martin’s 2016 email about the athletics department?

A: In response to Interim SJSU President Sue Martin’s email describing the employee conduct and workplace concerns, President Papazian called for a review of the athletics department by Associate Vice President, Human Resources, Beth Pugliese. Beth Pugliese was the administrator responsible for responding to employee conduct and workplace concerns, and she conducted a climate review of the athletics department.

Q: What were the results of the climate review conducted by Associate Vice President, Human Resources, Beth Pugliese?

A: In 2017, following the conclusion of the climate review:

  • Athletics Director Gene Bleymaier’s five-year contract was set to conclude in June 2017. In February 2017 his management duties were reassigned to focus primarily on capital fundraising for the remainder of his time at SJSU.
  • The University offered training for coaches and athletics staff on a variety of topics including compliance, academics, unconscious bias, and Title IX. These trainings focused on improving climate and reporting on Title IX and general overall equity issues in athletics and within the athletics department.
  • 2017: The university conducted a national search for a new athletics director. The search was chaired by Annette Nellen, professor of accounting and finance, and long-term chair of the Athletics Board. Other members of the committee included Stefan Frazier, then associate professor of linguistics and language development, and vice chair of the SJSU Academic Senate; Walt Jacobs, dean of the College of Social Sciences; Jaye Bailey, then vice president for organizational development and chief of staff; Paul Lanning, then vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation board of directors; and Andy Feinstein, then provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
  • 2017: Marie Tuite served as interim athletics director from February 9, 2017 until May 17, 2017, when she was named as the new director of athletics.

Q: After the conclusion of the 2009-2010 investigation, Sage Hopkins continued to address concerns about Scott Shaw to multiple SJSU administrators. Why did it take 10 years to reopen the 2009-2010 investigation?

A: When the original 2009-2010 investigation concluded, in accordance with policy and privacy considerations, the complainant – a student-athlete at SJSU, the respondent – then SJSU Head Athletic Trainer Scott Shaw, and the administrators with a need to know, were informed of the findings. No appeals were filed.

To the best of SJSU’s current leadership’s knowledge, prior to 2019, neither Coach Hopkins nor any other person reported allegations of additional instances of inappropriate touching of student-athletes by the former Director of Sports Medicine, Scott Shaw. As the 2009-2010 investigation into the 2009 allegations was completed and closed, there was no additional investigation between 2009-2019.

PRESIDENT PAPAZIAN LAUNCHES 2019 EXTERNAL INVESTIGATION INTO FORMER DIRECTOR OF SPORTS MEDICINE, SCOTT SHAW

Q: Why did President Papazian reopen the investigation into the former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw?

A: From 2009 to 2019, during the tenures of five SJSU presidents and three directors of athletics, the 2009-2010 investigation into the former Director of Sports Medicine, Scott Shaw, which had been concluded consistent with university policy and process, therefore remained closed.

It was not until December 2019 that President Papazian understood there were concerns that the previous investigation may have been inadequate. For that reason, President Papazian launched a new external investigation into the allegations that former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw had inappropriately touched student-athletes during physical therapy.

Q: Who conducted the 2019 external investigation into the former Director of Sports Medicine, Scott Shaw?

A: The 2019 external investigation into the former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw was conducted by an external attorney investigator Marilou Mirkovich and was supervised by the CSU Systemwide Title IX Compliance Officer Linda Hoos.

Q: What did SJSU learn from the 2019 external investigation into former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw?

A: The 2019 external investigation into former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw disagreed with the original investigation’s findings that the touching was consistent with “bona fide” physical therapy techniques, and validated the allegations made by the original complainant, a student-athlete at SJSU in 2009.

The 2019 external investigation also substantiated claims made by 10 other student-athletes, nearly all of whom have graduated, alleging inappropriate touching by the former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw.

The 10 complainants in the 2019 external investigation included seven student-athletes who had been interviewed in the 2009-2010 investigation and three other student-athletes who came forward for the first time with similar allegations during the 2019 process.

The 2019 external investigator concluded that the conduct violated the university’s policies in effect at the time of the conduct at issue. The findings are now final.

Q: Where are the findings of the 2019 external investigation into the former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw and how can I review them? 

A: A summary of the findings for the 2019 external investigation is available on the SJSU FYI site.

Q: Does the university plan to release the full results of its 2019 investigation into the Shaw allegations?

A: A summary of the findings of the 2019 external investigation is available on the SJSU FYI site. Given the very personal and private subject matter of the reports involving students, the university does not intend to voluntarily release the findings in their entirety.

Q: Knowing what SJSU knows now, would Scott Shaw be terminated if he was still an employee?

A: Yes.

STUDENT SAFETY AND TITLE IX REPORTING

Q: What is SJSU doing to help students stay safe and report Title IX violations?

A:  In response to the findings of the 2019 external investigation, the campus is enacting many changes immediately or no later than the start of the Fall 2021 semester, including, but not limited to:

Accountability & Facts

  • An external Title IX Procedural Response Investigation is underway to determine the adequacy of the 2009-2010 investigation and how the university responded to the findings.
  • Anyone with relevant information is encouraged to share their concerns with the external investigator, Elizabeth V. McNulty, who can be reached directly at 949-399-5026.
  • Individuals with Title IX questions, concerns and a need to report a Title IX violation (such as sexual misconduct or other discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender or gender identity) should contact the Title IX Office at 408-924-7290 or titleix@sjsu.edu.

 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 the start of the Fall 2021 semester.
  • SJSU is adding resources to and restructuring the Title IX Office.
  • SJSU is increasing confidential support resources, including a full-time campus survivor advocate, before the start of the Fall 2021 semester.

Training & Education

  • SJSU 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

  • SJSU is 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 students to come forward.
  • SJSU is initiating an awareness and information campaign to encourage student-athletes, coaches, and staff in the Athletics Department to use Spartan Speaks, SJSU Athletics’ anonymous reporting tool.
  • SJSU is providing user-friendly access to information about student rights and resources.
  • SJSU will communicate updates and next steps across campus and throughout the San José State community.

Q: What should individuals with Title IX questions, concerns or a need to report a Title IX violation do?

A: Individuals with Title IX questions, concerns or a need to report a Title IX violation (such as sexual misconduct or other discrimination or harassment based on sex, gender or gender identity) should contact the Title IX Office at 408-924-7290 or titleix@sjsu.edu.

EXTERNAL TITLE IX PROCEDURAL RESPONSE INVESTIGATION

Q: It was announced that there is an external Title IX Procedural Response Investigation. Why is there a new investigation?

A: We all need answers to questions about the original 2009-2010 investigation and how the university responded to the findings, which is why President Papazian launched the 2019 external investigation and has requested a further external Title IX Procedural Response Investigation. As a campus, we will learn from the past, so we never repeat it.

Q: What is the scope of the external Title IX Procedural Response Investigation?

A: The Title IX Procedural Response Investigation is underway to determine the adequacy of the 2009-2010 investigation and how the university responded to the findings and subsequent concerns about the original investigation.  

Q: How can I share information with the external Title IX Procedural Response Investigation?

A: Anyone with information relevant to the Title IX Procedural Response Investigation is encouraged to share their concerns with the external investigator, Elizabeth V. McNulty, who can be reached directly at 949-399-5026.

Q: Is there a timetable for the next phase of the external Title IX Procedural Response Investigation.

A: SJSU hopes that the investigation will conclude as soon as possible.  However, this is a complicated external investigation that may involve many witnesses which makes it very hard to estimate timetables.

Q: What is SJSU’s plan should the external Title IX Procedural Response Investigation conclude wrongdoing?

A: The university, President Papazian, and our community need answers to questions about the original 2009-2010 investigation and how the university responded to the findings and subsequent concerns, which is why President Papazian has requested a further external Title IX Procedural Response Investigation.

Appropriate action will be taken once we have the answers to these questions.

ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT LEADERSHIP UPDATES

Q: Was the decision for Ms. Tuite to step down from her role as athletics director a joint decision by Tuite and President Papazian or an executive decision by the president?

A: As mentioned in the university’s news release, President Mary Papazian 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. This was a decision that was agreed to by both parties.

Q: Will there be an interim athletic director? Are there any candidates being considered to fill Tuite’s former position?

A: 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.

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.

Q: Was the position of special director of external relations and capital project development newly created?

A: Periodically the university appoints executives to positions such as this. This reassignment allows Ms. Tuite to continue supporting the university’s mission through her fundraising efforts while participating in the investigations.

Q: Was the position created to keep Ms. Tuite in the athletics department?

A: Ms. Tuite’s role is not based in the athletics department.

Q: Was Ms. Tuite investigated as part of the 2019 external investigation regarding Scott Shaw?

A: No. The 2019 external investigation into the former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw was conducted by an external attorney investigator Marilou Mirkovich and was supervised by the CSU Systemwide Title IX Compliance Officer Linda Hoos.

That investigation focused primarily on the 2009-2010 investigation into Scott Shaw’s conduct and disagreed with the original investigation’s findings that the touching was consistent with “bona fide” physical therapy techniques, and validated the allegations made by the original complainant, a student-athlete at SJSU in 2009.

The 2019 external investigation also substantiated claims made by 10 other student-athletes, nearly all of whom have graduated, alleging inappropriate touching by the former Director of Sports Medicine Scott Shaw.

The Title IX Procedural Response Investigation is underway to determine the adequacy of the 2009-2010 investigation and how the university responded to the findings and subsequent concerns about the original investigation.

Q: How is the university responding to retaliation claims made by current or former employees?

A: The university does not typically comment on details of pending litigation or other complaints by or against employees (including complaints of retaliation).

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE INVESTIGATIONS

Q: It was reported that there is a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and/or Department of Justice Investigation (DOJ) involving SJSU. What is that investigation?

A: There are two federal investigations that the university is aware of. One is a criminal investigation into sexual misconduct and the other is a civil review of the university’s Title IX compliance.

SJSU is fully cooperating with all government investigations, and we encourage all members of our community to do so.

Q: How can I share information with federal investigators?

A: Anyone with relevant information regarding the government investigations are encouraged to share their information at community.sjsu@usdoj.gov.

Q: What is SJSU’s plan should the federal investigations conclude wrongdoing?

A: The federal government, the university, President Papazian, and our community need answers to allegations. Appropriate action will be taken by the university once we have the answers to these questions.

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.

Making an Impact on Earth Day and Beyond: A Conversation with Climate Scientist Eugene Cordero

Eugene Cordero and the Green Ninja

Eugene Cordero is a climate scientist and professor in the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science. He is also the founder and director of the Green Ninja Project, an educational initiative that supports teachers and students with digital media and curricula designed around climate science and solutions. Photo: David Schmitz

We’re big fans of Earth Day here at San José State. After all, the founder of the annual celebration is a Spartan. So we’re looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint on April 22 and beyond.

Eugene Cordero — SJSU professor of meteorology and climate science and fellow Earth advocate — has some great ideas for how we can all make a difference in protecting our environment. Whether it’s opting for chicken instead of carne asada on his burrito or choosing a bicycle as a primary mode of transportation, Cordero stresses that even the smallest changes can make a difference.

But there are ways to make a big impact, too, Cordero says — through the power of education.

Cordero’s research published last year found that students who enrolled in a university course that educated them on ways to reduce their carbon footprint adopted environmentally friendly practices that they kept for years down the line. Cordero is also the creator of Green Ninja, a comprehensive curriculum that uses solutions to environmental problems as a framework for teaching science and engineering to middle school students.

He wants to see education about protecting the environment more widely adopted — both at the university level and as early as middle school. We asked Cordero about the wider implications of his research and how we can all be Earth advocates — on Earth Day and beyond.

Last year, you published research that illustrated the impact universities can have on climate change through education. What surprised you most about your findings?

Eugene Cordero (EC): I was actually quite surprised to see how the course really had an impact on students, even many years later. The data that we collected and the stories we heard from alumni demonstrated that educational experiences, if well-designed, can have a lasting impact on students’ lives.

The study centered around one two-semester course at San José State, Global Climate Change I and II. What about this course sets itself apart?

EC: We identified three elements in the course that stood out as significant contributors to the lasting impact it had.

First, it made climate change personal, helping students understand how climate change was relevant to their personal and professional lives.

Second, it provided empowerment opportunities: Students developed projects where they created their own local solutions to climate change.

And third, it encouraged empathy for the environment — creating opportunities for students to observe and connect with living things.

The course also had a unique format as it was taught over a year (six units in the first semester, three units in the second) and used an interdisciplinary approach with three faculty from different departments team-teaching the course.

You have said it’s important to bring this type of education to a younger audience. What impact could that have?

EC: Our analysis suggests that this type of education, if scaled appropriately, could be as important in reducing carbon emissions as rooftop solar panels or electric vehicles. So for us, the big take-home message from this research is that climate-action plans need to include education as part of the strategies being used to reduce carbon emissions.

Are there other SJSU courses or programs you’d recommend for a student who wants to learn more about reducing their carbon footprint?

EC: SJSU has a lot of amazing courses where students can learn about the environment and what we can do to support a more sustainable world. These range from the courses we offer in our Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, to courses in Environmental Studies, Public Health and even Business. Students could take a look at this listing from our Office of Sustainability as a starting point.

Can you share about other ongoing or upcoming research?

EC: Our research program continues to look for innovative ways to educate and empower our youth in the area of climate and environmental solutions. We recently completed a study where students used data from their smartphone to coach drivers in their family towards more energy efficient driving behaviors, such as reducing driving speed and reducing the frequency of hard accelerations and hard brakes.

In the past, you’ve emphasized that our food choices can help reduce our carbon footprint. We love your example of the difference in carbon emissions when ordering chicken instead of beef in a burrito. Are there other ways the food we eat can make a difference?

EC: I think food choices are a great way to think about our personal carbon footprint since we have a lot of control over what we eat. We don’t always get the opportunity to purchase a new car or choose how to power our homes, but we typically get the chance to choose what we eat every day, and these choices can make a really large impact on our personal carbon footprint.

For example, choosing a diet lower in red meat and dairy can reduce our carbon footprint a similar amount as switching to a very fuel efficient vehicle. I also find learning about food — how it’s grown and the social and environmental impacts — to be fascinating!

We are seeing more effects of climate change every day. Standing up for the environment can sometimes feel like fighting a winless battle. Is there anything we can do to really make an impact as individuals?

EC: I understand that it’s a huge problem, and many of us feel helpless to make any real change. But I’d like to encourage people to believe in their power to create change, and just start.

Writing a persuasive letter to a lawmaker, attending a city council or school board meeting, getting involved in a local group that supports the environment — these are all ways we can get involved to make a difference. We can’t just sit on the sidelines and expect things to get better, we need more folks involved in advocating for and creating change.

I think if we do this, we can stop climate change, and we can make real progress towards a more equitable and habitable planet.

We also hear a lot of bad news or about how bad things can happen if we don’t make change fast. Is there any good news out there?

EC: There are a lot of committed people and groups working on climate change, but for me, the really good recent news is the U.S. government appears to be finally taking climate change seriously. We need individuals pushing for change, but having the government open to such changes is really a game changer.

What, if any, impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on fighting climate change?

EC: I believe the pandemic has demonstrated that technology can help us connect in ways that can reduce our need to travel as much as we did in the past. Do we need to attend a physical workplace every day? Do we need to attend every conference physically, or could a remote meeting accomplish similar outcomes in some cases?

Certainly, there have been reductions in transportation-related carbon emissions as a result of the pandemic, and moving forward, this experience now offers us more options for how and when we do travel for work in the future.

What has the pandemic taught us about the impact we can have as individuals when a big issue faces us collectively?

EC: For me, it was amazing to see how science and policy worked together so quickly to create solutions to the pandemic. It didn’t go perfectly for sure, but having a vaccine out within a year and already distributed to hundreds of millions of people is really amazing.

If we can develop a similar focus on climate change, we can absolutely respond to climate change.

Want to learn more about Cordero’s research? Take a look at One Carbon Footprint at a Time, a documentary that highlights his findings.

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 titleix@sjsu.edu.

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.
President

SJSU Fire Weather Research Workshop Highlights Advances in Wildfire Prediction and Tracking

Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center

Photo courtesy of the SJSU Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center

California braces for yet another menacing fire season

Twice a month, San José State researchers collect samples from local vegetation, or “fuels”—and what they found for April was foreboding: Craig Clements, director of the SJSU Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center, told KPIX 5 News last week.

“This is the time of year when the fuels should have the most moisture content of the season, and they’re actually the lowest we’ve ever measured for April,” he said in the news report.

But there’s hope: Fire prediction and tracking tools are advancing—a key takeaway from SJSU’s Fire Weather Research Workshop held April 8-9—and the university is leading the effort in providing fire management agencies with state-of-the-art resources to help curb the spread of wildfires.

The virtual event drew hundreds of researchers, students and fire management stakeholders from 20 countries to discuss the latest research and technology on fighting wildfires.

On the same day, California Gov. Gavin Newson announced a $536 million plan to prepare the state for the upcoming fire season. The California Legislature passed the package on April 12, and Newsom signed it April 13.

Intel from above the flames

Once a windstorm and an ignition come together, there’s little to be done.

“There’s nothing you can do to stop that fire,” explained Clements.

The best shot is to try to contain the fire with an “initial attack,” he continued. “That’s where remote sensing technology comes in, because the sooner you can detect the fire, the faster you can get into it.”

WRF-SFIRE is a forecast and modeling system—and a crucial resource to help curb the spread of wildfires—that relies on remote sensing technology. Developed and operated by SJSU, the system pairs data from satellite and infrared imaging with a simulation tool, and it combines a weather forecast model (Weather Research Forecast) with a fire-spread model (SFIRE).

During the workshop, faculty shared updates on WRF-SFIRE, including the addition of wildfire smoke dispersion forecasts, improved data input and analysis, more options for running simulations, and even a mobile-friendly interface.

Adam Kochanski, assistant professor of wildfire modeling, shared how WRF-SFIRE now can model smoke behavior based on fire-spread predictions.

Adam Kochanski, assistant professor of wildfire modeling, shared how WRF-SFIRE now can model smoke behavior based on fire-spread predictions.

But while tracking and prediction technology is advancing, not enough satellite and infrared imaging data is being gathered in day-to-day fire management operations, noted Miguel Valero Peréz, assistant professor of wildfire behavior and remote sensing at SJSU. He said that bringing that process up to speed is crucial and requires widespread collaboration.

“We need to collaborate with everyone—fire management agencies, academia, industry. We can only solve this problem if we work together,” Valero Peréz emphasized.

Solving a bigger problem

Newsom’s package may be able to help the state get ahead of the game as another dangerous fire season approaches. His plan provides funding to invest in workforce training, vegetation and terrain management, home protection and more.

But the effort to track conditions needs to be year-round, Clements told NBC Bay Area News.

“We need to be doing predictions for the conditions that would lead up to a severe fire season, so using the state-of-the-science modeling we have at San José State and running that operationally throughout the whole season versus a fire here and a fire there like we usually do,” he explained on the news report.

Joaquin Ramirez is principal consultant with Technosylva, Inc., a wildfire technology company that partners with SJSU by using WRF-SFIRE to assist management agencies like Cal Fire during fire season. In 2020, they offered Cal Fire support with more than 9,000 fires.

Wildfires in 2020 California

Joaquin Ramirez of Technosylva, Inc., a wildfire technology company, provided a look back at 2020 fires in California.

He said the workshop is proof of the exciting research and technology in progress, but that there’s still much to do when it comes to solving the wider problem.

“An all-hands job is needed, starting from supporting citizens that understand that we have to live with fire in a smarter way—and that we need to support scientists as much as we support our firefighters.”

A community service

Clements said that while the workshop is about exchanging research and ideas, it’s also about providing information directly to those fighting fires on the front lines.

Because it’s free and several topics are covered in a shorter amount of time, it can be a good alternative to a conference, which might not always be an option for fire management agency employees.

“It’s part of our service to the community to host this workshop and to have it to be free to anyone,” he explained. “It’s about accessibility to the knowledge.”

WRF-SFIRE is available on mobile platforms

WRF-SFIRE is now accessible on mobile devices, a new addition to the system by wildfire researchers at SJSU.

Martin Kurtovich, senior utilities engineer for California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), said their staff participated to engage on important fire science topics—particularly wildfire modeling and predictions for forecasting future fire conditions.

He added, “I appreciate the important work being done at SJSU in not only conducting important research on California wildfires but also training future leaders in wildfire management.”

Learn more about SJSU’s Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center here.

SJSU Legacy of Poetry Festival’s 14th Annual Event Goes Online April 15 – 23

Legacy of Poetry 2021

San José State University’s Poets and Writers Coalition will host the 2021 Legacy of Poetry Festival: “Closing the Distance—Sheltering in Technolog[ies],” online from April 15 – 23.

In honor of National Poetry Month, San José State University’s Poets and Writers Coalition will host the 2021 Legacy of Poetry Festival: “Closing the Distance—Sheltering in Technolog[ies],” online from April 15 – 23. The SJSU Legacy of Poetry Consortium coordinates the festival.

“As human beings, we have been robbed of contact with one another through social gatherings and literary events for one year now,” said Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing Alan Soldofsky. “The 2021 festival recognizes the pain of isolation that people are experiencing and how poetry—through various technological means—can close the distance between us.”

Recognizing how poetry can inspire and offer hope to broad and diverse audiences, the festival offers a lineup of readings and panels featuring poets from San José State, the South Bay community and across the country. Registration and information for the events is available at the Legacy of Poetry website.

Thursday, April 15 at 7 p.m.

The first free keynote event will be an online reading by award-winning poet Lillian-Yvonne Bertram. This event is presented by the SJSU Center for Literary Arts in conjunction with the SJSU College of Humanities and the Arts “Deep Humanities Initiative,” which explores the intersection between the arts and technology. Bertram’s most recent book, Travesty Generator (Noemi Press, 2019), is described as remixing “programming codes … to ruminate on the intersections of race and gender.” Longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award in Poetry, Lilian-Yvonne Bertram writes that she uses “codes and algorithms in an attempt to create work that reconfigures and challenges oppressive narratives for Black people and to imagine new ones.” She considers this “an intervention into a set of literary practices that have historically excluded women and minorities.”

Friday, April 16 at 3 p.m.

The festival will also include a master class on how to startup and sustain an independent literary press. It features the publisher of Noemi Press, American Book Award-winning Carmen Giménez Smith, ’96 English, and Noemi Press senior poetry editor and award-winning poet J. Michael Martinez. Martinez will be joining the SJSU Creative Writing faculty as its newest core member in Fall 2021.

Monday, April 19 at 5 p.m.

A second featured event presents a reading and conversation between Ellen Bass, SJSU’s Lurie distinguished visiting author-in-residence for 2021, and award-winning poet and Professor Emeritus of Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh Toi Derricotte. Both poets have served as chancellors of the Academy of American Poets.

Tuesday, April 20 at 5 p.m.

The festival will also host a tribute program for eminent San Francisco poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founder of City Lights Bookstore and City Lights Publishing, who died at age 101 on February 22. Ferlinghetti often visited SJSU to give public readings of his poems, guest-teach poetry workshop classes, and collaborate with art department faculty on printmaking projects that combined visual and literary arts elements. It will feature a screening of the documentary film Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder, produced and directed by Chris Felver, who will introduce the film.

Other notable events

Also on the event schedule is a free online reading hosted by SJSU’s REED Magazine, the oldest continuously published literary magazine west of the Mississippi. The event will feature award-winning poet Rodrigo Toscano, winner of REED’s 2020 Edwin Markham Prize, and author of the just-published poetry collection, The Charm and The Dread (Fence Books, 2021). He will read with Santa Cruz Poet Laureate Emeritus Danusha Laméris, who most recently authored a collection of poems titled Bonfire Opera (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020).

Poetry Center San José will host a workshop on performing poems and producing poetry videos for Instagram and other social media platforms. Enrollment will be limited and cost $15 for PCSJ members and students with ID and $25 for the general public.

How Has COVID-19 Impacted the Health and Well-being of the LGBTQ+ Community?: A Q&A With Laurie Drabble

Laurie Drabble.

Laurie Drabble, associate dean for research and faculty.

It’s known that members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning+ (LGBTQ+) community face health disparities driven by social stigma and discrimination. But what happens when you introduce a global pandemic?

Laurie Drabble, associate dean for research and faculty with the San José State University College of Health and Human Sciences, explored the impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ community by serving as co-editor of a special issue of the Journal of Homosexuality, which was published earlier this year.

The issue also featured her recent research exploring alcohol and marijuana use among LGBTQ+ women during the pandemic.

The SJSU Editorial and News team sat down with Drabble to learn more:

What is the biggest takeaway from this special issue?

Laurie Drabble (LD): Social stigma and discrimination are important drivers of disparities in risk for depression, anxiety and suicidality among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender non-binary groups. LGBTQ+ people also reported more job loss and financial difficulty compared to heterosexual and cisgender people. These risks were amplified during the with COVID-19 pandemic and need to be addressed.

What surprised you about the research findings?

LD: Research in the special issue found that LGBTQ+ individuals were more likely than heterosexual people to adhere to social distancing guidelines. This may not be entirely surprising, given collective experience with the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

That past experience heightened community buy-in about the importance of public health strategies to curb disease transmission—and contributed to viewing adherence to public health guidelines as more of a collective responsibility than an individual choice.

However, adhering to guidelines was also associated with psychological distress, which underscores the importance of both formal and social support in public health crises.

This issue pulls together data and research that spans the globe. Did the U.S. stand out?

LD: I was struck by the commonalities between countries. In particular, studies described the negative impact of losing access to LGBTQ+ positive spaces, reduced access to social support, and concerns about invisibility and potential discrimination.

It was also notable that LGBTQ+ people across countries use technology to connect with community, friends and family more than heterosexual and cisgender groups. This is likely a consequence of being part of a community that is defined by common identity rather than location. So, many LGBTQ+ people already used apps, social media and technology tools to find community before the pandemic.

Health disparities already existed in the LGBTQ+ community. Are we making any progress in closing these gaps?

LD: We were making progress in some ways. For example, research has consistently found that reducing structural stigma—such as the legalization of same-sex marriage—has helped reduce disparities in mental health outcomes.

However, research from our special issue and other studies suggest that LGBTQ+ people—particularly LGBTQ people of color—are disproportionately experiencing health and economic harms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. We need to make sure that policies and services intended to address the impact of the pandemic include the needs of LGBTQ+ populations.

Let’s talk about your research focusing on LGBTQ+ women and marijuana and alcohol use during the pandemic. What surprised you about what you learned?

LD: One of the more interesting findings was the degree to which routines or norms associated with alcohol and marijuana use were disrupted or changed.

For example, some study participants described drinking more because they used alcohol to mark the end of the day, and many described using more alcohol and marijuana to simply relieve stress or boredom. Others used less, because they were not spending time in social settings where they would typically drink alcohol or use marijuana with friends.

Sexual minority women had greater risks for hazardous drinking and drug use compared to heterosexual women before the pandemic, so it will be important to continue to study [post pandemic] whether or not these risks have been amplified over time.

Now that we have this information, what do we need to do about it?

LD: First, we need to continue to reduce stigma and address the economic impacts of the pandemic that disproportionately impact people of color and sexual and gender minorities.

For example, a growing number of states have passed harmful laws allowing health and social service providers to be exempt on religious grounds from laws prohibiting discrimination based on sex or gender identity. These trends are deeply concerning, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Second, given our research suggesting that LGBTQ+ people are frequent users of Internet-based communications and apps, enhancing access to online and remote health and mental health services would be timely.

Third, the research in this issue highlighted the importance of access to community and social support. So it is critical to provide financial support to ensure the survival of LGBTQ+ health and social service organizations, as well as LGBTQ+-centered physical spaces.

How can this information help us better care for the LGBTQ+ members of our SJSU community?

LD: For many LGBTQ+ young adults, university communities are important for finding safe and affirming support, particularly for students who may need to live with unsupportive families for financial reasons. Providing opportunities for social support and counseling—such as those provided by the SJSU PRIDE Center and Student Services—are crucial.

Read more about Drabble’s research and these topics.

Geology Professor Kim Blisniuk Unearths New Information About Southern California’s Next “Big One”

Kim Blisniuk, Associate Professor of Geology

Photo: Patrick Record

Ten years ago, two female geologists went for a hike in the Coachella Valley desert along a southern portion of the San Andreas Fault. One of them was Kimberly Blisniuk, now an associate professor of geology at San José State University. The pair spent days in the desert, traversing the landscape, studying its ridges and formations.

They weren’t sure what they were looking for. The San Andreas is a well-studied fault: The roughly 750-mile geographical rift running the length of most of California is positioned to set off what’s known as the next “Big One”—a massive earthquake predicted to strike Southern California, devastating the Los Angeles area, in particular.

Still, Blisniuk wanted to see if the terrain revealed something—anything—that might have been missed or not yet understood by geologists before them.

Sure enough, she found something. And after a decade of work to confirm her discovery, Blisniuk’s research, published March 24 in Science Advances, indicates that the highly anticipated earthquake—which scientists say is about 80 years overdue—might not ravage LA as much as previously thought.

Read the full story about Blisniuk’s findings here.

San José State Honors 2021 Faculty Award Winners

SJSU will host its 22nd Annual Faculty Service Recognition Event with a multi-day virtual celebration this year—culminating with a live presentation on April 15 of this year’s four exemplary faculty award winners and two remarkable 40-year honorees.

From April 12 to the 14, the university will celebrate 135 faculty who have reached milestones of service for 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years. Faculty members will share what they love about SJSU via videos.

“These honorees are to be lauded for their dedication, passion and commitment to their students’ personal and academic growth, and to the advancement of knowledge in their respective disciplines,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. “Each one has made important contributions through teaching, research and scholarship, and we are grateful for their service.”

The four distinguished faculty members below are selected to receive the following awards for noteworthy achievement in teaching, scholarship and service.

President’s Scholar: Matthew Spangler, Professor of Performance Studies, Department of Communication Studies

Distinguished Service: Anuradha Basu, Professor, Lucas College & Graduate School of Business

Outstanding Professor: Lionel Cheruzel, Professor, Department of Chemistry

Outstanding Lecturer: Mary Juno, Lecturer, Department of Justice Studies

Read a Q&A with each recipient below.

How the faculty awards started

Each of San José State’s four faculty awards has its own unique story, but they all emerged from a need to acknowledge exceptional faculty, starting with the university’s core mission of teaching and service.

In 1966, SJSU bestowed its first faculty award for Outstanding Professor, based on teaching effectiveness. The next award for President’s Scholar was bestowed in 1974 for remarkable scholarship and creative pursuits.

The third, Distinguished Service, was initially presented in 2000, to recognize outstanding service and the substantive contributions of SJSU faculty to their professional communities and beyond. In 2005, the Outstanding Lecturer award was created to recognize the contributions and teaching of a lecturer faculty member.

Who makes the nominations and decisions?

All areas of the campus community are invited to contribute nominations for faculty awards. Committees consisting of previous award winners, administrators and students (except for the President’s Scholar award) review the nominations and make their recommendations to the president, who then makes the final determination of the winners.

Read the full list of award criteria.


2021 Faculty Award Winners

Matthew Spangler, Professor, Performance Studies

Matthew Spangler, Professor of Performance Studies
Department of Communication Studies

President’s Scholar Award

Joined SJSU: 2005 | Research Focus: performance studies, an interdisciplinary field that uses performance as an artistic practice and theoretical lens to explore topics of social significance. Spangler’s research explores the representation of refugees and immigrants through the literary and performing arts.

Creative Activities: In addition to his scholarly work, Spangler has written numerous plays, among them an adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, which premiered at San José State, and has since won many awards and been produced by theatres around the world, including on London’s West End and the Dubai Opera House.

Print-Based Scholarship: Spangler has published many journal articles on immigration in the performing arts, an academic book, several plays, and has a new book currently under review about adaptation and immigration in Irish theatre. The National Communication Association recently bestowed him with the Leslie Irene Coger Award for Distinguished Performance, the most prestigious award for live performance in the field of communication studies.

What brought you to San José State?

Matthew Spangler (MS): I was hired to create a curriculum in performance studies within the Communication Studies Department. I was living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at the time, where I did my PhD, and the idea of creating an entire curriculum in my area of research and artistic practice was very exciting to me.

What inspired you to study this subject area?

MS: I was a first-year undergraduate at Northwestern University, thinking I would study law, and I happened to take a few courses in performance studies with amazing faculty who literally changed my life. The idea of using the performing arts and storytelling to engage the world felt like the only thing I ever wanted to do.

Later, I was studying for my master’s degree at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and immigration became a topic I was gradually more and more interested in.

What do you enjoy and/or surprises you the most about your work?

MS: When you work at the intersection of the performing arts and immigration, as I do, you get to meet some incredible people from all over the world. It never ceases to amaze me how fortunate I am to work with the people I do. In some cases, I might be writing an article about their work, or maybe we’re collaborating on a theatre project together, or I’m bringing them to campus to meet with my students. Sometimes I stop and think how lucky I am to know such amazing artists and scholars.

What does it mean to you to receive the President’s Scholar Award?

MS: To receive the President’s Scholar Award is a tremendous honor, and to say that does not do justice to how deeply moved I am. In the nearly two decades I have been at San José State, this university has provided a terrific home for my creative and scholarly work.

I am exceedingly grateful to my colleagues, and, in particular, I am grateful to the students who have deepened my work, inspired me, taught me, and occasionally, have traveled with me around the world on research trips, or whom I have proudly watched give conference presentations in far flung locations. San José State is a special place for a number of reasons, probably the biggest being the students.

And to receive this award during the current era of COVID-19—an award for work at the intersection of the performing arts and immigration—at a time when most theatres have been completely dark for over a year, and immigrants are facing ever more obstacles in their ability to move, is testament to the humanity of this university.

There is probably no time in my life when this award will mean as much as it does right now.


Anu Basu, Professor, Business

Anuradha Basu
Professor of Entrepreneurship and
Director of Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship
Lucas College & Graduate School of Business

Distinguished Service Award

Joined SJSU: Fall 2003 | Research focus: immigrant and minority entrepreneurship.

Latest Research:A Review of Immigrant Entrepreneurship Research.” Basu is also researching the experiences of LatinX entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, in collaboration with a former student, who is a young SJSU alumna and Latina entrepreneur.

What brought you to San José State?

Anuradha “Anu” Basu (AB): In 2002, I was a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Center for International Development, having relocated with my family from the UK to the Bay Area. At a Silicon Valley networking event, I learned that SJSU was looking to hire a tenure-track faculty to launch their entrepreneurship program. I had recently set up an Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Reading, UK (my previous employer). Now, I could try my hand at doing the same here, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

What inspired you to study this subject area?

AB: As an Indian immigrant in the UK, I was curious to understand why South Asian immigrants in the UK were motivated to establish their own businesses in an unfamiliar business environment. I wanted to highlight the fact that, contrary to the public perception that immigrants were a burden on society, many British South Asians had created successful businesses, were large employers, and had a significant positive impact on the UK economy.

My research continues to be driven by a passion to shatter myths and preconceived notions about minority and immigrant entrepreneurs.

What do you enjoy and/or surprises you the most about your work?

AB: The most enjoyable part of my job is interacting with students, helping them learn, and encouraging them to do their best and achieve their potential. Sometimes, a quiet student in class turns out to be the one who writes the most thought-provoking essay, aces the exam, or comes up with the most innovative business idea.

Perhaps the most gratifying part is following my students’ careers after they graduate. Just recently, a former student who won our Silicon Valley Business Plan Competition shared his experience of pitching his startup on Shark Tank.

What does it mean to you to receive the Distinguished Service award?

AB: I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award. It is a wonderful recognition of my effort and commitment to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem at San José State. I could not have achieved it without the support of my wonderful colleagues in the College of Business and beyond, who have helped and continue to help build our entrepreneurial community on campus.


Lionel Cheruzel, Professor, Chemistry

Lionel Cheruzel
Professor, Department of Chemistry

Outstanding Professor Award

Joined SJSU: Fall 2009 | Research focus: bioinorganic chemistry focusing on a particular family of metalloenzymes called Cytochromes P450.

Research activities: Cheruzel recently initiated a Freshman Research Initiative to expose a large number of freshman students to research opportunities in the Department of Chemistry. He has given more than 60 invited talks worldwide including in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia and is the recipient of the 2019 Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award in recognition of his dedication to teaching and research.

What brought you to San José State?

Lionel Cheruzel (LC): I was attracted to the unique opportunity that SJSU provided to combine my love of teaching with scholarly activity in the heart of the Silicon Valley. I started in fall 2009 right after the economic downturn in the midst of the furloughs. I was very fortunate to receive an offer from SJSU.

What inspired you to study this subject area?

LC: I have always been fascinated by the intricate connections in nature and the central role
that chemistry plays. Being a postdoc at Caltech was an eye-opening experience and
really inspired me to work in this unique field at the frontier between chemistry and
biology.

What do you enjoy and/or surprises you the most about your work?

LC: I have enjoyed supervising and mentoring a diverse and inclusive group in the laboratory
over the years. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by very talented and
motivated SJSU students. I am proud that many of them went on to successful careers
in prominent graduate programs, professional schools or local biotech companies.

What does it mean to you to be named an Outstanding Professor?

LC: It means a lot to me to receive this award and to have my name in the company of other
great SJSU colleagues. I am also hoping this will bring a bright light on our research
and academic activities and help us recruit motivated students eager to learn. SJSU has
been a unique place to influence and develop young minds in both classroom and
laboratory settings. Watching students develop as scientists and succeed in their
endeavors has been personally rewarding and encouraged my mentoring efforts.


Mary Juno, Lecturer, Forensic Science

Mary Juno
Lecturer, Department of Justice Studies and Coordinator, Forensic Studies Minor

Outstanding Lecturer Award

Joined SJSU: Fall 2006 | Research focus: identifying causes and sources of error in crime scene investigation, and the relationship between crime scene error rates and CSI education level.

Faculty Advisor: Themis Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science, a student-run academic journal that publishes original justice-related research by SJSU students. Juno launched Themis in 2013, and as of March 2021, more than 264,000 researchers worldwide have downloaded articles.

What brought you to San José State?

Mary Juno (MJ): I was originally hired to teach one section of one class [in Justice Studies] for one semester. I was asked to return in spring 2007 to teach the same course, and again in fall 2007, to teach two sections of that course. In spring 2008, I taught the same two sections plus a new course. The job had begun to snowball.

I decided to leave my regular full-time job as a crime scene investigator (CSI) at Oakland Police Department and work only at SJSU. This was an enormous leap of faith, but I enjoyed teaching so much that I felt compelled to do it and confident that it was the right move. I have never regretted this decision.

What inspired you to study this subject area?

MJ: I have always been interested in the intersection between science and justice. I studied forensic anthropology as an undergrad and thought I might go in that direction, but I got hired as a CSI first. That was a fascinating job, but also quite difficult—and nothing like TV. In my classes, I stress the realities of crime scene investigation and try to dispel the myths, so that students are clear-eyed about the field they’re getting into.

What do you enjoy and/or surprises you the most about your work?

MJ: I’ve been at SJSU for 15 years, and there is so much I love about it. First, teaching is loads of fun. My students have great senses of humor, and we find something to crack up about almost every day in class. I learn from them every semester, and I keep in touch with many students after graduation. Second, I feel lucky to work in a department with many brilliant and talented colleagues, who make critical contributions to social, economic, racial and criminal justice. And lastly, I very much like the feeling that I am trusted to do my job, to create new classes, and to revise and build programs. I’m grateful to SJSU that I was given that opportunity to contribute.

What does it mean to you to be named Outstanding Lecturer?

MJ: When I first got the news that I had been named Outstanding Lecturer, I couldn’t believe it. I know many lecturers who give so much of their time and energy to this university and to their students, and they all deserve an award. It feels fantastic to be recognized for my hard work and reconfirms for me that I made the right decision all those years ago when I left my job as a CSI!


Please visit the Faculty Service Recognition event website to see the full list of honorees and register for the live presentation on April 15 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

 

SJSU Hosts Global Virtual Event Examining Long-term Effects of Separating Families Due to Immigration

San José State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications tackled hard questions about the impact of immigration policies on families at Families Across Borders: A Live Connection, a  global virtual event, live-streamed from SJSU’s Hammer Theatre on March 23. U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren kicked off the evening with introductory remarks about her commitment to immigration reform from her office in Washington D.C.

The event was emceed by SJSU Journalism and Mass Communication Professor Diane Guerrazzi and Joronica Vinluan, ’21 Journalism, onstage at the Hammer. Five alumnae reporters presented multimedia presentations on families from Mexico, Morocco and the Philippines about the social and psychological effects of family separation. 

Families Across Borders_2

U.S. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (center) spoke at the Families Across Borders event, streamed from the Hammer Theatre on March 23. Joronica Vinluan, ’21 Journalism (left), and SJSU Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi (right) anchored the evening. Photo by Bob Bain.

“The basic structure of immigration law has been unchanged, for the most part, since 1965,” said Lofgren, former immigration attorney and chair of Congress’ Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship

She recalled hosting her first hearing on immigration on Ellis Island in 2007, where she shared the story of her Swedish grandfather, then an unaccompanied minor, who had immigrated to the U.S. in search of a better life.

“I did that to remind all of us that immigration is really central to our core as Americans,” she said. “The optimism, the courage, the bravery, the value of family, the American dream that immigrants embody and their ancestors embodied is as true today for the immigrants coming to America as it was 100 or 200 years ago.”

As the co-author of the new Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which offers opportunities for farmworkers, their spouses and children to earn legal status through continued employment in agriculture, Lofgren remains hopeful that humane immigration reform is possible. She also mentioned that the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021 would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. 

The House of Representatives passed both bills last week.

Spartan journalists share stories of separation 

After Lofrgren’s remarks, Guerrazzi and Vinluan introduced alumnae reporters who shared stories live on Vimeo. 

Spartan journalist Elizabeth Rodriguez shared the story of David, whose mother returned to her native Mexico to see her dying father and whose father was deported. Left without his parents in northern California, David had to help raise his siblings.

While David reflected on the challenges of long-term family separation, Spartan reporter Guadalupe Emigdio, ’20 Communication Studies, shared the story of Hector, who fled violence while immigrating from Mexico. Emigdio translated his responses about the “ugly, sad feelings” that linger when thinks of the miles keeping him from his parents. 

Both David and Hector connected to the livestream to field questions from the reporters.

Kelsey Valle, ’20 Journalism, now an assignment editor at Telemundo 48 Bay Area, produced a story about Kelsea and Ismail, a married couple and parents to an almost 1-year-old daughter. Both Spartans, the couple met at SJSU’s International House and were married in Morocco, Ismail’s home country, in 2019. 

Despite this, immigration laws and COVID-19 restrictions have kept them in different countries, even through the birth of their daughter. Kelsea connected from Turlock and Ismail from Morocco to share how they long to be together as a family once more. 

Nicole Albillar, ’20 Global Studies, interviewed a same-sex couple whose civil union was not recognized by federal immigration laws for years before they were allowed to live permanently in the same country. While Judy and Karin are thrilled to finally make a home together in San José, the years of travel back and forth took a toll.

“It’s like a knife to the heart when you hear about families being separated, regardless of the reason,” said Judy live at the event. “But when it’s the government that’s making you not be able to be together, it’s more heartless.”

Humanizing immigrant narratives

The final piece was produced by Vinluan, the daughter of Filipino immigrants who have been separated from their family members for more than 15 years. Vinluan interviewed her mother Akilah, who lives in San José, and her aunt Maria Teresa, who lives in the Philippines, to answer questions about the impact of their separation.

“When people think of immigration, they tend to think in two ways: politics or family,” said Vinluan. “I want to emphasize the humanity of immigration. If you take the time to understand different cultures, there can be new connections, especially between generations.”

Families Across Borders event

Joronica Vinluan, ’21 Journalism, (left) and SJSU Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi (right) anchored Families Across Borders, a live event streamed from SJSU’s Hammer Theatre on March 23. The evening included a panel of experts: SJSU Psychology Lecturer Jill Citron (upper left), Human Rights Institute Director William Armaline (center) and associate clinical social worker Yovanna Moran. Photo by Bob Bain.

The event concluded with a panel discussion with William Armaline, director of SJSU’s Human Rights Program; Jill Citron, psychology lecturer; and Yovanna Moran, associate clinical social worker in Stanislaus County. Online viewers shared questions about the effects of family separation, which sometimes include post-traumatic stress disorder, attachment disorders and difficulty trusting others.

The Families Across Borders event was an extension of ongoing immigration reporting done by San José State’s Update News, the weekly student news broadcast, said Guerrazzi. In 2018 and 2019, she taught summer journalism courses in Italy and Greece, where SJSU students reported on the refugee crisis. 

The resulting award-winning special, Beyond Borders: Refugee Realities, covered stories from Italy, Greece, Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines. A second Update News Refugee Realities special that examines efforts to house children and place families in American communities will air in May. A Families Across Borders podcast to highlight immigrant narratives is also in the works.

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

ISSSSC Hosts Panel Discussion of Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Sports

ISSSSC Words to Action

The ISSSSC is hosting Sport Conversations for Change online this year.

On March 11, San José State University’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change (ISSSSC) hosted “Equitable Futures for Womxn in Sport,” an online dialogue about gender equity in sports with three industry thought leaders. 

The event, moderated by ISSSSC Executive Director Akilah Carter-Francique and Assistant Director Amy August, featured Dawna Callahan, ’02 MS Recreation Management, CEO and founder of All In Sport Consulting; Jenny Lim, program manager at Canadian Women & Sport and Danielle Slaton, director of external relations at Santa Clara University.

Carter-Francique kicked off the webinar by sharing a video from the International Women’s Day #ChoosetoChallenge campaign, which invites women and girls to challenge gender norms. 

Jenny Lim

Jenny Lim develops gender equity solutions for Canadian sports organizations.

The video, which compared gender to a “pre-written book,” served as a conversation starter for the panelists, who were asked to reflect on leadership and hiring, and methods for sustaining the movement toward gender equity in sport. “We have a long way to go in terms of gender equity and representation in media,” said Lim, who develops gender equity solutions for Canadian sport organizations such as the Gender Equity LENS E-module, the Gender Equity in Sport Assessment, the Gender Equity Action Plan, Equity in Coaching and Same Game. 

Lim mentioned that only four percent of the 35,000 hours dedicated to traditional sport coverage on television was devoted to women sports. 

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” she added.

All three panelists reflected on the importance of intersectional diversity and inclusion in sports. Callahan has played a vital role in developing the Paralympic movement in the United States over the past 20 years. The silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic has been how employers have had to adjust to their employees’ needs, especially with regards to accessibility, said Callahan. 

Dawna Callahan

SJSU alumna Dawna Callahan has helped pioneer the Paralympic movement.

“Everyone has had to be more adaptive—and there is no one better at adapting than a person with disabilities,” she added. 

“Disability is diversity, and there is diversity within disability. Think of an amputee who is starting their career. Did they lose their leg on the battlefield or to cancer in high school? People with disabilities have diverse perspectives to share in the work world.”

Slaton, a silver medalist soccer player, former member of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer team and soccer television analyst, agreed that the narrative of women playing sports and working in sport-adjacent careers needs to change. She mentioned how rare it was to see a woman of color like herself commentating in professional sports.

“Not only do we need to have more women and girls who look like me on TV, but we need to recognize that our opinions matter as much as those of the athletes on the field,” said Slaton. 

Danielle Slaton

Olympic medalist and television sports analyst Danielle Slaton believes in creating a more inclusive world on field and in broadcast television,

“My thoughts, my perspective and how I give a voice to the game of soccer is important. The challenge comes from changing the minds of people in the highest echelons of media. What games do we get to cover? We need to have diversity at the decision-making table.”

The webinar offered opportunities for panelists to share educational and academic resources with their audience, as well as with each other. While discussing intersectionality, Slaton suggested to Callahan that they connect when Slaton covers the Tokyo Olympics later this year, with the hope of increasing coverage of Paralympic sports. 

When Carter-Francique asked how female leaders and allies can shift the narrative of women in sports, Slaton reiterated that they simply “choose to challenge.”

“I may not have the platform of Megan Rapinoe, but I have a voice in my community,” said Slaton as the conversation concluded. “I have a voice here today. We all must take one step forward in service.”

This presentation was part of the ISSSSC’s Sport Conversations for Change speaker series. Their next event is scheduled for April 8. To learn more, visit sjsuwordstoaction.com.

Annual SJSU Conference to Encourage Women to ‘Reimagine the Future’ of Engineering

Silicon Valley Women in Engineering Conference 2021

Diana Knobler, ‘22 Biomedical Engineering, grew up in a predominantly Hispanic Los Angeles neighborhood, where it was rare for high school students to attend four-year universities. After arriving at San José State, Knobler was surprised to discover she was even more of an exception to the rule than she thought.

“My introductory engineering course had three times as many male students as it did female students, and even fewer Latinx students,” Knobler explained.

That’s a big reason why she decided to attend this year’s Silicon Valley Women in Engineering Conference, which will be held virtually on Saturday, March 20, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The conference, in its seventh year, is hosted by the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering at San José State.

The conference’s theme is “Reimagine the Future,” and the event is open to students at SJSU and other higher ed institutions who want to learn about current trends and innovations in the field.

Keynote speakers include Renée DiResta, technical research manager for Stanford Internet Observatory; Ann Lee-Karlon, senior vice president of Genentech; and Jessica J. Marquez, human-systems engineer for NASA Ames Research Center. They will speak on how to detect misinformation on social media, new advances in biotechnology and future trends in space technology.

Attendees can choose from 12 technical talks about emerging technologies and six professional development sessions. They can also mingle with representatives from more than 50 Silicon Valley companies—including sponsors Google, IBM, Netgear, Lam Research and several others—during the conference’s Innovation Showcase.

The overall mission is to educate students, provide them with potential mentors and role models, and to create a community for women engineers in the Silicon Valley, according to Belle Wei, the Carolyn Guidry Chair of Engineering Education and Innovative Learning.

“Women are a minority in engineering classrooms—less than 20 percent of students in an engineering classroom are women,” said Wei, who serves on the conference committee.

“All of these speakers are highly accomplished women professionals,” she continued. “We want them to see that these women have worked hard, had a strategy, persevered and have been successful.”

Many of the students who attend the conference are in a position similar to Knobler’s. Jinny Rhee, conference chair and associate dean of undergraduate programs and student success for the College of Engineering, said attendees often come from underrepresented groups or are first-generation college students.

“So they might not have some of the support structures and infrastructure that other engineering students may take for granted,” Rhee added. “We want to allow them to reimagine the role engineering can take in a developed society. Engineering is there to make the world a better place, and we don’t want anyone to lose sight of that.”

Knobler does want to make the world a better place: She plans to one day introduce life-changing medical devices into the health-care field. After her first semester at SJSU, Knobler joined an engineering and technical sciences sorority, The Beta Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon, and she said having a female support system has made all the difference.

“Being connected to so many amazing women through this conference feels like the first step to building an industry-level support system,” Knobler explained. “I hope to use the knowledge I gain from these women to become successful in the industry myself and one day return to do the same for [the next generation of] young female engineers.”

Laura Guio, ‘86 Marketing, is doing just that. When she entered the engineering industry more than 30 years ago, there were not many women to whom she could look for inspiration and guidance.

“Fast forward to today, and there are more women tech leaders, but not as many as I would have expected by this point in time,” said Guio, who now serves as general manager and executive for IBM. “As a woman technology leader and an SJSU graduate, I feel it is my responsibility and privilege to talk about my experience and encourage others while sharing my journey.”

Guio will talk about her experiences during a panel discussion on developing career strategies. Rhee and Wei want to see female students persist in their engineering careers long after graduation, but that doesn’t always happen.

“We know a lot of women leave technology fields soon after they graduate for various reasons, and that’s a shame,” Rhee noted. “The research says that the stronger your engineering identity, the more likely you are to get your degree and persist in the field after you graduate.”

They will ask attendees to complete pre- and post-event surveys to better understand how the conference can play a role in fostering that strong identity.

Guio said she wants attendees of the conference to know there are plenty of opportunities for success and many ways to pursue them.

“Everyone’s journey is their own, and you have to know yourself, your skills and what drives and motivates you to begin to understand the path you want to take,” Guio said.

“Technology needs diversity in representation, which brings diversity in thought. Studies show if you have a diverse mix of talent, this will improve performance and success. Most of all, I want to encourage these students to push forward, dream big, but take it one step at a time.”

To learn more about the conference, visit 2021.siliconvalleywie.org.

Lurie College Case Study Illuminates Unequal Access to Internet in Central California Amid COVID-19

California Assemblymember Rivas taps SJSU to provide data for new broadband legislation

In spring 2020, as schools began to close in-person instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic, California Assemblymember Robert Rivas, ’11 MPA, saw how “blatant” limited access to broadband Internet was negatively impacting families in his district—Assembly District 30, which spans from Morgan Hill to King City.

As a native of California’s central coast and an alumnus of San José State, Rivas hoped that by collaborating with faculty members to collect data in the region, the state Legislature would benefit from scientific information to help address the lack of broadband access in the state.

“COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the broadband inequities that have existed in our state for years,” said Rivas.

Shortly after, a conversation with San José State Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino, Jr., sparked an opportunity for Rivas to gather data that could support potential legislation to improve broadband access.

Luis Poza, Tammie Visintainer and Eduardo Muñoz-Muñoz

(L-R) Luis Poza, Tammie Visintainer and Eduardo Muñoz-Muñoz

Heather Lattimer, dean of the Lurie College of Education, recommended that Assistant Professors of Teacher Education Luis Poza, Tammie Visintainer and Eduardo Muñoz-Muñoz collaborate to create a case study about the lack of broadband access in the coastal town of Watsonville. Together, the faculty partnered with teachers at Watsonville High School’s Education, Community, Humanitarian, Outreach (ECHO) Leadership Academy to create curriculum that involved high schoolers in the data collection process.

The project sought to answer a few key questions: How could students attend online school with limited Wi-Fi? How could residents access telehealth services without reliable Internet? And how did the pandemic shed light on infrastructure inequities across California?

Mapping Inequity

Students interviewed members of their communities about their Wi-Fi access since the pandemic began in March 2020. Poza and Visintainer presented the resulting case study, along with a series of maps created by the SJSU Spatial Analytics and Visualization (SAVi) Center, led by Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Ahoura Zandiatashbar, that depicted broadband access by demographic across District 30.

“Now that both jobs and education are increasingly relying on high-quality Internet access, the lack of Internet access means a barrier to the upward mobility of residents,” said Zandiatashbar. 

The maps specifically use American Community Survey 2018 data to highlight school-age children, Hispanic and African-American populations, as well as residents with below-poverty earnings. The SAVi team also used Fixed Broadband deployment data released by the Federal Communication Commission to identify four types of broadband service available. 

Early analysis revealed that communities with a higher proportion of vulnerable households live in areas with lower broadband access fixed services. 

“Our work shows that the neighborhoods of these individuals are suffering from insufficient service providers or the provided service is at a low speed,” explained Zandiatashbar.

“The fact that this region has had issues with Internet access has less to do with the Internet itself, but rather the populations affected,” said Muñoz-Muñoz. “Our racial identities connect with how we speak and choose to communicate, so these inextricable issues make it a social justice matter, a racial matter, a linguistic matter, and a right to learn matter.”

According to Poza, Internet access is not an all-or-nothing issue. A household might have to share wireless accounts across multiple families, which affects speed and reliability. Slow connectivity, in turn, makes it difficult for students to download resources and upload completed assignments.

This was acutely demonstrated when Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo tweeted an image of two young girls sitting outside Taco Bell with laptops in August of 2020, attempting to attend online school by accessing the restaurant’s Wi-Fi. The picture went viral, epitomizing the height of the digital divide.

“That photo captured this inequity at its core,” said Rivas. “Low-income families of color are facing the brunt of this pandemic, and it is research like San José State’s broadband report that informs our legislative response to this digital divide through data and facts.”

“Many of the participants mentioned the psychological and mental health costs of managing all this during a pandemic,” said Visintainer. “These kids are often portrayed as students who don’t care or aren’t motivated, but it’s very obvious that’s not the case and that they’re fighting so much harder to just access school right now, much less learn.”

From Research to Legislation

Poza and Visintainer were allotted five minutes with Rivas to explain how unequal access to Internet hotspots was just one way that the pandemic had amplified issues across the region. Central to their argument was that adding broadband infrastructure alone would not address the issues these communities experienced.

“Working with the ECHO Academy students, working with their teachers and hearing from their families and community members, made it abundantly clear that they are as brilliant, motivated and dignified as anyone in Silicon Valley,” said Poza.

“Their lack of access to broadband, housing or financial insecurity or their disproportionate exposure to COVID-19 risk are the results of policy decisions underlying these Band-Aid fixes around infrastructure in years past.”

How can policymakers and education researchers move beyond the Band-Aid? While there is no single cure for social, racial and economic inequity, this collaboration between the Lurie College and Assemblymember Rivas’ office is one critical step in closing the digital divide.

This was made clear in December, when Asm. Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, ’84 Accounting, introduced Assembly Bill 14, which Rivas co-authored, in the California Legislature. The bill, nicknamed the “Internet for All Act of 2021,” would allow educational agencies to report on issues with Internet access as it affects student learning.

“As a graduate of San José State, I am excited to work with the university community,” said Aguiar-Curry. “I know how educational, or anchor institutions, as they are defined in my AB 14, are critical hubs for learning and community engagement. We need the support of every educational, health and public safety institution in California so we can deliver 21st-century Internet technology to all Californians now.”

In the end, the 175 ECHO Academy students who participated in the project with the Lurie faculty had the satisfaction of knowing that the data they collected could lead to positive change not only in their hometown but also across the region. While their contributions could support Rivas’ campaign to improve wireless access, the project empowered students to reflect on pre-existing inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and what steps they could take to address them.