Updates on Air Quality and Campus Impact: Fall 2020

October 4, 2020 9:24 a.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on October 4, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

Air quality levels around San José State University have improved over the past 24 hours and are expected to continue to improve throughout today, October 4. Based on these improvements, effective immediately, the SJSU campus is REOPENED. 

In-person classes and services will resume Monday, October 5. The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories are also reopened. 

Please note that as wildfires continue to rage north of San José, we may need to close the physical campus if the air quality changes. If this becomes the case, an update will be communicated by email, the SJSU Newsroom site and SJSU’s Twitter

Thank you for your continued patience, flexibility and kindness as we continue to navigate this fall semester.

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs


October 2, 2020 10:52 a.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on October 2, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

With wildfires raging north of San José, unhealthy air quality levels have returned on and around the campus, and likely will remain through the weekend. Effective immediately, the San José State University campus is CLOSED. Online classes and services will continue as scheduled. The campus will remain closed until further notice as we continue to assess the air quality.

As a result of the campus closure, all buildings will be closed with the exception of:

  • Residence halls and University Housing Services
  • Dining Commons

Note that the Student Health Center is closed, but access to Student Health Center services and personnel is available Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling 408-924-6122. For assistance after hours, visit the Student Health Center website

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories are also closed. 

If you are working on campus and your presence is not deemed essential by your supervisor, you are asked to leave the campus as soon as possible. 

We will update the campus community by email, Twitter and on the SJSU Newsroom site late Sunday afternoon as we continue to assess the air quality and wildfires in the area. 

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs


September 15, 2020 5:37 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on September 15, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

As we continue to closely monitor the air quality levels around San José State University, we have noticed an improvement in the past 24 hours. Based on current conditions and predicted air quality levels for Wednesday (September 16), the SJSU campus will REOPEN tomorrow. 

In-person classes and services will resume as well. Although we are hopeful for favorable air quality levels tomorrow, please note that we may need to close the physical campus if the air quality changes. If this becomes the case, an update will be communicated by email, the SJSU Newsroom site and SJSU’s Twitter

The continued toll of COVID-19 and the poor air quality caused by wildfires across the state can lead to mental and emotional stress. Please remember SJSU is here to help. Students can access counseling through Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) and employees can utilize the confidential Employee Assistance Program. The SJSU Cares Program is also available to address any unforeseen financial crises, including housing or food needs.

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs


September 14, 2020 6:23 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on September 14, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

After reviewing monitoring station observations throughout the day and the air quality forecast from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the San José State University campus will remain CLOSED Tuesday, September 15. Online classes and services will continue as scheduled. In-person classes are canceled.

Due to the campus closure, all buildings will be closed with the exception of:

  • Residence halls and University Housing Services
  • Dining Commons and Village Market
  • Student Health Center (8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Spartan Food Pantry (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories will remain closed. 

Only those whose presence is deemed essential by your supervisor should be on campus on Tuesday.

We will update the campus community by email, Twitter and on the SJSU Newsroom site late Tuesday afternoon as we continue to assess the air quality in the area. 

We must continue to practice patience, flexibility and kindness as our fall semester has been interrupted again. Continue to keep all first responders and those directly affected by the fires in your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs


September 13, 2020 6:28 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on September 13, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

With unhealthy air quality levels expected to continue around the campus, the San José State University campus will remain CLOSED Monday, September 14. Online classes and services will continue as scheduled. 

Due to the campus closure, all buildings will be closed with the exception of:

  • Residence halls and University Housing Services
  • Dining Commons
  • Student Health Center (8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Spartan Food Pantry (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories will also remain closed. 

Only those whose presence is deemed essential by your supervisor should be on campus on Monday.

Current projections indicate that it may be safe to reopen campus on Tuesday. We will update the campus community by email, Twitter and on the SJSU Newsroom site late Monday afternoon as we continue to assess the air quality in the area. 

Please continue to keep the firefighters, first responders and our fellow Spartans who may be affected by these fires in your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs


September 11, 2020 9:56 a.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on September 11, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

Due to a recent spike of unhealthy air quality levels on and around the campus caused by wildfires north of San José, effective immediately, the San José State University campus is CLOSED. Online classes and services will continue as scheduled. 

As a result of the campus closure, all buildings will be closed with the exception of:

  • Residence halls and University Housing Services
  • Dining Commons

Note that the Student Health Center is closed, but access to Student Health Center services and personnel is available Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling 408-924-6122. For assistance after hours, visit the Student Health Center website

The Moss Landing Marine Laboratories are also closed. 

If you are working on campus and your presence is not deemed essential by your supervisor, you are asked to leave the campus as soon as possible. 

The campus will remain closed through the weekend as we continue to assess the air quality. When it is safe to reopen the campus, we will notify the campus community by email, Twitter and on the SJSU Newsroom site

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs


August 26, 2020 6:22 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on August 26, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

Air quality levels appear to have stabilized at a level where campus can reopen as previously outlined in the SJSU Adapt plan, including in-person classes, which can continue as scheduled. 

A reminder for students, faculty and staff: We understand that you may be directly impacted by the fires. I encourage you to reach out to your professor, students or supervisor if you are unable to attend class or conduct your work duties. We must continue to practice patience, kindness and flexibility as campus community members care for their safety, health and well-being.

Student Specialized Instructional Support Center

SJSU has converted Ballroom A/B in the Diaz Compean Student Union into a Student Specialized Instructional Support Center. The area will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students may enter the Student Union using their Tower ID cards at the West Entrance (7th Street Paseo) and must complete the self-check requirements. 

FEMA Assistance

For those affected by the wildfires, FEMA recently activated its Individual Assistance program for residents in Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo counties. Eligible individuals and families have 60 days to apply for direct grants from FEMA for damages that are not covered by insurance. Contact FEMA by visiting their website, downloading the FEMA app and registering on your smartphone or tablet, or by calling 800-621-3362.

At this time, we encourage you to continue to follow the running blog on the SJSU Newsroom site. We will email the campus community again if air quality concerns worsen to the point where we would need to close campus again.

We continue to keep those affected and our firefighters and first responders in our thoughts. 

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs


August 25, 2020 5:08 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on August 25, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

As we continue to closely monitor the air quality levels around San José State University, we have noticed an improvement in the past 24 hours. Based on current conditions and predicted fire and wind conditions for Wednesday (August 26), the SJSU campus will reopen tomorrow. 

In-person classes will resume as well. Although we are hopeful for favorable air quality levels tomorrow, please note that we may need to close the physical campus if the air quality changes. If this becomes the case, an update will be communicated during the day via email and SJSU’s Twitter

For students: Even though we are making in-person courses available, you should check with your faculty member before class, as we know some faculty, staff, and students have been directly impacted by the fires. Thank you for continuing to be patient as our campus community members focus on addressing their personal health, safety, and well-being.

For Faculty and Staff: We know that you may be directly impacted by the fires. If you can’t make it to class or work, please advise your supervisor and, if needed, students as well. Please remember that students may also be directly impacted by the fires. Please make sure that we are being flexible in completing early assignments and course requirements. If students are not present in either an online or in-person class, please give them time to get in contact with you. 

The limited services on campus include:

  • Residence halls and University Housing Services
  • Dining Commons
  • Spartan Food Pantry
  • Spartan Bookstore
  • Diaz Compean Student Union

An update will be provided to the campus community late Wednesday afternoon as we continue to assess the air quality and wildfires in the area. 

The continued toll of COVID-19 and the wildfires can lead to mental and emotional stress. Please remember SJSU is here to help. Students can access counseling through Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) and employees can utilize the confidential Employee Assistance Program. The SJSU Cares Program is also available to address any unforeseen financial crises, including housing or food needs.

Kindness, patience and flexibility continue to be the attributes we need the most during this time. Our Spartan family remains strong, and we will continue to look out for one another.

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs


August 23, 2020 5:24 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on August 23, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

We continue to experience unhealthy levels of air quality around the SJSU campus. Because of this, the physical campus will remain closed on Monday and Tuesday (August 24-25). Online classes and services will continue as scheduled. In-person classes are canceled. Only essential personnel who have been cleared by their supervisor to work on campus will be allowed on campus. Faculty and students who are approved to come to campus for research-related purposes are also allowed on campus. 

Our current decisions are based on data from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and Cal Fire concerning air quality, fire incident information, evacuation orders, and our understanding of where our community members live. SJSU’s leadership team is actively monitoring weather and air quality forecasts, evacuation orders and warnings for these areas. 

We will update the campus community late Tuesday afternoon as we continue to assess the air quality and wildfires in the area. Please continue to monitor the running blog on the SJSU Newsroom site should conditions change rapidly and a decision on the campus’ status for later in the week is made sooner than Tuesday afternoon. 

Consistent with our decisions last week, all buildings will be closed with the exception of:

Note that the Student Health Center is closed, but access to Student Health Center services and personnel is available Monday through Friday from 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling 408-924-6122. For assistance after hours, visit the Student Health Center website

Please continue to keep the firefighters, first responders and our fellow Spartans who are affected by these fires in your thoughts. It is important that we show patience, kindness and flexibility to one another during this trying time. 

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs


August 22, 2020 6:00 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on August 22, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

We continue to experience unhealthy levels of air quality around the SJSU campus. Because of this, campus will remain closed Sunday, August 23. Only essential personnel who have been cleared by their supervisor to work on campus Sunday will be allowed on campus.

As a result of the campus closure, all buildings will be closed with the exception of:

  • Residence halls and University Housing Services
  • Dining Commons
  • Student Health Center 

An update will be provided to the campus community late Sunday afternoon as we continue to assess the air quality and wildfires in the area ahead of the start of the first full week of the fall semester. Sunday’s update will include the status of in-person classes for Monday, August 24. At this time, all online classes and services should expect to continue as scheduled on Monday.

Please keep the firefighters, first responders and our fellow Spartans who are affected by these fires in your thoughts. It is important that we continue to show patience, kindness and flexibility to one another during this trying time. 

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs


August 21, 2020 3:23 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on August 21, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

Due to a recent spike to unhealthy levels of air quality on and around the campus, effective immediately, San José State University is CLOSED for the remainder of the day and Saturday. Online classes and services can continue as scheduled. 

As a result of the campus closure, all buildings will be closed with the exception of:

  • Residence halls and University Housing Services
  • Dining Commons
  • Student Health Center 

If you are working on campus and your presence is not deemed essential by your supervisor, you are asked to leave the campus as soon as possible. 

An update will be provided to the campus community late tomorrow afternoon in regards to the status of the campus for Sunday as we continue to assess the air quality and wildfires in the area. 

Our thoughts continue to be with our fellow Spartans and others who are affected by these fires. We must continue to be supportive of one another during this time of uncertainty and anxiety.

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs


August 20, 2020 6:54 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on August 20, 2020.

Dear Spartan Community,

As California and the surrounding Bay Area is grappling with numerous forest fires, San José State University is thinking of your safety and wellness. If you have been impacted by evacuation orders or the effects of fires, staying focused on academics may be challenging amid worries about personal, family, and community needs. Please know that SJSU is ready to help. As we realize that many people are being displaced by the fires that surround our community, we have listed below some immediate resources available to members of our community. 

Support Services Available

For Students: 

  • SJSU Cares Program: To address unforeseen financial crises, including those related to housing or food needs, contact the SJSU Cares Program.
  • Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS): To address social or emotional impacts, contact the CAPS office at 408-924-5910 (after hours assistance available via phone).
  • Please reach out to your faculty should you need help making connections to any of these support services noted. 

For Faculty/Staff:

Status of Campus Operations and Classes

SJSU will re-open the campus tomorrow for limited services. This includes the work of essential personnel as well as faculty and students who are approved to come to campus for research-related purposes. The Air Quality Index around campus has remained at a “moderate” level. Because of this, we will have restricted access to campus, but we are no longer at an emergency status caused by the wildfires and air quality concerns. 

Online classes will continue to operate under the same principles as today, with the continued understanding that we will excuse those who cannot attend because of the fires. In-person classes will not be offered because we will only have limited services available on campus. 

Normal campus activity will resume Saturday, and we hope to start in-person courses on Monday, August 24. An update will be provided to the campus community over the weekend as we continue to assess the air quality and wildfires in the area. 

These are trying times, and the health and well-being of ourselves and our campus community members are always the top priority. Let us continue to show kindness, patience and flexibility to one another as we navigate this unsettling period of time.

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Patrick K. Day

Vice President for Student Affairs


August 19, 2020 6:24 p.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on August 19, 2020. 

Editor’s note 2: All buildings will be closed with the exception of University Housing, Dining Commons and the Student Health Center.

Dear SJSU Campus Community,

We have been monitoring the wildfire situation closely and it is predicted that the air quality for tomorrow will remain at an unhealthy level. Therefore, operations on the physical campus will remain closed for Thursday and Friday (August 20-21). This means that no in-person courses or services will take place on campus. And, only essential personnel, as officially notified by their supervisors, will be on the campus. 

As context, we closed campus today because the Air Quality Index was at an “unhealthy” level and large numbers of students, faculty, and staff live in areas affected by the wildfires. These current wildfires, in fact, are much closer to San José State than recent ones. Given this, and knowing that many in our campus community live in evacuation zones, we wanted everyone to have ample opportunity to prepare should they have to relocate at a moment’s notice. We hope that with anticipated shifts in the winds and some level of containment, more students, faculty, and staff can find the time and space to engage in their education and work tomorrow. 

So, given that the majority of our courses and services are already planned for remote delivery, we have decided to hold online classes and resume support services beginning tomorrow morning (August 20). 

There are some caveats. If you are directly impacted by the fires (e.g., you might be evacuated tomorrow or over the weekend) or rolling power outages and:

  • You are Faculty: If you cannot find a way to teach your class tomorrow, you may cancel the class by notifying your department chair and messaging students in your class. Please note, because the physical campus is closed, faculty cannot come to campus to teach remote classes. 
  • You are a Student: If you are unable to make the assigned class time, you must do your best to notify your instructor as soon as possible.
  • You are Staff: If you are unable to perform your responsibilities remotely, please contact your supervisor. Otherwise, you are expected to resume your responsibilities remotely tomorrow morning, holding meetings, answering calls and questions, and managing the day-to-day operations of our offices.

We have to be patient, thoughtful, and supportive when and if classes are not able to meet or office staff are not available. We also have to be cognizant of our students and colleagues and their current situations. We can’t penalize each other for circumstances that are beyond the control of any one individual. Someone recently asked me, “are we going to have a policy if there are fires or rolling blackouts?” My answer, “kindness.” That stands. It’s a simple policy.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and keep everyone informed about next steps. We hope that those in our community who are directly impacted by the fires remain safe. We are here to support you. 

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs


August 19, 2020 11:41 a.m.

Editor’s note: The following message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on August 19, 2020.

SJSU campus community,

Today, August 19, San José State University is CLOSED and cancelling all in person and online classes for the remainder of the day. This decision is based on air quality levels that are expected to rise to unhealthy levels throughout the day and health concerns already heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic for our SJSU community, including for those who are facing evacuations due to fires near their homes. With wildfires raging directly east and west of San José, we are monitoring air quality on and around the San José State University campus. 

As a result of the campus closure, all buildings will be closed with the exception of:

  • Residence halls and University Housing Services
  • Dining Commons
  • Student Health Center 

Other than offices necessary for essential work, all operational- and service-related offices will also be closed today. Meetings, including those that are being held remotely, are canceled because no one should be working other than those officially identified as essential by their supervisors. We recognize that our campus community is dispersed throughout the Bay Area, and we want to ensure that we are not creating a disadvantage for those who are located in areas more impacted by the air quality, wildfires, or power outages. 

Our thoughts are with those who are having to evacuate their homes and the fire crews who are tirelessly working to put out the fires. 

By 6 p.m. today, we will re-evaluate air quality levels and update you on campus closure status through email and SJSU Twitter.

The expected weather conditions in the Bay Area for the rest of the week will likely cause the air quality to remain unhealthy. Precautions we can all consider include:

  • Limiting outdoor activities
  • Setting air conditioning units and car vent systems to re-circulate (to prevent outside air from moving inside)
  • Reducing exposure to smoky air by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed, if possible

A good resource to refer to is the Bay Area Air Quality Management District website. The site offers current information on “Spare the Air” alerts, environmental news, and other advisories. Another good resource is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Now Index

We understand this is not an ideal start to an already unprecedented fall semester. The health and safety of the campus community is always the top priority, especially when it comes to discussions of campus closure. We will continue to post updates at http://go.sjsu.edu/air-quality-2020.

Sincerely,

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

New Federally Mandated Title IX Regulations Take Effect August 14

*Editor’s Note: This message from Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) was shared with the SJSU campus community on Friday, August 14, 2020. 

Dear campus community,

Last week, I wrote to inform you about the U.S. Department of Education’s new regulations relating to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Federal Regulations). The Federal Regulations include key changes to provisions addressing scope, questioning at live hearings, review of evidence, appeals, and training, among others. All educational institutions which receive federal funding, including San José State University (SJSU) and the other 22 California State University (CSU) campuses, must comply with these regulations as of August 14, 2020, or risk loss of federal funding. 

Effective today, the Chancellor’s Office has issued Addendum B: Federal Mandated Hearing Addendum, which accompanies CSU Executive Orders 1096 and 1097, and which outlines the policy and procedures required under the Title IX Federal Regulations. Please note that regardless of the Federal Regulations, our policies governing sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sex- and gender-based discrimation, as stated in Executive Orders 1095, 1096 and 1097, still remain fully in effect. The U.S. Department of Education acknowledges that SJSU and other universities may address misconduct through their policies and through state law, and SJSU is firmly committed to responding to and addressing sexual harassment and sexual misconduct that affects the CSU community. In the case of California law and CSU policy, policies are more expansive than the conduct prohibited by the Federal Regulations. 

The Changes

All formal complaints submitted to the Title IX Office will be first assessed under Addendum B to determine whether those procedures apply. If a formal complaint does not meet the criteria to be processed under Addendum B, the complaint may be processed under EO 1096 or 1097 (our current single-investigator model) or Addendum A (our current hearing-model for student cases). 

Two significant aspects of Addendum B:

  • Under Addendum B, alleged incidents can be considered for investigation only if they occur within the United States, and only if they occur in university sanctioned programs or activities, or on properties owned or controlled by the university or recognized student organizations. If these criteria are not met, the allegations may be evaluated under EOs 1096 and 1097, or Addendum A, which apply much more broadly to alleged violations involving any university student, staff, or faculty member, including in non-SJSU locations and outside of the United States
  • All Addendum B investigations, which apply the Federal Regulations, will involve live hearings with mandatory Hearing Advisors who will conduct the cross-examination of the Parties. The hearing will be facilitated by a Hearing Officer, who will monitor decorum and assess the appropriateness of the questions. The CSU will provide trained Hearing Advisors if either complainant or respondent do not have one available.
  • Other regulation details are available at Addendum B and FAQs. Please note that FAQs will be forthcoming. Any inquiries can be directed to diversityoffice@sjsu.edu.

What has NOT changed:

  • Employees still have a duty to report potential incidents of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence and stalking to the Title IX Office, unless they are specifically exempt under CSU policy.
  • Executive Orders 1096 and 1097 and Addendum A are still in effect but only after consideration whether allegations are governed by Addendum B, based on specifically defined criteria.
  • Regardless of which process, or whether a case meets criteria for an investigation, our Title IX team continues to provide supportive measures and other services, conduct intakes relating to reports and complaints of sex- and gender-based misconduct, and coordinate with other campus offices on Title IX issues of misconduct, harassment, stalking, and gender equity.

All current active investigations as well as intakes regarding alleged incidents that occurred prior to August 14, 2020, will still go through the process under EO 1096 and 1097 or Addendum A. Incidents occurring on or after August 14 will be subject to the new process described above, including determining whether they are governed by procedures stated in Addendum B.

San José State University remains committed to supporting a safe and equitable campus environment as we move forward with these new regulations issued by the federal government. Title IX will continue to work and collaborate to provide supportive measures and other services in our processes for our campus community.

Sincerely,

Kathleen Wong(Lau)

Learn Anywhere Website Launched to Aid Student Success

student working remotely on his laptop.

Student working remotely.

On August 6, San José State University launched Learn Anywhere—a website to help students better adapt to the hybrid teaching and learning model for the upcoming fall 2020 semester that consists of mostly online learning.

The Learn Anywhere site—the third in a trio of help and instruction websites—joins Work Anywhere and Teach Anywhere, which were created last spring to assist staff and faculty members transitioning to sheltering in place.

Learn Anywhere offers students a readiness questionnaire, basic tips to get started, guides to Zoom mastery, help navigating Canvas—and even what to do if students don’t have reliable Wi-Fi access at home, or need a loaner laptop. The Learn Anywhere site also has many easy-to-find tips on how to access other SJSU resources available to students, including:

  • Academic support, like the Writing Center, Accessible Education Center and Career Center
  • Advising Hub
  • Campus Life’s rich range of virtual opportunities to join in and connect
  • Financial Aid and SJSU Cares
  • How to use the library remotely

Learn Anywhere provides a “one-stop shop” where students can find information about technology needs, using online tools and campus resources like student centers, activities and events.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Vincent J. Del Casino, Jr., said the Learn Anywhere website “helps students tap in and figure things out: How do I connect to tutoring? How do I connect to other success programs?”

Melinda Jackson, associate dean for undergraduate education, said, “We are excited to roll out Learn Anywhere for our students. Online learning is a new experience for many, and we want to make sure that students know about all of the resources the university is offering this fall.

“We recognize that online learning brings new challenges,” Jackson said. “Our faculty and staff members have been working hard all summer to reimagine and revamp what we do to offer an excellent educational experience for all.”

Last spring—when sheltering in place threw everything into a whirl—eCampus launched Teach Anywhere, a rich resource to help faculty members find what they needed. “It was a whole campus team effort getting that up,” said Jennifer Redd, director of eCampus. “This was truly a cross-campus collaborative effort to design and develop,” Redd said. Together, Learn Anywhere and Teach Anywhere curate resources, provide tips and offer guidance for teaching and learning online.

In addition to pointing students toward upcoming workshops, the Learn Anywhere site also displays numerous helpful recorded tutorials, such as tips on how to go beyond Zoom basics. A simple video tutorial explains how to share videos within Canvas. Another reminds students that, with access to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of tools, they’re able to practice making polished, professional-quality presentations.

The homepage also features personal tips offered by undergraduate and graduate students on strategies they use to succeed in learning remotely.

Sumeet Suhas Deshpande, a current student who helped the eCampus staff design and produce Learn Anywhere, said in an email that he hoped the site would make for “a smooth and efficient online learning experience in the semesters to come. Learn Anywhere is primarily built to cater to the needs of students who are not so well-versed with technology and software applications and are new to online learning.” Deshpande said he intended to use the very site he helped create to better manage his own time and studies, learn how other students were coping and succeeding, and connect with peers. As a student himself, Deshpande said he and the team had put a great deal of thought into “building the website with the end user’s perspective, as that is what matters the most.”

“We hope that students will bookmark the Learn Anywhere site and visit it often throughout the semester,” Jackson said. “We are all on this online journey together and want this site to help students connect to the Spartan community and find the support they need.”

STEM Faculty Members Receive $1.69M NSF Grant Award

SJSU community members participating in STEM education program.

Photo: David Schmitz

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently awarded a $1.69 million grant to San José State’s faculty members for a research proposal titled “Transforming Undergraduate Teaching and Learning Through Culturally Sustaining, Active and Asset-Based Approaches to Introductory Science Courses” that aims to increase diversity, inclusion and retention in STEM.

Over the course of the next five years, the STEM research team led by Cassandra Paul, associate professor of physics and astronomy, and science education, will be employing innovative instructional approaches to reduce attrition rates in introductory STEM courses.

“The goal of this grant is to increase student success and graduation rates for undergraduate students and, more specifically, for Latinx and other students belonging to regional, racial and ethnic minority groups,” said Paul, principal investigator of the project.

Historically, the attrition rates in STEM courses are highest during the first two years of college, especially among Latinx and underrepresented minority students. “We want to make sure that we’re listening to what the students are bringing with them to SJSU, and engaging with them more actively,” said Paul.

According to Pamela Stacks, associate vice president of research, the beauty of the kind of research that Paul and her team are doing is that it not only tells us about Latinx students but provides insights into all students.

“Getting this grant opportunity means that STEM faculty members can now be more collaborative and informed about connections between different STEM disciplines, and also they’ll be able to identify issues students are struggling with,” said Stacks. Stacks added, “eventually when the research gets published, it will impact a much bigger audience and, in the process, elevate our whole institution.”

Co-PIs Tammie Visintainer, assistant professor of teacher education and science education, and Marcos Pizzaro, associate dean of the Lurie College of Education, have lent their expertise in educational equity to the project. Their research and service work informs the culturally sustaining and asset-based approach of this work.

“This grant is truly unique because it explores introductory science instruction as something that needs to be more inclusive and leverage the diverse resources that Latinx and other students of color bring with them—which has consistently been ignored and/or not celebrated in institutions of higher education,” said Visintainer, who played a significant role in writing the grant.

Part of the impetus for the grant, according to Paul, came about during informal meetings with STEM faculty members Resa Kelly, professor of chemistry and science education, and Katherine Wilkinson, associate professor of biological sciences, who are also co-PIs for the project. The idea to better align and link content across different courses like biology, chemistry and physics motivated the team to create a cohesive experience for students entering STEM majors.

The novel part, said Visintainer, “is how faculty “see” students of color and how this shapes their instruction.”

“The innovative approach of this grant is that we are specifically seeking to identify the cultural wealth, assets, and strengths that uniquely position Latinx students to thrive and succeed in STEM disciplines – and tapping into those,” said Visintainer.

The entire first year of the five-year grant will be spent on collecting data, talking to students and interviewing them, and also learning more about their experiences.

“The first year is really about getting a better understanding of what the students’ STEM experience is at SJSU in order to be better informed for the next stages of the grant,” Paul said. Subsequently, the team has plans to develop new faculty learning communities that will engage with the data, identify different aspects of the curriculum, and then adapt and align content to ensure a coherent experience for the students.

Since it’s a grant with a particular focus on Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI), Tammie Visintainer said, “we are going to focus on that population while also transforming science and undergraduate education for everybody.”

Stacks agrees that gender, race and ethnicity elements are crucial in STEM, she thinks that diversity of thought is what the community should strive for. “What’s more powerful as we become more inclusive is that we expand the intellectual elements, and then we make possible solutions to how we approach things,” said Stacks.

Stacks said that Paul has implemented a radical reform process in her physics classes since joining SJSU in 2012. Besides improvising on teaching style and technique, Paul is also experimenting with grade scales that are different from the traditional percent scale for assessing students. “We saw our fail rates go way down. And so our students are much more successful in the course,” said Paul. “We’ve also started group quizzes and group portions of the finals. So every aspect of the class has a community element to it,” she added.

“In this moment in history, the most exciting part of this grant is that it creates space for a true reimagining of undergraduate STEM education,” said Visintainer.

The other important aspect of the grant is that the research faculty members were supported for preliminary research by CSU STEM-NET (a system-wide research affinity group) that promotes research, community building and innovative educational ideas across the CSU university system.

Diversity in STEM Master’s Degrees Recognized

Professor sits with science students in lab.

Photo courtesy of Miri VanHoven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bachelor’s Degree Diversity across All Fields

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

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

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

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

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

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

SJSU Remembers Civil Rights Icon, Congressman John Lewis (1940-2020)



Click on the “i” icon in the toolbar to view photo captions.

Photography by D. Michael Cheers

For a 2017 Alternative Spring Break trip to Harlem and Washington, D.C., Associate Professor of Journalism and Photojournalism Coordinator D. Michael Cheers created an unforgettable experience for his students. He arranged a meeting with Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights leader who served in the United States House of Representatives for Georgia’s 5th congressional district from 1987 until his death in 2020.

“I started planning the alternative spring break trip in November 2016,” said Cheers. “I wanted to provide a meaningful experience for our African American students. Once the logistics were worked out in early 2017, and the trip was a ‘go,’ I still felt something was missing.”

Cheers had secured complimentary tickets to visit the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., but felt the students needed some context before the museum visit. Cheers knew Lewis through his many years as a photojournalist for Jet and Ebony magazines, so he contacted Lewis’s chief of staff in Washington.

Cheers was persistent, as members of Congress are always busy. A week before departing, he received word that the congressman would see the group, but only for a brief meet and greet. “I gambled that perhaps he would have more time,” said Cheers. “He did!”

Lewis talked to SJSU students in his Capitol Hill office in Washington, D.C. for more than an hour about his work with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.

“Congressman Lewis mesmerized the students with his civil rights history lesson and a Q&A,” said Cheers. “And he brought tears to my eyes when he agreed to sign the many books the students had purchased and posed for photos.”

In 2018, Cheers and Sociology Lecturer Chris Cox led students and Bay Area community elders on an alternative spring break trip across the civil rights south to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The group visited many civil rights landmarks.

“In my 15 years on the SJSU faculty, I’ve tried my best to share the experiences I had covering the civil rights movement with SJSU students,” said Cheers. “In January 2009, I took a van load of journalism students through the civil rights movement south to the inauguration of President Barack Obama. Of all the landmarks we visited in 2009 and in 2018, walking with our students across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, the site where Lewis was badly beaten on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965, remains a precious and reflective memory for me and our students.”

SJSU Launches Human Rights Institute

HRI director W. Armaline with his students that make up the HRI team.

Director William Armaline (far right) with the HRI team.

Formally launched in October 2019, San José State’s Human Rights Institute (HRI) has already been making an impact—and now is poised to do even more.

Years in the making, the HRI recently launched its website offering a world-class policy and research institute’s research, education and praxis, the intersection of policy with action.

Director William Armaline credited numerous faculty and staff members who collaborated to bring the San José State’s Human Rights Institute come to life. “So many people have been critical in building this entire project,” he said.

Armaline said creating the HRI “has really has been sort of my grind and mission since I’ve been at at San José State: Trying to build this—both the minor program, which launched in 2012 out of justice studies—and also a research and policy institute that would go beyond pedagogy and education to actually giving a public university very real roles in the communities we serve.” Armaline said the HRI brings research and frameworks from international human rights and international standards to bear on “social problems that confront the communities that we literally are chartered to serve as a university.”

College of Social Sciences Dean Walt Jacobs said that creating a formal institute had meant navigating a long approval process to win official status. Within the CSU system, research centers tend to spotlight research, which the approval process is designed to prioritize.

“But the HRI is unique,” Jacobs said. “It also has that component of praxis. Which is about teaching action, putting research into action. We had to go through a lot of hoops to get the HRI approved. But we did. And it fits really nicely into the legacy of social justice work that San José State has done throughout its history. It’s a good fit.”

Armaline described his view of how an institute in a public university ought to serve community needs: “We want to answer legitimate questions from the community: ‘If I don’t have kids going to your university or even beyond that, why should we really support it? Why do we need to have it here? Why is it a critical member of our community institutionally?’ And we want to be an answer to that question. We want to be able to say, ‘Because centers of learning are critical for communities to be able to understand the world around them and develop solutions for the problems that they face.’ And also to answer the questions they find interesting and relevant. I think people rightly want direct and pragmatic kinds of answers to those kinds of questions.”

Jacobs said that when Armaline was hired in 2007, his purpose was to build something like the University of Connecticut Human Rights Institute, where Armaline previously worked. Preeminent nationally, even internationally, “they had a very robust program there,” Jacobs said. “Bill was hired in part to establish an institute here on the West Coast that would be very similar to the very successful one on the East Coast.”

A sociologist by profession, Armaline moved to the sociology department from the justice studies department, where he was hired in 2007. Doing the work, demonstrating results and setting up the structure of the HRI have consumed almost a decade of his life—along with the many other projects and initiatives he’s engaged in (not to mention teaching).

HRI faculty members include award-winning authors, educators and journalists who partner with SJSU’s extremely diverse student body—as well as organizations across the region—to inform policy and practice according to international human rights law, standards and scholarship. For example, since 2012 the HRI has offered an undergraduate minor to students who want to add training in international human rights law or human rights reporting/journalism and advocacy to their field of study.

After receiving official approval as a research center in October, the HRI has been preparing for the public launch of its website amid the months of the 2020 COVID-19 restrictions.

“One of the requirements is that the center or institute has to have a plan for self-sufficiency within two years,” Jacobs said. “As a college, we’ve been supporting them as they’ve been in the planning process. But a big part of their efforts will be to raise funds to keep going. I’ll also be helping too, as we go out and talk to donors about places we can help support them.”

Armaline highlighted the importance of connecting international human rights research with the lived experience of Californians right here in SJSU’s neighborhood. For him, tying scholarship to immediate, real-world problems is at the core of the mission: “We dedicate ourselves as a research and policy institute to study and understand the problems that confront us—the local community but also the national and global community. And then really work with those communities and other stakeholders and decision makers to develop the best possible solutions.”

Support the Human Rights Institute

Beyond supporting human rights education and research, contributors can support the HRI’s new Human Rights News Network, which includes human rights reporting classes where students will develop original news content, report on the HRI’s research and action, and learn to use human rights laws, conventions, monitoring mechanisms and data in news stories. The HRI has already received gifts that will support student scholarships, and seeks additional support to further the institution’s path to self-sufficiency as an institute advancing research and action on human rights. Learn more about the Human Rights Institute and how you can support its work.

$1.2M Gift Commitment from Michael C. and Kathryn M. Grischy to Provide Future Support for Students Studying Abroad

Michael C. and Kathryn M. Grischy.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. and Kathryn M. Grischy.

San José, Calif. — San José State University is pleased to announce that it has received a $1.2 million gift commitment from Michael C. and Kathryn (Katy) M. Grischy. The gift will support students who study abroad for a semester.

“This generous gift commitment will help us share the life-changing opportunity of a globally facing educational experience that exposes SJSU students to a deeply immersive cross cultural experience to help them reach their academic, personal and professional goals,” said Study Abroad and Away Director Susie Morris. “We’re grateful for how these resources will support our mission to provide accessible global experiences for all SJSU students, providing the support they need to incorporate a global experience into their university education but who might not have the resources to experience study abroad otherwise.”

The Michael C. and Kathryn M. Grischy Study Abroad Fund in the College of Professional and Global Education will establish an endowed fund for scholarships that cover tuition and fees for one semester of study abroad.

A consulting software/firmware engineer, Michael is the retired co-founder and president of Octave Software Group, a technology service consulting firm in San José, California. Michael graduated summa cum laude with a degree in electrical engineering in 1985. Katy Grischy studied English at SJSU from spring 1967 to spring 1968, completed her bachelor’s in English at Cal State Long Beach, and attained her master’s in counseling psychology at Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles. She retired from her 30-year San José private practice in psychotherapy in 2016.

The Grischys both expressed a deep commitment to the value of a broad-based education that is more than just the sum total of classroom experience.

“Michael and I want more students to have the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective, to augment their academic experiences and have the privilege of learning through travel,” Katy said.

“A study abroad experience can change a student’s worldview, a student’s life,” said Michael. “Our idea is to enable more SJSU students to be able to have those experiences.”

“Internationalizing San José State cultivates an environment of diversity and inclusion,” said Ruth Huard, dean of the College of Professional and Global Education. “The Grischys’ generous donation will directly support students and the wider campus community as we continue to prepare to live and lead in a globalized world.”

Their gift commitment was established via the Grischys’ living trust.

To learn how you can make a gift to SJSU from your estate, please contact Randy Balogh, director of planned giving, at 408-924-1123, randy.balogh@sjsu.edu.


About San José State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 250 areas of study—offered through its nine colleges. With more than 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing 10,000 graduates to the workforce. The university is immensely proud of the accomplishments of its more than 280,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

NSF Awards $1.5M to Fund STEM Curricula for Students with Visual Impairments

A student with visual impairment touches a 3D model.

A student explores a 3D printed tactile model of the constellation Orion. The spherical stars have diameters that represent their true relative brightnesses and are attached to posts whose lengths indicate the stars’ true relative distances from the Earth. Photo: Professor Thomas Madura/San José State University.

Multiple 3D printers assembled by students with visual impairment.

3D printers assembled by students with VI at the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons in Kalamazoo, MI. Photo: Professor Thomas Madura/San José State University.

Researchers from San José State University, The Ohio State University and the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) located at John Hopkins University have been awarded a $1.5 million dollar Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) curricula for students with blindness and visual impairments (VI).

The funding will be used to research and develop STEM Career Exploration Labs (CELs) where students with VI can learn about STEM, career opportunities in STEM and develop STEM skills.

“Students will participate in hands-on activities such as assembling and using desktop 3D printers and using 3D printed models and sound to learn astronomical topics, such as celestial motion and lunar phases,” said Principal Investigator and San José State University Assistant Professor Thomas Madura. “Spatial thinking is particularly important for students with VI, who touch their surroundings and gather information via sound to form mental images and make sense of the world.”

The STEM Career Exploration Labs will also include interactions with STEM professionals with VI and field trips to local businesses that offer insights into STEM careers. The CELs will serve high school students from ages 14 to 20 with VI, their sighted peers, STEM high school teachers and teachers of the visually impaired.  The Council of Schools for the Blind will help recruit students and teachers for the program.

Previously, researchers conducted two pilot workshops including one in Kalamazoo, Michigan, with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs’ Bureau of Services for Blind Persons and the South Carolina Commission For the Blind in Columbia, South Carolina.

“In the workshops, the students explored current research data obtained with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope through 3D prints,” said Hubble Space Telescope Outreach Project Scientist at STScI Dr. Carol Christian. “The use of such tactile materials allows students to discover the wonder as well as some of the scientific detail of the astrophysical universe.”

A student with visual impairment holds a 3D printed model of the Eta Carinae Homunculus nebula.

A student explores a 3D printed model of the Eta Carinae Homunculus nebula created using observations obtained from the European Southern Observatory’s telescope in Chile. Photo: Professor Thomas Madura/San José State University.

According to Assistant Professor Thomas Madura, there is very little research to date on how students with VI learn science and fewer studies on the impact of technological tools designed for students with VI. Researchers will collect and provide new data by investigating:

  • The effect on students with VI’s understanding of scientific concepts
  • How students participate in the inquiry-based STEM work
  • How the project affects student attitudes towards STEM, STEM careers, and astronomy
  • Assess understanding of spatial thinking skills and astronomy concepts
  • Identify STEM high school teachers’ attitudes towards students with disabilities in STEM classes

Data results will be distributed in a variety of ways, including peer-reviewed research journals, presentations, and workshops at various STEM, astronomy, VI, education, 3D printing, persons with disabilities and related domestic and international conferences.

“We know very little about how persons with visual impairments understand abstract concepts, such as astronomy, as they are presented through 3D models,” said Project Researcher and Associate Professor at The Ohio State University Tiffany Wild. “The results of this research can impact the way we teach astronomy to students with visual impairments and ultimately increase accessibility for all those with visual impairments to the world of astronomy.”

Depending on the current COVID-19 pandemic, researchers plan to set up STEM Career Exploration Labs in public high schools, schools for the blind, and state agencies in 12 states beginning in spring 2021.

SJSU Launches SJSU Adapt Plan for Fall 2020

Note: The following message from President Mary A. Papazian was shared with the SJSU campus community on Monday, July 13, 2020.

SJSU campus community, 

I’m sure we can all agree the past few months adapting to the challenges of COVID-19 has tested us physically, emotionally, psychologically and, for some, spiritually. Although every one of us has been affected by the pandemic in their own way, as Spartans, we have shown strength in taking on whatever has come our way, while continuing to show compassion, care and a helping hand for others. 

The SJSU Adapt plan is now available after months of planning and responding to constantly evolving external guidelines. I want to thank everyone who played an integral part ensuring this plan addresses the needs of the entire campus community. I also want to thank the campus community for their patience as we developed the plan and obtained needed approvals from the California State University Chancellor’s Office.The SJSU Adapt logo, an infinity symbol with blue and gold colors The multi-phased approach of the SJSU Adapt plan purposely aligns with health orders of Santa Clara County and California Department of Public Health Departments. This plan serves as a roadmap for us to navigate the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic and adjust to the continued gradual reopening or potential future closing of Santa Clara County and the state of California.

The new website features an explanation of the four phases of the plan, FAQs, and health and safety guidelines. SJSU is currently in “Phase 2: Modified Campus” of the SJSU Adapt plan.

A depiction of the four phases of the SJSU Adapt plan, with Phase 2 of the picture being highlighted to signify that SJSU is in Phase 2.

SJSU could move backwards or forwards in phases if it is deemed necessary, due to new or revised health ordinances from local and state public health departments. 

The following information from SJSU Adapt has been posted:

The icons for information that is available in the SJSU Adapt plan.

Please note that the fall plan for Athletics is still being reviewed by the California State University Chancellor’s Office. When information has been approved to share, the site will be updated and a follow up message will alert you to the update. 

After the community has had some time to review the details of the SJSU Adapt plan, there will be an opportunity to discuss parts of the plan and answer questions in one of two virtual town halls in late July. Details will be communicated soon.

Thank you again for your flexibility and patience during these last several trying months. I look forward to the time we can all be together, once again.

Sincerely,

Mary A. Papazian

President

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

Water fountain with a recycled water sign next to it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CSU May Require Ethnic Studies Course to Graduate

Mural of Cesar E. Chavez.

The César E. Chávez Monument: Arch of Dignity, Equality and Justice, designed by Judith F. Baca.

A bill that moved forward in the California legislature on June 18 would require all CSU students in the class of 2025 and those beyond to complete a three-unit course in ethnic studies. If signed into law, the graduation requirement would begin in fall 2021.

College of Social Sciences Dean Walt Jacobs said that SJSU’s readiness to respond to an incoming mandate along these lines stems from the years of preparation. Several steps have already been taken to strengthen ethnic studies. One is the College of Social Sciences’ Ethnic Studies Collaborative, established in 2018.

“A collaborative is a more informal way of getting people together,” Jacobs said.

Yvonne Kwan, an assistant professor of Asian American studies, who joined the program in 2017, is director of the collaborative.

“The collaborative was a way for us to bring together the various ethnic studies programs and departments that we already have,” Kwan said. Chicana and Chicano studies and African American studies are departments, whereas Asian American studies and Native American studies programs are smaller. One thing the collaborative helps do, Kwan said, is to make them more equal and balanced. “The collaborative is a way in which we can come together to have these difficult conversations.”

Kwan said that an ethnic studies graduation requirement would help students understand what is going on in our world. “It’s important to know because K-12 education tends to have a very Eurocentric basis.” She distinguished her field from the fields of history and purely studying a culture. “It’s about a critical interdisciplinary way we understand racial and ethnic relations and how it shapes power dynamics in the United States.”

New Faculty Hires and a New Minor

Another weighty step taken, Jacobs said, is new hiring in all four of these fields.

“Three new faculty members in African American studies are starting this year, including a new department chair,” Jacobs said. “We’ve also had two recent hires in Chicana and Chicano studies, and a new faculty member in sociology who also does Native American studies is coming in this year. We also have two recent hires in Asian American studies, including Yvonne Kwan, who is doing a fabulous job leading the Ethnic Studies Collaborative. She followed inaugural director Magdalena Barrera, who will soon step down as chair of Chicana and Chicano studies to become SJSU’s vice provost for faculty success.”

In the fall, SJSU will offer a minor in comparative U.S. race and ethnic relations for undergraduates who want to pursue this topic alongside another course of study.

Kwan explained that some students already enroll in ethnic studies classes to fulfill a general education requirement. Two of her Asian American studies classes, for example, are heavily populated by students not focused intensively on ethnic studies.

Concerns that adding a three-unit ethnic studies graduation requirement might slow progress to graduation were unfounded, Kwan said. “We’re often worried about how AB 1460 could delay students’ time to graduation. But if students take an ethnic studies class, it’s not going to, because many of our existing courses already fulfill several GE requirements.”

She said students complete her classes with new skills and tools for looking at history, culture, comparative thinking and especially how power structures work.

She described one student who, at the beginning of the semester, told her that ethnic studies fosters divisive thinking. “But by the end of the semester—and especially with COVID and the proliferation of anti-Asian racism,” she said, the student’s understanding and analysis changed. The student said, “Many minority communities still do not have full human rights. People fought for ethnic studies courses because ethnic minorities have been politically oppressed for a really long time, and no one wanted to talk about it.”

Kwan added that sometimes ethnic studies classes serve other purposes—like engaging students and building skills that help them in whatever other course of study they are pursuing. “The research shows that it doesn’t matter what race you are. It benefits students academically and socially,” she said. “Also for students of color in particular, ethnic studies increases retention and graduation rates.”

About AB 1460

According to the language of the bill, AB 1460, “It is the intent of the Legislature that students of the California State University acquire the knowledge and skills that will help them comprehend the diversity and social justice history of the United States and of the society in which they live to enable them to contribute to that society as responsible and constructive citizens.”

Kwan described how the bill had moved forward in 2020. “As a collaborative, we’d been having this conversation [about the issues in the bill] for a very long time. The recent reinvigoration of the Black Lives Matter movement, spurred on by continued proliferation of police brutality and the murder of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson—and the list goes on—made it ever so clear that this is what we need at this moment. Because AB 1460 passed with a great majority, 30 to 5, it’s clear that ethnic studies is important.”

Although no ethnic studies graduation requirement is in place yet, if a CSU-wide ethnic studies requirement is coming, Jacobs said, “We’re ready to go.”

SJSU’s Response to Student and Exchange Visitor Program Modifications

Editor’s Note: The following message was sent to the SJSU campus community on July 7, 2020.

Dear campus community,

The recent development from the Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regarding the status of international students is troubling. The COVID-19 pandemic has already put added pressure on all students, with many international students having to navigate the uncertainty several thousand miles away from their homes and families. We know the recent changes to SEVP produces additional stress and uncertainty that has rippled across our campus community, affecting international students who are part of our Spartan family. I share in the great concern of our faculty, staff and student peers who care deeply about our international students. 

SJSU will continue to search for and implement solutions that meet this new criteria presented by SEVP. Our International Student and Scholar Services Office in the College of Professional and Global Education is among the many campus departments that are gathering information on the new guidelines and connecting with our international students to assist them with questions and concerns. 

It is particularly crucial to remind the campus community that SJSU is implementing a hybrid course offering (in-person and online) in the fall as we adhere to public health guidelines that will keep our campus community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our university housing will operate around 50 percent capacity and several campus services will be open for students, faculty and staff who will be on campus. International students and their pursuit of a higher education degree should not be hampered by the circumstances caused by COVID-19, especially when there are opportunities for student life available on campus in the fall. 

I firmly believe that everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue a degree in higher education, and given that we are all members of the San José State University community, I know this is a shared belief that unites us. As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, the bonds created and shared while on campus and online with classmates, colleagues and friends are as important as those we make virtually. 

Sincerely,

Mary A. Papazian

President

SJSU Alumnus and Artist Titus Kaphar’s Work Featured on Time Magazine Cover

A Black mother with her eyes closed and eyebrows furrowed, holds a white cut out of her baby. Her hand below the baby is blue.

Cover of June 15, 2020, issue of Time, featuring Analogous Colors (2020) by Titus Kaphar. Artwork © Titus Kaphar.

For its June 15, 2020, cover on the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, Time turned to Titus Kaphar, ’01 BFA Art/Pictorial Arts. The cover features Analogous Colors (2020).

To accompany the cover, Kaphar wrote “I Cannot Sell You This Painting,” which also appeared in Time.

A 2018 MacArthur Fellow, Kaphar says art can be used to shift perspectives and sees painting as a language that offers diverse perspectives on history, justice and change.

Read a Spring/Summer 2019 Washington Square alumni profile on Kaphar.

 

Papazian Named California Campus Compact Executive Board Chair

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

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

President Mary A. Papazian speaks at a SJSU commencement ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

San José State University and the City of San José Extend Operating Agreement of Hammer Theatre Center for 35-Year Period

Editors note: This media advisory was distributed on June 25, 2020.

Corner view of the Hammer Theatre Center Box Office entrance.

Hammer Theatre Center. Photo: Christina Olivas.

Media Contacts:
Robin McElhatton, San José State University
O: 408-924-1749
E: robin.mcelhatton@sjsu.edu

Steph Keay, Carla Befera & Co
O: 650-327-1200
E: steph@cb-pr.com

SAN JOSÉ, CA – June 25, 2020– The city of San José and San José State University have agreed to a new contract that allows the university to continue operating the Hammer Theatre Center for up to 35 years. The theatre, which is owned by the city of San José, is a state-of-the-art performance venue located in the heart of downtown San José at 101 Paseo De San Antonio.

In March, San City Council voted unanimously to proceed with the contract, which builds on a successful partnership initiated in 2016. San José Director of Cultural Affairs Kerry Adams Hapner told the council, “This has been such a successful model in so many ways.” She says, “We are looking forward to continuing a fruitful partnership that increases the cultural vibrancy of the downtown and brings long-lasting benefits to the city and SJSU.”

San José State has signed the agreement, which allows SJSU to operate the Hammer for the next fifteen years with additional options to renew through the year 2055. “This contract allows the Hammer Theatre to bring high-quality arts programming to San José for decades to come,” said College of Humanities and the Arts Dean Shannon Miller. “It also gives our music, theater, and dance students the opportunity to perform on the Hammer’s professional stage, and connects our campus community to the cultural and economic corridors throughout the downtown area.”

Formerly the home of San José Repertory Theatre, the architecturally striking, bright blue building sat vacant from June 2014 until SJSU took the helm in early 2016, investing approximately $2 million to renovate the facilities. “One of the hallmarks of the Hammer has been the diversity of our programming,” said Hammer Executive Director Christopher Burrill. “We have been attracting new audiences with a wide range of interests—not only theatre lovers, but also fans of dance, music, film, live talks, and much more, with programs that speak to all sectors of our multicultural community.”

For the past four years, the 528-seat theatre has presented an array of offerings including outstanding professional productions, community-based works, SJSU shows, and concerts, as well as dance, music, talks, film screenings—even live aerial performances with dancers suspended outside, scaling the sides of the iconic blue building. In addition to a complete renovation of the stage, and updated audio and lighting equipment to reflect the latest technology, an upstairs rehearsal space was transformed into Hammer 4, a black box theatre space designed for intimate productions such as Hammer’s “Black Cab Jazz” collaboration with San José Jazz.

In the last season, the Hammer presented nearly 200 events, drawing more than 57,000 audience members. From jazz performances to mariachi extravaganzas, the popular National Geographic Live! speaker series to the acclaimed National Theatre Live film screenings, Cinequest film festival presentations, ballet and modern dance shows, kid-friendly performances, live art and more, the Hammer’s mission is to serve the community through artistic and educational programming that express the unique characteristics and diverse cultures of Silicon Valley. The Mercury News raved, “It’s safe to say San José State has exceeded anyone’s expectations for the reactivation of the theater and have kept it as a vital community asset. That is certainly worth applauding.”

On June 15, 2020, the Hammer announced its plan to invest in additional technology to create a studio-quality, high-definition, multi-camera video environment that will allow the theatre to offer its audiences live stream events to view from home. These tech upgrades provide the Hammer the opportunity to offer high-quality alternatives for the short term—while large public gatherings are prohibited by COVID-19—and long term—for those who may not be able to attend a live event in person for accessibility reasons. To help with the effort, the Hammer has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $30,000 to pay for the refit of the theatre and to offer live stream content from its stage. For more information visit: power.sjsu.edu/hammertheatre.

About San José State University

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, San José State provides a comprehensive university education, granting bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in 145 areas of study with an additional 108 concentrations—offered through its nine colleges.

With approximately 35,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, San José State University continues to be an essential partner in the economic, cultural, and social development of Silicon Valley and the state, annually contributing more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce.

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

Supreme Court Ruling on DACA; SJSU Town Hall on June 24

Editor’s Note: Below is a message President Mary A. Papazian shared with the campus community on June 18, 2020.

Dear campus community,

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling today, June 18, preserving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, ensures that current DACA recipients at SJSU and across the country can continue to pursue their higher education dreams and goals. This ruling will provide some relief to many in our community who have awaited the decision with tremendous anxiety and fear. Today’s decision is very good news, but we must remain vigilant over the long term.

The ruling was about the process used to terminate the DACA program and not about the merits of the program itself. There remains much work to be done to provide long-term solutions for DACA recipients. SJSU will continue to partner with county and local community agencies as well as the CSU system to provide access to support students, faculty and staff. Support will continue to span a range of needs, such as renewal and applications for DACA, connection to services provided by legal non-profits and information-sharing about accessing and applying for funding to cover application and renewal fees. And, of course, SJSU’s UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center will continue to provide resources for all undocumented students, including DACA students and employees.

In an effort to provide clarity on the impact of this ruling for our students and employees, SJSU will host a virtual town hall on Wednesday, June 24, from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm. During the first half of the meeting, speakers will provide more detailed explanation about what the decision means for our campus. During the second half, participants who wish to do so are invited to share their experiences and ask questions.

Today is an important moment for DACA recipients and higher education. San José State University values the continued success of all of its students and employees.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mary A. Papazian
President


A reminder to all: SJSU will not assist federal, state, or local agencies with requests about a campus member’s immigration status. Any inquiries from ICE or other agencies about a campus member’s immigration status should be directed to our University Police Department at (408) 924-2222.

SJSU Athletes Leading The Battle For Change

SJSU women’s soccer players Natasha Harris and Darrian Reed and men’s basketball player Caleb Simmons recently joined together to form Athletes4CHNGES, a group dedicated to raising awareness within and beyond the athletic community. CHNGES stands for Community, Humanity, News, Gender, Equality and Solidarity. The group raised nearly $80,000 in their initial fundraiser.

Read the full story from Matt Penland here: https://sjsuspartans.com/news/2020/6/11/general-spartans-leading-the-battle-for-change.aspx.

SJSU Faculty Prepare for Fall 2020

More than 1,000 faculty members hone their skills to improve student experience in online courses

With the California State University system recently deciding on a shift to mostly virtual classes for the fall 2020 semester, SJSU faculty members are taking part in the SJSU Teach Online Summer Certificate Program. The program is being supported by a partnership that features the SJSU Center for Faculty Development, eCampus, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI), and the outside organization Online Learning Consortium (OLC).

More than 1,000 faculty members have signed up for the three-week online program, which will support them in inclusive, accessible and well-designed online and hybrid instruction for Fall courses.

“I’m excited by the response from our faculty members, who recognize the importance of this opportunity to create the best learning experiences for our students for fall 2020 and beyond,” said Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino Jr.

Screengrab of the SJSU Teach Online Summer Certificate Program

Jennifer Redd, Director of eCampus, presents during the first session of the SJSU Teach Online Summer Certificate Program on June 8, 2020.

Faculty members must complete seven modules to earn a certificate, badge and stipend. The program is led by experienced online instructors from a wide range of disciplines who will provide guidance and support. To establish a strong benchmark for everyone participating in the institute, 33 faculty members will be participating in a “train-the-trainer” workshop to serve as program mentors.

“The spring semester prompted a rapid shift in teaching and learning for students, faculty and staff alike,” said eCampus Director Jennifer Redd. “That we can invest in helping faculty members create quality teaching experiences for the fall that represent their dedication is critical to our campus’ long-term success.”

The program begins with a two-hour synchronous session, where faculty members will be introduced to hybrid options for curriculum and how to ensure equity in online teaching.

After the online session, participants will have three weeks to complete seven modules. Four modules are required to be completed by every faculty member:

  • Mastering Online Teaching Essentials,
  • Supporting Universal Design for Learning,
  • Analyzing Assessment Strategies and
  • Equity and Inclusion Frameworks in Design in Online Settings
Screenshot of a lesson from the SJSU Teach Online Summer Certificate Program

Chief Diversity Officer Kathy Wong(Lau) leads a discussion during the first session of the SJSU Teach Online Summer Certificate Program on June 8, 2020.

“I am grateful that ODEI could create a research-informed module on best practices and resources that attend to equity and inclusion in online course design, facilitation, and materials,” said Chief Diversity Officer Kathy Wong(Lau). “Working with this team of campus collaborators has been fantastic.” The additional three modules are selected from a group of optional modules on topics that include how to integrate support services for students, create robust online labs and simulations, and use Adobe’s Creative Cloud solutions in the classroom.

“Experts from across the campus have designed a program that will help any instructor strengthen their teaching, no matter how experienced they are to start,” said Center for Faculty Development Director Deanna Fassett.

Given the overwhelming interest, faculty members have been assigned to cohorts. The first cohort started June 8, with the other two sessions beginning June 29 and July 20.

Along with this program, faculty members are also pursuing opportunities through the CSU Chancellor’s Office, SJSU’s Center for Faculty Development, eCampus, and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

 

NOAA Selects Moss Landing Marine Labs For New CIMEAS Institute

A boat on the water with partial view of being underwater with seaweed.

Photo credit: Scott Gabara, ’14 MS Phycology

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has selected San José State University’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) to be a founding member of the agency’s new Cooperative Institute for Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Systems (CIMEAS).

The CIMEAS will conduct collaborative, multidisciplinary research on climate, ocean and ecosystems. Its goal is to advance the regional, national, and global understanding of natural and human-caused impacts on our ecosystems and develop sustainable ways to strengthen our environmental and economic well-being.

“Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) is excited to join the new CIMEAS organization because it provides extraordinary opportunities for our students and researchers to collaborate on important marine research and aquaculture issues,” said MLML Director Jim Harvey. “Our graduate students will benefit greatly by collaborating with NOAA scientists and others to investigate relevant oceanographic problems and to gain important skills as they become the leaders and researchers of the future.”

In partnership with NOAA and other agencies, CIMEAS will conduct research in four main areas focusing on the western U.S., California Current System and the Pacific and Southern oceans. The science will support:

  • ecosystem-based management of living marine resources
  • research, development, and technology innovation for global ocean observations and monitoring
  • coastal and oceanic observations, analysis, and prediction
  • weather, water, and climate research

The institute, led by UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, is comprised of a consortium of graduate degree-granting institutions, including MLML, Humboldt State University, Cal State University Los Angeles, Farallon Institute, University of California Davis, University of California Los Angeles, University of California Santa Barbara, and University of California Santa Cruz.

“MLML and SJSU have an excellent reputation for research and education globally, and MLML students have moved on to different levels of research and management that serve the needs of California and the nation,” said MLML Director Jim Harvey. “There are many pressing issues associated with the oceans and coastlines, and MLML is excited to be joining an Institute that will partner with NOAA to understand and help solve these important problems.”

Editors Note:  To learn more about Moss Landing Marine Labs go to Washington Square Magazine