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.

SJSU Appoints New Dean of College of Health and Human Sciences

Audrey Mengwasser Shillington has been appointed dean of SJSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS), effective July 1.

Shillington joins SJSU from Colorado State University, where she has held the positions of Director of the School of Social Work, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Interim Associate Dean for Research in the College of Health and Human Sciences. She will be replacing Pamela Richardson, who served as interim dean of CHHS for the past year.

“Dr. Shillington brings an energy, creativity and background that will allow her to facilitate the larger strategic conversation in CHHS and on the campus in academic affairs,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino, Jr. “More importantly, Dr. Shillington has a clear commitment to the mission of the California State University system and SJSU.”

New dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences Audrey Mengwasser Shillington

Audrey Mengwasser Shillington has been appointed dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, effective July 1.

Prior to her leadership roles at Colorado State University, Shillington was a professor at San Diego State University’s School of Social Work, where she helped create and co-led the Center for Alcohol and Drug Studies and Services. She also served as Senior Investigator at SDSU’s School of Public Health Center for Behavioral Epidemiology and Community Health. Upon arriving at Colorado State University, Shillington helped develop an interdisciplinary Cannabis Research Group.

“I am excited to join the SJSU team — my work has always been interdisciplinary and collaborative throughout my training, research and leadership — and I look forward to working with leadership, faculty, staff, students, alumni, industry, and community partners to build the College of Health and Human Sciences,” Shillington said. “In light of recent COVID-19 impacts, there has been no other time in recent history when the call and need to better understand and address health disparities has been stronger. SJSU’s CHHS is poised to be at the forefront of this important work.”

Shillington is currently a Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and also Fellow of the American Academy of Health Behavior — both preeminent national organizations for disciplinary researchers and practitioners.

Shillington earned her MSW and PhD in social work at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and her undergraduate degrees at Drury University in Springfield, MO. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer for three years in Benin, West Africa, where she was involved in projects on energy conservation and food insecurity for rural communities. She was a NIH National Institute of Mental Health postdoctoral fellow for three years and received a master’s in psychiatric epidemiology from the Washington University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry. Shillington also spent two years as a National Institute of Drug Abuse trainee for the Hispanic Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS Research Training through the Yale University School of Medicine.

Shillington’s research has focused on the prevention and intervention of substance use behaviors among youth and young adults. She has over 70 publications and been Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator for $16 million in NIH and state grants and contracts. Her research focused on addressing disparities that exist in the nosology and measurement of mental and behavioral health. Shillington has also led work aimed at reducing problematic alcohol use and issues related to the legalization of recreational marijuana use among young adults.

New Provost Arrives at SJSU July 15

Vincent Del Casino, Jr.

Vincent Del Casino, new provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs, joins San Jose State University July 15.

Vincent Del Casino, who was named the university’s next provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs in January following a comprehensive national search, will arrive at San Jose State University July 15 ready to prepare for the fall 2019 semester.

“I have great confidence that he will bring a strong foundation to this key leadership position while fostering collaboration across colleges and departments. Vincent is a visionary who will chart a course for our Academic Affairs division into the future,” President Mary A. Papazian said, following his appointment in January. “He is an exemplary fit to lead our continuing efforts to support students and faculty, build community partnerships, and expand innovative teaching and learning at our university.”

Del Casino joins SJSU from the University of Arizona, where he has most recently served as the interim senior vice provost and vice president for Academic Initiatives and Student Success, but he started his academic leadership career in the California State University system in 2007 as chair of the Department of Geography at CSU Long Beach.

“Having worked in the Cal State system previously, I have always been energized by the fact that this system serves a very diverse group of first-generation learners,” he said. “San Jose State University is no exception. What makes this campus unique, however, is that it is located in the heart of one of the most robust economies in the world.”

He sees the university’s greatest potential in its ability to drive regional, national and global conversations about the value of higher education.

“SJSU can be a hub for applied and basic research that plugs into the networks of creativity that surround the campus and its global position,” he said. “There are also many new ‘solutions’ being presented to address the world’s educational attainment gaps at the undergraduate and graduate levels, some of which are driven by the tech industry that surrounds the campus. As public educators we have to provide leadership in those conversations, otherwise we will end up with market-driven solutions that don’t necessarily meet the needs of our diverse learners.”

Del Casino envisions SJSU as a leader in taking up the question of what the future of higher education should be as well as a model for the value of public education that continues to demonstrate that ‘technological innovation’ must also be met with strategies that recognize the complex and diverse experiences of students.

At the University of Arizona, Del Casino provided leadership and administrative oversight as the campus redeveloped central spaces for student support activities; re-organized its central administrative areas; and enhanced student success and retention. During his tenure, the university greatly increased its online undergraduate enrollment and program offerings. He was also integral in implementing the University of Arizona’s 100% Engagement Initiative that allows students to participate in “extra-classroom” activities through credit-bearing and non-credit engaged learning experiences.

He said he is especially excited by the opportunities—such as finding ways to leverage the location of SJSU to support all members of the campus community—and the challenges—such as recognizing the real socioeconomic and political strains that come with the Silicon Valley economy.

“I think the faculty, staff and students are already driving this conversation and I look forward to supporting those efforts,” he said.

Del Casino’s own academic background lends itself to considering the social implications of geography. He is a prolific writer and researcher who has authored the book Social Geography: A Critical Introduction and co-edited with CSU, Long Beach faculty member, Dr. Mary Caputi, Derrida and the Future of the Liberal ArtsHe has also edited and co-authored multiple other books and published dozens of articles and book chapters on topics ranging from health, robots and robotic technologies, cartographic theory, and tourism, in the context of geography. Del Casino has a bachelor’s in international relations and East Asian studies from Bucknell University, in Pennsylvania, a master’s in geography from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate in geography from the University of Kentucky.

“I am looking forward to deepening my understanding of the rich historical geography of SJSU and the Silicon Valley region, and to partnering with community organizations, the city of San Jose as well as for-profit companies and nonprofits that want to work with SJSU to create a more inclusive environment for the ideas that we are generating and the students we are educating,” he said.

Students and Faculty Members Recognized for Environmental Effort

Photo: Courtesy of Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful

Photo: Courtesy of Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful

Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, a community organization that works closely with the SJSU Center for Community Learning and Leadership and CommUniverCity, has received a 2015 Outstanding Environmental Project award from the Friends of the San Francisco Estuary.

“This award demonstrates the value of collaboration, as a community of stewards, to raise awareness, educate, restore and preserve our precious waterways,” said CCLL Director Michael Fallon. “On yet another front, the partnership between SJSU, the city of San Jose, and environmental organizations is benefiting our community.”

More than 200 SJSU students and faculty members have been volunteering their time and talent to help clean and care for Coyote Creek, a 64-mile long waterway spanning Henry Coe Park near Gilroy, San Jose, and the San Francisco Bay.

A multidisciplinary approach

Spartan volunteers include faculty members and students from the departments of Environmental Studies and MIS (Management Information Systems), and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Volunteer Mary Yan, ’16 Environmental Studies, appreciates Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful Program Manager Deb Kramer’s passion and attitude “about bringing organizations together to work towards the same goals.”

“All the issues and connections to the creek are very interesting to me,” Yan said. “I am hoping that Coyote Creek becomes a successful restoration story one day without any reason to continue cleaning it up.”

Wildlife, homelessness

Photo: Mary Yan, ’16 Environmental Studies

Coyote Creek is a wildlife habitat and location for an important steelhead trout restoration project. Bike and hiking trails line the banks, which have also become a refuge for the homeless.

Acutely aware of the need to mitigate the environmental impact of homeless camps while caring for those who live there, SJSU advertising and public relations faculty members and students organized Coyote Creek Howl, a one-day summit in April focusing on ecological and human issues.

Communication studies students produced “Journey Through Homelessness: Silicon Valley’s Unsolved Problem,” described as “a thought and emotion provoking performance that immersed the audience into a world ignored by the masses and experienced by the few.”

Work continues

On Oct. 2, SJSU hosted the premiere of “Exodus from the Jungle,” a documentary on the closure of the nation’s largest homeless encampment, which was located within a mile of campus, on the banks of Coyote Creek.

As a new academic year begins, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful continues to connect this generation of Spartans with service-learning opportunities. The goal? Gifting a vibrant watershed, and the knowledge of how to rally community support to protect it, to future generations.

 

SJSU’s Accreditation Reaffirmed

WASC noted SJSU presented "a detailed and organized approach to describe assessment" of five core competencies, with a special focus on information literacy and writing (photo by Christina Olivas).

In a letter reaffirming the university’s accreditation, WASC noted SJSU presented a detailed and organized approach to describing assessment of five core competencies, with a special focus on information literacy and writing.

Media contact:
Pat Harris, SJSU Media Relations Director, 408-924-1748

SAN JOSE, CA – The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) has reaffirmed San Jose State University’s accreditation for seven years.

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