Faculty Notes: Supporting Teachers of Color


Photo courtesy of the Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice Facebook page.

The fifth annual Institute for Teachers of Color Committed to Racial Justice, co-directed by Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Rebeca Burciaga and Mexican American Studies Chair Marcos Pizarro, will be held in June in Los Angeles. The three-day conference is a professional development opportunity for elementary, middle and high school teachers, founded by former Assistant Professor of Elementary Education Rita Kohli to support the growth, success and retention of teachers of color.

The work of Professor of Physics and Astronomy Alejandro Garcia was cited in an article posted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s News Center, featuring researchers at “the forefront of a neglected corner of the scientific world, building mathematical models for fluids at the mesoscale.” According to the report, “fluctuating hydrodynamics could have enormous impacts in applications ranging from batteries to drug delivery to microfluidic devices.”

Inside Higher Education interviewed Department of English and Comparative Literature Lecturer Leah Griesmann, the originator of National Adjunct Walkout Day. On February 25, adjunct teachers in colleges across the United States and beyond joined the protest to bring attention to the plight of college adjuncts whose job security and paychecks are minimal. “I can tell you on behalf of adjuncts everywhere that the system is broken, and you might believe me. But there’s no denying something’s going on when thousands and thousands of adjuncts and allies say the same thing,” Greismann said. She first suggested the idea of a walkout on social media in the fall of 2014. Greismann recently received an Elizabeth George Foundation grant in fiction and a MacDowell Colony artist fellowship.

Department of Aviation and Technology Lecturer Dianne Hall was profiled in Bermuda’s The Royal Gazette about her work as an engineer and firefighter and her recent trip to Pakistan in connection with SJSU’s partnership with Allama Iqbal Open University. “San Jose State is helping AIOU enhance its computer science degree,” she told the newspaper. “The intent is to train students in remote areas, where literacy is quite low, to do software engineering.” Hall visited Pakistan to train faculty to teach online and to speak about being female in male-dominated professions, encouraging by example women to study computer science or pursue “whatever they wanted to do,” Hall said.

Professor of Chemical Engineering Claire Komives and her team of researchers have developed a new opossum-based antidote to counteract poisonous snakebites that also might prove effective in counteracting scorpion, plant and bacterial toxins. Komives presented her research findings at a March meeting of the American Chemical Society. Because the anti-venom is inexpensive, Komives is optimistic that it will be distributed to underserved areas across the globe, including India, Southeast Asia and Africa, where thousands of people each year are bitten by poisonous snakes.

Publications forthcoming for Professor of Counselor Education Jason Laker include Supporting and Enhancing Learning on Campus: Effective Pedagogy In and Outside the Classroom (Routledge, 2016) and a chapter in Handbook of Student Affairs Administration (Jossey-Bass, 2015), “Unfinished Business, Dirty Laundry, and Hope for Multicultural Campus Communities.” Prior to joining the Lurie College of Education faculty, Laker served as SJSU’s vice president for student affairs.

Assistant Professor of Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging Kasuen Mauldin received an Outstanding Dietetics Educator Award in recognition of her teaching, mentoring and leadership in the field from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization of food and nutrition professionals in the country. Mauldin joined SJSU’s faculty in 2011. “Effective educators are organized and prepared, professional and fair, resourceful and well connected, and believe there is always room for improvement,” she said.

March 2015 marks the two-year anniversary of a $2 increase in San José’s minimum wage. To mark the occasion, Professor of Sociology Scott Myers-Lipton, who co-founded San Jose’s minimum wage campaign, contributed an article to the San Jose Mercury News, addressing lessons learned from the successful initiative as well as what remains to be done to “undo the extreme inequality caused by the political and economic changes of the past 35 years.”

Professor of Accounting and Finance Annette Nellen was appointed to the California State Board of Equalization Executive Director’s Advisory Council for a two-year term. She will serve from 2015 to 2017. The BOE, a public agency charged with tax administration and fee collection, also acts as the appellate body for business, franchise and personal tax appeals.

The Salud Familiar program, co-founded by Professor of Health Science Kathleen Roe, received a Program Excellence Award from the Society for Public Health Education. A partnership between SJSU and McKinley Elementary School, the Salud Familiar program teaches McKinley students about healthy lifestyles and promotes academic success.

Professor of Screen Writing Scott Sublett reports that SJSU’s RTVF students have achieved national recognition for screenwriting excellence, receiving four awards from Broadcast Education Association, whose Festival of Media Arts ranks as the nation’s most important film competition for RTVF programs. Lauren Serpa took second place in the feature-length screenplay category; Risha Rose received an honorable mention in the same category; and Rachel Compton and Kevin Briot both received honorable mention citations in the short screenplay category. “Once again, SJSU has the most honorees in the nation, reinforcing our dominance in the category and recognizing our department’s emphasis and excellence in screenwriting,” said David Kahn, chair of the Department of Television, Radio, Film and Theatre.

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Miri VanHoven received a highly competitive National Institute of Health RO-1 grant for her research project “The Effect of Normal and Prolonged Sensory Activity on Neural Circuits.” VanHoven and team will conduct both molecular and physiological studies of the molecular mechanisms that govern how sensory activities affect connectivity between nerve cells. The molecular work will be performed at SJSU’s VanHoven lab, providing students the opportunity to participate in the research process.


4 students standing before steaming volcano

Counselor Education Students Go Global in Costa Rica

Students with baskets prepare to pick coffee beans

Students learn about coffee production and its relationship to the local, national and global economy at La Bella Tica Coffee Farm in Monteverde, Costa Rica (photo courtesy of Jason Larker).

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

Nineteen graduate students from the College of Education’s Department of Counselor Education participated in a faculty-led trip to Costa Rica January 3- 20, led by Professor Jason Laker and Assistant Professor Dolores Mena.

“This program prepared counselors to advance social justice principles and become effective at cross-cultural issues,” Laker said.

Students received credit for two counseling classes that focused on service learning and supervised experience. Master’s counseling education student Rebecca Frank appreciated the exposure to a different point of view.

“You can go across the world and there are the same problems,” Frank said. “To be more a competent global citizen, you have to be aware of things that are happening globally.”

According to Mena, students were required to journal before the trip and answer prompting questions when they got back. The students also presented group projects the first week in Costa Rica that “brought together concepts and theories for cultural teaching.”

In addition to applying critical thinking and educational theory,  students experienced first-hand barriers to learning. They rolled up their sleeves to clear trails, prune education gardens, and build safe sidewalks for K-12 school children.

Innovative Thinking

“We learned how to become innovative in maximizing people’s strength in working with clients and embrace new experiences with different lenses,” said student Daisy Villicana.

SJSU students partnered with The University for Peace and the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation on social service projects while in Costa Rica.

In addition to service learning, students experienced Costa Rica’s eco-tourism and triple-bottom line businesses through cultural activities including visits to the Poas Volcano National Park, Costa Rican Entomological Supply (a butterfly farm), and Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

Students also had the opportunity to explore on their own and participate in canopying, water rapelling, ziplining, and horseback riding.

Click here to see photos from their trip.

SJSU in the News: July 19 Celebration of Life Planned for Alumnus, “Tireless Advocate for Individuals With Disabilities”

Richard W. Patterson, Resident of San Jose

Originally published in the San Jose Mercury News July 3, 2011

Richard died unexpectedly from a stroke on June 22, 2011 at Valley Medical Center, surrounded by family and friends and colleagues. He was 48 years old. Richard was employed by the Rehabilitation Research Center at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose. He was the Clinical Support Coordinator for Persons with Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries since 1995 and led the peer-support counseling program there for the past 15 years. He was a tireless advocate for individuals with disabilities, committee member for the Public Authority for In-Home-Supportive-Services, a co-chair of the Disability Advisory Commission for the City of San Jose, and instrumental in the start-up and success of Accessible Adventures for People with Disabilities. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Adapted Physical Education in 1996, and his Master’s Degree in Counseling Education with an emphasis in Traumatic Injury and Lifestyle Counseling in 1998, both from San Jose State University.

At the age of 19, Richard himself suffered an accident which left him a quadriplegic. He spent a year in the very hospital where he would later come to be a very valued employee. At the time of his accident, Richard’s goals were unclear but he loved life in the fast lane and especially race car driving.

Richard’s life turned out very different than anyone could have imagined. Once he decided, not to accept his fate, but instead to make the most of the life, he did just that. He became an inspiration for thousands, and his legacy will continue to inspire thousands more.

Richard never let his disability keep him from doing what he wanted to do. He loved skydiving and eventually set the world record for the highest tandem parachute jump by a disabled person. He took scuba diving lessons, drove a race car, piloted an airplane and competed in the Special Olympics in swimming. He was a spokesperson for Canine Companions of Santa Rosa and received three assistance dogs. He loved his dogs! He was also on the board of the Tapestry in Arts event in San Jose.

Richard was preceded in death by his mother, Edna Daigh, less than a year ago. He is survived by his father, Robert Patterson of Las Vegas, NV, his step-father Lawrence Daigh of Groveland, CA, his sisters, Susan Hellsten of Sunsites, AZ, Robin Patterson of Groveland, CA, and Sally Patterson of San Jose, CA, his step-sister, Kirsten Lennen of Groveland, CA, and step-brothers, Steve, Eric and Kurt Daigh of Idaho. He is also survived by the love of his life, his fiance, Ligia Andrade of San Jose, CA.

A Memorial and Celebration of Richard’s life will be held on July 19th at The Pointe, 3695 Rose Terrasse Circle, San Jose, CA from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., refreshments to follow. A foundation has been set up in Richard’s name to continue the work that was so important to him. Please visit www.vmcfoundation.org/donate.html if you wish to donate or if you just want to browse the website.