Updates on SJSU Athletics Department and Investigations

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

June 12, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jen Cohen, Athletics Director at the University of Washington

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

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

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

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

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

Candace Storey Lee, Athletics Director at Vanderbilt University


May 22, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 21, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


May 4, 2021

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

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

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

Patricia Backer Receives 2020 CSU Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award

Professor of Technology Patricia Backer.

2020 CSU Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award recipient: Professor of Technology Patricia Backer. Photo: Robert C. Bain

In her 30 years in the technology field, Professor of Technology Patricia Backer has been leading and innovating by enabling San José State to do difficult things in a smarter way.

For her achievements, the California State University Chancellor’s Office awarded Backer the 2020 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award.

The gist of her first innovation: Studies show freshmen tend to stick around for sophomore year when they make friends in their classes as first-year students. Backer led the building of a straightforward—but complex to implement—solution to make that happen.

The Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award “acknowledges faculty members who have demonstrated leadership to improve student success and outcomes in courses with traditionally low success rates or persistent equity gaps.”

Project Succeed: A Novel Path to Improving Retention

The award recognizes Backer’s most recent work on a campus-wide initiative called Project Succeed, funded by a five-year, multimillion-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Backer’s innovative vision—and her talent for interdisciplinary cross-campus teamwork—has improved SJSU’s five-year graduation and retention rates and closed the achievement gap for underrepresented students across all majors.

Director of Student Success Services Cynthia Kato wrote in her nomination letter that Backer’s work led to a “dramatic increase in student success at San José State. Her creativity, dedication, support and guidance in this endeavor exemplify the principles of the Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award.”

The core tool Backer championed was block scheduling of freshmen. Starting in fall 2015, every freshman engineer and business major had extended chances to meet people in classes they shared, such as COMM 20. A peer mentor program, living learning communities, a First Year Experience and other mechanisms further supported freshmen. The scheme soon spread to computer science, biology and other departments. For many students—especially first-generation college students or those typically underrepresented in universities—connecting with peers became a support system that allowed more of them to make it to graduation.

Kato wrote that, “Each year students who were part of the block scheduling group showed higher retention rates.” Students admitted to the Charles W. Davidson College of Engineering in fall 2014 had a four-year graduation rate of 11 percent, while the four-year graduation rate for those admitted in fall 2015 was 18 percent. The Lucas College and Graduate School of Business saw four-year graduation rates for those cohorts leap from 29 percent to 40 percent. A dramatic improvement, thanks to a subtle but effective innovation.

“Now almost all freshmen at SJSU are block scheduled and take classes with students from their own major,” Backer said. “That’s been our biggest success, and it started with this project.”

Department of Aviation and Technology Chair Fred Barez praised Backer’s contributions. “Through her effort, we blocked freshmen in dormitories and tried to group them so they would be taking the same calculus class, for example. She’s been receiving excellent recommendations for what she has been doing for the college, improving the retention rate and graduation rate. Our engineering students may be in different disciplines within engineering, but they can make friends and they can actually work together.”

College of Social Sciences Dean Walt Jacobs, one of Backer’s nominators, wrote: “One aspect of Project Succeed that doesn’t get a lot of attention but is quite the accomplishment is Pat’s ability to convince stakeholders from units across the university to come to the table to collaboratively design and implement best practices for student success. There were both technical and philosophical hurdles to the implementation of block scheduling for incoming freshmen, but Pat patiently worked with volunteers to implement it. She has done a great job of showing faculty and staff why blocked scheduling is beneficial for our students.”

“I was so touched by what Walt Jacobs wrote [in his nomination letter],” Backer said. “My job on these projects is to get them done, get them working. Anytime I have a project, I just try to do my best.”

Integrating Equity and Social Good into Engineering

Another innovation Backer helped implement involved a complex restructuring of engineering graduation requirements—with the goal of helping engineers recognize the cultural ripples that fan out from the solutions and products they will design and build.

When the CSU adjusted graduation requirements in 2013, Backer and her colleagues  came up with a solution that met the new standard and simultaneously elevated social awareness to the forefront of engineering education at SJSU.

“We decided to integrate our senior project classes with our advanced general education coursework,” Backer said. Engineers look at design through a lens of social and equity issues, first in the U.S. and then globally. Their senior engineering projects  directly address social needs they identified after learning about such issues. Projects have included a smart bicycle trailer, a portable UV tracker to fight skin cancer, and an electronic cane to help the visually impaired navigate. Today, in most of the engineering disciplines at SJSU, future engineers are looking not only at the how, but the why.

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the national accreditor of collegiate engineering programs, “really loved this,” Backer said. “They want engineers to think about their projects as situated in social issues and people issues.”

Davidson College of Engineering Dean Sheryl Ehrman said, “SJSU students are well known and sought after for their effective transition to the workforce and to grad school. Employers and Ph.D.-granting programs, as well as our own students, greatly benefit from Pat’s efforts to place engineering in a societal context.”

Recognition for Innovation and Leadership

CSU Chancellor Timothy White announced the award on August 24. The faculty-led selection committee reviewed more than 120 nominations before choosing Backer. Only one faculty member from each CSU campus may be selected each year. Backer will receive a $5,000 cash award and $10,000 allocated to her academic department.

During her 30 years at SJSU, Backer has served in faculty governance, enriched student success and, in 2011, won the SJSU Distinguished Service Award. Still instructing undergrads, Backer teaches a class each year. This fall, it’s TECH 198: Technology and Civilization, which she conducts remotely. Her involvement in teaching about the internet—going back to the early 1990s and Apple’s Hypercard—precedes the World Wide Web. Technology offers lessons Backer wants today’s SJSU engineering students to understand.

“No one sits down and invents things for no reason,” Backer said. “There’s something motivating them to make that invention.”

SJSU to Host Virtual Adobe Creative Jam Oct. 11-12

Donna Caldwell, a senior solutions consultant, leads the Adobe XD bootcamp for students who competed in the Adobe Creative Jam April 18, 2019. Photo by Robert C. Bain

Donna Caldwell, a senior solutions consultant, leads the Adobe XD bootcamp for students who competed in the Adobe Creative Jam April 18, 2019. Photo by Robert C. Bain

San Jose State University will host a unique virtual Adobe Creative Jam this month with participants from seven additional California State Universities. The event will kick off on Oct. 11 at 1 p.m. in Dwight Bentel Hall 117, and will end on Oct. 12. 

This two-day event builds on the success of a spring Digital Detox event in which SJSU students learned how to use Adobe XD, received portfolio and resume reviews, and created their own prototype app.

Spartans have many reasons to join the jam. John Delacruz, Associate Professor, Advertising and an Adobe Education Leader, sees this as a valuable learning opportunity for SJSU students who will eventually step into fast-paced industries. 

“The Adobe association adds value and weight to the student experience,” he said. “The digital badge they carry on their LinkedIn profiles and resumes that the company may provide them as participatory evidence is something that they don’t just get from the most progressive classroom. The value from collaborations like these give students a step up once they are looking for jobs.”

The jam is designed to be a fun event for students coming from diverse backgrounds and disciplines as they connect virtually. In true Spartan spirit, the goal is to rise above challenges, learning to work in a team, and developing creative skills and their applications in a time-sensitive environment. And the icing on the cake is that students can win cash prizes, will receive free food, and revel in the camaraderie on the team. 

How the Adobe Creative Jam will work: 

Students who sign up will be grouped into teams of three to five to work on a creative brief that’s topical and relevant. Speakers from Adobe and other design professionals will join the students via Crowdcast to share tips and advice on the field. There will also be a tutorial, a deep dive into Adobe XD—a design software required to accomplish the project.

Teams will then have two hours to brainstorm ideas, think of solutions, and come up with a prototype design, following which each team will get two to three minutes to present their ideas. 

A set of finalists from each campus will improve their ideas overnight and present them again to the judges virtually on Saturday. A fresh set of judges will select overall winners. The winning teams will receive $250 each, giveaways from Adobe along with plenty of other goodies. 

Delacruz is an advocate of engaging students in experiential learning and pedagogy, peer mentoring, and other exciting activities that happen in the creative field. He stresses that industries work on quick turnaround of projects, and students need to be aware of certain tools to get the work done effectively, and

“This is where Adobe chips in with the tools that creative industries are built on,” he said.

 

CSU Plan Offers Free Immigration Legal Services at All Campuses

Ana Navarrete Avina, the program coordinator of the UndocuSpartan Resource Center, speaks at an opening celebration for the center that was established in 2018. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Ana Navarrete Avina, the program coordinator of the UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center, speaks at an opening celebration for the center that was established in 2018. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

The California State University (CSU) announced Aug. 28 a systemwide plan for the provision of free immigration legal services for CSU students and employees that includes SJSU.

“This is an important service for SJSU, for our community and the CSU system,” said Patrick Day, vice president for the Division of Student Affairs.  “We are committed to providing support, resources and opportunities for all students regardless of their citizenship status.”

Immigrant Legal Defense (ILD) will provide services for San Jose State University as well as other Bay Area and Central California campuses. ILD’s attorneys and accredited representatives will visit SJSU beginning in September with availability throughout the year. ILD has expertise in covering the full scope of immigration law and procedure. The office has represented thousands of unaccompanied minors and families seeking asylum, and individuals involved in detained and non-detained immigration proceedings throughout California. In addition to providing legal consultations, the attorneys are also available to consult with departments that deal with immigration policies on questions they may have.

Approximately 9,500 CSU students are undocumented and receive AB 540 waivers across the system’s 23 campuses. Undocumented students will receive priority in scheduling of appointments and receiving legal assistance, followed by students and employees who have questions about legal immigration and rights.

The UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center will support the new services by scheduling appointments and providing meeting space. Ana Navarrete Avina, the UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center program coordinator shared an email to student, faculty and staff groups on Aug. 29 about the new services, inviting interested parties to sign up for appointments on one of the dates ILD will be on campus. Students and employees may also request a consultation with an immigration attorney outside of the scheduled dates by contacting the UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center. More information about signing up for appointments can be found on the Center’s website.

All representatives of ILD and SJSU staff will practice strict confidentiality and any information provided while receiving services will remain protected, as has always been the case for students with AB 540 or undocumented statuses

The legal services are an expansion of SJSU’s existing support provided through the UndocuSpartan Student Resource Center, established in 2018. The center provides a number of program services including personal and academic support, UndocuAlly Training, information for prospective students on paying for college, and connects enrolled students with community resources, among other services.

“I am delighted that we will be able to increase the availability of immigration legal services to the California State University community,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy White. “We remain committed to ensuring that all CSU students have the opportunity to pursue their higher education goals regardless of their country of origin. This inclusive foundation extends to our employees, who demonstrate their dedication to student achievement and success on a daily basis. These thousands of Californians are pursuing their dreams for a better future every day on CSU campuses. The expanded services and resources that will soon be available will bring support, legal guidance and some peace of mind to enable our students and employees to focus on academic and professional pursuits.”

Funding for the services initially was provided by a one-time allocation of $7 million from the 2018 Budget Act to the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to implement direct immigration legal services programs on CSU campuses. California’s 2019-20 budget converted the same amount to recurring funding to maintain the services. Staff from CSU’s Office of the Chancellor have been working with the CDSS to design a systemwide delivery model for implementation.

To learn more about the rollout of services or for information about support services currently available for students and employees, please visit the CSU’s Resources for Undocumented Students website.

SJSU’s Tina Korani receives 2019 CSU Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award

Tina Korani, second from left, poses with School of Journalism and Mass Communications students during a graduate student showcase.

Tina Korani, second from left, poses with School of Journalism and Mass Communications students during a graduate student showcase.

Assistant Professor of Media Design Tina Korani joined San Jose State University in fall 2017. In just two short years, she has made a lasting impression on her students and how media design is taught at SJSU. She has been named by the California State University Chancellor’s Office as a 2019 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award recipient for her dedication to experiential learning.

Korani is passionate about using new technologies to improve the learning experience. She believes that developing students’ digital skills and literacy should be a key focus of higher education. She said, “technology is moving our world forward at a rapid pace and we as educators should prepare our students for the workforce of tomorrow by incorporating digital literacy into our teaching to help students become successful in their careers.”

“I seek to provide my students with the necessary tools to move well beyond foundational skills and forward in their design thinking and creativity,” she said. “I provide relevant, real life application and foster collaboration, as I help them become stronger thinkers, collaborators, explorers, communicators, and designers.”

Tina Korani

Tina Korani

Her teaching philosophy is to empower students to be: confident, creative thinkers with exceptional presentation skills, compassionate, curious collaborators who seek opportunities to contribute to various projects, mindful explorers who look to expand their knowledge in solving problems with persistence and know-how to communicate their ideas and document this process effectively.

“I believe that undergraduate design education should connect to the real world and as a course of action I actively plan and devise practical experiences in and outside the classroom. These play a role in developing critical problem-solving skills, creativity, and communication skills and at the same time drive student engagement and retention,” she said.

Her students present their concepts and the process of their designs for each project to the entire class during weekly critique sessions, then they complete a mid-critique where students hear feedback before finalizing their designs. She said she believes critiques are a strong core to students’ learning that teaches them how to approach ideas critically while strengthening their communication and presentation skills. She also requires students to submit a process book that contains their sources of inspiration, research, sketches, and the steps on how they came up with their idea and final product.

“By documenting these steps for each project, my students learn value in this process and see personal growth,” she said.

Korani also engages students in research and conference presentations. She mentored a team of graduate students who developed “Bridge Brain: Engaging with the Next-Generation of Academic Scholars,” a web-based, peer-to-peer collaborative platform for university networking for research projects. The students were invited to present their work at the 2018 DECIPHER (Design Educators Research Conference). The students also won the 2018 Best Education Innovation Award in SJSU’s Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge.

Korani was selected for CSU’s Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award after being nominated by peers in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications as well as students, who created a video testimonial touting their professor.

“Her class provides students with unique experiential learning that is different than the typical lecture format of many other professors,” said Jihye Woo, a graduate student in Mass Communications. “The newly learned skills are more easily transferable outside the classroom and to our future careers.”

Professor Korani and students in MCOM 284: Advanced User experience class.

Professor Korani and students in MCOM 284: Advanced User experience class.

Woo noted that five of the graduate students in her program selected Korani as an advisor because of her “dedication, perseverance and compassion.”

“The School of Journalism and Mass Communications lives and dies on our ability to keep up with a rapidly advancing technological media landscape,” wrote Professor Scott Fosdick, graduate coordinator, in his nomination letter. “Assistant Professor Korani was hired to keep us on the cutting edge. She hasn’t let us down.”

Associate Professor Diane Guerrazzi shared in her nomination letter Korani’s interactions with journalists from the country of Georgia who visited SJSU as part of a Media Education Partnership through the U.S. State Department.

“In hands-on sessions, they designed infographics to visualize data, giving them valuable new tools of expression in their storytelling for their television, web and print media outlets,” Guerrazzi wrote. “I observed the way Professor Korani took care to explain the steps, in spite of a language barrier.  She patiently answered questions and encouraged participants to ask questions.”

Korani has presented her work and led workshops in the Adobe San Jose office during CSU/Adobe Digital Literacy Day and is honored to serve as an Adobe Education Leader (Adobe Education Leaders are dedicated to enhancing creativity and collaboration and improving the teaching and learning experience. They share their expertise through workshops and conferences and help develop standards-based curriculums that are used worldwide).

In service to her community, she has started teaching free mobile application design bootcamps for youth at Central Park Library in Santa Clara. She has also been helping to organize and served as a juror in many art contests, such as International Mother Language Day Art Contest and exhibition at the Children Discovery Museum in San Jose.

Korani holds an M.F.A. in graphic design from Louisiana State University and a bachelor’s in visual communication from Art University of Tehran. Her research centers on the use of interactive technologies to enhance learner engagement, education equity, and accessibility. She has introduced the use of emerging technologies into her teaching, and overall within the School of Journalism & Mass Communications. She is involved in multiple grants, and her projects range from training at-risk students on new media literacy in area high schools to creating a mobile app within her role as a co-investigator in a Breast Cancer Survivorship Project.

She is the recipient of multiple awards from the American Advertising Federation, including a National ADDY Award, and a Gold District 7 ADDY Award in 2017. As a speaker and educator, Korani has presented her work at numerous academic and professional conferences.

Governor Brown Proposes $500 Million Cut to CSU

The CSU and SJSU are reviewing the details of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed $500 million budget reduction to the CSU for 2011-2012, part of a sweeping effort that would slash spending by $12.5 billion. While it is too early to identify a specific means to implement such a budget reduction, all options are on the table. In the past, SJSU has employed tuition increases, enrollment reductions, furloughs, layoffs and cuts to programs such as remedial education. Continue reading

Three finalists.

Presidential Search: Watch Finalist Open Forums

Three finalists.

Watch finalist open forums online.

The California State University recently named three finalists for the presidency of San José State University:

  • Mohammad H. Qayoumi, president, California State University, East Bay
  • Leroy M. Morishita, executive vice president and chief financial officer, at San Francisco State University
  • David Steele, dean, College of Business, San José State University

The finalist open forums are now available online for viewing.

More Information

Read more on the presidential search.#

General inquiries can be directed to the SJSU Office of Public Affairs, 408-924-1166, publicaffairs@sjsu.edu.

Reporters should call Pat Lopes Harris, media relations director, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu.

SJSU in the News: SJSU, CSU Campuses Urged to Give Local Students Priority

Originally published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 15, 2011.

Students applying to jam-packed California State University don’t always get into their campus of choice, but they’ve always been able to count on priority admission to their local CSU.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/14/MN8V1HMTHI.DTL#ixzz1E9qPcRqq

Interim President Don Kassing speaking to the congregation at Maranatha Christian Center.

CSU Super Sunday: Kassing Supports Investing in Young People

Interim President Don Kassing speaking to the congregation at Maranatha Christian Center.

Interim President Don Kassing speaking to the congregation at Maranatha Christian Center.

By Keith Bryant, Digital Communications Assistant
Photo By Irving Perez, Public Affairs Volunteer

SJSU Interim President Don W. Kassing visited Maranatha Christian Center Feb. 13 for CSU Super Sunday, an outreach program seeking to connect the CSU with African American churches to open a dialogue about what it takes to get into college. Kassing was welcomed with open arms, and enjoyed a lively and energetic service. He also spoke to the congregation about the importance of investing in our youth.

“Our offer is to create opportunities for young people to go to college to work their way out of the recession, as it is going require education, and in this region, innovation,” Kassing said. “We want these young people to have a chance.”

Kassing also attended Emmanuel Baptist Church, while Vice President for Student Affairs Jason Laker visited Bible Way Christian Center. After the services, SJSU outreach staff members spoke one-on-one with church goers to answer questions and distribute materials.