Robert Foster

Corporate and Civic Leader to Receive Honorary Degree

Robert Foster

Robert Foster

Media contact:
Pat Harris, 408-924-1748

 SAN JOSE, CA – Distinguished retired Southern California Edison president and former Long Beach mayor Robert (Bob) Foster, ’69 Public Administration, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the San Jose State University Honors Convocation on April 24 at the Event Center.

“Robert Foster has always credited San Jose State with teaching him strong study and work ethics and the ability to think and question—skills that he used to serve California,” said President Mohammad Qayoumi. “His distinguished careers in both the private and public sectors merit this significant award.”

Industry leader

Foster dedicated his career to resolving the state’s energy issues. As chief of conservation and deputy director of the California Energy Commission, Foster led the effort to establish statewide energy efficiency standards in the late 1970s, among the first in the United States.

He joined Southern California Edison (SCE) in 1984, where he worked his way up from operations executive to president. Under Foster’s leadership, SCE developed the nation’s largest renewable, clean energy programs including solar, geothermal, biomass and wind energy. In addition, he played an essential role in restoring SCE to financial health after the California energy crisis of 2000 and 2001.

Civic leader

As mayor of Long Beach from 2006 to 2014, Foster implemented comprehensive pension reform, saving the city nearly $250 million over ten years. In addition, he presided over significant air and water quality improvements and the lowest crime rate in over 40 years, and he worked to transform Long Beach into one of the most bike friendly cities in the nation.

Foster served as trustee to the California State University system from 1997 to 2006 and as chair of the Board of Governors for the California Independent System Operator from 2010 to 2014. He serves on three corporate boards and several advisory boards.

His community involvements are many, including serving on the Long Beach Public Library Foundation Advisory Board, Long Beach Police Historical Society, Rotary Club of Long Beach, Long Beach Community Foundation, and the YMCA of Greater Long Beach.

In recent years, Foster partnered with Professor Emeritus of Political Science Larry Gerston to co-teach a public policy class and in 2013, Foster received the Outstanding Alumni Award from the College of Social Sciences.

Honors Convocation

Over 3,970 undergraduates who earned a GPA of 3.65 or higher in at least two contiguous semesters of the three prior semesters will be honored at this year’s ceremony at 6 p.m. April 24 in the Event Center.

San Jose State—Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees—is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.


SJSU and the 2014 Elections

Evan Low

Evan Low, ’03 Political Science, was elected to the California State Assembly, District 28 (photo courtesy of Evan Low for State Assembly).

Media contact: Pat Harris, 408-924-1748

San Jose, CA – Nearly a dozen Spartans are poised to make an impact on their communities after winning local elections on Nov. 4.

“One reason we see so many Spartan candidates locally is that SJSU students come from this region and when they graduate–unlike alumni of most universities–they tend to stay here,” said Professor Emeritus of Political Science Terry Christensen. “They come from the community and they are committed to the community and this includes public service in elected office.”

Most Spartans who run for office studied political science or public administration. Some majored in other fields. For example, Congressman Mike Honda graduated with a bachelor’s in Biological Sciences and Spanish in 1968 and a master’s in Education in 1974.

However, just about all SJSU alumni who run for office share experiences and traits that will shape their political careers and the communities they serve.

Our students and alumni reflect the diversity of California, with many coming from immigrant and working class families, and representing the first generation to attend and graduate for college,” said Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Political Science Melinda Jackson.

“Issues like immigration reform, public education funding, minimum wage increases and other efforts to address income inequality are not just academic for our students. They have a very real passion for these policy issues that comes from their own life experience.

“Many of our SJSU grads are inspired to pursue a career in public service in order to give back to their communities and to help the next generation of Californians succeed. The ongoing tradition of Spartan civic and political engagement is a point of great pride for SJSU!”

Legacy of Service

All of these alumni are building upon a long legacy of Spartans serving the South Bay and beyond, including Ben Nighthorse Campbell, ’57 Physical Education/Fine Arts, the first Native American to serve in the U.S. Senate, and Gaylord Nelson, ’39 Political Science, Earth Day founder, U.S. senator and Wisconsin governor from 1959 to 1981.

Spartans make good candidates and office holders in part because of this closeness to the community–a genuine grassroots connection because they are of this community,” Christensen said. “But they also make good candidates and office holders because SJSU gives them a hands-on, practical education.”

“Our classes have a real-world orientation and our political science majors (and students in other majors) invariably do internships–sometimes more than one–that give them not only practical experience in politics and public policy but also connections to an extensive local network of alumni who are eager to include and mentor recent graduates.”

These alumni were elected or re-elected Nov. 4. Know of more? Drop us a line by commenting below this story.

  • Frank Biehl, ’75 Political Science, East Side Union High School District Board
  • Dennis Hawkins, ’94 Business Administration, Oak Grove School District
  • Mike Honda, ’68 Biological Sciences and Spanish, ’74 Education, U.S. House of Representatives, District 17
  • Evan Low, ’03 Political Science, California State Assembly, District 28
  • Raul Peralez, ’04 Mathematics, San Jose City Council District 3
  • Andres Quintero, ’06 Political Science, ’11 MA Public Administration, Alum Rock Union School Board
  • David Terrazas, ’92 Political Science, Santa Cruz City Council
  • Omar Torres, ’11 Political Science, Franklin-McKinley School Board
  • Roland Velasco, ’97 Political Science, Gilroy City Council

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.

Spartans at Work: Mineta San Jose International Airport

(This summer, SJSU Today hit the road, visiting students and recent grads on the job at summer destinations throughout the Bay Area. Our 2013 Spartans at Work series ends with graduate Andres Quintero).

Mineta San Jose International Airport, located in the heart of Silicon Valley and minutes from downtown San Jose, welcomes over eight million passengers annually.

Design elements like Terminal B’s airy paseo and the parking garage’s seven-story “Hands” mural representing diversity and innovation remind visitors that SJC is more than just a travel hub.

Andres Quintero, ’06 Political Science, ’11 MA Public Administration, serves his community as vice chair of the San Jose Airport Commission, an advisory body to the San Jose City Council.

 “I’m glad I’ve been able to provide my prospective and look out for the citizens,” said this San Jose native.

Appointed for two three-year terms ending in June 2015, Quintero first got involved in politics at age 12, when he volunteered to pass out literature for a presidential campaign. He got a taste of “real” politics in 2003, when he interned for Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren in Washington, D.C.

Quintero’s role on the airport commission encompasses advising the city council on many management matters, with a focus on safety, customer service and fiscal responsibility.

 “I have found it very rewarding to be on the commission because you think it’s an airport and you use it every once in a while” but it’s a very important asset, he said.

Quintero helped oversee the airport’s $1.3 billion renovation and played an instrumental role in making the airport more welcoming to international visitors.

He also works as a policy analyst for Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez (who earned a bachelor’s in political science from SJSU in 1987) and serves as vice president of the Alum Rock School District Board of Trustees.

 “The commission has prepared me to realize that the decisions you make have an impact on other people’s lives and you have to make sure that you make the right decisions as best as you can,” he said.