SJSU Co-sponsors Event to Honor Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

RBG Memorial event

Dorit Beinisch, Former President of the Supreme Court of Israel, Highlights Panel Discussion

Though it’s been more than a year since her passing, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remains an iconic figure to admirers in the U.S. and worldwide.

To help honor her legacy, SJSU’s Jewish Studies Program is co-sponsoring a virtual memorial event with RBG’s longtime friend and colleague, Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch, former president of the Supreme Court of Israel.

Former Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court, Dorit Beinisch, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Joining Chief Justice Beinisch will be Alison Brunner, CEO at Law Foundation of Silicon Valley — whose work is dedicated to promoting social justice — and SJSU President Mary Papazian, who will deliver introductory remarks.

“RBG became an icon for so many women and girls around the world as she demonstrated how persistence, resistance, good argumentation and wit can lead to real change,” said Anat Balint, coordinator of SJSU’s Jewish Studies program.

The RBG memorial event, she said, is the first in a series of events celebrating Jewish culture in Silicon Valley.

The event takes place on October 19 at 10 a.m. and is open to the public. Pre-event registration is required. Chief Justice Beinisch, Brunner, and President Papazian will discuss RBG’s influences on social change, feminism, Jewish identity and friendship.

“I do not believe I am alone when I say that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is near the top of the list of women whom I have admired and learned from over the span of my lifetime,” said President Papazian.

“She was an extraordinary woman who never allowed barriers to get in the way of the professional and societal progress that she was determined to make. I know it will be a real treat hearing the insights that will be shared at this event.”

Chief Justice Beinisch was the first woman to lead the Israeli Supreme Court, while Justice Bader-Ginsburg was the second woman to join the U.S. Supreme Court. Both were Jewish, and each trailblazer led lives and careers dedicated to creating a more equitable society.

Over the last decade, Justices Beinisch and Bader Ginsburg met on several occasions and developed a professional and personal relationship. After RBG’s passing, Chief Justice Beinisch wrote in Israel’s leading newspaper:

“People regularly note that she was the oldest justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, but in my eyes she was the youngest of all. She was young in spirit. Young people admired her the same way they do rock stars, and she even warmly adopted the identity of a famous rapper by means of her initials.”

The event is a collaboration of the Jewish Studies Program at SJSU, Jewish Silicon Valley, the Israeli Consulate to the Pacific Northwest, Congregation Shir Hadash, Congregation Beth David, and Congregation Sinai.

 

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: A Q&A with Chicana and Chicano Studies Faculty Christine Vega and Johnny Ramirez

Each year, the United States recognizes National Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Originally, it was Hispanic Heritage Week, an observance started by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968; then in 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded it to a month-long celebration. But, what does it mean to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month today? 

Two of San José State University’s newest faculty, Assistant Professors Christine Vega and Johnny Ramirez, offered us their perspective on the month, why it’s important and how they became interested in teaching Chicana and Chicano Studies. 

Vega described Ramirez as her “academic sibling,” because they have traveled many of the same pathways in higher education. Both hail from southern California, both were introduced to Chicana and Chicano Studies through the California community college system, and both earned their PhDs in education from UCLA and served as postdoctoral scholars at the University’s Interdisciplinary Research Institute for the Study of (in)Equality (IRISE). 

But their expertise and experience vary. Ramirez’s community-engaged research and critical pedagogical approaches have explored the punitive discipline practices that lead to Chicanx-Latinx school pushout (students dropping out), youth resistance, positive youth development and transformational resistance frameworks within critical race theory in education. 

Vega identifies as a community-based, Motherscholar-activist who merges academia, activism and spirituality in her pedagogy and research. She focuses on Motherscholar activism — the implicit and explicit work of mothers, especially Chicana, Chicanx, Latina, Latinx and Indigenous mothers enrolled in doctoral programs in the American Southwest.

Here’s what they shared about this timely topic. 

Why is it important for people to acknowledge Hispanic Heritage Month?

Christine Vega

Assistant Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies Christine Vega. Photo by Josh Vu Photography.

Christine Vega (CV): This is a celebration that should be honored year-round. A main part of being faculty in Chicana and Chicano and Chicanx studies is talking about the history and  context of our luchas [struggles]. This goes for all folks who identify as BIPOC [Black, Indigenous People of Color]; they should be honored year-round.

Johnny Ramirez (JR): I agree. This is also an acknowledgement that, even in 2021, there is this traditional narrative about the American experience and oftentimes BIPOC folks are not included. For folks who identify as Hispanic, Latinx, and/or Chicanx are part of a broader diaspora. There are a lot of different racial and ethnic identities and experiences within that. There isn’t just one homogenous so-called ‘Hispanic’ group, but when we think in the U.S. context, that is the traditional narrative. 

For me, this month is an opportunity to reaffirm that we need to acknowledge Chicanx-Latinx communities year-round, but in this particular time, we organize some resources to push our visibility. 

Positive representation matters in society. It is the first step in creating a cultural shift in which racialized groups are able to be seen, heard and valued. Oftentimes, Chicanx-Latinx communities are only mentioned and acknowledged when public discourse is focused on racist, nativist rhetoric or stereotypical media forms. It becomes imperative for Chicanx-Latinx communities to share the beauty and richness of their cultural memories, stories and epistemological perspectives within society. 

Who or what inspired you to study Chicana and Chicano studies?

CV: In terms of my experiences as a student in K-12 education in the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, I didn’t realize that schools were tracking me in a certain direction, one that was not college-bound. It wasn’t until summer school my senior year, when I was around students who were AP and honors, that I began asking what is college, and how come I didn’t know about it earlier?

What really lit a fire in me to pursue higher education is UCLA’s Center for Community College Partnerships. They came to my high school to invite students to apply for a free summer program and assist high school students pursuing community college learn how to transfer to a four-year university, and they provided the language in terms of injustice in Communities of Color. The program really changed my life. I told myself, UCLA is where I’m going to go, and I went there twice.

A lot of my consciousness-building happened at Tia Chucha’s Centro Cultural, a cultural center founded by LA poet laureate Luis J. Rodriguez, Trini Rodriguez and Enrique Sanchez, as well as my community college courses, which centralized intersectionality and named the inequalities experienced by BIPOC and Students of Color in marginalized communities. 

Johnny Ramirez.

Assistant Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies Johnny Ramirez.

JR: Part of my story is being a youth that got pushed out of school in the ninth grade. I grew up in poverty with a single mom, and it was my exposure to a student activist group called Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlán (MEChA) and Chicano Studies that gave me the building blocks to construct a positive self identity. I couldn’t find the language to name the injustices I saw and experienced in my life and community, but Chicana and Chicano Studies classes and activism provided me a lens to understand the struggles and resiliency of my ancestors, my parents, as well as, within my own life. 

I was about 17 years old when I got introduced to a group of Chicanx college students who were activists. They planted the seed, and when I got to community college, I took my first Chicano studies class. It was then that I realized I wanted to be a Chicano studies professor, and now my route is coming full circle. As a community college student, I experienced transformative change in higher education due to the field of Chicana and Chicano Studies, and I wanted to help cultivate that for diverse student populations similar to my own.

What’s beautiful about our field is in the early foundations of Chicanx Studies, there was always this acknowledgement of community empowerment and involvement. Our community, especially our youth, were framed as “holders and creators of knowledge.” So our academic space is, by design, a collaborative  bridge between the university and community spaces. We can build together and have positive representations, so our youth can pursue higher education as well.

What attracted you to San José State? 

JR: I come from a working class community — my mom is a payable clerk at the school district, and my stepdad is a retired warehouse worker. What’s so beautiful at San José State is there is a large population of working-class first-generation students of color, who are trying to get a college degree to uplift their family and community. Also, I really appreciated that at San José State, there’s a legacy, from the farmworker’s movement to the labor movement, to some of the foundational historians and intellectuals like Dr. Ernesto Galarza. There’s a lot of that cultural memory here. I’m getting more familiar with it, and it is an honor to be here. 

CV: It’s always been my dream to be a professor in a Chicana and Chicano studies and ethnic studies department that also honors my educational training. SJSU honors all my intersectional, interdisciplinary training as well as the work that I do with other scholars. As a student, I wanted to see Chicanas and Chicanos be my professor, and it took me a while to actually see that. The goal for me in becoming a professor was to help others see themselves reflected in me. I am that mirror.

That’s the power of representation, and that goes beyond one month. This is our role — to be that representation for many years to come.

Learn more about Hispanic Heritage Month activities at SJSU.

 

The Record Clearance Project Maintains Impressive 99% Success Rate in Court Throughout Pandemic

Record Clearance Project


The Record Clearance Project staff includes, from left to right: Cindy Parra, Jordan Velosa, ’20 Justice Studies; Jesse Mejia, ’19 Justice Studies; Darlene Montero; Michelle Taikeff, ’19 Justice Studies; Victoria Kirschner; Omar Arauza, ’20 Justice Studies; and Diana Carreras. Photo by Bob Bain.

This fall, the Record Clearance Project (RCP) kicks off its 14th year of service at San José State. 

“Having a criminal record is often a major obstacle to employment for low-income residents in San José, and this challenge is amplified for people of color,” said College of Social Sciences Dean Walt Jacobs. 

“The Record Clearance Project assists thousands of people each year with criminal convictions who cannot afford an attorney, enabling them to pursue their legal rights to a full, productive future. SJSU students also benefit from participation in this critically important work, as they learn valuable skills that translate to their areas of study.”

The program offers representation in court on petitions to dismiss eligible convictions and reduce eligible felonies to misdemeanors in Santa Clara County. Students interview clients and prepare their petitions in the appropriate legal format. Students also offer free “speed screenings” to help members of the public understand their individual legal rights to clearing their record. 

SJSU Justice Studies instructor and attorney Margaret (Peggy) Stevenson launched the RCP as a series of justice studies courses and an internship program that provides undergraduates with the training and attorney supervision to help eligible individuals get their records cleared as allowed by law, also known as expungement. 

Since launching the RCP in 2008, Stevenson and her team have spoken to nearly 13,000 people, including 4,000 in custody, explaining expungement law and employment rights of people with convictions at legal rights presentations. Throughout the pandemic, the RCP has pivoted to online services, continuing to consult with clients virtually. 

“Our justice system takes people who have made a mistake in their past and condemns them to limited employment, limited housing and limited education for the rest of their lives,” said Stevenson. “It takes sophistication, knowledge, experience and kindness to interview our clients, share their stories and advocate for them.” 

To help people begin the expungement process, the RCP obtained a LiveScan machine in 2017. Since then, the RCP has provided more than 800 people with their histories, saving them at least $31,500 in commercial services, and received court decisions that removed over $130,000 in debt. 

In addition to the financial benefit, providing a safe, friendly environment alleviates some of the trauma many people experience in being fingerprinted again. 

Peer mentor Diana Carreras and project assistant Omar Arauza in the RCP office at San José State. Photo by Bob Bain.

Stevenson has trained SJSU students to conduct over 2,100 individual legal advice interviews and helped them file more than 1,700 petitions to dismiss convictions on behalf of over 600 clients. The training, practice and role-play pays dividends: The RCP has an impressive 99% success rate in court.

That success is exponential, says RCP alumna Serey Nouth, ’20 Kinesiology. She explained that helping clients made it easier to address her own struggles and gave her hope for the future.

“Every day, we hear and see injustice, inequality, and systemic racism in our justice system,” she said. “Once hopeless and dejected, I now feel more empowered to dedicate my life to becoming part of the solution to these long overdue issues. 

“Every time I get to work with a new client, it’s another life changed for the better. Thanks to RCP, I am now studying for my LSAT and preparing my application for law school.”

Stevenson said that the RCP will continue to hold speed screenings online or by phone, and this fall they will be offering some legal rights presentations via video, enabling access to clients across the state. 

“There are 78 RCP cases on the court docket in August,” she added. “We filed these cases for 12 clients, including convictions as old as 1986. On we go.”

Social Sciences Faculty Publish an Anthology Reflecting on the Aftermath of George Floyd’s Murder

Walt Jacobs, dean of SJSU’s College of Social Sciences, co-edited this anthology with faculty members Wendy Thompson Taiwo and Amy August. Photo courtesy of Walt Jacobs.

On May 25, 2020, Minnesota resident George Floyd was murdered at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin – a tragedy captured on a cell phone video by a bystander on a nearby sidewalk.
Four days later, San José State College of Social Sciences Dean and Sociology Professor Walt Jacobs emailed his faculty and staff to acknowledge their collective grief and offer a few ideas about how they could respond by contributing to the national dialogue about race in America.

“As human beings, many of us are overwhelmed by the complexity of the situation and the intense emotions it has created,” Jacobs wrote on May 29. “As members of an institution that strives for social justice, we feel discouraged and outraged. And, as social scientists, we are wondering how our disciplines and our knowledge can contribute to solutions.”

That email, coupled with a conversation Jacobs later had with SJSU African American Studies Assistant Professor Wendy Thompson Taiwo, blossomed into a series of essays for The Society Pages. Inspired by the responses he was getting from colleagues with ties to Minnesota, Jacobs recruited Taiwo and Assistant Professor of Sociology Amy August to curate and edit an anthology of 36 essays titled “Sparked: George Floyd, Racism, and the Progressive Illusion” (published by Minnesota Historical Society Press).

A “wonderful and wretched” place for people of color

"Sparked" editors

Three SJSU faculty collaborated to edit “Sparked”: Amy August (top left), Walt Jacobs (top right) and Wendy Thompson Taiwo (center). Photo courtesy of Walt Jacobs.

A self-identified Minnesotan, Jacobs served as a professor of African American Studies at the University of Minnesota for 14 years, five of which he was department chair. Floyd’s murder just a mile from Jacobs’ former home sparked his desire to contextualize the intersectionality of race, culture and academia so often defined as “Minnesota nice.”

As he wrote in a 2016 “Blackasotan” essay, Jacobs asserts that “[life in] the land of 10,000 lakes helped [him] see that there were 10,000 ways to be Black.”

Thompson Taiwo’s experiences as a Black academic and mother in Minnesota prove Jacobs’ thesis. During her four years as assistant professor of ethnic studies at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Thompson Taiwo said she “experienced unmistakably racist personal incidents and saw the way that anti-Blackness operated on a structural level.

“Walt had a more positive relationship to Minnesota; not that he never experienced racism, but for me, it was stark. Thus, the juxtaposition that got this whole project started: Minnesota, for Black people, is both wonderful (Walt) and wretched (me).”

The anthology, published close to the anniversary of Floyd’s death and not long after Chauvin’s guilty verdict, brings together the perspectives of social scientists, professors and academics who work or have worked in Minnesota.

The essays present reflections on racial dynamics in the Twin Cities and the intersection of “wonderful and wretched” sides of that existence, revealing deep complexities, ingrained inequalities and diverse personal experiences. Writers probe how social scientists can offer the data and education required to contribute to change.

“Data is really important — but how we contextualize the data and the narratives we create about that data is equally powerful,” said Thompson Taiwo.

“To bring it directly to SJSU, how can we look at current efforts on campus — defunding and removing the police, enhancing the profile of the African American Studies Department, which provides a lens for understanding anti-Blackness and the long history and continuation of police murders of Black people, putting resources toward hiring more Black faculty and recruiting Black students — and lend our energies and solidarity to pushing those forward?

“Through collective grief and rage comes transformation. There is no reason why that transformation cannot continue on our campus and within our surrounding communities.”

August’s preface, “Coloring in the Progressive Illusion: An Introduction to Racial Dynamics in Minnesota,” provides some benchmark demographics and data detailing racial disparities in home ownership, health care, generational wealth and criminal justice.

As assistant director of the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society, and Social Change, she collaborates with a team of colleagues and student interns to promote social justice in and through sports. Like Jacobs and Thompson Taiwo, she studied and taught in Minnesota for several years.

“Helping to edit this book was a way to better understand how academics of color, including many of my friends and colleagues, were making sense of the racism and racial dynamics in an allegedly ‘progressive’ Minnesota,” said August.

“Because it was within the broader racial context that George Floyd was brutally murdered, within which the Black Lives Matter movement experienced yet another reawakening, and within which Minnesotans are even now reacting to the conviction of former officer Derek Chauvin, I see these essays as must-reads for all those interested in eradicating anti-Blackness and transforming race relations in Minneapolis and beyond,” she added.

Into the future

Jacobs, Thompson Taiwo and August conclude the anthology with an essay entitled “Where Will We Be on May 25, 2022?” They reflect on their initial reactions to Floyd’s murder and their hopes for the future.

Thompson Taiwo writes:

“What if we can, in the wake of George Floyd’s stolen life, have it all, everything our foremothers and othermothers and heroes and ancestors pocketed away and scrimped and hungered and struggled for? To find freedom this way requires one to dig deep into the speculative Black feminist tradition of imagining otherwise and otherworlds, knowing full well that we as Black people continue to live in the long afterlife of slavery, in the forever time of social death, and in a country that is consciously trapped in its own violent white settler colonial origin story.”

The College of Social Sciences’ Institute for Metropolitan Studies hosted a book launch event on May 18, 2021 at which Jacobs, Thompson Taiwo and contributor Marcia Williams, adjunct assistant professor of social and cultural sciences at Marquette University, were interviewed by Gordon Douglas, SJSU assistant professor of Urban and Regional Planning. The college will be hosting additional online book events in fall 2021.

Learn more about “Sparked” here.

 

Two SJSU Social Sciences Professors Receive Prestigious Research Fellowships

San José State Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Carolina Prado and Assistant Professor and Undergraduate Advisor of Chicana and Chicano Studies Jonathan D. Gomez have been awarded noteworthy funded fellowships for the 2021-2022 academic year. Both awards grant Prado and Gomez the time, financial support and professional resources to focus on their research in social sciences.

Prado has been named a Career Enhancement Fellow (CEF) through the Institute for Citizens & Scholars, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Gomez has received a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, which is funded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

“Both Jonathan and Carolina are deeply engaged in the classroom, do innovative work in their fields and are working directly with students in the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center,” said Magdalena Barrera, interim vice provost for faculty success and 2011-2012 recipient of the CEF fellowship.

“I’m not at all surprised that they won these awards because they work very hard, and their materials are outstanding.”

Champion for environmental justice

Carolina Prado.

SJSU Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Carolina Prado has been awarded a 2021-2022 Career Enhancement Fellowship.

Prado will study the sources and health effects of water contamination sites along the U.S.-México border in Tijuana. As a first-generation queer Chicana, she believes that the struggle for social and environmental justice should create an impact on both sides of the border.

“This award is very exciting to me because it incorporates work with a mentor to meet my writing and career goals,” said Prado, who also wants to help disadvantaged communities to live in clean and healthy environments regardless of their race, gender or income levels.

“A big goal I have academically is to build up the subfield of borderland environmental justice,” she added.

“Border regions, including the U.S.-México borderlands, experience environmental risks and goods in particular ways—and more research in this field is important. Pedagogically, I hope to integrate my training in environmental social science and feminist studies throughout my courses and build up our environmental justice curriculum in the Department of Environmental Studies.”

Prado joins Barrera and Faustina DuCros, associate professor of sociology and interdisciplinary social sciences, as pioneering SJSU faculty who have received Mellon Foundation fellowships.

Partner in self-expression

Jonathan D. Gomez.

SJSU Assistant Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies Jonathan D. Gomez has received a 2021-2022 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Grant. Photo courtesy of Jonathan D. Gomez.

Gomez, whose research examines how Chicanx communities use cultural expression to make places for themselves in cities, sees the Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship as an opportunity to complete his manuscript, El Barrio Lindo: Chicanx Social Spaces in Forgotten Places of Postindustrial Los Angeles.

His faculty mentor will be Gabriela Arredondo, an expert on the relationships of Chicanx and Latinx urban everyday life to the process of racial, ethnic, gender and trans-national identity formation. She serves as chair of the Latin American and Latino Studies department at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Gomez will also use the fellowship to further develop the Culture Counts Reading Series at SJSU (CCRS), which explores ideas of race and ethnicity through sharing poetry and exchanging ideas with a “story circle” pedagogy.

Participants use works they read as launchpads to share stories of their own life experiences as well as to explore how to make a difference in the world, especially as university students.

Gomez said he wants to expand the CCRS program by building partnerships with local high schools.

“The excitement in this work, for me, exists in the practice of listening and learning from young people in our community and figuring out how to best accompany them in educational projects to create the kinds of life-affirming institutions and relationships that are meaningful to them.”


Both Prado and Gomez look forward to sharing takeaways from their fellowships with their students when they resume teaching at SJSU in 2022.

“I am really proud of Jonathan and Carolina for the work that they are doing and everything that I know they are going to contribute as scholars,” said Barrera. “We’re very fortunate to have them at San José State.”

“When we hired Carolina and Jonathan in 2018, I knew that they would achieve great success,” said Walt Jacobs, the Dean of the College of Social Sciences. “I’m very much looking forward to learning about their accomplishments of the 2021-2022 fellowship year!”

College of Social Sciences Establishes First Endowed Professorship With $1 Million Gift

New role will help grow the Advanced Certificate in Real Estate Development program

San José State University recently received a $1 million gift from Scott Lefaver, ’68 Social Science, ’72 MUP, to create the first-ever endowed professorship in the College of Social Sciences. The first to take on this new role will be Kelly Snider, urban planner and development consultant, who  has been named endowed professor of practice and director of the Advanced Certificate Program in Real Estate Development (CRED) in the Urban and Regional Planning department.

“Kelly has been teaching in our CRED program since it launched in 2014 and has helped establish the program as a well-respected and sought-after credential for professionals in the real estate industry,” said Department Chair Laxmi Ramasubramanian. 

“Increasing her influence and oversight to a year-round position means we can grow the number of graduate students in the CRED program and also reach more students from the community.”

Developing community, curriculum and CRED

Lefaver has championed the Urban and Regional Planning program for 50 years, ever since he graduated with the first cohort of master’s in urban planning students. Throughout his career, he has worked for both the public and private sectors, serving as the first city planner of Gilroy and the founder and former president of Community Housing Developers, Inc., a Santa Clara County-based nonprofit housing corporation.

Scott Lefaver

SJSU alumnus Scott Lefaver’s gift enables the CRED program to bring urban planner Kelly Snider on as endowed professor of practice and director of the CRED program.

Lefaver served on the Santa Clara County Planning Commission for 12 years and is currently serving on the board of directors for HomeFirst Services of Santa Clara County, the largest provider of shelter and services to the unhoused in the county. In 1997, Lefaver and business partner Stephen Mattoon established Cabouchon Properties, LLC, which specializes in purchasing, rehabilitating and managing affordable housing across the United States. 

An Urban and Regional Planning lecturer since 1974, Lefaver helped establish the CRED program in 2014 with Mark Lazzarini, ’84 MUP; Eli Reinhardt; and the late Charles Davidson, ’57 Engineering, ’14 Honorary Doctorate. Their goal? To provide practical and well-rounded approaches to planning, community development and real estate that can be applied in public agencies and government as well as private businesses.

“Development doesn’t take place on a piece of land—it takes place in a community,” said Lefaver. “Planners need to understand what development is about, and developers need to consider how communities are affected.”

The CRED program combines instruction in fundamentals of real estate development, such as project financing, legal challenges and land use entitlements. The program also addresses traditional development practices, including privately funded mixed-use and transit-oriented development, which use less energy and lower greenhouse gas emissions. 

It also explores new and emerging industries, like self-driving cars, data centers and long-term collaboration between private companies and public agencies.

“Endowed professorships generate funds that faculty can use for research, creative and scholarly activities, including employing student assistants,” said Walt Jacobs, dean of the College of Social Sciences. 

“We are so grateful for Scott’s commitment to the college. By endowing Kelly’s position, he is enabling us to make an even bigger impact not only on our students but the greater Silicon Valley community.”

“Scott’s gift beautifully represents his dedication to the university, as well as his commitment to his chosen field,” said Theresa Davis, vice president of University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. 

“San José State is fortunate to have philanthropic alumni such as Scott, who go above and beyond to support the next generation of Spartans.”

Building the future

Lefaver first met Snider in 2014, when Urban Planning Professor Emeritus Dayana Salazar and Urban Planning Professor Hilary Nixon recruited her to teach for the CRED program. 

Kelly Snider.

Urban planner Kelly Snider has been named the endowed professor of practice and director of SJSU’s CRED program.

Impressed by her track record in both the public and private spheres, Lefaver knew that the next logical step in building out the certificate program would be establishing an endowed professorship. As an expert in Silicon Valley land use, with experience as a public planner and as a private developer, Snider was the perfect fit.

“We’re trying to educate both the nonprofit, city or county government professionals and the for-profit developers, so there is a value add for everybody,” explained Snider. 

“We want to take advantage of the profitability of building and make sure that it has guardrails, so it builds inclusive, family-friendly, multicultural, healthy and safe communities. The CRED program provides the foundation that professionals need to do just that.”

Snider plans to develop mentoring and internship opportunities within the real estate development industry and expand the CRED program by partnering with regional leaders. She hopes to prepare graduates to create inclusive and sustainable projects in the communities where they work. 

This is especially important as Silicon Valley is currently experiencing one of the biggest development booms in the United States, according to Lefaver.

In its first five years, CRED alumni have landed positions in the highest levels of city administration and in prominent companies across the Bay Area. CRED alumni include senior executives at Colliers, HMH Consultants, Marcus & Millichap.

“The great thing about our environment and how people interact with it is that everyone has a story,” said Snider. “Everyone lives somewhere—we all have our environment in common. We’ve got to do a better and faster job of transforming the private, for-profit developments into places for everyone to thrive.”

For more information on the Certificate in Real Estate Development, visit SJSU’s Department of Urban & Regional Planning.

 

ISSSSC Hosts Panel Discussion of Gender Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Sports

ISSSSC Words to Action

The ISSSSC is hosting Sport Conversations for Change online this year.

On March 11, San José State University’s Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change (ISSSSC) hosted “Equitable Futures for Womxn in Sport,” an online dialogue about gender equity in sports with three industry thought leaders. 

The event, moderated by ISSSSC Executive Director Akilah Carter-Francique and Assistant Director Amy August, featured Dawna Callahan, ’02 MS Recreation Management, CEO and founder of All In Sport Consulting; Jenny Lim, program manager at Canadian Women & Sport and Danielle Slaton, director of external relations at Santa Clara University.

Carter-Francique kicked off the webinar by sharing a video from the International Women’s Day #ChoosetoChallenge campaign, which invites women and girls to challenge gender norms. 

Jenny Lim

Jenny Lim develops gender equity solutions for Canadian sports organizations.

The video, which compared gender to a “pre-written book,” served as a conversation starter for the panelists, who were asked to reflect on leadership and hiring, and methods for sustaining the movement toward gender equity in sport. “We have a long way to go in terms of gender equity and representation in media,” said Lim, who develops gender equity solutions for Canadian sport organizations such as the Gender Equity LENS E-module, the Gender Equity in Sport Assessment, the Gender Equity Action Plan, Equity in Coaching and Same Game. 

Lim mentioned that only four percent of the 35,000 hours dedicated to traditional sport coverage on television was devoted to women sports. 

“You can’t be what you can’t see,” she added.

All three panelists reflected on the importance of intersectional diversity and inclusion in sports. Callahan has played a vital role in developing the Paralympic movement in the United States over the past 20 years. The silver lining of the COVID-19 pandemic has been how employers have had to adjust to their employees’ needs, especially with regards to accessibility, said Callahan. 

Dawna Callahan

SJSU alumna Dawna Callahan has helped pioneer the Paralympic movement.

“Everyone has had to be more adaptive—and there is no one better at adapting than a person with disabilities,” she added. 

“Disability is diversity, and there is diversity within disability. Think of an amputee who is starting their career. Did they lose their leg on the battlefield or to cancer in high school? People with disabilities have diverse perspectives to share in the work world.”

Slaton, a silver medalist soccer player, former member of the U.S. National Women’s Soccer team and soccer television analyst, agreed that the narrative of women playing sports and working in sport-adjacent careers needs to change. She mentioned how rare it was to see a woman of color like herself commentating in professional sports.

“Not only do we need to have more women and girls who look like me on TV, but we need to recognize that our opinions matter as much as those of the athletes on the field,” said Slaton. 

Danielle Slaton

Olympic medalist and television sports analyst Danielle Slaton believes in creating a more inclusive world on field and in broadcast television,

“My thoughts, my perspective and how I give a voice to the game of soccer is important. The challenge comes from changing the minds of people in the highest echelons of media. What games do we get to cover? We need to have diversity at the decision-making table.”

The webinar offered opportunities for panelists to share educational and academic resources with their audience, as well as with each other. While discussing intersectionality, Slaton suggested to Callahan that they connect when Slaton covers the Tokyo Olympics later this year, with the hope of increasing coverage of Paralympic sports. 

When Carter-Francique asked how female leaders and allies can shift the narrative of women in sports, Slaton reiterated that they simply “choose to challenge.”

“I may not have the platform of Megan Rapinoe, but I have a voice in my community,” said Slaton as the conversation concluded. “I have a voice here today. We all must take one step forward in service.”

This presentation was part of the ISSSSC’s Sport Conversations for Change speaker series. Their next event is scheduled for April 8. To learn more, visit sjsuwordstoaction.com.

Human Rights Lecture Series Features Lectures on Black Feminism, Socialism and the Work of Dr. Angela Davis

Starting February 1, San José State University’s Human Rights Institute is kicking off Black History Month by launching a three-part lecture series focusing on the relevance of Black feminism, socialism, and Dr. Angela Davis’s work facing human rights challenges. Events include a documentary watch party on February 1, a teach-in panel on February 9 featuring renowned academics UC Santa Cruz Distinguished Professor and UC Presidential Co-Chair, Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Bettina Apethker, ’76 MA Mass Communications, historian Barbara Ransby and critical theorist Neferti X.M. Tadiar, and culminate in a keynote address by Dr. Davis on February 11. All events are free to the public and hosted online.

“We want our programming to be meaningful for our students who will be out in the workforce,” said Bill Armaline, director of the Human Rights Institute and associate professor of sociology at SJSU. “That means it needs to speak to real issues that their families and communities face.”

“This is an extraordinary time because we have a woman of color as the vice president of the United States. Our series speaks to this time and connects the deep history of black women as political forces in our country,” said Halima Kazem-Stojanovic, lecturer in journalism and human rights and the journalism coordinator for the Human Rights Institute.

Armaline said that in 2015, the Human Rights Institute (then a “collaborative”) brought together founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, including leaders from organizations like We Charge Genocide (Chicago), M.O.R.E. (Ferguson, MO), and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights (Oakland) with long-time movement leaders like renowned sociologist Harry Edwards, ’64 Social Science, ’16 Honorary Doctorate, for two days of organizing and educational workshops on the SJSU campus around anti-racism and criminal justice reform.

“It was our most successful event in terms of students, panelists and organizers coming together—a lot of community organizing happened as a result,” Armaline said. “This year, we thought what better way to launch the Human Rights Institute than to return to some of these issues and invite Dr. Angela Davis to reflect on the last five years. We’ve seen a rise and explosion of white supremacist organizations throughout the country. Now we’re asking, how do Black feminism, socialism and the work of Dr. Davis give us any guidance about how to grapple with the human rights struggles of our day?”

February 1, 3:30 p.m.: Live Watch Party with Q&A with SJSU Alumna Bettina Aptheker

Live Watch Party

This event will kick off Black History Month and the lecture series with a live watch party of the award-winning documentary, Free Angela and All Political Prisoners, by Shola Lynch (2012). The film details the early life of Dr. Davis as a scholar, political figure, and temporary fugitive who would defend herself in an epic 1972 trial that became an international stage for revolutionary Black feminism. The live watch party will also feature a live Q&A with UC Santa Cruz Distinguished Professor and UC Presidential Co-Chair, Feminist Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Bettina Apethker, ’76 MA Mass Communications, who appears in the film.

February 9, 3 p.m.: Teach-in Panel Discussion: Dr. Angela Davis and the Indispensability of Black Feminism and Socialism in 2021

Teach-In Panel Event
This event features a virtual teach-in panel discussion of Black feminism and socialism by internationally-known scholars, Drs. Barbara Ransby, Bettina Aptheker, ’76 MA Mass Communications, and Neferti X.M. Tadiar. Each guest will present a brief but provocative talk before engaging directly with questions from the viewing audience.

February 11, 5 p.m.: Keynote Address with Dr. Angela Davis

Angela Davis Keynote Address

The culminating event for the SJSU HRI Human Rights Lecture Series features the 2021 keynote human rights lecture from Dr. Angela Davis, distinguished professor emerita of UC Santa Cruz. Dr. Davis spoke at SJSU’s 2015 Annual Lecture, joined by many of the various architects of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Six years later, Dr. Davis returns to discuss the relevance of Black feminism, politics of abolition, and revolutionary praxis to address the human rights challenges of our time. Following the lecture, join for a discussion of how these ideas are shaping political struggles in our region and across the country.


About the Human Rights Institute

The San José State University Human Rights Institute is an organizational research and training unit under the California State University system that specializes in human rights research, journalism, and policy design. HRI students and faculty study pressing social problems and work with community organizations, stakeholders, and policy makers to inform and design solutions according to relevant scholarship, human rights law, and international best practices. Further, the HRI is building the Human Rights News Network—a source of original and relevant human rights reporting from students, faculty, and Institute partners.

Students interested in getting involved with the HRI can do so through enrolling in the Human Rights minor program applying for student internship positions at the HRI, or working with a faculty Human Rights Working Group member on new or ongoing research. To learn more, visit the HRI website.

 

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.”

History Professor Ruma Chopra Named 2021-22 ACE Fellow

Editor’s Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chopra’s appointment as an ACE Fellow has moved to the 2021-2022 academic year. Below is a story that originally ran on March 19, 2020, when Chopra was named an ACE Fellow for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

The American Council on Education (ACE) has named San Jose State History Professor Ruma Chopra an ACE Fellow for the 2020-21 academic year. She is one of 38 fellows selected for this prestigious program, which prepares faculty, staff, and administrators for senior positions in college and university leadership.

Ruma Chopra has been named an 2020-2021 ACE Fellow. Photo: Josie Lepe.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Ruma Chopra. “I am excited to work with and learn from innovative leaders in higher education.”

Chopra joined San Jose State in 2008. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses related to immigration, urbanization, racialization, poverty, and violence. She has published three books related to colonialism and slavery; her fourth book project examines the global consequences of pre-Darwinian climatic theories.

Her research has taken her to archives in the United States as well as in Sierra Leone, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Britain. Last year, she received fellowships from the Rachel Carson Center (Munich), the Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington DC) and the John Carter Brown Library (Providence).

“As a scholar, Professor Chopra continues to have a passion for learning, as she thinks of multiple ways to contribute to the mission of our institution,” said SJSU Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs Vincent Del Casino, Jr. “The ACE Fellowship provides her with a unique learning space to think about how to extend her intellect to higher education administration. I am excited to see what she brings back to SJSU.”

Chopra holds a doctoral degree from the University of California, Davis, and a master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

The ACE Fellows program combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, visits to campuses and other higher education-related organizations, and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year.

At the conclusion of the fellowship year, fellows return to their home institution with new knowledge and skills that contribute to capacity-building efforts, along with a network of peers across the country and abroad.

2020 Faculty Award Winners

San Jose State has recognized four distinguished faculty members for noteworthy achievement in teaching, scholarship and service. Read more about each recipient:

President’s Scholar: Lawrence Quill, Department of Political Science

Outstanding Professor: Charlotte Sunseri, Department of Anthropology

Outstanding Lecturer: Sharmin Khan, Department of Linguistics

Distinguished Service: Karen Singmaster, Department of Chemistry

Alumnus, World Renowned Sociologist Remembers Carrie Fisher

TO ALL THOSE WHO GREW UP WITH THE STAR WARS SERIES AND ARE TRYING TO COME TO GRIPS WITH YET ANOTHER DEEPLY FELT LOSS IN A YEAR OF SUCH LOSSES, thank you for your interest in my assessment and I hope that this brief comment brings some solace.

We should not just sit in stunned silence when those who have positively impacted some aspect of our lives—if only our imaginations—pass from among us. Our shared humanity mandates that for our own good, we acknowledge such a loss.

As a huge Star Wars fan, I too have had to try to wrap my mind around this very sad sequence of events. Perhaps an acknowledgement and view appropriate to Star Wars is in order:

Death, with its inescapable icy embrace, eventually casts its sardonic smile upon all things—people, planets, stars, galaxies, and—cosmologically  speaking—at some unimaginably distant time in the future and far, far away, even upon the Universe itself. But the Universe, in its incomprehensibly profound greatness, has endowed people not only with a consciousness of itself, but with the potential character and courage to reciprocate death’s greeting, to smile back. So though death comes like a malevolent intruder, a thief in the night, the Grim Reaper, need not have the last laugh.

Princess Leia and Mom, thanks for all the joy and memories. R.I.P. and—may the force be with you!

—Dr. Harry Edwards, ’64 Sociology, ’16 Honorary Doctorate

Bay Area Media Turn to SJSU on Election Night 2016

Sergio Bejar-Lopez, Melinda Jackson, Larry Gerston and Garrick Percival. Photo Illustration: SJSU Strategic Communications and Public Affairs

Sharing their expertise with millions of television viewers and radio listeners will be professors Sergio Bejar-Lopez, Melinda Jackson, Larry Gerston and Garrick Percival. Photo Illustration: SJSU Strategic Communications and Public Affairs

San Jose State University political science professors will be sharing their expertise with millions of television viewers and radio listeners across the Bay Area on election night. Four professors will be providing reaction and expert commentary on six television and radio stations Nov. 8 and 9.

Our political science faculty is excited to be able to share its expertise with the community,” said Melinda Jackson, department chair. “SJSU has a long tradition of engaged scholarship and public service, one of the things we love about teaching here.”

How to Tune In

Associate Professor Jackson will appear on ABC affiliate KGO-TV on election night beginning at 8 p.m. She will also offer post-election analysis the next morning on KGO-TV’s newscasts.

Assistant Professor Sergio Bejar-Lopez will be on-set analyzing the election for Telemundo affiliate KSTS-TV and Univision affiliate KDTV-TV.

For the 36th year, Professor Emeritus Larry Gerston will share his political expertise with NBC Bay Area viewers and KCBS radio listeners.

Associate Professor Garrick Percival will offer analysis of some of the 17 propositions on this year’s ballot with Fox affiliate KTVU and others. 

A Wealth of Knowledge

“We are especially proud of the fact that so many of our department’s faculty members have been asked to provide political analysis on the important issues and races at the local, state and national level this year,” Professor Jackson said. “We have a wealth of expert knowledge on this campus!”

SJSU Names 2016 Outstanding Thesis

Amanda Feldman

Amanda Feldman

Amanda Feldman is the 2016 Outstanding Thesis Award recipient, in recognition of the quality of her research. She will be recognized at Commencement, beginning at 9:30 a.m. May 28 in Spartan Stadium.

Feldman’s interest in sharp force trauma research was spurred by “the magnitude of the domestic violence problem in America” and the prevalence of knife attacks in these cases.

Learning that domestic disputes accounted for the majority of knife-related homicides, Feldman’s study included research about the motives and mindsets of perpetrators, which she hopes “will contribute to the improvement of validation standards in forensic studies.”

While researching her award-winning thesis, “From Trauma to Trial: Proposing New Methods for Examining the Variability of Sharp Force Trauma on Bone,” Feldman says she “became passionate about collaborating with students.”

Having graduated with a master’s in applied anthropology in December, She plans to pursue a Ph.D. and become a professor.

SJSU Names 2016 Outstanding Seniors

Erin Enguero and Anna Santana are the recipients of SJSU’s 2016 Outstanding Graduating Senior Awards  in recognition of their scholarship and contributions to the community. Both will be recognized at Commencement, beginning at 9:30 a.m. May 28 in Spartan Stadium.

Erin Enguero

Erin Enguero

Erin Enguero (photo by Inderpal Kaur)

Since age 11, having a hearing loss has influenced how Enguero identifies herself academically and socially. She has evolved from a self-described “cautious pre-teen to an ambitious young woman striving for excellence” in her educational and community endeavors.

Carrying a 3.796 GPA, she has earned numerous scholarships and has been recognized as a CSU Trustee Award winner, SJSU Salzburg Scholar and 2016 American Kinesiology Association Undergraduate Scholar.

While Enguero’s hearing loss has taught her to adapt using her existing strengths, she says she is proud “not just for overcoming my disability, but for finding the courage to explore my identities as a student, leader and, ultimately, an agent of change.”

Enguero graduates in May with a bachelor’s in kinesiology. In fall 2016, she plans to pursue a doctorate in physical therapy at California State University, Fresno.

Anna Santana

Anna Santana with civil rights activist Dolores Huerta (photo courtesy of Anna Santana)

Anna Santana with civil rights activist Dolores Huerta (courtesy of Anna Santana)

At age six, Santana transferred schools three times in less than a year in search of a bilingual teacher. This daughter of former farmworkers says this was just part of the struggles that “have shaped my dreams and aspirations.”

Today, Santana advocates for the education of migrant families through the Apoyo Campesino project, which seeks to change a state regulation that forces students to move to a different school after each growing season ends.

In addition, Santana is the founder of the College Awareness Network, which has been integral in bringing students from marginalized schools to university campuses to promote a college-going culture.

A double major in sociology and Spanish, Santana will receive her bachelor’s degree in May. As a McNair Scholar, she maintains a 3.9 GPA and has been accepted to Stanford University for graduate school.

 

Honors Convocation Recognizes Top Academic Achievers

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

When Kenney Chiu, ’15 Business Finance, joined 4,127 Dean’s and President’s Scholars as part of the Honors Convocation in the Event Center on April 15, someone special shared a seat with him — his baby boy Abraham Charles.

“I snuck him in to sit on my lap,” Chiu said with a laugh. “All the honorees that sat around me were playing with him and they just loved it, too.”

Chiu joined a record number of 3,714 students honored with recognition for earning a 3.65 or higher GPA in at least two contiguous of the past three semesters at San Jose State.

Although Chiu credited his honor with the exceptional teaching found in his home Lucas College of Business, he stressed the impact that his baby boy has had on his academic accomplishments.

“That’s where my motivation comes from,” Chiu said. “I just want to show my kid that he can be proud of his dad.”

Supporters

Interim President Sue Martin took a moment during the ceremony to praise the “unsung heroes,” including family members, friends and spouses who helped support and guide the student scholars.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

For Emily Vann, ’16 Public Relations, her President’s Scholar recognition was a testament to her mother Olivia and her coaches both on and off the basketball court.

Vann joined a record setting 59 student-athletes recognized for academic excellence, including eight student-athletes who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA for at least two contiguous of the past three semesters.

“You have to kind of go into another gear to kind of get this distinction,” Vann said. “I know firsthand how much it takes and how much time, dedication and effort it takes to go through the everyday process of waking up and having to wear two hats as a student and an athlete.”

Vann, a forward on the SJSU women’s basketball team, said she could not have reached the academic milestone without the support of her mother.

“My mom is a teacher and I just feel really blessed to have had her in my life. She helped me and coached me from the time I was little,” Vann said. “[She’s] always letting me know that my academics come first even though I’m an athlete.”

Provost Andy Feinstein said such support by loved ones and faculty members alike married with personal sacrifice helped usher in the record number of honored scholars this year.

“These students have shown a commitment to their studies, through personal, economic, social and educational circumstances, to be among the top one percent at this university,” Feinstein said.

Sacrifice

Kenneth Peter, 2016 Outstanding Professor, said in his keynote speech that students should be fueled by the various sacrifices they make in their quest for higher education.

Photo: David Schmitz

Photo: David Schmitz

“Your talents are not only exhibited in your academic success, but are profound when viewed in light of the struggles you have overcome,” Peter said. “When many of you are first generation college students, when most of you worked more than half time, when many of you have family obligations, when most of you come from public schools with inadequate resources, you are remarkably talented and you have proven this by being in this room tonight.”

Peter’s assertion rang particularly close to home for Jamil Elbanna, ’16 Mechanical Engineering, who spent most of his academic career working two jobs in addition to his schoolwork.

In order to finance his way through college, Elbanna took a job as a courtesy clerk at Safeway and a security officer at a hospital, all while pursuing a degree.

“It’s definitely not the easiest thing but having passion for my major and what I want to study is important,” Elbanna said. “There were times where it almost felt impossible, but I just keep at it and pushed at it day and night.”

Peter concluded his keynote speech by reminding the student honorees that by receiving recognition for their academic accomplishments, they are also receiving an important responsibility.

“Your talent must not be wasted. Each of you should leave SJSU with the kind of education you will need to fight for greater fairness and equality than this world has yet seen fit to offer,” Peters said. “You have likely experienced some hardships. Let those light the fire within.”

 

World-Renowned Sports Sociologist and SJSU Alumnus Harry Edwards to Serve as 2016 Commencement Speaker

Media contact:
Pat Lopes Harris, SJSU Media Relations, 408-924-1748, pat.harris@sjsu.edu

Harry Edwards speaks at a campus event in May 2012 (photo: Christina Olivas)

Harry Edwards speaks at a campus event in May 2012 (photo: Christina Olivas)

SAN JOSE, CA – San Jose State University announced today that human and civil rights icon Harry Edwards, ’64 Sociology, will serve as its 2016 Commencement speaker. In addition, Edwards will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at Commencement. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. May 28 at Spartan Stadium. The event will be streamed live on the university’s website.

“Harry Edwards came to San Jose State to pursue an education while representing the university in intercollegiate athletics, and he accomplished both with extraordinary distinction,” said SJSU Interim President Susan Martin. “Dr. Edwards went on to dedicate his life to developing innovative approaches for raising the nation’s consciousness about the hidden inequities and barriers that exist in our society through his work in athletics. We are proud to recognize his contributions with an honorary degree and look forward to hearing him address our graduates.”

This academic year, an estimated 9,000 San Jose State students will earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Approximately 15,000 family members and friends are expected to attend Commencement.

Harry Edwards

Harry Edwards, 73, was born in St. Louis, Mo., and raised in East St. Louis, Ill., the second of eight children. With no more than a third-grade education, his father supported the family and encouraged Harry to take advantage of the opportunities the sports world provided.

Edwards followed through, excelling in sports and academics in high school. With financial support from a St. Louis-area attorney, he arrived in California to attend Fresno City College on a track and basketball scholarship. He later transferred to San Jose State University, where he served as captain of the basketball team and set school records for the discus.

Edwards set SJSU records for the discus (courtesy of Spartan Athletics).

Edwards set SJSU records for the discus (courtesy of Spartan Athletics).

After graduating in 1964 with a degree in sociology, Edwards had three choices: professional football, professional basketball, or graduate school. He chose graduate school, and began work on master’s and doctoral degrees at Cornell University in New York. After completing his master’s degree, he took a break from his studies to return to San Jose State, where he worked as a part-time instructor of sociology.

The year was 1966, and the civil rights movement was in full swing. Drawing on his childhood experiences, his years as a college athlete, his academic training, and his desire to educate, Edwards began gaining national attention for speaking out on the inequities he perceived in the nation and the sports world.

“During the 1967 college football season, Edwards, then a part-time instructor… presented a list of civil rights grievances to the administration on behalf of the school’s black students, particularly its athletes. Edwards’s group threatened to ‘physically interfere’ with the opening game if demands were not met. It was a regional watershed in radical sports activism, and the mainstream reaction was also a first; the opening game was canceled,” according to The New York Times.

Taking a Stand

The following year brought the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy. Edwards lent his voice and support to the Olympic Project for Human Rights, a movement calling upon black athletes to boycott the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Watching television in the United States, Edwards observed SJSU track stars and U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos take a stand for human rights on the awards podium.

Harry Edwards and Sandra Boze Edwards met at SJSU, and have been married 47 years (courtesy of Mr. Edwards)

Harry Edwards and Sandra Boze Edwards met at SJSU (courtesy of Mr. Edwards).

At the time, all three men were heavily criticized for their actions. Three decades later, San Jose State student leaders recognized the courage of these Spartans by memorializing the moment with a 24-foot tall sculpture in the heart of our campus.

Edwards went on to earn a doctoral degree from Cornell University in 1971, and to begin a distinguished, three-decade career as a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. A giant of a man with a caring presence, his “Sociology of Sports” course was among the most popular on campus.

During that time, he remained in constant contact with the professional sports world, where he served as a consultant to two luminaries who also graduated from San Jose State: Major League Baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, ’59 Business, and the late San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Bill Walsh, ’55 BA, ’58 MA Education.

Providing Opportunity

In addition, Edwards worked with the Golden State Warriors and the University of Florida. In all of these roles, he sought to develop practices and programs to increase minority representation in the coaching ranks and to support players of color as they navigated the opportunities and pressures of college and professional sports. Edwards delivered a moving eulogy for Walsh, summarizing the ways they sought to provide opportunities to all NFL players.

Harry Edwards is the author of four books: “The Struggle That Must Be,” “Sociology of Sports,” “Black Students,” and “The Revolt of the Black Athlete.” He has been married for 47 years to Sandra Boze Edwards, ’70 BA Liberal Studies, ’88 MA Education. The couple resides in Fremont, Calif., and they are the parents of three now adult children: a lawyer, a physician, and an information technology/computer programming specialist.


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 eight colleges.

With more than 32,000 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 220,000 alumni, 60 percent of whom live and work in the Bay Area.

Los Angeles Times: Uber’s Driver Screening Practices Fuel Political Debate on Rider Safety

Posted by the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 20, 2015.

By Laura J. Nelson and Emily Alpert Reyes

The ride-hailing revolution holds the potential to radically change the way people get around. But the political battle over Uber and Lyft in California has focused on something more obscure: fingerprints.

Uber is facing some of the fiercest challenges to its business practices from an array of California officials who claim the Silicon Valley-based company does not adequately screen its rapidly expanding pool of tens of thousands of drivers…

A number of other issues such as insurance coverage and liability have swirled around the rise of Uber and similar services. But for both elected officials and their constituents, questions of criminal histories are “a much more immediate concern if you’re deciding whether to use one of these services rather than a traditional taxi,” said Melinda Jackson, an associate professor of political science at San Jose State University.

Read the full story.

Classes without Quizzes: Social Sciences Edition

Date: April 30, 2011

Time: 9 a.m.- 1:30 p.m.

Location: Clark Hall

Summary: Leave your blue books and number 2 pencils at home! The San José State University Alumni Association and the College of Social Sciences invite you to join us for a day of education and enrichment at College of Social Sciences Classes Without Quizzes on Saturday, April 30 from 9-1:30p.m. This free event will be located in Clark Hall. Lunch will be provided.

Review the course information below before registering for the event.