FAQs Regarding President Papazian’s Resignation from SJSU

Editor’s Note: The following are frequently asked questions regarding President Mary A. Papazian’s resignation from SJSU, which was announced Thursday, October 7, 2021. President Papazian’s letter to the campus community and the university’s official statement, are available online. 

Page last updated October 7, 2021

Question (Q): Why is President Papazian resigning from her position?

Answer (A): After thoughtful consideration and discussions with her family, President Papazian made the decision to step away as president of San José State University at the end of the fall semester.

Q: When is President Papazian officially stepping down as president?

A: President Papazian will step down as president on December 21, 2021.

Q: What is the succession plan to replace President Papazian?

A: California State University (CSU) Chancellor Joseph I. Castro will meet with campus stakeholders prior to naming an interim president. The CSU Board of Trustees will thereafter begin a national search for the 31st president of SJSU.

Q: What was the timeline of events leading up to President Papazian’s resignation?

​​A: Dr. Papazian discussed resigning from her position as president of San José State University with Chancellor Castro on September 25, 2021.

On October 1, 2021, Chancellor Castro informed the CSU Board of Trustees of President Papazian’s decision and the succession plan.

Chancellor Castro will meet with campus stakeholders prior to naming an interim president. The CSU Board of Trustees will thereafter conduct a national search for the 31st president of San José State University.

The CSU Chancellor’s Office is committed to transparency and will continue to provide regular updates regarding CSU matters and relevant topics that impact the 23-campus university.

Q: What are some of President Papazian’s notable accomplishments during her tenure at SJSU?

A: Dr. Papazian became the 30th president and third woman to lead the university on July 1, 2016.

During her tenure, SJSU was named the #1 Most Transformative University by Money magazine. She maximized partnerships with industry and technology giants such as IBM, LinkedIn, PayPal, and Adobe to elevate campus technology and provide SJSU students access to innovative enterprise grade student-focused resources.

In 2019, President Papazian established the Division of Research and Innovation, which is leading the growth of the university’s intellectual property portfolio of patents, copyrights, trademarks, licensing agreements, and supporting the entrepreneurial activity of students, faculty, and staff.

In 2016, President Papazian launched the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Since its inception, SJSU has been striving to be a diversified workplace that represents its student population.

In September 2020, President Papazian appointed a task force to study community safety and policing, mandated all managers to participate in training on racial justice and workplace inclusion, and charged her leadership council involving nearly fifty campus leaders to develop and implement action plans targeting systemic racism.

Q: What did Chancellor Castro say regarding President Papazian’s resignation?

A: In a recent statement Chancellor Castro stated, “President Papazian’s decision to resign from the presidency reflects her compassionate leadership. While professionally and personally difficult, this step demonstrates her commitment to the university moving forward. We are grateful for the innovative educational services and cutting-edge resources that she and her team have put into place, which have positioned San José State University as a transformational higher learning institution.”

Q: Will President Papazian continue her full duties until December 21, 2021?

A: Yes, President Papazian remains in the office of the president and will complete her duties as president until she steps down.

Q: What will President Papazian’s role be after December 21, 2021?

A: As part of the Executive Transition Program established in 2006 by the CSU Board of Trustees, President Papazian’s duties will, for one year, include assisting CSU executives on matters pertaining to the CSU and preparing for her return to a teaching position.

Q: What is the Executive Transition Program?

A: In 1992, the California Board of Trustees established an executive transition program for individuals appointed into executive positions. Through this program, former executives are given the opportunity to instruct in the classroom or perform highly specialized duties specific to their expertise to the benefit of the university. Effective 2006, the program was limited and was no longer made available to executives who retire from the CSU or accept non-CSU employment at the time of their resignation.

In accordance with the terms of the executive transition program, President Papazian’s compensation will be $290,580 (Term: December 22, 2021-December 21, 2022). This transition salary is funded by the Chancellor’s Office and is paid at the midpoint between the executive’s current salary and the maximum of the salary range for a 12-month full professor.

Following her transition year, President Papazian will have the right to return to the faculty at San José State University in the College of Humanities and the Arts, Department of English and Comparative Literature.

Advancing Quality and Student Success at SJSU

Paseo walkway on SJSU's campus

SJSU’s campus is alive with activity as students bustle along one of its main walkways, the Paseo de César E. Chávez.

What to know about SJSU’s 2021 WSCUC accreditation review.

More than 36,000 students are enrolled at San José State University. How do we hold ourselves accountable to them and the rest of our community in achieving our mission? The answer starts with SJSU’s commitment to ensuring students succeed and includes an accreditation, which is an independent, third-party evaluation process.

This fall, San José State will begin its next review of our accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission* (WSCUC), the regional accreditation body for universities in California, Hawaii and American territories in the Pacific.

What does WSCUC accreditation mean for SJSU?

Put simply: WSCUC accreditation is our university’s report card of our academic quality and educational effectiveness. In other words: How do we define and assess student learning, and how are we ensuring we are delivering a high quality, effective, equitable and sustainable educational experience?

SJSU’s WSCUC Accreditation Liaison Officer Junelyn Peeples, who is also vice provost for institutional effectiveness and strategic analytics, explained the goal for accreditation “is to help higher education institutions evaluate the efficacy of their educational delivery and its impact on student success.”

Furthermore, WSCUC’s approach to accreditation, she added, “aids institutions in developing and sustaining effective educational programs and assures the educational community and the general public that an accredited institution has met high standards of quality and effectiveness.”

Every regional accrediting body has core competencies that its institutions must uphold, such as oral and written communication, information literacy and quantitative reasoning. WSCUC’s particular set of core competencies has been developed considering what the public would expect a global citizen to look like upon graduating at any given higher education institution.

Accreditation is also periodically reaffirmed by the WSCUC to allow the university to review and reflect on how it’s doing in relation to standards set for the colleges and universities in our region.

Read more about SJSU’s accreditation history.

Why is it important to SJSU?

“The accreditation process provides us a way to make an evaluation of what we’re doing and determine our direction moving forward: where we’re going to direct our attention, where we’re doing really well, and where we may need to readjust what we’re doing,” said Pam Richardson, professor of occupational therapy and faculty chair of SJSU’s accreditation review committee.

Accreditation is also tied to federal funding and impacts schools and colleges within our university — they would not be able to have accreditation of their professional programs if the university was not accredited.

“WSCUC focuses its attention on how we deliver curriculum and our support services to our students, particularly how students are able to demonstrate their learning,” added Peeples.

“And they do it very collaboratively, so we really engage in the process. For example, if there are major changes in the expectations of what institutions need to deliver, universities are part of the conversation about how to meaningfully focus our attention to make those adjustments.”

“I think [WSCUC] is very forward looking,” said Thalia Anagnos, vice provost for undergraduate education and member of SJSU’s accreditation review steering committee. “They see trends happening at the national level, and then create guidelines to help us stay up-to-date with them. Requiring meaningful assessment practices is a good example of how WSCUC has helped us maintain our accountability to the public and also our own students.”

What is the process of accreditation like for SJSU?

SJSU’s last accreditation reaffirmation was in 2015. Over the last 18 months, SJSU conducted a self study of its activities that involved eight components, including progress on the recommendations from WSCUC’s prior report and follow-up special visit in 2017.

A team of independent evaluators from other universities, including one from another California State University, will review SJSU’s self-study later this fall and then meet with representatives from the university for clarity on any questions they have before they make a campus visit in early spring 2022.

During our site visit, the team of evaluators will meet with the president, provost, chief financial officer as well as students, administrators, faculty and other stakeholder groups from the SJSU community over the course of three days.

The external review team then provides their recommendations about SJSU to WSCUC. WSCUC will determine whether we receive a 10-year or shorter term of accreditation and/or a special visit in a few years, in which case SJSU will work to address any outstanding issues that were noted by the reviewers.

Take a deeper dive into SJSU’s accreditation process.

What is important to note about SJSU’s 2021 self study?

As someone who has experience as a peer reviewer for other institutions’ accreditation, Peeples was energized when she reviewed SJSU’s self-study report.

“I’m really proud that San José State has focused on general education, and the work that we’re doing most institutions don’t tackle because it is such a heavy lift to assess, and this is one of the foundational pieces of how we demonstrate our educational effectiveness,” she said.

“We also are taking a holistic, comprehensive advising approach,” which she explains is reflective of our focus on student success.

“The report also does a nice job of linking our Transformation 2030 strategic plan to our initiatives supporting student success,” added Richardson.

SJSU has also worked to address leadership, campus climate as well as social injustice, equity and inclusion, which came up as recommendations in the last self study. Both Richardson and Peeples recognize progress in these areas, but they also acknowledge more work is still needed.

The true measure of San José State’s education as an accredited institution is that students are graduating with a degree for which they can competently identify the skills, knowledge and understanding of that subject matter in a meaningful way, and that they did it in a timely manner.

What else should the SJSU community know about this process?

Of particular note, explained Anagnos, is that this report was put together by several stakeholders at SJSU from every single division and area of the university — including a 25-member, faculty-led accreditation committee.

“Accreditation is really a collaborative effort, and we’ve been working on it for almost two years,” she added. “By having this kind of self reflection and cross-divisional discussion, we learned a lot about each other, and that’s a really important piece of the process.”

Peeples emphasized the opportunity this gives our community to take a step back and assess not only how we help students but also in what ways we may influence the impact our alumni make once they graduate. “As alumni of San José State University and global citizens, they bring something with them to the world that helps change it, and this is our chance to tell that story and how we make it happen.”

SJSU’s self study is available to view online. Coming soon, student, faculty and staff forums will be held for the community to respond and ask questions about the report and the process.


About WASC

*WASC was created in the early 1960s to “promote the development and accreditation of higher education in the western region of the United States.” Today, WASC accredits public and private higher education institutions throughout California, Hawaii, the Pacific and around the world and is recognized as an accrediting body by the US Department of Education and by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

“On 9/11, I was a NYPD Captain”; UPD Captain Belcastro Reflects 20 Years Later

San José State University Police Department (UPD) Captain Frank Belcastro can tell you in a heartbeat where he was and what he was doing on September 11, 2001. Back then, he was a NYPD Captain about to start his regular shift for the day. Then everything changed.

A picture of Captain Frank Belcastro in NYPD gear

San José State University Police Department Captain Frank Belcastro was a member of the New York Police Department and led the response following the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Now that two decades have passed since the life-altering terrorist attacks, Belcastro shared what it was like to be a first responder in this unprecedented situation that had worldwide impact. We captured the moments that still stand out to him today, and what he would like Spartans who did not experience these tragic events to understand.

Tell us about the events as they unfolded for you on that fateful day.

Captain Frank Belcastro (FB): On Sept. 11, 2001, I was a NYPD Captain, Commanding Officer of a Borough Task Force. My unit was charged with daily tasks such as crime reduction, auto crime and graffiti investigations, evidence collection, traffic enforcement, speed enforcement, DUI patrol, COBRA (Chemical, Biological, Radiological Action Team), Truant Team/school patrol and major incident response throughout the city.

On the day of 9/11, I was scheduled to work a 4×12 shift. But, as was my regular routine, I called my office to see if anything was going on. I learned that we were on alert for mobilization because a plane had hit the World Trade Center. 

At that time the thinking was “it was an accident.” I told them that I was going to come in and gave instructions on the personnel and equipment that I wanted for our response. A short time later, I called back because I wanted to change the equipment and add personnel. As I was talking, a second plane hit. 

I knew then it was a terrorist attack. I told them to get everyone ready, and I was on my way. When I arrived, the duty captain had directed my unit, officers from three precincts, vehicles, equipment and firefighters onto a waiting ferry. When I arrived, I assumed command, and we proceeded towards Manhattan. 

When we were about two thirds of the way over, the first tower collapsed. The ferry captain stopped the ferry due to dust and debris blocking visibility of the ferry terminal. I tried to arrange an alternate dock or smaller ferries. However, nothing would work. At that point, the police dispatcher radioed that I was directed to return to base. 

But, people needed help, I was not turning around. 

I was the field commander. I radioed the dispatcher; my call: We were going into Whitehall (the Manhattan Ferry terminal). I then directed the ferry captain to take us in.

When we exited the ferry in Manhattan, the second tower collapsed. Dust and debris filled the air. I couldn’t see the hood of my patrol car. Thousands of people were running in the street, away from the devastation. You could see the fear in their faces. The primary mobilization point was not reachable. I then directed that we respond to the secondary mobilization point. 

We were eventually assigned to patrol the World Trade Center area. We searched the area, including train stations, looking for people who needed help. As we patrolled, World Trade Center #7 became very unstable. A Police Chief advised me to pull my unit back because the collapse of it was imminent. As we pulled back, the building collapsed.

One of my young officers had a brother who was a firefighter. He was missing and unaccounted for. To protect my officer, because he was distraught, I brought him into the Patrol Officers Benevolent Association Offices, several blocks from Ground Zero, and asked the trustee to keep him there. 

When building 7 collapsed, the officer called me over the radio asking for help. He had left the PBA office to look for his brother. I formed search teams, and we found him. I assigned an officer to take him home and stay with the family. His firefighter brother is the youngest firefighter to die in the line of duty, at just 20 years old.

One of my vivid memories is the eerie silence as we patrolled into the evening. The dust and debris was falling like a heavy snowstorm. Ash was piled deep on the streets and sidewalks. We were not equipped with masks. I remember the air was thick with ash and debris, including fiberglass. I rubbed my eyes due to the irritation and had abrasions under my eyes from the fiberglass and other abrasive debris. When we were relieved in the early morning hours of 9/12, we were covered in ash.

In the days after 9/11, for that first week, I was in command of Ground Zero security and recovery. My unit was charged with providing security there and for safeguarding human remains. When human remains were recovered, we took custody and delivered them to a morgue trailer, documenting the recovery. 

At one point, a firefighter’s body was recovered. I gathered my unit. We stood at attention and rendered a hand salute as his body was escorted by his fellow firefighters.

My assignment posed many challenges. There were attempts by members of the media and other persons to access the dig site. One of the hardest things for me was when officers I had worked with handed me their phone number and asked me to call them if I found their brother. I knew the reality of our operation at that time. 

Another challenge was that we were working under the threat of the possible collapse of the Deutsche Bank, which was heavily damaged. We had to evacuate on several occasions when movement was detected. On one such occasion, I was notified to evacuate all personnel because city engineers had detected that the Deutsche Bank had shifted. They believed that the building was going to collapse. I directed everyone to evacuate. 

However, a fire chief and his men refused to leave. The chief told me he was not going to evacuate. I told him that I understood what he was saying and that if he wanted to stay, I would stay with him and his men. But, I said, “I want to ask you one question, and after that, if you want to stay, we will stay.” 

I said, “You and I know the reality of what we are doing here,” and I pointed to his men. “They are alive. Is what we are doing here worth their lives? If you say yes, I will stay with you.” 

He agreed to evacuate. 

What do you remember most about September 11, 2001? 

FB: I remember that 9/11 started out as a beautiful day that became a nightmare. I will never forget the uncommon valor of the police officers and firefighters who ran into those towers to save others. Many never returned to their families.They sacrificed their lives to save others, complete strangers. Police officers and firefighters ran towards the danger while thousands fled in panic and fear. 

Our mission was clear — save lives.

I will also always recall the ash and debris raining down like a heavy snowstorm. And, the deafening silence of a deserted city as we patrolled into the night.

I will never forget the thousands of innocent persons slaughtered in a heinous attack and the selfless sacrifice of the first responders.

As a first responder in that type of unprecedented situation, how much of your response is predicated on your training versus reacting on instincts? 

FB: We are well trained, and our training helps us to react. But training cannot prepare you for everything. Your instincts are a big part. As a leader, you have to look at the big picture and make split second decisions based on experience, training and instinct. The burden of leadership is great. You are making decisions that will not only impact you but will affect everyone under your command.

As you reflect back on 20 years since the Twin Towers fell, including the nation’s united response in the days and weeks after the attack, what stands out to you most? 

FB: In the 20 years since the attack, I see that our nation is fractured. After the attack, we were united in our grief, our anger and our determination to rise from the ash. We were one people. If anything positive could come out of that infamous day, it was the unity of New Yorkers and the nation. We came together as human beings, united in our grief, working together. 

Many of SJSU’s students were born after September 11, 2021. What do you think would be most important for them to understand about that day as someone who lived through it firsthand? 

FB: I think the most important thing for our students to understand is the selfless sacrifice of the first responders. They saw people who needed help and ran toward danger. It is also important to understand that first responders are still losing their lives due to the toxins we breathed on that infamous day and the days after. To this date, more than 200 NYPD officers have succumbed to cancers caused by those toxins.

What does it mean to you to be one of several Spartans (including Captain Jason Dahl, ’80 Aeronautics Operations, who piloted United Flight 93, and Meta Mereday, ’84 Advertising) whose heroic actions saved lives on this tragic day in American history? 

FB: I am humbled to be among such an elite group. I also feel guilty about being recognized with these heroes. I survived when so many died, and that guilt will always be with me. 

Belcastro started with SJSU’s UPD in June 2008, as the Special Operations Lieutenant, in charge of Emergency Preparedness and Library Security. He was promoted to Captain at UPD in 2011.

Fall Welcome From President Mary Papazian

President Mary Papazian

Editor’s Note: The following message was sent to the SJSU campus community on Thursday, August 19.

Dear campus community,

I am delighted to welcome SJSU’s students, faculty and staff to the fall semester and the 2021-2022 academic year. And, after operating in a mostly virtual environment for nearly a year-and-a-half, I am especially pleased to welcome many of you back to campus.

I know the City of San José and our downtown community echo those sentiments and also look forward to the vibrancy and energy that our campus community brings to the city.

While many of us share in the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the return to campus, I know there remains anxiety for others, particularly with the emergence of the Delta variant. We are still in the midst of a public health crisis, so as we do repopulate our campus, I want to assure everyone that we will continue to remain vigilant and flexible with our policy guidance, with the health and safety of our campus community remaining our highest priority. Continue to wear a mask, get vaccinated before the September 30 deadline, and visit the Health Advisories website for the latest COVID-19 information and FAQs.

I very much appreciate how nimble our campus community has been throughout this period, and I am confident that we will continue to navigate the changing environment with kindness, understanding, and a caring attitude that focuses on the health and safety of all members of our community. We truly are in this together.


In lieu of a traditional, in-person Fall Welcome address this semester, I instead invite you to view a series of short video messages I have prepared, each of which touches on various aspects of the upcoming academic year. You can also read the complete Fall Welcome address on my blog site.

I would also encourage you to watch the brief video messages provided by our Academic Senate Chair, Alison McKee, and our Associated Students President, Anoop Kaur. I appreciate that they took the time to record their own special message for our campus community, and I know they will each bring value this year in their respective roles.

Our SJSU Together campaign features an astounding variety of “welcome back” activities for our campus community this fall, so I hope you will take advantage of some of the many opportunities to reconnect with your peers, colleagues and classmates.

As we begin the Fall 2021 semester and new academic year, let us all be reminded that there is a reason—many of them, in fact—why San José State University was ranked by Money magazine last year as the #1 Most Transformative University in the nation.

As I note in my full Fall Welcome, rankings are wonderful, and it is always nice to be recognized.

But we know who we are. We are Spartans, and we transform lives. It really is that simple.

Welcome back to campus, everyone. I hope you have a rewarding semester!

Sincerely,

Dr. Mary A. Papazian
President

SJSU Welcomes Spartan Community Back With SJSU Together Campaign


After nearly 17 months of remote learning and telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic, San José State University is preparing for the return of students, faculty and staff to the campus this month.

As part of the SJSU Together campaign, a wide variety of activities and events are planned to celebrate the community and invoke a sense of pride. Spartans can also expect to see a host of new and upgraded facilities and resources on campus that took place over the last year and a half.

Here are a few of the ways San José State is gearing up for the start of the new academic year.

Celebrating Faculty and Staff

Aug. 9 through Aug. 25

San José State’s faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to ensure the campus kept moving forward during this unprecedented year. Now, some will be returning after more than a year away, while others will be setting foot at 1 Washington Square for the first time.

That’s why SJSU has organized activities to honor its employees, including outdoor yoga, group walks around campus, social gatherings outside with new and familiar colleagues and much more.

Events to note:
Aug. 11, 3:45 – 5 p.m. New Employee Social, Bell/Rose Garden
Faculty and staff who joined SJSU since Mar. 17, 2020, can meet colleagues in person and connect.

Aug. 25, 3 – 4 p.m. | Faculty and Staff Social, Bell/Rose Garden


Weeks of Welcome (WOW)

Aug. 16 – Sept. 22, times and activities vary

At the start of each academic year, SJSU organizes campus-wide programming spanning the first five to six weeks of instruction. The goal is to welcome returning students and greet and support new students in their transition to the Spartan community.

Students have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of events and activities in areas including academics, wellness, social justice*, career, Spartan spirit, social/community building and campus resources. Programming this year will be a mix of hybrid, fully online and in person.

*Social justice activities refer to those that promote students’ development or self advocacy and voice and engage in topics around social justice and community transformation.

Events to note:
Aug. 16, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. | New Student Convocation, virtual
SJSU’s formal welcome of our new Spartans and their parents, family members and/or supporters.

Aug. 19, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Weeks of Welcome Kick-Off, 7th St. Plaza
Pick up your schedule for all Weeks of Welcome events and enjoy snacks, music and SJSU giveaways.

Aug. 23, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Weeks of Welcome Kick-Off, Tower Lawn

Aug. 24, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. | Weeks of Welcome Kick-Off, Housing Quad


SJSU Loves SJ

ongoing

The SJSU Loves SJ initiative is a partnership between San José State and Visit San Jose, the Downtown Association, Japantown Business Association, and San José City Hall to help increase students’ connection with and appreciation of the culture of San Jose’s vibrant surrounding community. The university plays an important role in the economic vitality of downtown San Jose, and there are many local venues and landmarks students, faculty and staff can explore just steps from campus.

Events to note:
Aug. 19, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. | Student welcome event, Swenson Gate on 4th Street and the Paseo de San Antonio
Student social event on the first day of classes, includes snacks and giveaways from local businesses.

Aug. 19 – 20, dusk – 10 p.m. | Lighting of City Hall Tower and Rotunda, 200 E. Santa Clara St.
San Jose’s City Hall plaza will be lit up with SJSU’s blue and gold colors at dusk.

Aug. 23, 9 a.m. | SJSU flag raising at City Hall
Marks the return of the SJSU community to downtown and celebrates our partnership with the city.


(Re)Discover SJSU

ongoing

Now in its second year, (Re)Discover SJSU is a digital campaign that invites the San José State community to utilize their informational website and social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) to learn about and share campus programs, services and events.
The dashboard updates regularly throughout the academic year with new opportunities to explore and engage with the campus community.


New Campus Facilities and Services

In addition to welcome festivities, here are a few of the new things to expect on campus this year.

Landscape

Behind the scenes, university personnel have been planning ahead to ensure Spartans, many of whom have yet to set foot on campus, feel properly welcomed to SJSU. This includes banners decorated with colorful art and the SJSU logo — some featuring the word “welcome” stated in multiple languages — hanging along the pedestrian paseos spanning the length of campus.

Health and Well-being

YOU@SJSU is a wellness learning and resource tool that provides students with tips and tools for everything from mental and physical health to friendships and finding balance. Students can also set personalized goals and track their progress in achieving them with interactive support included in the app.

SJSUCares will open a new space (anticipated in fall) in Clark Hall. Students can receive the confidential support to address basic needs through individual meetings with case managers, on-site connections to partner agencies that support self-sufficiency, and workshops.

The Office of Sustainability and SJSU Cares also partnered to establish the Clothes Closet, a new resource for SJSU students providing a steady source of gently worn clothing and new essential items such as underwear and socks. It is tentatively scheduled to also open in fall.

Technology and Cybersecurity

Outdoor WiFi will blanket almost all of the SJSU campus in WiFi 6, the latest standard for stable, reliable wireless broadband connectivity that can host far more devices than previous standards. This will activate more spaces around campus for learning and studying, as well enabling a future strategy for an IoT-based Smart Campus.

A new SJSU Events Calendar is mobile friendly, more visible and plugged into social media, allowing events to be searchable via hashtags and listings to be populated directly into Google Calendar and Outlook. The “I’m interested” feature provides logged-in users with recommendations for upcoming events based on ones they’ve already attended.

Duo Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is now live for all SJSU accounts. MFA significantly reduces the potential impact from ransomware and phishing attacks.

SJSU partnered with industry-leading software security companies to give our campus population free access to security software for their home devices.

Athletics

SJSU welcomes the new South Campus Multilevel Parking Structure and Sports Field Facility, including a 2-acre recreation field and art honoring the “Speed City” athletes and their famed track and field coach Bill Winter. The four-level, 1,500 stall parking structure overlooks the new field. The field itself is a state-of-the-art synthetic playing surface and features a dedicated public walkway encircling its perimeter.

Fans planning to cheer on the 2020 Mountain West champion Spartan football team will notice a new state-of-the-art scoreboard at CEFCU Stadium. The first home game is Saturday, Aug. 28, against Southern Utah.

Facilities

There are now solar panels and 50 EV charging stations at the South Campus Park & Ride; 25 of them have dual charging capability. There are currently eight to 10 charging stations on main campus that were installed this summer with four hour maximum use.

Solar panels were added to provide electrical power to the CEFCU Stadium area, lightening our carbon footprint while providing some shade as well.

Panda Express in the Student Union has an upgraded wok station to speed up orders. In addition, you can now place your order and schedule pickup times through the Boost app to save time.

San José State is introducing Burger 408, its first “ghost kitchen,” featuring delicious burgers, fries and sides, sauces, fried chicken sandwiches and tenders. All orders are made through the Boost app and picked up at the window at the Student Union.

In spring of 2022, Halal Shack will replace Steak and Shake and will offer authentic and delicious Halal food for the entire community.

Lurie College Reimagines the Future of Education at the Inaugural Learner Design Summit

San José State’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education hosted a free Learner Design Summit to kickstart an ongoing dialogue about the future of education.

Rebeca Burciaga and Veneice Guillory-Lacy REP4

SJSU Lurie College faculty Rebeca Burciaga (left) and Veneice Guillory-Lacy (right) helped create the Learner Design Summit in July 2021. Photo by Robert Bain.

How do you design inclusive models for teaching and learning? It’s simple: Ask the students.

Last week, the Lurie College held its first Learner Design Summit to launch SJSU’s regional Rapid Education Prototyping (REP4) Alliance.

The REP4 Alliance is a powerful network of regional and national education, industry and technology leaders, led by the six founding higher education partners, including the Lurie College. This alliance brings together diverse learners to develop new ideas for higher education programming using liberatory design principles.

At the summit, a total of 25 local students, including rising 11th and 12th graders, recent high school graduates, community college students and SJSU undergraduates collaborated and designed creative proposals, or “prototypes,” to address existing challenges in the higher education system.

“A prototype is a pitch that students prepare to showcase the needs and solutions that create institutional change,” said Rebeca Burciaga, professor of educational leadership and Chicana and Chicano Studies as well as the faculty executive director of SJSU’s Institute of Emancipatory Education (IEE).

“SJSU student mentors are leading what we call ‘dream teams’ to dream up these ideas. We hope to find ways to incorporate their solutions and perhaps work with campus leaders to make those immediate changes.”

San José State President Mary Papazian kicked off the weeklong event with a message for the Spartan community.

“We believe that initiatives such as emancipatory education and REP4 support the development of equitable and inclusive educational systems that nurture the creativity and brilliance of all learners so that our diverse, democratic society can truly thrive,” she said.

“Collectively, the themes of this work are well-aligned with SJSU’s interests in advancing and transforming our educational systems, which many of us believe are in urgent need of radical change.”

The Equity Ambassadors team will be presenting their prototype on Aug. 5. Photo credit: Robert Bain.

Summit participants presented their proposals to SJSU campus leadership this week. Faculty advisors selected the top two group finalists: the Creative Connections team, which provided recommendations for pairing high school students with college mentors, and the Equity Ambassadors team, which suggested creating a career support program for low-income, immigrant and first-generation students.

Both groups will be sharing their prototypes in the online REP4 National Convening on August 5, which brings together student leaders from across the country. By presenting their prototypes to a national audience, the SJSU finalists will have the chance to have their ideas included in REP4’s online search tool for education partners. The repository will make it possible for schools to search for education prototypes that can be put into practice and lead to more equitable education.

“REP4 at SJSU gave high school students and college students alike the opportunity to dream up and reimagine what higher education could look like in the future,” said Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Veneice Guillory-Lacy, who helped design the agenda and curriculum for the summit.

“It was amazing to witness the students come up with inclusive, equitable and transformational prototypes. We have been blown away by the ingenuity and creativity the REP4 students have displayed in such a short amount of time. We are excited for the future of higher education.”

Creating connections

The Creative Connections team will be presenting at the REP4 National Convening on Aug. 5. The team is composed of SJSU designer Joy Everson, ’22 Mathematics, SJSU mentor Vinson Vu, ’23 Business Administration, community college designer JC Jacinto and high school designers Simon Cha and Amelie Pak. Photo by Robert Bain.

“I really, really enjoyed this experience of meeting and connecting with great people,” said JC Jacinto, one of the community college design leaders. “Everybody shared what problems they had faced, and that really opened up my mind to see what we can do and what we need to change.”

High school design leader Nicole Hoang added that she attended the summit because she wanted to “solve student debt,” but decided to zero in on specific student costs.

“We were able to come up with this really smart solution of partnering with companies to pay for student textbooks,” she said. “Our presentation template and our student mentors were super helpful, and I really enjoyed this experience.”

“REP4 is directly connected to the transformative mission of SJSU and the emancipatory vision of our Institute for Emancipatory Education,” said Heather Lattimer, dean of the Lurie College.

“IEE is founded on the principles of centering marginalized learners, partnering with community and bridging boundaries. These principles will guide our work with REP4.”

The national event will take the best ideas from regional summits to the next level and is hosted by Grand Valley State University. There, learners will present, advocate and respond to questions about their prototypes. The goal of the REP4 Alliance is to prototype, enrich, test and scale new approaches designed together with learners.

“This is a great opportunity for students to help us reimagine higher education and better serve our current and future students by creating more inclusive and equitable campus policies and practices,” added Burciaga.

Learn more about SJSU’s Learner Design Summit and the REP4 Alliance.

San José State Launches In Our Own Words, a Community Collection of COVID-19 Experiences

In Our Own Words

How will the Bay Area remember the COVID-19 pandemic? For University Archivist Carli Lowe, the pandemic has offered a unique opportunity to interact with history in real time. This summer SJSU’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, in partnership with the College of Humanities and the Arts, have officially launched “In Our Own Words: A Multilingual Public History of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Bay Area,” a public digital humanities project designed to document Bay Area residents’ personal experiences of the pandemic. 

The project is the result of Lowe’s partnership with San José State Assistant Professor of World Languages and Literatures Chunhui Peng, a memory studies scholar who is adding a multilingual component to the project.

“Usually, archives deal with records of things that happened many, many decades ago, or even centuries in the past,” said Lowe. “One of the reasons I was excited to partner with Dr. Peng is that we are very focused on collecting memories as they unfold in our contemporary moment. We know that we are living in a historic moment.”

In May 2020, Lowe launched “Spartans Speak on COVID-19, a project designed to memorialize journal entries, blog posts, social media posts, photographs, audio and video recordings, and other documentation of personal experiences during the pandemic and make them available online through SJSU Digital Collections. Community members have shared the effects of social distancing and county shelter-in-place orders on their social lives, mental health, financial well-being, and campus life. The project has already amassed more than 300 submissions.

Peng responded to Lowe’s call for submissions with a proposal to widen the project scope to reflect the diverse communities of the Bay Area. Together, they partnered with several faculty members of the World Languages and Literatures Department to translate their call for submissions into seven of the most commonly spoken languages in the Bay Area — English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Russian. Associate Dean of Faculty Success and Research Jason Aleksander has been a big proponent of the project.

“‘In Our Own Words’ builds on ongoing collaborations between the library and the College of Humanities and the Arts to establish a digital humanities center at SJSU,” said Aleksander. 

“The project also fits well with one of the major public programming themes sponsored by the college — ‘Racial Equality and Social Justice’ — a series of public events that engages broadly with challenges and opportunities in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. ‘In Our Own Words’ is an impressive and interesting project.”

In Our Own Words Peng and Lowe hope to capture a 360-degree perspective of the pandemic by including essential workers such as farmworkers, health care workers, grocery store employees, as well as students and families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 and employees who were laid off or had their careers otherwise derailed

“In memory studies, we always ask who is speaking and for what purpose,” said Peng. “The second world war was written differently by different groups — by the United States, by Germany, by Japan. Some groups were less visible in the conversation, and their voices were not recorded. That’s why it is very important for us to give all the invisible voices a chance to share their experiences about the pandemic.”

Lowe added that the true power of a digital archive is that it expands access to critical information to those who may not have been able to contribute to it. 

“Information can be transformative for individuals and communities,” said Lowe. “I’m trying to think about whose voices are being heard through this collection and whose voices are not being heard.

“My motivation as an archivist is rooted in actively making space in collections to serve people who may or may not be in power, projects that serve the needs of marginalized people. I see a project like this as an opportunity to create access to information and to bring people together.”

To contribute to the project, contact Lowe and Peng at covid19collection@sjsu.edu or visit https://library.sjsu.edu/own-words.

Recognizing SJSU’s COVID-19 Campus Heroes

Many in the Spartan community have not set foot on campus for more than a year. But during the pandemic, the university remained open, and some reported to work on campus every day to keep it clean and beautiful for when SJSU students, faculty and staff would return. Meet Lila Garcia and David Johnson, two of SJSU’s COVID-19 heroes who cared for the campus during the pandemic.

SJSU’s Thalia Anagnos Named a YWCA Tribute to Women Honoree

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos.

Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Thalia Anagnos in action in the classroom. Photo: David Schmitz

Thalia Anagnos, San José State University’s vice provost for undergraduate education, has been named a Tribute to Women Award winner by the YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley.

Anagnos is part of a select group of more than 40 emerging and executive women honorees who were celebrated at their 37th annual awards ceremony in May. The recipients, according to the YWCA’s recent press release, “have excelled in their fields and have made significant contributions to Silicon Valley through their dedication and leadership.”

“We’re so excited to recognize the 43 honorees who have been selected to receive the Tribute to Women Award this year,” said Adriana Caldera Boroffice, Interim CEO, YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley.

Borroffice added that celebrating these women this year is particularly special, in light of the distinct challenges “women — especially mothers, senior-level and BIPOC women — have been experiencing” during COVID-19 and the “fortitude and resilience” they showed through it all.

The Tribute to Women Awards has recognized more than 1,400 women for their remarkable achievements at work and in their communities.

“Thalia’s passion, work and impact over the years provide a model for women leaders in higher education, whose obligation is to pay it forward for upcoming generations,” said President Mary Papazian. “Working quietly and behind the scenes, she has been instrumental in the education, training and success of countless California students, many of whom have gone on to add their own valuable contributions to our communities. I can think of no one more deserving than Thalia for this year’s YWCA Tribute to Women Award.”

“I was really honored that the president nominated me,” said Anagnos. “YWCA organized a meet-and-greet with some of the other women who were nominated, and we had a lot of commonalities in terms of professional experiences and volunteer activities; it was fun to connect with them and talk about their paths, too.”

Anagnos started at San José State as a general education advisor and assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering and taught for more than 30 years before her transition to administration. Over time, she has been involved with numerous committees and held a variety of other roles, including chair of the civil and environmental engineering department, SJSU’s first director of assessment, associate vice president of graduate and undergraduate programs and, currently, as vice provost for undergraduate education.

Presently, she oversees curriculum development and assessment of general education and undergraduate programs, as well as SJSU’s articulation agreements with the state of California’s community college system. She also supervises the university’s accreditation, academic program catalog, academic scheduling and e-advising, and coordinates some student success programs.

“Being a member of SJSU all these years has been really fun because of the variety of opportunities that working at a university provides such as research, teaching, working with the community, collaborating with other universities and mentoring students and colleagues,” said Anagnos.

The strong roots she’s built at the university over time have made all the difference in the impact she’s been able to make in leadership and directly with students.

“Having those relationships with people across campus has helped me to do the work I need to do — and learn what I need to know to help me change and grow,” she added.

Read the full story of Anagnos’ impact on SJSU here.

SJSU Joins National Alliance to Redesign the Future of Higher Education

Student-designed innovations will be rapidly tested and scaled to address access, engagement and equity gaps in higher ed

San José State University has joined five other colleges and universities, hundreds of high schools, and community partners to launch REP4 (Rapid Education Prototyping) – a national initiative to change the future of education. Unique to the alliance, students will take the lead conducting “Rapid Education Prototyping” to address the urgent challenges of access to education and fully deliver on higher education’s promise of social and economic mobility.

“Educating a diverse student population for professional success and civic engagement is part of our core mission at San José State, and the REP4 initiative is well-aligned with that goal,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. “Our participation in REP4, we believe, will help us strengthen existing efforts and build new approaches that will empower our students to design a learning framework that suits their individual needs and create a climate where all students feel a sense of belonging.”

The REP4 name underscores how student-led Rapid Education Prototyping will engage the voices of learners to design innovative, actionable solutions for pressing challenges. Learners will co-design education prototypes, and the best ideas will be scaled nationwide through the alliance to maximize impact.

American Council of Education (ACE) President Ted Mitchell called the alliance’s approach unique and exciting.“Flipping the model from learners simply giving feedback to learners being designers of education is a truly innovative idea,” Mitchell said. “It’s unprecedented to engage learners directly in the designing experience, and REP4 can serve as a model for higher education nationwide.”

Tackling the crisis in education

The REP4 alliance formed as a response to a growing number of challenges facing higher education: low completion rates, lack of access, and persistent racial gaps across nearly all measures.

According to the Association of American Colleges and Universities, citing a 2016 Pell Institute study, the country has struggled to close a persistent gap related to income and degree attainment. From the study: among students in the bottom socioeconomic quartile, 15 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree within eight years of their expected high school graduation, compared with 22 percent in the second quartile, 37 percent in the third quartile, and 60 percent in the top quartile.

COVID-19 has further exacerbated the crisis in education. A December 2020 McKinsey & Company study estimated that “students of color could be six to 12 months behind, compared with four to eight months for white students. While all students are suffering, those who came into the pandemic with the fewest academic opportunities are on track to exit with the greatest learning loss.”

By employing this innovative approach of allowing learners to design solutions, REP4 will focus on improving outcomes and eliminating these barriers.

“As we look to the future of higher education, it is critical that we center the voices and priorities of students who are from communities that have historically been marginalized,” said Connie L. Lurie College of Education Dean Heather Lattimer. “If we re-design to value and build on the experiences and strengths that they bring, we will create universities that better serve all students and communities.”

First prototype

Grand Valley State University designed and held the first prototype last summer and has implemented two ideas from the Learner Engagement Challenge. “We are inspired by young learners with keen perspectives on what their future can be,” said Grand Valley President Philomena V. Mantella. “These learners gave us ideas that will play a key role as we lead the national conversation on a new vision for education. Their insights will help us create a model for an education system designed for learners by learners.”

Each of the six founding partners will hold its own regional summit for REP4, with Grand Valley State University hosting the national convening  August 4 – 5, 2021.

Assistant Professor of Child and Adolescent Development Ellen Middaugh at the Connie L. Lurie College of Education, an expert in youth civic engagement, will help design and implement SJSU’s REP4 summit. “Transformative change requires imagination,” said Middaugh. “This is something adolescents and young adults are great at — creative thinking and imagining a better future. Our Child and Adolescent Master’s students recognize this and will serve as youth-centered facilitators to create a space for our high school, community college, and SJSU undergraduates to dream big and grapple with what it would take to bring their ideas to life.”

The six founding colleges and universities in the alliance collectively serve more than 100,000 students. The founding partners are San José State University; Amarillo College; Boise State University; Fort Valley State University; and Shippensburg University. Grand Valley State University is the organizer and convener of the REP4 alliance.

Microsoft will participate in the REP4 summit to support the alliance in reimagining student-centered experiences, consistent with its recent whitepaper on student-centered learning in higher education. Microsoft will help shape how technology, particularly data and AI, can empower personalized and inclusive learning experiences.

The alliance is intended to grow over time, and other institutions are invited to become involved with REP4. Visit rep4.org for more information.

Daniele LeCesne Joins SJSU as Tower Foundation Chief Operating Officer

Daniele LeCesne

Daniele LeCesne will serve as the COO of the Tower Foundation starting December 7.

For Daniele LeCesne, accepting the job as chief operating officer of San José State University’s Tower Foundation represents a homecoming of sorts. Though LeCesne is originally from southern California, her sister and brother-in-law graduated from SJSU and she has spent decades seeing the campus transform from afar. Now, after dedicating more than 25 years as an accounting and financial officer in various arenas, including 18 years in higher education, LeCesne is excited for the opportunity to oversee Tower Foundation operations beginning December 7.

“I’m all about the mission of higher ed,” said LeCesne from her office at California State University, Fullerton, where for the past three years she has worked dual roles as the executive director of university advancement administration and finance and chief financial officer for the CSF Foundation. “I am a huge proponent of encouraging younger generations to pursue their education, to pursue their dreams. My tagline is ‘engage, encourage, inspire.’ That’s what I try to share with others.”

LeCesne’s expertise includes financial and administrative management, budget management and analysis, human resources and internal controls, as well as nonprofit foundation management. Before joining Cal State Fullerton, LeCesne held positions at the University of California, Riverside, the University of Southern California, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. She also serves on the board of OPARC, an organization that serves adults living with developmental disabilities.

For LeCesne, few things matter more than her relationships, both with her family and at work. Her very first boss in the hotel industry became a lifelong mentor, inspiring her to invest in relationships with her colleagues and pay close attention to the nitty-gritty details involved in financial management.

“I’ll never forget the time he made me find a 72 cents-error on a reconciliation,” she said. “I spent hours poring over documents, and finally he let me go, saying that he was trying to teach me the importance of being detail-oriented and putting in the research. That has stuck with me for over 30 years. Having the best mentor in the world reminds me of how I want to be for others.”

LeCesne looks forward to passing on her knowledge to her team and collaborating with the Tower Foundation Board of Directors to reimagine philanthropy in the years to come.

“Daniele’s deep experience in financial management within the CSU and the hospitality industry uniquely positions her for success as our next COO,” said Theresa Davis, vice president for university advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. “She brings with her the ability to effectively steward foundation resources while also providing a high level of customer service to our campus colleagues who have gift accounts. We are delighted that she is joining the Spartan family.”

 

SJSU Appoints Vice President for University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation

New Vice President of University Advancement, Theresa Davis.

New Vice President for University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation, Theresa Davis.

Theresa Davis has been appointed vice president for University Advancement and CEO of the Tower Foundation. She will join the San Jose State campus community on July 1, 2020.

“Theresa joins us at a pivotal moment in SJSU history, and we are delighted to have her on board,” said President Mary A. Papazian.

Davis brings an abundance of relevant experience to the position, including more than 25 years of management and fundraising work. Her background is broad and diverse, with campaign management, major gifts, corporate and foundation relations and annual giving among her areas of expertise.

Most recently, Davis has been serving as the assistant vice president of engagement and annual programs at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). In that role, she has had responsibility for Alumni Relations, the Caltech Associates, the Caltech Fund and Parents Program, and Campus Programs—which engages its local community in campus life.

Prior to working at Caltech, Davis was the associate vice president of college and program development at Cal State Fullerton. She had responsibility for the directors of development, who spearheaded fundraising efforts for each of the campus’s eight colleges and athletics department.

Davis previously served as the associate vice president of major and planned gifts at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), where she and her team secured financial support for medical specialties. Prior to that, she was campaign director for the California Science Center, served as senior director of development for the UCLA College, was director of development for the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Management at UC Riverside and held the roles of associate director of corporate relations and director of the alumni fund, both at Caltech.

Davis has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University and a master’s in public administration from the University of Southern California.

SJSU Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) Honored by YWCA Silicon Valley

SJSU Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau).

SJSU Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) was selected as an honoree for the 2020 Tribute to Women Awards by YWCA Silicon Valley.

San Jose State Chief Diversity Officer Kathleen Wong(Lau) has been selected as an honoree for the 2020 YWCA Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award. She is among 53 outstanding women leaders who will be honored by YWCA Silicon Valley at its annual Tribute to Women Awards. Now in its 36th year, the YWCA Awards honor women who have excelled in their fields and have made significant contributions to Silicon Valley through their leadership.

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by an organization whose work and history has focused on gender equity, not only through celebration but also through its hard work on the ground,” said Wong(Lau).

Wong(Lau) joined SJSU in 2016 and leads the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. With a clear vision and strong direction, she has worked to ensure SJSU has a safe and welcoming climate for all 36,000 students and 4,500 faculty and staff in the Spartan community.

She’s made significant advances in diversity, inclusion, and equity on campus by designing and implementing university-based diversity programs. The Intergroup Dialogue program is an eight-week session where small groups of people from different social identity groups meet to discuss various scenarios. The purpose of the program is to foster greater understanding and better relations between different groups on campus. Wong(Lau) launched faculty training on inclusive teaching, and designed and led mandatory diversity training for incoming freshmen. She also provides counsel and instruction on diversifying faculty through reducing bias in recruitment and serves as an advisor and liaison to community partners and constituents on a wide variety of diversity initiatives.

“Kathy has been instrumental in making San Jose State a much stronger institution, and her influence has changed the culture of our campus for the better,” said SJSU President Mary A. Papazian. “Her vast knowledge of diversity issues, coupled with an empathetic and people-centric approach, has made her an indispensable member of my leadership team.”

Kathy Wong(Lau)

Wong(Lau) spoke at the fall welcome for the Chicanx-Latinx fall student welcome in 2017. Photo by David Schmitz.

Over the course of her career, Wong(Lau) has become known as a nationally recognized leader in diversity and inclusion initiatives. She joined SJSU from the University of Oklahoma, where she served as director of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE). At the University of Oklahoma and Michigan State University, Wong(Lau) trained faculty on inclusive teaching in STEM and administrators on diversity management. On the national landscape, she consults with other academic institutions on ways faculty and staff can support underrepresented and first-generation students.

Wong(Lau) holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from CSU East Bay and completed a dual master’s/doctorate program in communication with an intercultural concentration at Arizona State University. In 2015, Diverse Issues in Higher Education named her one of “Top 25 Women in Higher Education.”

YWCA Silicon Valley plans to honor Wong(Lau) at an upcoming Tribute to Women Awards dinner, date still to be determined. The awards are an effort to encourage women’s leadership and promote equal advancement opportunities for women of diverse backgrounds.

“Essence of Blackness” Event Educates, Entertains and Builds Community

IMG_8264

Brian Andres & the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel perform at the second annual Essence of Blackness event (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

The pounding of conga drums married with the seductive blare of the trumpet filled the Student Union Ballroom as part of the second  annual Essence of Blackness event.

The African AmericanStudent Success Task Force hosted the event along with its Harambee Committee to explore just one influence of African culture on the world by focusing on jazz music and its rich, diverse history in the United States and beyond.

“Harambee, the arm of the task force that sponsors these kinds of events, brings together not only the African American students, faculty and staff but also reaches out to the larger campus to participate in cultural events,” said Michelle Randle, director of the CASA Student Success Center and chair of Harambee. “And [also it is important] for the African American students to see the support that they actually have on campus beyond themselves.”

The Essence of Blackness theme was born last year following conversations with African American students regarding the type of programming they felt was necessary to share with the campus community, with an educational component being at the forefront.

Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism

Charlie Channel of the Charlie Channel Quartet strums on his bass during a traditional jazz performance at the second annual Essence of Blackness event (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

“I do think young people now are not exposed to jazz and do not always understand that its origins do come from Africa and this country,” Randle said.

Charlie Channel of the Charlie Channel Quartet, one of two types of jazz represented that night, lectured attendees on the history of jazz before delving into a traditional jazz performance.

Channel read Langston Hughes’ poem titled “Drums,” which represents the origin of jazz by chronicling the movement of slaves from Africa while describing the survival and re-emergence of the drums into new lands.

“When you think about slavery and tribes of people who were thrown together, who didn’t know each other, the oppression, the brutality, there was just one thing they had in common — it was the drum,” Channel said. “Ultimately, it resulted in this new form of music that had never been heard before on the planet called ‘jazz.’”

IMG_7623

A server from Sandi’s Cobbler Cups serves American soul food at the second annual Essence of Blackness event (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

The genre’s diversity was introduced to attendees by Brian Andres, the drum set and leader of the Brian Andres & the Afro-Cuban Jazz Cartel. He discussed how the music evolved in the United States with the help of Mario Bauza, a Cuban clarinetist who played a role in launching the Afro-Cuban jazz movement during the Harlem Renaissance.

While some attendees leapt to their feet and danced as Andres and his band’s upbeat conga drumming and lively trumpeting reverberated throughout the ballroom, others merely indulged in Walia Ethiopian, Caribbean and American soul-food cuisine.

As part of the Harambee Awards, a first in the program’s history, commemorative clocks were given to individuals in the campus community who have served and shown commitment toward the success of African American students.

Six members of administration, four students and two community members were awarded recognition and two students were given special recognition for their “Strength in the Face of Adversity.”

“It means something if it comes from the community out to people to say ‘hey we recognize what you do, and we want to publicly be able to acknowledge your contributions because I don’t think people do it for the recognition,” Randle said. “They do it because they love what they do, they want to see the students succeed, and they want to be a part of a community that supports everybody.”

IMG_7741

Commemorative clocks were given to individuals in the campus community who have served and shown commitment toward the success of African American students (Photo: Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism).

Gary Daniels, Harambee awardee, said although he is thankful for the recognition, he is not a student activist to gain accolades.

“Young people should use their talents and energy to make the world a better place regardless of whether they get awarded or recognized,” Daniels said.

Jerusalem Bekele, ’17 Kinesiology and fellow Harambee awardee, said events like Essence of Blackness are essential to not only educating the campus community about various cultures and the origin of traditions, but also to building a sense of community.

“Our perspective is kind of limited to what’s in front of us, and not necessarily outside so events like this kind of reach outside of America,” Bekele said. “I think it introduces a lot of culture and tradition to the SJSU community as well.”

Donntay Moore-Thomas, ’17 Communications, said although it was nice to see familiar faces that comprise the three percent African American population at SJSU, she was thrilled to see people from other cultural backgrounds attend as well.

“If we can share a meal together, I feel that we can come together for a greater cause,” Moore-Thomas said.