Welcome back to spring semester!

As classes kick off this week and we settle in for the spring semester, I would like to offer everyone an enthusiastic welcome back to campus! I hope you had a restful, invigorating winter break, one that has left you energized and optimistic for the months ahead.

Though the campus has been quieter than usual while many of us were away and enjoying time with family and friends, there were a number of important activities happening on campus—both “behind the scenes” but also very much in public—that I would like to share with you.

In late December, we held five fall commencement ceremonies and honored more than 4,000 mid-year graduates as they crossed the stage in front of friends and family members. If you are on Twitter, be sure to search for #SJSU18 to see a collection of magnificent images and commencement messages from the SJSU community. Each ceremony reaffirmed all of the best things about San Jose State and demonstrated, once again, that lives change here.

Then, in mid-January, we honored both the past while preparing to create the future as we witnessed the incredible move of our historic Associated Students Scheller House! The move was necessary in order to make way for the construction of our much-anticipated Interdisciplinary Science Building (ISB), the groundbreaking of which is scheduled for Thursday, April 25. That week will also feature our annual College of Science Student Research Day and other activities, so it will be a time to celebrate our current science programs while envisioning the exciting times ahead.

This month also featured some good news from the state capital that impacts all of us in the CSU system. Governor Newsom unveiled his proposed state budget, the details of which bode well for us in higher education (and, indeed, for education across the board). Chancellor White, in fact, noted that it represented “the single largest proposed investment by any governor in the history of the university.” We very much appreciate Governor Newsom for his support of our institutions, which keeps the dream alive for both our current and future students.

There is much to look forward to this spring. Near the top of the list is the release of our new strategic plan – a bold vision for SJSU’s next decade – as a result of an extensive 18-month process that included a great deal of listening, feedback from the campus community, committed work by a Strategic Planning Steering Committee, and intensive study by several task forces. As we look ahead, one critical aspect of the strategic plan will be to address challenges our students often face, including housing and food insecurity. Toward that end, we are already engaged in the following efforts to alleviate housing and food insecurity: (1) this spring, we look forward to the expansion of SJSU Cares with the opening of a 1,000 square foot permanent food pantry in the Diaz Compean Student Union. This will create a permanent pantry location, in addition to the continuing efforts of the Just in Time Mobile Food Pantry; (2) SJSU Cares resources can now be readily found as a quick link under “Current Students” on the SJSU homepage; and (3) we will also highlight the many, ongoing resources available—such as emergency grants and temporary housing—to all eligible students during New Student Orientation programs. This will ensure that students and families have multiple opportunities to hear and ask questions about available services for students in crisis.

Finally, we will be celebrating the opening of the new, state-of-the-art Spartan Recreation and Aquatic Center! This facility will provide a place for students, faculty and staff to recreate, swim, exercise and keep fit. A grand opening will likely take place in April, so stay tuned for more information.

So there is no such thing as “business as usual” here at San Jose State. I am anticipating a tremendous semester, as we continue to move forward on our ambitious goals.  I hope you share the same excitement. Welcome to spring semester—and go Spartans!

Dr. Mary A. Papazian