As I prepare to speak at my final Commencement ceremonies in December before stepping down from my role as president at San José State at the end of the year, I would like to reflect on Transformation 2030 and the incredible progress we have made in making this a living, breathing, actionable strategic plan.
Most of us were working exclusively at home during the pandemic, so it might be understandable if some members of our campus community assumed we might hit the “pause button” on Transformation 2030 during that period. It is an understatement to say that was not the case!
In fact, the laser-like manner in which SJSU’s faculty and staff has remained focused on T2030’s 10-year goals — even in the midst of so much change and transition — has greatly impressed me. I have, for a long time, known that our faculty and staff are second to none, and their resolute commitment to supporting our educational mission and to reaching our goals during such a turbulent 18 months truly is awe-inspiring.
Our newly-refreshed Transformation 2030 website tells the story, with current and detailed updates that reflect the ongoing implementation of our strategic plan. So rather than summarizing those updates here, I instead encourage you to review the site and learn for yourself about the amazing progress that has been made to date. As the name implies, SJSU is transforming before our very eyes.
Developing avenues that lead to student success remains a priority for our university and, thus, for execution of SJSU’s strategic plan. Each of Transformation 2030’s five goals touches on student success in some form or another, such as the work underway to create an interdisciplinary honors program that is part of our Engage and Educate goal.
Though we do not yet know precisely what our new honors program will look like, it will center on our commitment as educators to help students address a wide range of societal problems. The new honors program will align with the SJSU and CSU mission, speak to the university’s commitment to social justice and change, and exemplify our commitment to equity and diversity. Members of our academic community involved in the program, I am sure, will provide our honors students with tools and mentorship to help realize the social changes they want to make.
Another good example of specific work we have done to help create a path toward student success is the digital transformation on campus I wrote about recently, which is part of our Rebuild and Renew goal.
We are achieving this goal largely through strong industry partnerships (Adobe, LinkedIn, IBM and EAB, among others), creative and modern tools and technologies, and a constant eye on the “future of work” and the best ways in which our students can learn and prepare for jobs and their professional lives.
In addition to student success pathways, Transformation 2030 also continues to emphasize the elevation of the world-class faculty and staff at SJSU. Recognizing, developing resources for and expanding upon our already-world-class faculty and staff is a need that is reflected in several of our T2030 goals — most notably, Goal #2, “Excel and Lead.”
A key desired outcome for Goal #2 in our strategic plan is to “gain a national and global reputation for academic excellence characterized by scholarly and professional contributions from faculty members who are genuine teacher-scholars.” The educators here at SJSU help us to achieve this goal each and every day!
A number of faculty-written op-eds have been published, for instance, through the Public Voices Fellows and Op-Ed Project programs, of which the former was developed by our Office of Provost and Center for Faculty Development. The inaugural cohort of Public Voices Fellows, which conducted its work in the middle of a global pandemic, produced more than 70 — yes, 70! — examples of thought leadership, including op-eds, expert quotes, keynote speeches and more. SJSU Fellows’ ideas appeared in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, National Public Radio (NPR), The Los Angeles Times, The Conversation, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek, The Hill, Ms. Magazine, San Jose Mercury News, The Fulcrum, and LA Review of Books, among others. This is absolutely tremendous work and output from our participating faculty and program organizers.
It is hard these days not to notice the myriad of SJSU professors and researchers appearing nearly every week in the news media, offering expert commentary and perspective on the issues of the day. Much of this work is driven by the Strategic Communications & Marketing unit within our University Marketing and Communications group, as well as the expert faculty sources they continue to cultivate.
Prof. Craig Clements, for example, has become known on both the national and global stage for his insights into the impacts of wildfires, while Prof. Ahmed Banafa is a go-to source for news reporters needing thoughtful analysis on cybersecurity and other digital issues. In addition to technology and wildfire sciences, SJSU faculty members recently have been seen in the news media discussing education issues, economic matters, concerns with social media, racial justice, and issues around politics and our democracy.
Other successes, university advancements
There are so many more Transformation 2030 successes on which I wish I could elaborate. A few additional examples:
- Our positive progress with the Alquist Building as we transform it into a place for faculty, staff and graduate student housing;
- The continued expansion of our SJSU Cares initiative, including its permanent move into Clark Hall;
- Our excellent work to realize the goals of the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025;
- New traditions being developed by our Division of Student Affairs to give our students a better sense of Spartan pride and belonging;
- The amazing achievements and mechanisms put in place by our Division of Research and Innovation;
- Our ongoing work to address issues of systemic racism and bias led by our Offices of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Community and Government Relations.
And there are so many others! I invite you to set aside some time to review the refreshed Transformation 2030 website and learn not only about our tremendous progress but also about ways to get involved yourself in the execution of SJSU’s strategic plan.
While stepping away from the presidency at SJSU next month will not be easy, I am proud of the positive change and all the university has achieved during my nearly five-and-a-half years as SJSU’s 30th president. Transformation 2030 — its development and now its ongoing execution — is at the top of that list. I thank all of you who have played a role, and for loving this university as much as I do. I appreciate you and will never forget the work you have done to make SJSU and the world around us a better place.