2022 Fall Welcome Address


(Editor’s note: Links of interest are available throughout the following address)

Introduction and Welcome

Thank you, Alison and Nina. I know both of you will do a great job this year in your respective roles. I appreciate your welcoming remarks, and look forward to working with you this year.

Welcome to Fall Semester, San José State! It’s always a great day to be a Spartan, and it’s particularly great to see all of you here in person in this beautiful, historic venue. I also want to give a big “shout out” to those joining us via our livestream. We expect to do more live streamed events to reach as many members of Spartan Nation as possible. I’m hoping for a big digital turnout today to add to our in-person audience here in Morris Dailey Auditorium.

First, let me take a second to wish a happy birthday to retired teacher and bookkeeper Betty Ann Chandler, ’39 Biological Sciences, Education Credential. Betty Ann is a proud alumna who will celebrate her 105th birthday on the first day of San José State University’s fall semester, making her one of the oldest known living Spartans. 

I’m so happy that we are here in Morris Dailey Auditorium, part of Tower Hall. Tower Hall is the most recognizable building on this campus, it represents us and has represented us since 1910. It’s gone through transformations, World Wars, earthquakes, fires, disasters, protests, and it is still here supporting us and supporting our students.

It’s a beautiful building on a beautiful campus. Before we go too far, I’d like to offer a big “thank you” to all of the people here at SJSU who do such a great job maintaining our facilities, buildings and grounds. Our maintenance, custodial and facilities staffs are second to none. We may not always see the work, but we always feel it and I’d like to publicly acknowledge and thank them.

Where are we?

Let me start by talking about our WSCUC review. Hopefully some of you saw my campus message last month regarding the Accreditation Reaffirmation process that was recently completed. The Commission responsible for this process reaccredited San José State for six years through the spring of 2028. It’s very important for San José State to be accredited as it validates the quality of our education and the experience of our students, faculty, and staff and is required for our students to receive federal financial aid.

The Review Team and Commission commended us for a number of positive things taking place at San José State in support of our core mission, including our clear commitment to our students, our wide embrace of Transformation 2030, and our collaborations in our region, and our commitment to campus safety. For more detail about those and other observations made by the accreditation review team, I’d encourage you to visit our Institutional Effectiveness and Strategic Analytics website where the formal reaffirmation letter and full report are posted.

I’ll always be up front with you. The Commission and Review Team also called out several shortcomings that we must address over the next three years. Because those areas of concern were identified, the Commission will visit in the spring of 2025 to gauge our progress and make sure we’re on track.

So, what does this all mean? We’re totally committed to addressing the Commission’s recommendations and doing so in an inclusive manner consistent with shared governance. The bottom line is that we have three years to address the issues laid out in the process report. We need to get started yesterday so I will immediately ask the Campus Assessment Committee to be engaged. We will be ready for their visit and we will have made significant progress on their requirements. And we can rely on our Strategic Plan to do so.

In April 2019, San José State announced our strategic plan, Transformation 2030. It’s a great plan that lays out a “Roadmap to our Future” to become the premier, urban, public university…one in which “our dynamic, diverse and engaged campus community, filled with boundless energy, optimism and commitment, thrives by working together right here in Silicon Valley to have far-reaching, global impact as trailblazers and as changemakers.”

I like that the goals of Transformation 2030 are verbs, action words:

  • Engage and Educate
  • Excel and Lead
  • Grow and Thrive
  • Connect and Contribute
  • Rebuild and Renew

These action words align well with my priorities for our university:

  • Student Success
  • Excellence in all we do
  • Regional Success
  • Safe and Welcoming Campus Community to all

Let’s talk about this a little bit.

Engage and Educate

Engage and educate: Be a university of first choice where we bring together exceptional people—students, faculty and staff members, and our community—to do extraordinary things with their lives as learners, creators and champions.

Student Success is a big part of engage and educate.

We have done a lot. As of November of last year, our 4-year graduation rate has tripled in the previous six years, going from around 10 percent in 2015 to 30 percent in 2021. During the same period, our 6-year graduation rates increased by 10 percentage points from 56.8 percent to nearly 69 percent. We are clearly on track to meet our GI 2025 goals.

We have more work to do. Along with continuing to enhance our ability for our students to graduate in a timely fashion, we also want that opportunity to be equitable. We must concentrate on our equity gaps which have been stubborn. We owe it to our students and each other to determine how to eliminate these equity gaps. We must do better.

This is incredibly hard work. I want to thank those in academic affairs and student affairs that are reshaping academic advising. I’m particularly excited about what we are doing and believe it will be a real difference maker for our students and in particular for our equity gaps. This work includes a significant investment in academic advising focused on providing integrated, proactive and personalized advising to all of our students.

We are committed to creating a seamless culture of care for our students that supports their academic, physical and mental well-being, and personal goals. Again a big thank-you to everyone working in these crucial areas.

We are also innovating in our academic programs. We launched a one-year pilot interdisciplinary honors program now known as HonorsX and will begin offering a two-year minor starting in 2023. History professor Ruma Chopra has been doing a great job as the program’s Interim Director, and she, Provost Del Casino, and a number of faculty members, students, and advisors have all done a fabulous job conceiving of and developing HonorsX.

But wait – there’s more. San José State is also launching its first fully online, four-year undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Science in Information Science and Data Analytics from the School of Information in the College of Professional and Global Education.

And one of the most significant game-changers to take place at San José State in years just debuted its website earlier this month. Let’s have a huge round of applause to the team who has spent years conceiving of, developing, and now launching SJSU Online! San José State Online will empower learners who left college or only have an associate’s degree to complete their bachelor’s degree through 100% online programs. They’ll learn from the same outstanding San José State faculty and receive the same high quality education as our in-person students.

Expanding our reach and making a college degree that much more attainable is so important.  It’s estimated that several million Californians have attended some college but haven’t yet completed a bachelor’s degree. We plan to change that.

Congratulations to everyone who worked to develop these great new degree offerings!

Our students can’t be successful, we cannot educate and engage, if our students’ can’t meet their basic needs. Across the country we see students (and often faculty and staff) struggling. When a student wonders where they will sleep, or how they will eat, or if they can get to campus, how can we help them learn?

Fortunately, our campus has done tremendous work these past few years beefing up our student resources. Our SJSU Cares program, in particular, remains a vital resource and serves as a clearinghouse for our student support services, including the Spartan Food Pantry, housing assistance, and other resources.

We have launched an awareness campaign, Share Your Spartan Heart, to help spread the word about SJSU Cares and overcome stigmas about asking for help. Many of our students stepped up by sharing their own experiences, and we can all look forward to the second season of Share Your Spartan Heart when it launches this fall.

As I mentioned in my message on April 26, supporting our students’ basic needs will take a campus wide effort. We have launched a series of listening sessions and work groups and I’m so thankful for those that participated in the initial meeting and over the summer including faculty, staff, students, community members, and student groups (in particular the Student Homeless Alliance).  I believe we can move the needle at San José State, and we’ll continue in our efforts. But, we need everyone’s help. If you are interested in helping, reach out to my office.  

Excel and Lead

At San José State we want to be excellent at all we do. We want to Excel and Lead to “be a leading academic institution where faculty and staff members and alumni are regional, national and global leaders in their fields.”

We’re making big strides as a leading CSU campus in regard to funded Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA). Just last year, we set records for R&D expenditures at over $62 million and external awards at nearly $65 million. This represents incredible work that not only changes the world, but allows our students to be meaningful contributors and participate in life-changing research opportunities.

Our Office of Research will continue to offer the RSCA in Five program to help encourage cross-campus RSCA collaborations and growth. They’ll also launch RSCA Café, a new program designed to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration through thematically linked team building sessions. And we’ll see a series of Student RSCA Forums and the new SpartUp Incubator from our Office of Innovation that will support our student, faculty, and staff entrepreneurs. It’s all very exciting.

We are also showcasing our excellence. The Public Voices Fellowship and Op-Ed Project have also been a tremendous success. Over two years, members of the Public Voices Fellows program have published nearly 150 individual opinion pieces, interviews, and commentaries in some of the most significant and important outlets in the world showcasing the great work we do here.

The media relations team in our University Marketing and Communications group works really hard to showcase San José State experts on television and other news outlets. For example, we’ve seen and heard about Lars Rosengreen of our Biological Sciences group who shared our corpse flower with the world; the Mineta Transportation Institutes summer transportation institute and its drone-flying course for high school students; and Craig Clements who directs our Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center and the Fire Weather Research Laboratory, and there are so many more.

Let’s give a big shout-out to everyone who is excelling and leading the way on so many issues!

Grow and Thrive

For all of this great work to happen, it’s crucial that we are a campus that is an “inclusive, welcoming and well-balanced community and [an] institution that ensures long-term financial sustainability and effectiveness and also attracts, retains and sustains faculty and staff members and students.”

Campus climate and DEI
One of the requirements of the WSCUC Commission and Review Team is to complete a thorough review of our campus climate, with the goal of identifying concrete, measurable strategies to improve the climate within which we all work and our students learn.

We are committed to being an inclusive and welcoming campus and participating in a vibrant campus community. We have work to do and a great team of people in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. ODEI continues to consult with faculty, staff, and students on a variety of programs and partnerships with different Colleges, committees, and divisions to continue our anti-racism plans, goals and activities.

The ODEI team does great work. But, it’s not just up to them. It’s all of our responsibilities to promote inclusion, belonging, and understanding. We all must make the conscious choice every day to care for each other and to let others know we see them and that they matter.

One of the exciting events we’re now doing in this regard is our annual Transforming Communities program, which will take place for a two-week period starting at the end of October. Transforming Communities is all about creating a more racially just and equitable environment in San Jose and our surrounding communities. This year’s theme is A Movement, Not a Moment. Jahmal Williams and the Transforming Communities planning team is hard at work putting together this year’s program, and I’m sure it’s going to be a great one!

We have a vibrant Campus Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (CCDEI) that is working on a DEI framework for the campus. The CCDEI has members from all across the campus representing the interests and perspectives of students, staff, and faculty, and they plan on spending this academic year developing tool kits with resources, rubrics, and assessment activities to support the campus on its long-term DEI strategies.

In addition to this committee, I plan to work with the campus to develop a comprehensive strategy to examine our workplace and continue to develop one that fosters an inclusive, safe, supportive, responsive, and equitable workplace environment.

We need to ensure that our actions and interactions with each other build a community in which all feel welcome, respected, and cared for. It impacts each of our well-being and impacts our students as well. We already have many strong examples of caring for and commitment to each other.

A super cool initiative from University Personnel called “Spartans Stepping Beyond” gives us a couple of recent examples of the caring people on this campus: Trisha Gilges from our Career Center, and Castelle Rawls from University Personnel.

From scratch, Trisha created a brand-new program to help students with free clothing and professional attire, and you can see on the big screen what her colleague said about Trisha’s efforts:

“Trisha has worked over the last year to build up a stellar FREE clothing closet for San José State Students. She reaches out to the campus and wider community for gently used clothing donations or for funds to purchase new clothing which students can shop for free. She’s safely served over 350+ students with free professional attire this past fall ’21 and is excited to see this continue to grow and support even more. Thank you Trisha for leading this initiative to support San José State students!”

– Larissa Bates

Castelle demonstrated the kind of caring and empathy for her fellow Spartans that makes a huge difference for others. Here’s how a colleague described the help she received from Castelle on a paycheck issue:

“I had some challenges with several of my paychecks when I first started here at San José State. Some of it was due to my own error in filling out my paperwork, and some of it was related to other matters. In both cases Castelle responded quickly and empathetically. She made it clear that she understood how important it is for someone to have their pay sorted out, and took action. I really felt heard and supported, and I appreciate her for that. Thank you, Castelle for making the complicated and difficult easier to understand, and for going above and beyond.”

– Shonda Goward

These are such great examples of how we care for each other and for our students. Thank you Trisha and Castelle! I know there are many more examples of this that occur every day. I encourage you to recognize your fellow Spartans contributions by letting UP know and let’s continue building this culture of excellence and care together.

Financial Sustainability
Budget. Please be warned, I love talking about budgets. A budget shows how we allocate scarce resources to support our mission and our priorities. I can talk about budgets for hours. So, if you start to roll your eyes, or nod off, I’ll pick up the pace.

Our budget for the coming year will be one of transitions. We need to transition from a budgetary environment built over the last few years on the assumption of enrollment growth. Spending decisions were based on these assumptions. Unfortunately, enrollment has not grown at the rate we would have hoped and our funding sources have not kept up with escalating costs. Last year we used over $15M of our reserves. Much of this carries over to this year; despite an increase in our state allocation of $22M (of the CSU’s 211M), our mandatory costs and compensation have increased by $34M, so our projected deficit will be higher.

We are now in a position where we have a strong university, performing at a high level in many ways, and need to find additional ways to fund our activities. In the coming year, we will use a combination of mitigations and reserves to make up the difference.

As someone who has taught economics, I can assure you there are two ways to get rid of a deficit: cut expenditures or increase revenue. While we need to look at ways we can be more efficient, we do so many wonderful things at San José State and impact so many people in positive ways. I want to concentrate on new funding opportunities. If we can find ways to generate more funding, we can control our own destiny.

Attracting and retaining students, faculty, and staff
How are we doing at attracting students, faculty, and staff?

Enrollment

  • Our funded California resident FTES target increased by 575 students.
  • We are working to have actual enrollment higher than our target.
  • Fall 2022 enrollment is projected at approximately 36,000 Students
  • 47,859 undergraduate application numbers for the Fall 2022 semester (an increase of 5.4% over Fall 2021)
  • First-time freshmen admitted: 26,155 (increase of 1.6%)
  • Transfer students admitted: 9,184
  • Graduate student applications received were 10,803 (an increase of 15.3% over Fall 2021)
  • We need to work to increase our enrollment to meet the needs of our region.

Faculty

With our most recent faculty hires, we continued the trend toward more diversity.

  • The searches for tenure line faculty netted 51 offers accepted. 46 will begin this fall.
  • 59% identify as non-white.
  • Finally, 7 of the 51 new faculty (13.7%) are currently lecturers at SJSU.

Staff

On the staff side, this past academic year, we hired a robust 262 new staff and managers 177 (67.5%) of which identify as non-white.

Recruiting and retaining students or employees is significantly challenged by a lack of access to affordable housing. It is critical that we find ways to support our campus community’s need for housing if we are to grow and thrive as a university.

Many of you may have heard of the Alquist Building. We plan to build a multi-story apartment building with a mix of market rate apartments and below market rate units for faculty, staff, and graduate students. We are currently working out the funding and hope to take the project to the Board of Trustees in the near future. This is the type of innovative and creative project we must capitalize on to grab some level of control of our future and support our campus community. We also must look to increase affordable student housing to ensure we can continue to support our students, to grow, and to thrive.

Connect and Contribute

Our role as an important contributor to the success of our region, as an anchor institution in Silicon Valley is to “be an engaged and dynamic urban university with strong connections locally and globally.” This is why we Connect and Contribute. We do this in so many ways. (talk about the ways)

One of the great ways we routinely connect with our communities is CommUniverCity, one of the signature initiatives at SJSU. I had the pleasure of attending their kickoff event earlier this spring and got to learn first-hand about the innovative projects and programs they lead making positive and lasting contributions to our neighborhoods and communities.

Our Center for Community Learning & Leadership is another pillar of our service learning and community engagement work. They successfully ran our Civic Action Fellowship for two years, leading to our selection earlier this year as one of the 45 colleges and university partners for the statewide CaliforniansForAll College Corps initiative. This is a super cool program where College Corp Fellows can earn $10,000 while engaging across the state to solve problems in their community, and I had a great time meeting the first cohort of participants earlier this week.

I’m really proud of the folks at CommUniverCity, Center for Community Learning & Leadership team and all of our faculty, staff, and students who are working so hard to contribute to our communities like this!

This is part of our job as Silicon Valley’s public university and we do so much. We also Connect and Contribute to our community in two very distinct and enjoyable ways – Our Humanities and Arts endeavors, and Athletics!

I’ve been to a lot of sporting events and theatre, musical, and artistic performances and shows. And let me tell you it is truly amazing what our students can do. Please take advantage of what we offer. There are so many great shows and performances planned, including: Passage, the Beekeeper of Aleppo, and the first musical performance since before the COVID pandemic will be a show called “Into the Woods.” Check out the H&A events website to keep abreast of all of our creative events and performances taking place throughout the year.

I want to make a specific note of the multi-talented Professor Matthew Spangler of our Department of Film and Theatre. Matthew penned the stage adaptation of the beloved novel “The Kite Runner” – and it’s currently being performed on Broadway in New York City. Nice work, Professor Spangler!

And on the Athletics front, I know our Spartan football fans are all looking forward to the upcoming season! Coach Brennan and his staff had one of their best recruiting classes ever, we are All Spartans and look forward to big things this season!

The season home opener is right around the corner, on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7:30 p.m. to be exact, and that day and time was specifically chosen so that students could attend before the Labor Day holiday weekend. Students just need to show their Tower card to get in. What a deal!

Athletics is helping spread the word about the great things we do at San José State. I’m very excited about our partnership with NBC Sports Bay Area. We will broadcast 14 Spartan games, six episodes of San José State’s All-Access show “The Charge,” as well as our Sammy Awards event at the California Theatre in downtown San Jose that you all are invited to.

I hope you are hearing a theme here, we are doing great things and we are letting people know about it.

Rebuild and Renew

To rebuild and renew we need to “Be a flourishing, modern campus with state-of-the-art infrastructure, campus spaces and technology to support learning, research and community.”

A big part of setting a strong foundation for our future will be our Capital Campaign to raise $350M. Our University Advancement team is working with the campus during a Readiness Phase to put together a draft of the overall campaign goals, messaging, and pillars and priorities of the campaign to make sure they’re all in alignment with Transformation 2030. You will soon see invitations to participate in town hall forums around the Campaign, as we really need everyone’s feedback and input.

Don’t worry, we haven’t stopped fundraising. So far, we’ve raised $55.3M towards a $350M goal. We are off to a great start, and we can all look forward to hearing more and participating in this critical endeavor.

Our Community and Government Relations team also spearheads a great deal of advocacy and engagement activity with our elected officials that leads to important funding for the university.

I want to thank them and  Representative Zoe Lofgren, Senator Feinstein, Assemblymember Ash Kalra, and Assemblymember Mark Stone for their work that led to several million dollars recently being allocated toward San José State’s wildfire research, our new Healthy Development Community Clinic, our Speed City Legacy Project, and planning and permitting for an important new dock at Moss Landing Marine Labs.

Right now, work on the Interdisciplinary Science Building continues to go well, and we’re on-target for beginning the big move into the building in summer of 2023. It’s really exciting to see, and I think this is going to be one of the defining, signature buildings at San José State for years to come.

The Spartan Athletics Complex is underway and is expected to be completed for next year’s home opener against Oregon State inside CEFCU Stadium. On top of that, we have a new nationally-recognized basketball court because it glows in the dark. The Silicon Glow Floor has been featured in USA Today, Sports Illustrated and on NCAA March Madness social platforms as one of the most unique floors in the country!

Largely due to all the great campus input the Campus Master Plan planning team received this past year, we are well on our way to having a new Campus Master Plan that reimagines the university’s physical development in the coming decades. A completed draft of the plan will be made public in October. To get this right, campus and community engagement is vital, so we look forward to public comment this Fall. An Environmental Impact Report will also begin. The target goal is to bring a final version of our Campus Master Plan before the CSU Board of Trustees in 2023.

Our Information Technology team works tirelessly to decrease the digital divide on campus. We have a responsibility to ensure that our students have adequate access to the technology and equipment they need, and that they have the training and digital literacy to use it. IT is constantly working to upgrade our networks for the best possible connections around the campus, and even for our off-campus facilities.

Our Information Technology professionals here at San José State do so many things behind the scenes that most of us probably aren’t aware of! I don’t know where we’d be with our day-to-day processes and digital work without their contributions, so thank you to all of you here or watching today who help make our workplaces more effective through technology. We appreciate you!

Current topics

Let’s talk about a couple of other current topics.

Title IX 
I know that you’ve heard a lot about Title IX these past few months, including its 50th anniversary in June.

Please know that San José State and the Chancellor’s Office continue to place a high priority on Title IX by making substantial investments in that office and in related programs. The CSU is currently undergoing a system-wide assessment of all of its procedures and practices related to Title IX, discrimination, retaliation and harassment to strengthen the implementation of Title IX policies, procedures, and protocols at all 23 campuses.  The assessment will help the CSU system identify common challenges and needs, while also highlighting strengths and concerns unique to each campus.

Here at San José State, we continue to build a system of care for students and employees through our Title IX Office. The office is currently staffed by a dedicated and growing team of skilled and caring professionals.

We’re currently searching for a permanent Title IX and Gender Equity Officer, as well as two Title IX investigators. We’re looking to hire the most caring, compassionate, and qualified candidates possible, individuals who will meet the needs of our unique and highly diverse campus community. We need to provide our students, staff, and faculty with the most robust set of resources possible, so that’s what we’re planning to do. We continue to meet the requirements of our Department of Justice agreement. Our experts in this area are working tirelessly to build the type of program we can all be proud of and have confidence in. We will continue to provide you with updates on our Title IX Office as the semester and academic year unfold.

COVID and whatever comes next
Finally, no discussion would be complete without acknowledging COVID-19 and everything we’ve been through with the pandemic.

Unfortunately, we know the pandemic has not disappeared, and COVID will continue to challenge us, even as we move into a third year of impact to our campus life and routines.

Our approach essentially remains the same and will continue to be based first and foremost on the care, health, and well-being of the students and employees on this campus. Our goal from the beginning has been to monitor County and CDC recommendations to take measures that align with expert guidance and lead to the healthiest possible environment for all of us.

As the situation continues to change and evolve, we’ll adjust and modify our approach, and our decisions about campus protocols and practices. Like we’ve been doing for more than two years now, we should all be prepared to be flexible as we respond to this continuing roller coaster ride that is COVID. We’ll continue to communicate with you as best we can whenever there are changes to our policies and approaches. Thank you, as always, for your flexibility and willingness to adapt.

Be it housing, food, physical or mental health, or physical or mental safety, we are working hard to have resources available to the campus community when needed. But, it can be hard to remember where to go when you are in crisis or where to refer someone when they are in crisis. To make things easy, we’ve added a tile to the “Sammy” app. If you need something, go there and you can find help. If you don’t have the “Sammy” app, we are working on a webpage with the same information. Please spread the word that if someone is in crisis or needs help, you can find support here.

Now we welcome a new academic year
This is the first week of Weeks of Welcome. I really can’t wait! There are few things I like better about my job than strolling along the paseo, seeing so many of our students and talking with them about all the awesome things they’re doing here. I can’t wait to go to football games, plays, musicals, art exhibits, poster sessions, press conferences, award ceremonies, commencements, all of the unbelievable experiences we have here.

Please come on out and support our new and returning students during Weeks of Welcome, and let’s give a nice round of applause to our Student Involvement team for all the work it’s taken to put it together!

Like Tower Hall, we’ve come a long way, we’ve accomplished a lot, but we have a lot to do to reach our goals. If we work together and keep our energies focused on our mission and taking care of each other, we can move forward to an unbelievable future.

San José State can be the premier, urban, public university. One where over 36,000 students get a truly transformative education in one of more than 70 majors. One where any of our 10,000 graduates per year can go out and change the world, starting in Silicon Valley. One where we can transform and be transformed by Silicon Valley. One where we produce world impacting research and creative activities. One where each and every one of us knows we belong and make a difference. Let’s start our future now. Let’s make this new academic year, one that people sitting in Tower Hall in 2122 will look back on with wonder and amazement.

Conclusion

As I conclude my remarks today, I really want to encourage everyone listening today to be an active member of the Spartan community. Be with each other however you are able. Be with each other as members of the Spartan community

There’s just so much going on here; I’ve really only scratched the surface.

It’s not just Athletics and The Arts that offer opportunities for attendance and participation in and around our campus. We have a rich variety of other things that you can attend and enjoy.

So here’s a friendly Spartan challenge. I ask you to pick three new things that you’ll commit yourself to experiencing this semester. Show your Spartan Spirit and have fun with it! Try something new, something maybe you’ve thought about before but never got around to.

One last thing about Tower Hall. Edwin Markham, born on April 23, 1852.  Edwin Markham graduated from the California Normal School, a former name for San Jose State, in 1872 and we recognize the 150th anniversary of his graduation this year. Mr. Markham was not only a well-known poet, still cited today and with numerous schools and streets named for him, but he played a key role in bringing national attention to child labor problems in the early 1900s. His social justice activities went even beyond this important effort. His 1899 poem – The Man with the Hoe, brought attention to the plight of many workers at the start of the 20th century. Annette Nellon, a professor in the College of Business picked a poem for me to read at the Legacy of Poetry Day in April by Edwin Markham and it’s right outside on the wall. The poem is called Outwitted:

He drew a circle that shut me out

Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

But love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in!   

What does the poem mean to you? To me it means we can use our wit. We can use our love. We can choose to include people in our sphere or our circle.

So as we leave here today, I’d encourage all of you to care for your colleagues and those you encounter every day here on campus. Look out for one another. Talk to a stranger. Make someone’s day a little better. Show what it means to be a San José State Spartan. Choose to draw a circle around each other and take them in.

Thank you all so much for being here today. Thank you for what you do to support our students, each other, and our region. Thank you for being part of the Spartan community. I appreciate every one of you for the work you do to make San José State the Most Transformative University in the nation. Please enjoy some refreshments, mingle with your colleagues, and pick up a copy of the latest edition of Washington Square, which you can find on the back table. Take care, and thank you again!

END

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