Dear campus community,
It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly three months since I joined San José State University as interim president. As I’ve very much enjoyed listening to members of our campus community and learning about this incredible university, it feels like a great time to offer a report of sorts on what I’ve observed.
First and foremost, it’s been great to see how the missions of SJSU and CSU are reinforced daily. Our faculty and staff members are clearly committed to student success and creating opportunities for each and every one of our students to reach their academic potential and personal goals. I continue to be impressed with how aligned everyone is with our mission.
The recent Spartan Service Celebration and Staff Awards event, for example, celebrated the enduring impact our staff has on our students and our mission, and I have no doubt that the upcoming Faculty Service Recognition Event will shine a well-deserved spotlight on the talent and dedication of our academic community.
In addition to the positive developments, we must continue to acknowledge ongoing challenges. Sexual harassment and Title IX issues, for instance, remain priority areas in which we’ve committed to making improvements. Our focus on COVID-19 policies and overall response to the pandemic and its aftermath, even as the overall picture is on a positive trajectory, will require attention and resources well into the future. The regional cost of living, housing and basic needs of our students, and other morale issues can never be overstated.
So there is work that remains for all of us. Because transparency and accountability are paramount, we’ll continue to utilize our “For Your Information” website to show how we’re responding to various issues. On other matters that aren’t covered there, we’ll issue updates and campus messages to keep everyone informed.
Still, my message to you today is overwhelmingly positive, as there are so many aspects of San José State of which we can all be proud. Every day, we live up to our Most Transformative University ranking, giving our diverse student body the tools they need to impact their communities, the regional Silicon Valley workforce, and civic life in general.
Points of pride
Occasionally I’m asked to give updates to certain stakeholders about campus happenings, and this semester has already abounded with activities! Here’s a quick snapshot of some highlights:
- February’s Black History Month included the terrific “Black Spartans” exhibit, displayed in the Special Collections and Archives at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Library, through April 1. In addition, our NewsCenter featured a wonderful Q&A about Black History Month with Travis Boyce, chair of our Department of African American Studies and director of the Ethnic Studies Collaborative.
- Cabinet member Mohamed Abousalem, our Vice President for Research and Innovation, was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to represent the CSU on the Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. It’s always great to see SJSU leaders in these kinds of visible leadership positions and representing SJSU and CSU.
- Our College of Humanities and the Arts hosted the second annual H&A in San José: Campus and Community Series event, which included opportunities for faculty members to connect across departments, identify ideas for future collaborations and funding, and establish partnerships with the greater San José artistic community.
- We opened a completely automated store on campus – Ginger Market. It’s the first autonomous, Artificial Intelligence-powered computer checkout system in Silicon Valley. How cool is that?
- We also opened the Silicon Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which focuses on supporting innovative and expanding Santa Clara County small businesses that are involved with the creation, development, or launch of products or services.
- One of the many critical hires we’ve recently made is Michael Carroll, our new Chief of Police. Chief Carroll spent two decades climbing the ranks of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and he brings a blend of community engagement and law enforcement experience to our University Police Department (UPD).
- Speaking of community engagement, Our Community and Government Relations (CGR) team spearheads important connections to downtown, the Mayor’s office, local businesses, and other organizations. One of CGR’s many responsibilities is to work with elected officials and advocate for key funding needs. Their efforts resulted in funds for two important SJSU initiatives to support wildfire research and a community clinic that were included in the 2022 federal spending bill, signed on March 15 by President Biden.
- I had opportunities recently to visit our Moss Landing Marine Laboratory, tour the much-anticipated Interdisciplinary Science Building, and take in tremendous performances at the Hammer Theatre and our Concert Hall.
These are just a few of SJSU’s jewels – I know there are many more! I haven’t even mentioned SJSU Athletics; our Women’s Golf and Women’s Gymnastics teams, in particular, have had some incredible success early this year. Spartan student-athletes are getting it done!
Though I can’t claim to be a “newcomer” to San José State for much longer, I will just close by saying that everything I’ve seen and experienced here confirms that we should be proud of the work we do at SJSU. Though our communications and marketing team does a phenomenal job promoting SJSU, we can all contribute by waving the Spartan flag at every opportunity and shouting from the rooftops just how great this university is.
And I believe we can be even greater, seen as one of the premier public universities; one that symbolizes and exemplifies everything the Cal State University system stands and strives for. With teamwork, focus, dedication, creativity, courage, and caring for one another, this is well within our grasp.
Thank you for all you do!