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Provost Update: Diversity Drives Creativity and Innovation; DARE Fellows Visit SJSU; McNair Scholars Look Toward Graduate School; Success Center Interns Support Other Students; Women in Engineering Conference Promotes Equity; Exploring the Legacy of An Abolitionist; African American College Readiness Summit Draws Hundreds of Middle Schoolers; and Subscribe to the Academic Spotlight blog.
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Academic Affairs Division Newsletter March 2018 edition

Provost Update: Diversity Drives Creativity and Innovation

I hope everyone is finding some time during spring break to reenergize before we head into the final months of the semester. March was especially busy, and I was fortunate enough to be involved in events that highlight the diversity of our university as well as our work to create a more inclusive campus and community.

On March 1, I welcomed nearly two-dozen doctoral students from Stanford University’s Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Doctoral Fellowship Program. The program aims to build a pipeline for faculty from underrepresented groups. For the past 10 years, fellows have visited our university to learn about SJSU’s commitment to diversifying the faculty and to hear from some of our own faculty members about their experiences. I shared with the visitors that this year, Faculty Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion implemented new diversity training for search committees involved in faculty recruitment.

During their visit, the DARE Fellows also engaged with student researchers and scholars from our Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program. The McNair students engage in undergraduate research, prepare for the GRE and learn how to choose a graduate school, among other activities that will help them on the path to a doctoral degree. The newsletter this month shares more about these programs along with other efforts to support diversity and inclusion such as our African American College Readiness Summit, the Women in Engineering Conference, and the Chicanx/Latinx and African American/Black Student Success Center internships.

As many of you know, we have one of the most diverse student populations in the nation. On March 15, we hosted the inaugural SJSU Student Success Symposium attended by more than 230 faculty, staff and students. Many of our guest speakers discussed ways to engage students from underrepresented groups, especially Dr. Sylvia Hurtado, from the University of California, Los Angeles, whose talk was entitled "Campus Climate and Institutional Change: Advancing Diversity and Institutional Practice." Visit the Student Success Website to learn how to participate in a follow-up session after spring break to help us identify the next steps in promoting academic excellence.

While we strive to be inclusive of people from many backgrounds and experiences, it is also important for us to have a diversity of perspectives, 
disciplines and ideas. Our university has many interdisciplinary programs and centers, such as the Institute for the Study of Sport, Society and Social Change, the Mineta Transportation Institute, the Humanities Honors Program, among others. We are also in a prime position to expand opportunities for our students to engage in multi-faceted projects that cross discipline lines.

Just this week, the Biomedical Engineering Society of San Jose State hosted its 9th Annual Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference. As part of the conference, 34 student teams presented ideas for devices to help medical professionals and patients. These teams included students from many engineering, business, health professions and other majors, working together to find a solution to a medical problem. The industry leaders who spoke at the conference reiterated how diverse perspectives affect product and process innovation.

As we head into April, we will have more opportunities celebrate our diversity and academic excellence. Some upcoming events include the Celebration of Research April 4, the Faculty Service Recognition and Awards Luncheon April 5, Legacy of Poetry Day April 12, the Inclusive Innovation Summit April 13, Admitted Spartan Day April 14, Honors Convocation April 20 and the Fifth Annual SJSU Cultural Showcase April 25.

I hope to see you at these and other events next month as we continue to work together to improve student success while creating an inclusive and welcoming university community.

 


Andy Feinstein
Provost and Senior VP for Academic Affairs

DARE Fellows Visit SJSU

Photo: James Tensuan 
Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Fellows visited San Jose State March 1 and met with administrators, faculty members and students to learn about the university.
By David Goll
 
Nearly 12 years after arriving in the United States from his native Spain, Eduardo Munoz-Munoz is preparing to start the next phase of his academic career this fall at San Jose State University. Munoz-Munoz will begin his position as a tenure-track assistant professor in the university's Connie L. Lurie College of Education in August. An SJSU adjunct professor since 2014, his specialty is bilingual education.
 
He is one of 22 fellows engaged in Stanford University's Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence (DARE) Doctoral Fellowship Program that works to advance students from traditionally underrepresented racial, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation demographic groups who are investigating academic careers. Members of Stanford's DARE program visited SJSU on March 1, meeting with university officials and faculty members as they weigh career options. For the past 10 years, the doctoral students have visited SJSU and other Bay Area universities to explore career options.
 
Munoz-Munoz earned a degree in English Philology from 
Spain’s University of Cordoba, a master's degree in Arts Education and an administrative credential from the University of California, Berkeley. He has lectured at Mills College in Oakland and Belmont’s Notre Dame de Namur University, and served as a principal in the Oakland Unified School District.
 
"I'm very happy to start my career at an institution where teaching is considered a major part of the work and doesn’t take a back seat to research," Munoz-Munoz said. "As an educator with a political consciousness, I love working at a public institution (that is) working to empower public education. I love San Jose State because of the diversity and the commitment of students working hard to get a great education."
 
In the 23-campus California State University system, only 27 percent of students identified as white in 2015, while 63 percent of faculty identified as such. SJSU has one of the most diverse student populations in the nation. According to Dr. Kathleen Wong(Lau), SJSU’s chief diversity officer, as of fall 2016, 42 percent of SJSU students were Asian, 24 percent Hispanic, 19 percent white, three percent Black, and 10 percent in the "other" category. Less than one percent identified as Native American or Pacific Islander.
 
In an effort to attract DARE members to SJSU careers, Wong(Lau) touted the university's progressive credentials championing racial and economic justice.
 
"It's a little-known fact the nationwide minimum-wage movement started here, as did the tiny-house initiative," she said of a design for diminutive abodes for the homeless unveiled last year by SJSU students.
 
Wong(Lau) spoke proudly of the university's statue honoring former students and track athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith, who famously raised their fists in protest during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
 
"It was more than just about racial equality," she said. "They were also passionate about economic inequality in this country."
 
Another speaker at the DARE event was Dr. Magdalena Barrera, SJSU associate professor of Mexican-American Studies and faculty-in-residence for Diversifying the Faculty.
 
"The university has redoubled its efforts to diversify the faculty," she said. "It's so important we move in that direction because of the changing demographics of students."
 
Hiring committee members for faculty recruitments now undergo a two-hour diversity training session designed by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Faculty Affairs.
 
On March 1, DARE visitors heard from a panel of faculty members about their SJSU careers. They all praised the ability to teach, conduct research, scholarship or creative activities, and participate in service projects. Some described it as a tough balancing act.
 
"I'm still working on balancing teaching, research, service and my personal life," said Dr. Patricia Lopez, in her third year as an assistant professor in Educational Leadership. “My family, none of whom are in academia, keep me grounded. I am doing something I love and am an employee of the state of California, with the benefits that 
brings."
 
Dr. Carlos Garcia, professor and department chair of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, also talked with the DARE Fellows.
 
“Despite the challenges of living in Silicon Valley, and despite the challenges that are part of working at a 
university such as ours, we are still lucky to be in the place that we are and to have the positions we do,” he said.

McNair Scholars Look Toward Graduate School

Photo: James Tensuan
Dr. Maria Elena Cruz, director of SJSU's McNair Scholars Program, works with students who are interested in engaging in research, scholarship or creative activity while preparing for graduate programs.
By David Goll
 
Puneet Sanghera is the daughter of immigrants from India, a first-generation American college student and she is on the verge of earning a bachelor's degree in molecular biology.
 
"I grew up in a conservative family," she said. "Because my parents didn't attend college in this country, they didn't know all of the opportunities available to me when I was in high school."
 
The San Jose native entered SJSU as a pre-nursing major, but she discovered nursing "wasn’t the right fit for [her].” After taking a semester off to help her grandmother recover from surgery, she returned to school. She switched majors, became a McNair Scholar and found a mentor in Dr. Katherine Wilkinson, an assistant professor of Biological Sciences.
 
"I really want to learn more about my field, so decided to pursue graduate studies," she said.
 
On March 11, Sanghera reached her goal. She got word she was accepted at her first-choice school, San Francisco State University.
 
Sanghera credits hard work and her involvement with SJSU's Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program for helping her gain admission to a graduate program. The McNair Scholars program is named for the second African-American to fly in space who overcame long odds to earn 
PhD in physics and become an astronaut. After he died in the 1986 Challenger space shuttle explosion, Congress created the program in his honor to increase the number of underrepresented students pursuing doctoral degrees.
 
Dr. Maria Elena Cruz, director of the SJSU McNair chapter, said the university's two-year program started more than two decades ago. It is funded entirely by federal dollars. Students typically get involved during their sophomore or junior years.
 
"Through 
the work we do with students in the program we can see if they’re a good fit for graduate education," she said.
 
Most are, Dr. Cruz said. The group is comprised of at least 28 students who start the program in January. They hail from a variety of SJSU majors. During the first spring semester, students meet weekly to learn about research methods, weigh 
research subjects and prepare for GRE (Graduate Record Examination) tests. Fifteen of the students receive a stipend of $2,800 during the summer to work on research projects. A summer "boot camp" open to McNair scholars and all students from SJSU, and other universities gives instruction on how to choose a graduate school, how to write a great personal statement, and how to write to some of their dream schools and professors.
 
During the fall, McNair scholars do research analysis and begin the writing process, so that they can publish in our yearly McNair Scholars Journal. Dr. Cruz said she supports them by enlisting writing specialists, such as Taylor Dawn Francis, who is working on a master’s in English. At SJSU Students have up to 10 years to complete work on master's and doctoral degrees from the time they graduate with their bachelor's degree.
 
"Some students end up just pursuing a master's degree, though they may eventually pursue 
PhD," Cruz said. "We've had students attend Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Stanford, Maryland, the University of Chicago and UC-Berkeley. On average we have two people who have earned their PhD every year. Compared to the national average of 3.3% according to the National Science Foundation, the McNair Scholars Program at SJSU has earned an 11.11% for 2016-2017.”
 
Dr. Cruz states that “participation in doctoral education by underrepresented minority groups such as African Americans and Chicanx/Latinx groups who 
are first-generation and are awarded a PhD is lower than 2 percent of the national average (NSF 2017). Thus, the McNair Scholars Program is pivotal for the future of our communities.” 
 
Sanghera's classmate, Daniel Kelley, also graduates in May. Though interested in attending graduate school, Kelley said he knew little about it until a friend introduced him to McNair.
 
"I want to stand out and be more competitive," said the psychology major from southern California's Lancaster. He hopes to attend either SJSU or UC Berkeley for grad school. "McNair has prepared me."
 
Kelley already works with his mentor, Dr. David Schuster, an assistant professor of Psychology, in conducting research into cyber-security issues in private companies.
 
Isaac Gendler, a junior mechanical engineering major from Los Angeles, also had an early jump on research, studying automatic transit 
system guide ways. His report is in the process of being published. He said McNair has provided valuable information about graduate school applications and securing research funding. It even helped him attend a recent Chicago conference on heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. The greatest value to McNair, he said, is its diverse, multi-disciplinary approach.
 
"It gave me the opportunity to talk with people from different backgrounds and perspectives," Gendler said. "When you have homogeneous groups of people talking to each other, nothing new results. McNair brings together people from all over, offering fresh viewpoints. This is how you innovate and disrupt the status quo."

Success Center Interns Support Other Students

Photo: David Schmitz
Janely Cerda, left, and Paola Quintanilla, speak with students during the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center Welcome in January. They are both interns with the center.

By Lesley Seacrist
 
This spring semester marks the opening of the African American/Black Student Success Center and Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center, both located in the Diaz Compean Student Union. The goal of these new centers is to retain, empower, and graduate underrepresented minority students, while providing support and guidance personally, professionally and academically. These spaces are dedicated to providing a welcoming environment while enhancing student success through community building.
 
Alongside Lilly Pinedo Gangai, program director with the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center, Paula L. Powell, program director with theAfrican American/Black Student Sucess Center, and faculty fellows, the student success interns are vital members contributing to the center’s mission and vision. They develop pre-professional skills by assisting students as peer mentors, 
liaisons and academic cheerleaders. Just a few of their responsibilities may include the planning and development of events, programs, marketing and research; however, they also serve as student ambassadors to increase awareness about resources around campus. We reached out to a dozen student interns to ask them why they got involved and why diversity is important on our campus. Below, we highlight responses from two students. Read more about these and other students online at the Academic Spotlight blog.
 
Janely Cerda interns at the Chicanx/Latinx Student Success Center. A psychology major, she plans to graduate in summer 2018.
 
Why did you apply to be a student intern in our new student success center?
applied to this position because I wanted to make a change in the lives of students of color and serve as a role model to them. This is an amazing opportunity for me to connect with students and provide advice from what I learned throughout my college experience.
 
What do you most hope to accomplish as an intern?
I want to make sure students understand that they are not alone and that they can count on me, or the other interns in the center. 
Every day, every one of us is learning something new from each other and, I hope that we continue to grow as a whole. I hope to be able to provide students with any necessity that they need in order to achieve their goals.
 
How does SJSU benefit from its diverse student and faculty population?
I believe it is important that people understand that diversity enriches a college student's experience in different ways. SJSU benefits from its diverse student and faculty population because it 
increases a student's self-insight by engaging and interacting with others whose lifestyle or customs are different from their own.
 
 

Chandlor Jenkins interns at the African American/Black Student Success Center and is a Radio, Television and Film major who plans to graduate in spring 2019.
 
Why did you apply to be a student intern in our new student success center?
I applied to be an intern because I love being involved and giving back to this campus and the community. I feel that this success center brings a lot of positive potential to our African American community and being a part of the inaugural group that will foster change within us is something that I hope inspires not 
only me but my peers as well.
 
What do you most hope to accomplish as an intern?
I hope that I’m able to impact the lives of everyone who enters the doors of the center. I hope that everyone is inspired to take their education and success as Spartans seriously. I also hope to unite all of our African American/Black (student organizations) within the community.
 
How does SJSU benefit from its diverse student and faculty population?
Having such a diverse campus allows SJSU students the opportunity to learn and grow, not only as individuals within their 
own culture but coexisting with other cultures as well. The combination of backgrounds and ideologies inside and outside of the classroom has given me insight and perspective. Although at times it’s challenging to be on the lower end of the population spectrum here, the African American/Black Student Success Center is a beautiful start to the creation of more inclusive spaces for all of our students.
 

Women in Engineering Conference Promotes Equity

Photo: David Schmitz
Representatives from high-tech companies and other industry professionals met with women engineering students during the 2018 Silicon Valley Women in Engineering Conference March 17.
 
 By David Goll

For the fourth consecutive year, hundreds of women -- students, university 
faculty and industry professionals -- gathered in the heart of Silicon Valley on a chilly late-winter day to raise the profile of women in engineering and technology.

The
2018 Silicon Valley Women In Engineering conference drew a sold-out crowd of 450 community college and university students from throughout California to San Jose State University (SJSU) on March 17. They listened to inspirational speeches from trailblazing women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) occupations, presentations of industry professionals -- gathered at the heart of Silicon Valley on a chilly late-winter day to raise the profile of women in engineering and technology.productsof services being created at their companies, and participated in panel discussions featuring life and career stories and advice from those who have already ascended to technical and senior leadership positions.
 
"We need you to stick with it," Maggie Johnson, vice president of Education and University Programs at Google Inc., told the audience during the morning keynote address, encouraging women to stay in STEM fields. "We cannot make products for everyone or overcome bias without a balanced workplace. The future is female. Lead like a girl."
 
Even in 2018 -- more than 50 years after the feminist movement began changing American society 
during the 1960s -- there’s still a long way to go. Despite more than 44 percent of the nation's full-time workforce being female in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM industries have smaller percentages of women – in some cases, dramatic imbalances. Though 42 percent of full-time workers in life, physical and social science jobs are occupied by women, only 25 percent of computer and mathematical positions and 14 percent of jobs in engineering and architecture are filled by women.
 
During the conference, women who have already cracked the glass ceiling in these male-dominated fields urged their younger counterparts to continue to pursue STEM studies in school and jobs after graduation.
 
"When you enter a room, know that you earned your right to be there," said Lakecia Gunter, chief of 
staff and technical assistant to the CEO at Intel Corp. "Stand in your power. Take a seat at the table, know what you can bring and what you want, and use your voice."
 
Young women who will enter that workforce either later this year or in the near future were treated to a glimpse into what to expect today and tomorrow in the tech sector. Antonella Corno, an industry veteran and senior manager of Product Strategy at Cisco Systems Inc., described how the job of her brother, a doctor, has shifted due to technology. Instead of using his hands, he does surgery today by manipulating surgical instruments through computers.
 
"Because of rapidly changing technology, we regularly have talent gaps," Corno said, describing how education must catch up with the dizzying rate of technological innovations.
 
The new economy is all about data analysis, she said. The IoT (Internet of Things) trend is creating a network of physical devices, vehicles and home appliances embedded with electronics, 
software and sensors. There will be 30 billion such connected devices by 2020, up from 12 billion in 2015. Corno said 220,000 new control engineers will be needed by 2025.
 
Kaijen Hsiao, the chief technology officer for Mayfield Robotics, both charmed and intrigued her audience of prospective employees, introducing them to Kuri, a 20-inch tall, 14-pound home robot that can smile, blink and beam blue and pale yellow light from her "heart." She also records video, plays music and rolls around the house to inform absentee owners what's going on 
at home through a camera behind her eyes. Kuri was designed by Doug Dooley, a former animation specialist at Pixar Animation Studios.
 
"This is the robot to fulfill people's home robot dreams," Hsiao said. "She might not exactly be Rosie, the robot maid from 'The Jetsons,' but she’s designed to be humble, curious and courteous."
 
Career panel discussions featured engineers and top executives from a wide range of Silicon Valley companies, including Intel, Google, HP, LinkedIn Corp., NASA Ames Research Center, KLA-Tencor Corp. and Applied Materials Inc. Many of the same companies, along with SJSU and the City of San Jose, had informational booths and product demonstrations at the Innovation Showcase display.
 
SJSU students Shivani Parmer, a second-year student in biomedical engineering; Lalitha Donga, a second-year student in software engineering; and Cindy Carrillo, a first-year software engineering major, were impressed with the conference.
 
"It's powerful to have all of these women from the industry come together," Carrillo said. "It's inspiring to see such support for women in the workplace."
 
Both Donga and Parmer said they feel better about their academic and career paths.
 
"There was awesome energy here today," Parmer said. "It's empowering and makes me 
feel confident of my career choice."
  

Exploring the Legacy of an Abolitionist

Photo: David Schmitz
Humanities Professor Jennifer Rycenga's recent work explores the legacy of an abolitionist.
By Kat Meads
 
Department of Humanities Professor Jennifer Rycenga’s expansive research 
interests include religion, politics, popular and classical music and lesbian history. An alumna of UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theologian Union, she has taught at SJSU for more than 20 years and coordinates the Comparative Religious Studies Program. Co-editor of The Mary Daly Reader (NYU Press, 2017), Queering the Popular Pitch (Routledge, 2006) and Frontline Feminisms: Women, War and Resistance  (Routledge, 2001), she is currently working on a cultural biography of white abolitionist educator Prudence Crandall (1803-1890). She talks about her Crandall project, research methods and the joys of birding.

Tell us about the subject of your research.
Prudence Crandall had an Academy for women in Canterbury, Connecticut, in 1831. In 1832, three extraordinary events occurred. First, Crandall was reading the then-little-known abolitionist newspaper from Boston, The Liberator, supplied to her by a household employee of hers, a young black woman named Maria Davis. The Liberator issues contained the second extraordinary occurrence: writings from black men and women, most notably the first American woman to give public political speeches, black Bostonian widow Maria Stewart. Stewart called for the establishment of a high school for black
women, and encouraged education as the path to equality. The third extraordinary event occurred in the fall of 1832. Maria Davis’s future sister-in-law, Sarah Harris, asked Crandall if she could attend the Academy. Crandall agreed, and all went smoothly for a time. But the white parents of the students were not pleased with this change in the school. They threatened and cajoled Crandall to drop Harris from the roster; she refused. Instead, Crandall went to Boston, visiting with the editor of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison, to discuss her plan to reopen the school for black women only. Garrison pledged his support.

And did Crandall reopen her school?
Yes. The new Academy was publicized with an advertisement featuring seven white and eight black male endorsers—one of the most racially integrated documents in the history of the abolitionist movement. Over the next 18 months, Crandall and her co-teachers maintained the school, and more than two dozen black women studied there. The townspeople of Canterbury opposed the Academy with persistent racist tactics, including cow patties thrown into the well water and the butchery of a black-and-white cat to 
mark the villagers’ opposition to racial integration. The leader of the opposition, Andrew Judson, had a law passed in the Connecticut Assembly, making the harboring of out-of-state blacks for purposes of education illegal in Connecticut. This led to extensive litigation against the school. Yet despite these assaults, the school continued until a vicious attack in September 1834 left the school building uninhabitable. My research has been able to demonstrate that, despite such opposition, the students went on to achieve places of importance in the free black community, affecting the movements for change that led up to and past the Civil War. The rock that Crandall threw into the complacency of white society in the north resulted in many generations of black self-determination and a richer sense of who we can be as a country.

When did you first become interested in Crandall?
I first learned of Crandall in the late 1990s, ancillary to my research on the black abolitionist Maria Stewart. My mother and I love to travel to historic places, so when I read about the Crandall Academy, now housing a museum, we included it on a 
trip in southern New England. That was in 1997! I was hooked as soon as I learned the trajectory of Crandall’s life. What I have discovered, though, turns out to be infinitely richer than I could have conceived when I began. Crandall’s school represented one of the strongest early coalitions across lines of difference in American history. Black women, black men, white women and white men not only worked together to launch and maintain the Academy in Canterbury, Connecticut, but they understood the need to protect each other. For instance, the names of the students were not revealed by the abolitionist press nor by Crandall herself. This creates some headaches for historians, but it demonstrates a perceptive incipient analysis of privilege and risk. Crandall’s legal team (who, of course, were white men) built an insightful argument for both black citizenship and female citizenship; their arguments would reappear in the Dred Scott case and Brown-v-Board. Part of what I have discovered is the existence of an American anti-racist genealogy. To be anti-racist means that you embrace the equality of all people, and do not seek to blame the victims of prejudice for the prejudice directed against them. Crandall grasped that the problems created by racism were in no way the fault of black people.

There seem to be several layers of discrimination operating in this higher education story.
One of the most important aspects of this story is how we can witness intersecting identities. The black students were facing prejudice primarily because of race, but also by virtue of their gender, age, sexuality, class status and class strivings. Crandall was dismissed by some opponents, then and now, because she was merely a woman. The Academy in Canterbury offered a unique opportunity for black families to give their daughters not only an advanced education
, but the skills necessary to extend education more broadly through the black community, by training them to become teachers, too. I think of this when I interact with the many future teachers of California who come through the liberal studies program in our humanities department. Their wonderful diversity, across race, language, gender, sexuality and religion, shows me that the legacy of Crandall, Harris, and the other students lives on in America.

Read more from the Q&A online at the Academic Spotlight blog.

Photos: African American College Readiness Summit Draws Hundreds of Middle Schoolers

Photos: James Tensuan
Clockwise from top: Malachi Taylor, an African American Studies major, shares his journey with middle school students who visited SJSU for the African American College Readiness Summit March 2; Chelby Gill, a political studies major, shares how she has been able to explore social justice at SJSU; Middle school students visit residential housing while on campus; Jahmal Williams, standing at right, the assistant director for training and special projects with Peer Connections, asks students what they hope to get out their visit to SJSU; visiting students toured the campus.

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