Santa Clara University

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The Faculty-Staff Newsletter, e-mail edition
Santa Clara University, Dec. 1, 2005, Vol. 5, No. 6

Table of contents

Santa Clara professor wins national award for efforts in classroom
You’ve got a friend in engineering
Gigantes y Cabezudos
Ethics and video gaming
Budget forum
SCU in the News
SCU People
SCU Events
Grants, awards, and publications

Santa Clara professor wins national award for efforts in classroom

Phil Kesten
Phil Kesten, California Professor of the Year 
From taking students skydiving to playing broomball
“I’m always looking for ways to bring students into the enterprise. They can’t be passive.” 
—Phil Kesten, Associate Professor and Chair, Physics Department 
on ice, Phil Kesten works hard at getting his students involved in the process of learning. Kesten, associate professor of physics and chair of the physics department at Santa Clara University, was honored with one of the top awards in college teaching, being named the California Professor of the Year by The Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Education.

Kesten and other winners were honored Nov. 17 at a 2005 Professors of the Year luncheon and a congressional reception in Washington, D.C. Known for his innovative teaching techniques, as well as his devotion to his students, Kesten has taught at SCU since 1990.

He engages students by narrating interesting stories about electromagnets, subatomic particles, astrophysics, and the origins of life. For a homework assignment, he might ask them to figure out how much it would cost to cover the state of Nebraska in gold. “I wasn't the best student as an undergraduate,” he said. “But my own struggles back then make me better able to connect with that kind of student now... I love what I do.”

“He gets students excited about the material,” said his physics department colleague, Associate Professor Rich Barber. Kesten has also been instrumental in the development of the Residential Learning Community (RLC) program at SCU.

He initiated the first four-year learning community, now known as da Vinci, and is the director of the entire RLC program on campus. Kesten is also vice president of strategic directions for Burlingame-based Docutek, a division of SirsiDynix. Docutek, which provides e-learning collaboration for students and libraries, grew out of a project Kesten started at SCU in the 1990s.

The CASE and Carnegie awards are considered the Oscars of college teaching. A professor is chosen in each state, along with four U.S. professors of the year. SCU professor Francisco Jimenez was named one of the U.S. Professors of the Year in 2002.

John Lippincott, president of CASE, said the national and state winners embody what is best in undergraduate education. “It is clear that for our state and national Professors of the Year, teaching is a calling, not merely a job,” Lippincott said. “Through their remarkable efforts inside and outside of the classroom, these professors have profoundly changed the lives of their students, providing them with a solid foundation upon which to build the rest of their lives.”

You’ve got a friend in engineering

If Ruth Davis, associate dean of undergraduate studies in engineering, has her way, the number of female engineering students at Santa Clara will shift ever upward. Currently women account for about one in five SCU engineering students, and about one in four of the incoming class.

“There are not enough women in engineering. Diversity in general is a problem for engineering. So we want to attract more women and minorities to engineering, and we want to keep those who come,” Davis elaborates. To that end, she’s implemented a “Big Sister” program this quarter to welcome female first-year students to the school by pairing them up with women already in the program.

Armed with their own experiences and a gift certificate for coffee, the volunteer sophomores, juniors, and seniors have taken the 32 newcomers under their wings, reinforcing the message that they can succeed in the major. Women, Davis notes, often drop engineering the first time they get a grade lower than an A in a class.

They tend to have “a different attitude [than men] toward how well they need to be doing in order to continue,” she said. Pairing first-year students with continuing students helps give the younger students perspective. “It’s nice for them to see some role models who can tell them, ‘No, I didn’t get everything perfect all the way through. You have to keep going. It’s not real easy for anyone,’” Davis explains.

SCU’s student chapter of the Society of Women Engineers has banded together with student chapters of other engineering organizations to reach out to teenage girls even before they start college. In Santa Clara Unified School District’s GAINS program (Girls Achieving in Non-traditional Subjects), college students mentor high school girls through the One-Step Ahead program. The primary goal is to expose them to engineering by giving them hands-on, can-do experiences.

Once a month for four months, the girls join their mentors on the University campus to try a variety of engineering activities such as mixing concrete, building circuits, or creating robots. For the last three summers, Santa Clara has also hosted the week-long summer residential program for GET SET (Get Science, Engineering, and Technology), which lets 80 high school girls participate in projects in engineering and related fields.

The program, started by a local Society of Women Engineers group, helps girls “think of engineering as a possibility,” Davis notes. Davis hopes all the networking initiatives not only attract women to engineering—and keep them in it—but carry forward to their professional lives as well. “Learning to make connections with other people and start networking is so important for their success after school as well.”

Gigantes y Cabezudos

Art student with mask

Art student Michelle Dezember

working on a cabezudo

St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order, will be at Santa
“I’ve been amazed at how these students have been excited about expressing their ideas through the cabezudos and getting involved in the procession.”
—Sam Hernandez, Professor, Arts Department 
 Clara University this month—or at least a 12-foot representation of him will be, as part of a lively and colorful procession that will wind its way through campus at noon on Friday, Dec. 2 in celebration of the Spanish and Mexican folk art tradition of cartoneria.

Cartoneria uses press-molded paper, a cardboard-like material, to make large heads and figures representing traditional as well as contemporary images. The gigantes (monumental figures) and cabezudos (heads) are made to be worn and “danced” in the street during festivals and processions.

The procession and art project were the idea of art professor Sam Hernandez, who introduced cartoneria to his students not only because of its rich Spanish and Mexican history, but because he knew it was an art form his students would embrace. “There is a link between young people and these traditions that you just don’t see enough of here,” said Hernandez.

Students had the opportunity to learn from the experts earlier this fall when Hernandez invited two professional cartoneros from Spain to demonstrate the art form in his class. Their visit was made possible by a grant from the Center for Multicultural Learning. The artists stayed for three weeks, working side by side with students, teaching them the skills they would need to create pieces of their own.

When fyi visited Hernandez’s class, senior Carien Hughes was putting the final touches on the mold for her art piece. The students were asked to create images that incorporate the seven deadly sins and seven virtues. Carien’s project features a blender with the deadly sins and virtues swirling around inside, representing the struggle people suffering from anorexia experience. “I have never done anything like this at all. You have to be very dedicated to the entire process. There is a lot of time put into this…but it’s worth it,” she said.

Where you can see Gigantes y Cabezudos: The procession begins at noon on Friday, Dec. 2 at the Arts Building. St. Ignatius will be in the lead, followed by over-sized cabezudos created and worn by art students. Music performed by percussionist Jimmy Biala (music) will accompany the procession.

Ethics and video gaming

Engineering students at the Tech Museum
Engineering students at the Tech Museum

Nearly 100 game enthusiasts, opponents of violent video games, and industry experts participated in the first ever “Video Gaming: Playing with Ethics?” discussion on Nov. 29 at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.

The open forum was presented by SCU’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and The Center for Science, Technology, and Society, in partnership with the Tech Museum.

“This event is a unique opportunity to bring gamers and game designers together with activists and the general public to talk about the hottest topics in video gaming, the biggest concerns of consumers, and the social impact video games have on young gamers,” said Geoff Bowker, executive director of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society.

Panelists included SCU student and gamer Caroline Ratajski; California Assemblyman Leland Yee; Kristin Asleson McDonnell, CEO of LimeLife, a company which develops and publishes mobile phone games for women and girls; and Mike Antonucci, popular culture writer for the San Jose Mercury News.

Susan Leigh Star, senior scholar at the Center for Science, Technology, and Society, opened the forum and Chad Raphael, professor of communication, moderated the event.

Budget forum

SCU’s Vice President of Finance Bob Warren addressed faculty and staff at the budget forum on Nov. 28. Warren outlined the state of the University’s budget and highlighted some of the major fiscal pressures, which include funding for the new library, financial aid, technology, and the rising cost of utilities.

Faculty and staff salary and benefit plans were touched upon as well. The faculty salary plan for 2006-07 will include a merit component, an equity component, and a proposal that the University increase rates of compensation for part-time faculty.

“Our objective is to recruit and retain the most highly qualified faculty and staff we can and bring them to Santa Clara,” Warren said. Look for an in-depth interview with Bob Warren about the University’s budget in the Jan. 16 issue of fyi.

Final 2005 fyi issue

This is the last fyi of 2005. Our first issue of the new year will be Jan. 16, 2006. Happy holidays from all of us at fyi.

SCU in the News

Tom Beaudoin (religious studies) was quoted in the National Catholic Reporter in an article about the use of pop culture to teach theology. Read the story.

Dale Larson (psychology) was featured in an article in The Herald News (Suburban Chicago News) about hospice care and the stresses of being a caregiver. Read the story.

Tom Plante (psychology) was interviewed on NBC’s “Nightly News” in a report about a document released by the Vatican that outlines its position on accepting gays into the priesthood.

Beth Van Schaack (law) was quoted in an Associated Press article about a lawsuit, filed by human rights groups, that alleges that Talisman, Canada's biggest independent oil and gas exploration and production company, joined the Sudanese government in ethnic cleansing, killings, and war crimes. Read the story.

Thomas Reese, S.J., visiting scholar, was quoted in a New York Times article about the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' decision to approve a set of recommendations for lay workers in the church. Read the story. More SCU in the News

SCU People
Frank Farris (mathematics and computer science) is ending a five-year term as editor of Mathematics Magazine, one of the top five most widely circulated mathematics journals in the world.

SCU Events

“Welcome to the Islamic Reformation", Dec. 1, 7-8 p.m., Williman Room, Benson Center: Reza Aslan is a SCU alumnus whose recent book, “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam,” has garnered diverse national media attention from the NY Times Review of Books to “Hardball” with Chris Matthews. Aslan will be on campus to discuss his book and share his ideas about the Islamic reformation. This event is sponsored by the religious studies department and the Local Religion Project. For more information, contact Catherine Bell

Gigantes y Cabezudos, Dec. 2, noon, procession starts at the Art building and ends at the Mission Church: Gigantes y Cabezudos explore antecedent Spanish roots of Mexican and Mexican-American traditions. A 12-foot-tall representation of St. Ignatius will be followed by oversized masked representations of sins and virtues created by students. Faculty percussionist Jimmy Biala will accompany the procession.

Festival of Lights, Dec. 2 and 3, 8 p.m., Mission Church: Capture the magic of the holidays with a concert of glorious song performed by the SCU Choral Ensembles in the historic Mission Church. This year's performance features Bach's exquisite Advent Cantata No. 140 Wachet Auf, Nativity Carols of Stephen Paulus, and traditional holiday favorites. Cost: $12 general; $10 seniors 60+, SCU faculty/staff; $5 students. For more information call the Center for Performing Arts box office at 554-4015.

Annual Holiday Ecumenical Prayer Service and Holiday Party for Faculty and Staff, Dec. 14: The ecumenical prayer service will be held at 4:30 p.m. in the Mission Church, followed immediately (around 5:15 p.m.) by the holiday party for faculty and staff in the Benson Memorial Center. More SCU events.

Grants, awards, and publications

Angelo Ancheta (law), director of the Katharine and George Alexander Community Law Center, has received a new award from the State Bar of California that provides $19,304 to support the "Workers' Rights Project."

Dennis Gordon (political science), executive director of International Programs, received the IES Professional Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th Institute for the International Education of Students (IES) Annual Conference in Chicago. The Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the few awards given in the study abroad field and provides recipients with $1,000 to be used toward visiting any of IES' 29 academic program locations in Asia, Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and South America.

Christopher Kitts (mechanical engineering) received a $6,000 subcontract from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to support “The University Space Systems Symposium.”

Sally Wood (electrical engineering) has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. This honor is awarded by the institute’s board of directors to individuals with an extraordinary record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest.

To submit grants, awards, and publication information, click here

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