More than 2,000 San Jose State University students, awarded for their diligence, were recognized at the 43rd Honors Convocation on Friday night at the Event Center.
According to the Honors Convocation program, the event began in 1962 by SJSU's three honor societies – Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi and Phi Beta Kappa Faculty Club – and was created to encourage academic achievement at the university.
Students – divided among the university's several colleges, including Applied Sciences and Arts, Business, Education, Engineering, Humanities and the Arts, Science, Social Sciences, Social Work and Undergraduate Studies – filled the seats as families cheerfully and even tearfully applauded their efforts.
The ceremony opened with "America the Beautiful," sung by associate professor in the school of music and dance, Erie Mills.
According to the Honors Convocation program, the event intended to recognize students' outstanding achievements in hopes that their successes will continue to inspire them and also encourage other students to attain the same academic excellence.
Lavonne Simpson, event coordinator for the Honors Convocation, said many students are not aware of this event.
"Many don't know how hard some of their classmates work and even those who are honored don't attend," Simpson said. "However, obtaining such a high GPA for two continuous semesters is quite an achievement and is something to be proud of."
Interim Provost Carmen Sigler and interim President Don Kassing, along with faculty members and staff, recognized the president's scholars and dean's scholars.
Sigler first introduced the dean's scholars to the audience.
"Those who have earned a GPA of 3.65 for two semesters earn the recognition of being a dean's scholar," Sigler said.
The dean of each college introduced the groups of student and followed with words of gratitude.
Interim Dean Carol Christensen of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts said the students would serve as a vital link in the infrastructure of the community.
Nancie Fimbel, associate dean of the academic and undergraduate studies and College of Business, then welcomed the dean's scholars within the college of business.
"I expect these students to fuel the Silicon Valley and I have no doubt that they can do the task," Fimbel said.
Robert Cooper, associate vice president of undergraduate studies, said the students of the undergraduate studies program are doing very well, though they don't know what they're doing.
Audience members laughed and some individuals followed with whistles and roars.
Cooper then asked audience members to acknowledge the educators who have inspired them in the past years.
"In our educational career, from kindergarten on, we've all been inspired by that one teacher – let us all give them a round of applause," Cooper said.
Sigler, who then presented the president's scholars, said 179 students had achieved a 4.0 GPA average in two continuous semesters within the previous three semesters.
"Overcoming all obstacles – personal, social and economical – these students have become the top 1 percent of the university," Sigler said.
The president's scholars graced the stage, announced their names and majors and waved to the audience.
After the presentation, Kassing introduced convocation address speaker Anne Lawrence, professor of organization and management.
According to an SJSU press release, Lawrence received this year's Outstanding Professor Award.
Lawrence said the event was not about her, but about the students.
Lawrence gave illustrative examples of hard-working students who have overcome life obstacles to achieve academic excellence and then thanked families and friends for supporting the students in their endeavors.
"We know what you do and we appreciate it," Lawrence said.
Lawrence then spoke of her experiences of teaching business ethics.
"When I tell people that I teach business ethics, there is always a long pause," Lawrence said. "Many people think business ethics is an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp and pretty ugly."
The truth is, Lawrence said, that it is possible to exceed in business by upholding the highest level of integrity.
Lawrence then followed her statement with a few examples, including corporations that perform humane deeds and thanked the audience for letting her share her stories.
A recessional by the SJSU Wind Ensemble followed with a reception.