"As the brightest of San Jose State's students, you are rewarded with honor and accolade today," said Ethel Walker, a professor in the department of television, radio, film and theatre, to a crowd that nearly filled the Event Center. "You have earned those accolades, and we are so proud to confirm them upon you. You are also expected to accept the responsibility for changing the world for the better."
Walker, who received San Jose State University's 2006-07 Outstanding Professor Award, was the keynote speaker at Friday's 45th annual Honors Convocation, at which more than 2,200 students were honored for their academic achievement.
"As scholars, I hope the academy has instilled the need for you to provide music and beauty -music of words and action," she said, "and bring it to a society desperately searching for the extraordinary."
Student honorees were divided into two categories based on their academic performance during two consecutive semesters out of the last three. President's scholars are students who earned a 4.0 GPA, and dean's scholars are students who earned at least a 3.65 GPA.
"It's a lot of hard work," said Adam Brickey, a senior majoring in psychology who is a dean's scholar, "so it feels good to be recognized."
Of SJSU's 223 president's scholars, about 80 attended, and each was acknowledged individually – walking across the stage and stating his or her name and major to the crowd.
Dean's scholars were acknowledged collectively, standing at their seats as their major was read by the deans of SJSU's seven colleges, as well as Associate Vice President Robert Cooper, who
acknowledged undeclared students and special majors.
Steven Weiss, a president's scholar, also said he enjoyed seeing how many students in many different disciplines "make it."
Weiss, a senior majoring in electrical engineering, said although he appreciated the recognition and enjoyed the event, he thinks his family appreciated it more.
Families and friends sat in stadium seats while honorees sat in seats on the floor.
In addition to the deans, who sat on the stage wearing traditional caps and gowns, other members of the faculty attended, filling a section of the Event Center and also wearing caps and gowns.
Joe Miller, a professor of graphic design, said he gets a "nice feeling" when students invite him to the Honors Convocation because it shows that they think he had a role in their success.
He added that acknowledging students at a school event is a significant gesture compared with a professor privately recognizing a student's accomplishment.
"We're going out of our way to say thank you and congratulations," Miller said," and even that gesture can be significant. It can be encouragement."
The SJSU Wind Ensemble played music at the beginning and end of the event, and also performed "America the Beautiful," with vocal accompaniment from Joseph Frank, a professor of music.
The event included moments of laughter during the acknowledgment of dean's scholars. After each major was listed, various yells and cheers rang through the Event Center, prompting laughter from the crowd and verbal responses from some deans.
"You should have heard the non-honor students," said Timothy Hegstrom, dean of the College of Social Sciences.