SJSU's new president takes on new mission

(kgo)
April 20, 2012 5:22:18 PM PDT
Friday was inauguration day at San Jose State for its 28th president, but the ceremony was distinctive for a number of reasons.

San Jose State's new president was born in Afghanistan. He's an engineer by training with five degrees. At Friday's ceremonies, an Islamic cleric gave the benediction. Among a student body as diverse as our population, there is hope that the new president will bring a new style and a new kind of leadership to the campus.

They call it an "investiture ceremony," an event with all the pomp and circumstance of graduation but instead, it marks the ascent of a new university president. "All we can say with confidence is that change is constant, endemic and necessary. That's the best way that we can protect our university's future, is to create it ourselves," Mohammad Qayoumi said.

Dr. Qayoumi was born in Afghanistan, the son of a carpenter. The president of Afghanistan sent a special greeting through its ambassador to the U.S. "You are a source of our pride. We wish you the best of everything. Our prayer will stay with you and our support will be with you forever," Eklil Hakimi said.

Students seized the inauguration to protest fee hikes and budget cuts that impact class offerings. Others see a fresh start with a leadership change. "New president equals new ideas, new improvements to the university," student Diep Nguyen said.

"Dr. Mo," as he's fondly called, sits on the board of the Central Bank of Afghanistan. Faculty and staff wonder if he will use his position as a bully pulpit to re-examine the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. It came up at the noisy post-investiture reception. "He can say things that other people can't say, or they can say it, but nobody hears them. And, he can say things from the base of knowledge that it's his country," said Gil Villagran, a lecturer at the SHJSU School of Social Work.

"I'm still deeply rooted in my native land, but at the same time, when I became an American citizen, I take pride in it and I take pride in that truly, this is a land of opportunity," Qayoumi said. Dr. Mo did tip his hand about one thing: He wants to see more interdisciplinary courses integrating science, technology, engineering and math in all courses.


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