At this year’s event, SJSU celebrated President Mary Papazian’s inauguration, presented the 2017 Tower Award, the university’s highest award given to San Jose State exemplars, to Luis Valdez, ’64 English, ’88 Honorary Doctorate, and recognized the contributions of both Spartans and Spartans at heart: alumni, students, faculty members and other innovators in the community.
Hosted by the Tower Foundation of San Jose State University.
The Tower Award is the university’s highest honor, given to San Jose State exemplars, whose personal stories embody the grit and determination that make us Spartans. The award also recognizes the recipient’s success and service to SJSU, the broader community and society.
Luis Valdez was awarded the 2017 Tower Award at this year's Inspiration to Innovation. Valdez leveraged his role as playwright and director of El Teatro Campesino to organize members of Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers of America during the 1965 Delano Grape Strike. Best known for Zoot Suit and La Bamba, Valdez’s work explores cultural identity and launched the careers of countless Chicano artists. A 2007 Rockefeller Fellow, Valdez was awarded the 2015 National Medal of Arts by President Obama.
San Jose State's Community Partner Award recognizes those whose investments in the university create opportunities for our students and faculty to positively impact our campus, our region, and the world.
The inaugural recipient of the Community Partner Award was Joe Pinto, senior vice president of Cisco’s Technical Services Group. In 2016, Cisco became SJSU’s largest corporate donor, establishing a strong partnership between the university and Silicon Valley, where so many Spartans work and live. Pinto is responsible for creating and directing programs such as Learning@Cisco education, customer assurance programs, CCIE certification, and a wealth of web- and community-based resources. He serves on the Board of Directors for SJSU’s Tower Foundation.