Inspiration to Innovation benefits
SJSU student success initiatives and
celebrates the university community

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

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, ’64 English, ’88 Honorary Doctorate

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.

Past recipients include:

  • 2016 Peter Ueberroth, ’59
  • 2006 Connie L. Lurie, ’64
  • 1992 Yoshihiro Uchida, ’47


Presenting Sponsor

  • Joe Pinto, Cisco Systems

Blue Sponsor

  • John W. and Susan Baird, Edgeman Coaching
  • Phillip R. Boyce, Boyce Associates
  • Castellano Family Foundation
  • Jon and Ann Iwata, IBM
  • Arthur Lund and Agnieszka Winkler
  • Edward A. Oates and Jennifer Hammer
  • Joe and Nicki Parisi, Therma Corporation
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • San José Earthquakes

Gold Sponsors

  • Anonymous
  • Donald and Joan Beall, The Beall Family Foundation
  • Mike and Margie Blach, Blach Construction Company
  • Michelle Bolton, Executive Edge
  • Eric Kelly, Sphere 3D
  • The Health Trust
  • Ron Gonzales, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley
  • Donald L. and Sally Lucas
  • Constance Moore and Roger Greer
  • Rick Wallace, KLA-Tencor

Executive Sponsors

  • Aristotle Capital Management
  • Beacon Pointe Advisors
  • Dan Bozzuto, Bozzuto Insurance
  • Stephen and Cheryl Caplan
  • Richard and Sandi Conniff
  • Charles W. Davidson
  • Fiduciary Management
  • Les and Shari Francis
  • Percy Jackson, Amcal
  • Kairos Investment Management Company
  • Lazard Asset Management
  • Amir Mashkoori, ISDI Digital University
  • Dave Moon, Corelaine Capital Group, Inc.
  • St. James Investment Company
  • Swenson Builders
  • Triguard Management
  • Vaughan Nelson Investment Management
  • Westfield Capital Management
  • Colleen B. Wilcox

Sponsor contact: Emily Lane, Director of Development, Student Success Programs
Email: | Phone: 408-924-1145

Community Partner Award

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.

Joe Pinto

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.

San Jose State University   |   One Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95192   |   408-924-1000
San Jose State University
One Washington Square
San Jose, CA 95192
Last Modified: Jun 7, 2017