Maureen Scharberg: Powering Student Success
By Jennifer Bennett
Dr. Maureen Scharberg has been working at San Jose State for 23 years. In January, 2011, she was appointed Associate Vice President of Student Academic Success Services (SASS). She oversees Academic Advising & Retention Services, the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Peer Connections, Student-Athlete Success Services, TRIO ASPIRE Program, TRIO McNair Scholar Program, and the Writing Center. The goal of SASS is to enrich the lives of students by promoting, supporting, and delivering critical and quality academic services to help students achieve their career goals, life long learning, and participation in the global workforce.
"I’m in charge of the graduation retention initiative, and making sure our students are connected to support services – to whatever resources they need – to help them be successful," she said. The first year retention rate for EOP students for Fall 2012-2013 was 95.2%. The retention rate for all frosh students was 87%. These statistics are wonderful measures that our efforts are working.
Scharberg said her favorite part of being the associate vice president of SASS is working on student success issues with faculty, staff, and students.
Since the roll-out date of Spartan Connect, September 17, 2013, twenty-four faculty, staff, or community members have shared 267 unique names of students who may be struggling this semester. 283 cases have been recorded. These students are being contacted and asked to meet with a professional staff member to discuss what is happening. Most often the students are being connected to tutoring, mentoring, or counseling as a result of the initial meeting.
"It’s all about student success," said Scharberg. "Anything that has student success, that’s what we do. We have a very holistic definition of student success. Its more about, we want students to develop, so they can go out and not just get their first job, but have the skill set to have many jobs."
Scharberg started teaching Chemistry as San Jose State in as an Assistant Professor in August 1991. She was promoted in May 1995, was tenured in May 1997, and was promoted to Professor of Chemistry in 2003 and was the Science Education Director of Science Education from the summer of 2003 to May 2008.
She later became the Associate Dean of Science in the College of Science. "I was Associate Dean basically from January 2005 to June 2010 – in one way or another – either as a special projects, interim, or Associate Dean" she said.
Scharberg said she didn’t know she would hold these positions when she started teaching, it just happened that way. "I can tell you that as an undergrad, I was a peer academic advisor when I was at UC Irvine. And that thread of academic advising has been with me throughout my whole career," she said. "It's really about finding opportunities and your passion, and I really, besides teaching chemistry and helping students learn chemistry, I like making sure that they’re successful in college," she said.
Sharberg’s parents never got college degrees she said. "It was really important to me to be able to give back and help students be successful," she said. She began teaching at San Jose State at the age of 27, right after getting her Ph.D. from Davis in Chemistry in 1991. "I was the baby of the department," she said. Her research background is in Chemical Education.
Scharberg is no longer teaching, but wishes she could if she had the time she said. She is still involved in Science, Engineering, Technology and Math (STEM) student success. "I’m trying to develop research methodology for teaching non-science majors – active learning, making it engaging – so just again, the thread of student success," she said. "I’ve had great opportunities for growth, for professional growth here."
When Scharberg isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her two boys and walking her "crazy basset hound," she said. One of her sons is in high school and the other is in the eighth grade. "One is interested in science and one is more interested in probably social science," she said, and claims she hasn’t pushed either of them towards science.
SASS just held two successful events.
On October 9th, Chris Lu, former Cabinet Secretary of the Obama Administration, visited San José State University. He gave a motivational speech aimed at encouraging students, especially those of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent, to engage in civic leadership followed by a question and answer session with students . The event was sponsored by the Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Grant Program, Peer Connections, and Student Involvement.
The second event was "I am EOP," a moving evening of performance and story telling about being EOP students was held in Morris Dailey in the evening of October 17th. When the call went out to EOP students, over 200 replied to participate. The director of the event, Alberto Gutierrez held in-depth interviews with 56 students to narrow the field to the final 11 participants. The evening included music and dance and proceeds went to the EOP scholarship fund.