Well-Known People Who Attended SJSU


NOTE: The categories used below are based on how the alum is "well-known" and may not tie to their SJSU major.



  • Charles W. Childs, 1867, San Jose State Normal School Principal, 1889-96

  • Dr. Marshall "Mark" Drummond, (BS Management and Economics, and MBA), Chancellor of the California Community College system (2003 - present)

  • Margaret Shallenberger McNaught, 1880, first State Commissioner of Elementary Schools, first woman to teach in the School of Education at Stanford University (1891)

  • Henry Zuzallo, 1895, (former) President of the University of Washington


  • Ray Dolby. founder of Dolby sound systems

  • John Farley, 2000 (MS Meteorology), NBC 11 Chief Meteorologist (San Jose)

  • Dian Fossey, 1954 (Occupational Therapy) (1932-1985) gorilla researcher, author, teacher

  • Gordon Moore, founder of Intel Corporation, "Moore's Law" creator 

  • Ed Oates, 1968 (Science/Math) co-founder of Oracle


  • Lorna Dee Cervantes (1985) - poet

  • James D. Houston - author of Farewell to Manzanar, Continental Drift, Snow Mountain Passage, and others; Lurie Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at SJSU in Spring 2006

  • Jayne Ann Krentz (Masters in Library Science), author; also writes under Amanda Quick, Jayne Castle and others

  • Edwin Markham, 1872, Poet (1852-1940)

  • Sandra McPherson - poet

  • Amy Tan, 1972 (BA English and Linguistics), novelist, author of The Joy Luck Club, The Bonesetter's Daughter, The Opposite of Fate, and others


  • Valerie Coleman-Morris, anchor for CNN Financial News 

  • Eric Grigorian, photojournalism, recipient of the 2002 World Press Photo of the Year Award

  • David Willman, 1978 (B.A. in Journalism), Los Angeles Times reporter who won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting 

Arts and Entertainment

  • Irene Dalis, 1946, former Metropolitan Opera star and founder of Opera San Jose, Tower Award 1974

  • Robert Graham (1938 - 2008), internationally acclaimed sculptor whose work includes the Olympic Gateway in Los Angeles and the Plumed Serpent in San Jose's Plaza de Cesar Chavez

  • Edith Harvey Heron, 1918 & 1929 (1895-1980), watercolorist

  • Jerry Juhl, (1937 - 2005), head writer and producer for The Muppets and Fraggle Rock 

  • Omar Benson Miller, actor

  • Stevie Nicks, member of Fleetwood Mac

  • Tom and Dick Smothers, popular comedy duo

  • Luis Valdez, 1964 (English), prize-winning playwright, film actor and director 

Politics and Law Enforcement

  • James T. Beall, Jr, (BA in Political Science) San Jose City Council 1980 - 1994; Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors (District 4) 1994 - 2006; 

  • Dr. Lee P. Brown, 1964 (Masters in Sociology) former mayor of Houston; professor; law enforcement

  • Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, one of the first Native Americans to serve in the U.S. Senate 

  • Albert E. Carter, 1903, (former) U.S. Congressman (Oakland)

  • Cindy Chavez, San Jose City Councilmember, District 3

  • Judy Chirco, San Jose City Councilmember, District 9

  • Robert C. Doerr, (former) Mayor of San Jose (Mayor during SJSC's Centennial year - 1957)

  • Robert Foster (BA public administration), president of Southern California Edison, CSU Trustee (1997 - 2006); elected Mayor of Long Beach in 2006

  • Leslie C. Francis, 1965 (BA in Social Science) and 1966 (Secondary Teaching Credential) Democratic political consultant. served in the Carter administration

  • Congressman Mike Honda, 1968 (BA Biological Sciences and Spanish; MA Education, 1974) representing San Jose 

  • Lou Henry Hoover, 1893 (1874-1944), first lady (Herber Hoover, 31st U.S. President)

  • Linda J. LeZotte, San Jose City Councilmember, District 1

  • Nancy McFadden, Deputy Chief of Staff in the Clinton Administration; currently VP Governmental Relations for PG&E

  • Gaylord A. Nelson, 1939 Political Science; 1960 Honorary Master of Arts degree; founder of Earth Day, former U.S. Senator and Governor from Wisconsin

  • Lyn Nofziger, 1950 (BA in Journalism) (1924 - 2006), aide to Governor Reagan, advisor to Presidents Nixon and Reagan, campaign advisor for Steve Forbes and Pat Buchanan

  • Ed Rollins, political strategist

  • Laurie Smith, first California female sheriff, Santa Clara County 

  • Fernando Torres-Gil, 1970 (BA in Political Science) first Assistant Secretary for Aging at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration; currently Associate Dean of the School of Public Affairs at UCLA 

  • Susanne B. Wilson, former member of San Jose City Council and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors; recipient of the SJSU Tower Award in 1996

  • Ken Yeager, San Jose City Councilmember, District 6


  • Chuck Davidson, major Bay Area home builder, and former chair of the SJSU Tower Foundation

  • Robert Foster (BA public administration), president of Southern California Edison, CSU Trustee (1997 - 2006); elected Mayor of Long Beach in 2006

  • Robert W. Foy, Chairman of the Board, California Water Service Group

  • Charles Gingold, vice president, Discovery Channel 

  • Carl Guardino, President and CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group 

  • William Hauck, 1963 (BA social science), President of California Business Roundtable, CSU Trustee (1993 - 2009)

  • Omid Kordestani, Google's senior VP for Global Sales and Business Development

  • Donald Lucas, retired founder of the Lucas Dealership Group, and philanthropist

  • Jessica McClintock, fashion design

  • Jenny Ming, President, Old Navy

  • Gordon Moore, founder of Intel Corporation 

  • Peter Ueberroth, 1959 (Business), former Baseball Commissioner, head of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Time Man of the Year for 1984


  • Tariq Abdul-Wahad (Art History Major; attended SJSU as Olivier Saint-Jean), player for Dallas Mavericks

  • John Carlos,1970, "Speed City" athlete and Bronze Medal Winner in the 200-meter race at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City; USATF Hall of Fame (2003)

  • Jeff Garcia, Detroit Lions quarterback (formerly with San Francisco 49ers) 

  • George Frederick Haines, 1950, (1924 - 2006), swim coach, founder of the Santa Clara Swim Club, 3 time head coach of US Olympic swim team

  • Pat Hurst, pro golf

  • Julie Inkster, pro golf

  • Patty Sheehan, pro golf

  • Tommie Smith, 1968, "Speed City" athlete and Gold Medal Winner in the 200-meter race at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City; USATF Hall of Fame (1978)

  • Yosh Uchida, SJSU judo coach, entrepreneur

  • Ken Venturi, pro golf

  • Dick Vermeil, 1958 (BA) and 1959 (MA), coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, former coach St. Louis Rams 

  • Bill Walsh, former head coach and currently general manager/vice president of the San Francisco 49ers; former head coach of Stanford football team

Olympic Medalists

  • Kevin Asano, judo, 1988, silver 

  • Chuck Adkins, boxing, 1952, gold

  • Bob Berland, judo, 1984, silver

  • John Carlos, track and field, 1968, bronze

  • Jim Doehring, track and field, 1992, silver

  • Lee Evans, track and field, 1968, two gold medals

  • Mitch Ivey, swimming, silver in 1968 and bronze in 1972

  • John Powell, track and field, bronze in 1976 and 1984

  • Ronnie Ray Smith, track and field, 1968, gold

  • Tommie Smith, track and field, 1968, gold

  • Willie Steele, track and field, 1948, gold

  • Jill Sudduth, synchronized swimming, 1996, gold

  • Mike Swain, judo, 1988, bronze

  • Lynn Vidali, swimming, silver in 1968 and bronze in 1972

Return to SJSU History

March 8, 2022

Edwin Markham - On the west exterior wall of Tower Hall is a plaque honoring this alum from the Class of 1872 (see picture). The plaque reads:

"In Honor
Edwin Markham - Poet
    Class of 1872
Author of - The Man with the Hoe.

He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle that took him in."

Click here to hear Mr. Markham reciting this poem (courtesy of Wagner College).
There are various web sites with information on Mr. Markham. 
Click here for one that includes some of his poetry. 
Poetry Center San Jos´┐Ż
has some artifacts of Markham's life on display at History Park (Kelley Park).


Last Modified: Feb 22, 2023