Building Strong Departments > Workshops > Developing Pathways to Strong Departments for the Future > Participants and Essays > San José State University Department of Geology

San Jose State University Department of Geology

John W. Williams, Professor and Chair

Department of Geology
San Jose State University
San Jose, CA


The Department of Geology is housed in San Jose State University, which was founded in 1857, and is the oldest public institution of higher education in California. The department consists of 10 tenure, tenure-track faculty, two technical support staff, and an office administrator. Typically 2-3 part-time faculty members augment the teaching staff along with 10-12 graduate teaching associates and student assistants. This team offers degrees at the BS and MS level.

The quality of the department is reflected by:

  • continually evolving curriculum tied to professional practice,
  • carefully selected faculty with interests in quality teaching, research, and professional activities,
  • a critical mass of faculty to provide coverage of the science of geology,
  • multiple faculty involved in earth science education,
  • an appropriate blend of theory and practical application of geology,
  • a team approach to task solving within the department by faculty,
  • involvement of all faculty in all levels of teaching; general education, upper and lower-division major classes, and graduate offerings,
  • diverse student population in terms of gender, age, work experience,
  • outstanding location including the opportunity to use geologic setting of California for instructional and research opportunities,
  • outstanding location providing opportunities for students to gain employment during their academic years and post graduation,
  • a department actively involved in curriculum and other university wide issues,
  • physical resources (building, equipment) to support educational activities, and
  • continuity of leadership.

Evidence of the success of the San Jose State University includes:

  • success by students in getting employment in the profession, including repeat solicitations for students by employers,
  • success by students in gaining admission and successfully completing additional graduate education,
  • success by students in passing the state licensing examinations for the professional practice of geology,
  • diverse applicants to graduate school by students from wide geographic areas nationally and internationally,
  • national and international recognition of faculty and their activities in diverse research and professional activities,
  • success of faculty in grants acquisition,
  • success of students in university and system-wide research and thesis competition,
  • a stable faculty and staff,
  • an environment conducive to collegiality and productivity,
  • university recognition for work in general education, curriculum, and research, and
  • US Geological Survey library repository for earth science education materials.