iSchool Faculty Members Debbie Faires and Dr. Patricia Franks Will Deliver Dual Convocation Addresses This May


The School of Information at San José State University will celebrate graduates of its fully online programs in a virtual convocation May 20, at 5 p.m. PDT. Debbie Faires and Dr. Patricia Franks, two pillars of the iSchool faculty, both of whom are retiring at the end of the spring semester, will deliver convocation addresses. Attendees can expect rich reflections on the iSchool’s past and inspiration for graduates entering the field.

Debbie Faires“I’m very honored to have been selected. It’s a big responsibility,” says Faires, director of online learning. Faires is often the first iSchool instructor that students meet when they start the Master of Library and Information Science program with INFO 203 Online Learning, a class she helped create.

Faires earned a BM in piano pedagogy from Brigham Young University and an MLIS from San José State University in 2001, the same year she joined the iSchool faculty. She helped develop the iSchool’s online MLIS program and still recalls the faculty meeting in 2009 when the decision was made to go 100% online. Faires says she’s been revisiting other aspects of the iSchool’s history as she prepares her remarks, and is also drawing inspiration from the recent inauguration.

Equity, social justice, and service, says Faires, “are big issues for our students who are graduating.” Other preoccupations include finding a job and paying off student debt. Faires recalls her own experience while getting her MLIS when she felt she couldn’t give away her resume. She tells students, “You never know what areas from your past are going to end up becoming very important to a new opportunity.”

Franks is also looking back at the iSchool’s history. “I’d like to reflect on the curriculum for the students from the time I joined all the way through today,” she says. Franks joined the iSchool in 2008 as program coordinator for the Master’s Degree in Archives and Records Administration and went on to teach classes on archives and records management and digital preservation among other topics. In addition to teaching, Franks supervises the Virtual Center for Archives and Records Administration in Second Life. She holds a BS in Business Education from Bloomsburg University, a MASS from Binghampton University, and a PhD in Organization and Management from Capella University.

Dr. Patricia FranksFranks also witnessed the iSchool’s move to 100% online learning, a move that seems especially prescient now. “We were so well-prepared,” she says of the iSchool’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “In our program we didn’t even see a blip.” She mentions that some of her students told her they were called upon to train co-workers in the ins and outs of remote work. “I think our students are just flexible and creative and able to wrap their minds around, ‘okay, yesterday we did it this way but tomorrow we’re going to do it that way,’” qualities that will serve them well as they enter the job market.

The virtual ceremony will include additional remarks from Dean Ruth Huard and the graduating student speaker, with iSchool Interim Director Linda Main introducing. The online event concludes with a graduate video featuring student submitted photos, accomplishments and goals (last year’s graduate video models the format). The convocation program provides plenty of opportunity for virtual cheering and applause as friends, family and faculty send congratulations and good wishes to graduates via the interactive chat during the graduation video.

Well-wishers can also applaud graduates on the virtual graduation website. Graduates have the option to create and submit a graduate profile, and everyone is welcome to post congratulatory messages on the profile pages. Visit the site often and watch it grow!