Scholarship Awarded in Recognition of Influential SJSU Professor Judy Tessier


When former San José State University School of Information Professor Judy Tessier passed away in January of this year, the iSchool decided to mark her significant contributions to the school by awarding the new Director’s Scholarship for Excellence in her memory. Tessier was noted for her passion for education, her commitment to learning, and for her collegiality.

According to Dr. Bill Fisher, professor emeritus at the SJSU School of Information, “Judy Tessier came to SJSU in the mid-1980s as part of a transition process at the school to improve teaching quality and research productivity.” Fisher credits Tessier with helping shape the direction of the iSchool. “Judy was part of a core group of people who got us moving to where we are today,” said Fisher. “She was supportive of our course offerings, initially in the Orange County area, and then more broadly as the technology allowed us to extend our reach beyond Southern California.”

Now widely recognized for the excellence of its entirely online Master in Library and Information Science (MLIS) and Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) programs, the SJSU School of Information was an early leader in distance learning thanks to the contributions of faculty members like Tessier. “Without Judy’s pioneering work in establishing the school’s statewide MLIS program, we may not have become the leader in distance education that we are today,” said Dr. Debra Hansen, professor at the SJSU iSchool. “She helped establish the school’s first branch campus at Cal State Fullerton in 1989, and she regularly commuted to Southern California to teach classes at our off-campus sites. She was also among the first adopters of new educational technologies, such as teaching her classes on interactive video when that technology seemed to be the wave of the future.”

One of Tessier’s most noted contributions to the curriculum of the iSchool was the design and implementation of the original LIBR 202 Information Retrieval Systems Design course. Along with then-colleague Stuart Sutton, Tessier developed the core course, which was quickly recognized as an important foundation for students pursuing careers in information. Dr. Virginia Tucker, who is both a lecturer at the iSchool and the coordinator of LIBR 202, remarked, “I never had the opportunity to meet Judy, but I knew her by reputation as I saw her influence on the materials I used in the LIBR 202 course when I started teaching it some years ago. It is simply not possible to overstate the enduring significance of Judy’s contributions to the curriculum.”

Tessier was also appreciated for more than just her contributions to the curriculum and to the school. “Judy was a wonderful colleague,” noted Fisher. “She was thoughtful and added insightful comments at faculty meetings, and she also had a great sense of humor and was a delight to be around. Informal communication either in her office or out for a cup of coffee was always a treat.”

Alumni, students, faculty, and friends may honor Tessier by making donations in her memory, which will support the Director’s Scholarship for Excellence. Donations may be made online using a credit or debit card via the school’s scholarship donation page. Checks should be made payable to the SJSU Tower Foundation and mailed to the attention of Kristina Luna, SJSU iSchool administration services manager, at: One Washington Square, San Jose, California, 95192-0029