Kenk, Vida Carmen

Kenk, Vida Carmen

Date Updated



Biological Sciences

Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU

2006; FERP until 2010

Educational Background

College of William and Mary, 1961, B.S., Biology

Harvard University, 1966, Ph.D., Biology

Teaching Experience

SJSU 1966-2010

Administrative and Professional Experience

Associate Dean, College of Science 1999-2004

Interim Dean, College of Science 2004-2006

Personal Commentary

I came to SJSU in 1966, shortly after the development of the California Master Plan for higher education that made California a model for the nation. I wanted to teach at an institution that emphasized affordable, high quality education for students who were often the first in their families to attend college. During my time at SJSU, I estimate that about 20,000 students were in my classes. Some of these students became friends with whom I still correspond. I enjoyed my colleagues in the Biology Department, which felt like an extended family. During my time at SJSU, I got married, went through two pregnancies, and raised a family. Conversations students had with me revealed that I served as a role model for young women in the sciences, who wanted to know how they could lead a balanced life. I told them to choose their husbands carefully, so that they would share housekeeping and parenting. My research involved mussels; I had the honor to name the species found living at hydrothermal vents in the Galapagos Rift Zone at more than two miles ocean depth. I owe my happy professional life to my husband, Bill Minkel, and to several significant mentors: Fanny Rinn (who nurtured a generation of women faculty), Joe Young and Lee Dorosz (chairs of the Biology Department), and Gerry Selter (Dean of the College of Science, and later Provost of SJSU). I retired fully in July, 2010, and moved to the Sierra at the 5000’ level near Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where Bill and I serve as volunteers, sharing our love of nature with park visitors.


Kenk, Vida Carmen