February 11, 2019

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Steve Harris and Trevor Getz

History program lands $250,000 gift 

According to the American Historical Association, between 2008 and 2017 the number of U.S. college students pursuing history degrees dropped by nearly a third. But SF State History Department faculty members Trevor Getz and Steve Harris aren’t worried that the history major will soon be history itself. Instead, the duo is working to re-energize their field by transforming how students are introduced to it.

The History for the 21st Century project, co-created by Getz and Harris (pictured at left), is designed to make introductory history courses more relevant, meaningful and accessible. Funded by a $250,000 gift from the Agentives Fund, a private foundation with a focus on innovation in history research and education, the initiative (also known as H/21) will support collaborations and resource sharing with history educators around the world. The first item on the H/21 agenda: ensuring that students understand that the study of history is much more than memorizing names and dates.

“By and large, first-year courses are built around content acquisition and gaining knowledge,” said Getz, who chairs San Francisco State’s Department of History. “But they should also be helping students gain skills and competencies to deal with information, to work with and question narratives and gain a sense of civic responsibilities.”

Getz and Harris plan to launch an online platform through H/21 that will provide free, peer-reviewed teaching materials while giving history professors around the world a forum for sharing ideas.

“This platform will help professors incorporate more contemporary content, and enable students to think critically and develop a personal connection to the curriculum,” said Harris.


Woman looking through microscope

Revealing the hidden contributions of women to science

From DNA pioneer Rosalind Franklin to the NASA mathematicians in the film “Hidden Figures,” the historical contributions of women to science are increasingly coming to light. And a new study by SF State researchers shows that it’s possible to reveal women’s once-hidden scientific work by analyzing decades-old research papers in the field of theoretical population biology.

“What our work shows is that in fact there were women who were working in the field,” said Assistant Professor of Biology Rori Rohlfs. “But we didn’t even know they existed.”

To peek into the history of their discipline, Rohlfs and Brown University Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Emilia Huerta-Sánchez took advantage of how scientific research papers are structured. Being listed as an “author” of a scientific paper is the primary way scientists receive credit for their work and is critical to securing both jobs and research funding. But those who contribute less to a paper are sometimes listed in the “acknowledgements” section, buried at the bottom.

Rohlfs recruited seven SF State undergraduate researchers to record data on the authors and acknowledgements from 883 papers published in the scientific journal Theoretical Population Biology between 1970 and 1990. They found that the women made up 43.2 percent of those mentioned as programmers in the acknowledgements, but made up only 7.4 percent of those listed as authors.

Through the decades the proportion of women programmers in the acknowledgements shrank. That shift tracked broader trends in the workplace, as programming went from a “pink collar job” associated with women to one perceived to be both more masculine and prestigious. The researchers reported their results in the journal Genetics on Feb. 7.


Plate of Salad

Bon appetit — the Vista Room is back!

The Vista Room, SF State’s on-campus fine-dining restaurant and food service learning laboratory, has ended its winter hiatus and reopened its doors. The new winter menu includes fried calamari, roasted squash, beef fajitas, seafood chowder and much more. Make your reservations online.


More opportunities for feedback on next SF State president

The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees has begun the search for a new University president to succeed Leslie E. Wong, who is retiring in July. The first meeting of the Trustees’ Committee for the Selection of the President took place in a campus forum last week.

The SF State faculty, student and staff representatives of the Advisory Committee to the Trustees Committee for the Selection of the President (ACTCSP) encourage all members of the SF State campus community to provide feedback on what they want from the next University president. This feedback will help ensure that the next president reflects our vision, values and mission. There are a variety of mechanisms through which campus constituents can continue to provide input and feedback.

  1. View archived video of the Feb. 5 campus forum and provide feedback by visiting the presidential search website.
  2. Complete the Qualtrics survey designed and administered by the faculty, staff and student representatives to the ACTCSP. Feedback will be shared only with the search committee.
  3. Attend a campus forum sponsored by Associated Students. These forums are open to all campus constituents and members of the public.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 27, from noon to 2 p.m., Cesar Chavez Student Center lobby
  • Wednesday, March 13, from noon to 2 p.m., Cesar Chavez Student Center lobby

You can get information about the CSU Board of Trustees presidential search policy online. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact one of your campus representatives.


Want to improve students’ learning experience?  

Upon request, a colleague from the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching (CEETL) and Learning will visit a class and facilitate a Small Group Instructional Feedback (SGIF) session, a non-evaluative, formative mid-course check-in process for gathering information from students about their learning experience in a course. The process is anonymous and designed to foster personal reflection and supportive communication among students, their classmates and the instructor so that learning objectives and outcomes can be met successfully.  

Research has revealed that SGIFs can produce many benefits for instructors and students, including concrete suggestions for instructors and students that can improve the learning experience; increased student motivation, since students see the instructor’s interest in teaching and understand they share responsibility for the outcome of the course; and raised awareness of student concerns in a non-evaluative setting, with time to implement changes before Student Evaluations of Teaching Effectiveness are administered.

The SGIF Season is generally between the fifth and tenth week of the semester. Instructors may request a SGIF by completing an SGIF request form online. Please provide at least two weeks’ advance notice and CEETL will make every effort to accommodate your request, based on scheduling availability.  

Visit the FAQ on the CEETL website to learn more.

Questions? Contact the CEETL team at ceetl@sfsu.edu.


2019 wellness resolution solution

It’s the time of year when we all set goals to be healthier, fitter and happier. FIT PLUS, SF State’s health and wellness program for faculty and staff, can keep you on track. The spring schedule has started but it’s never too late to jump in and get healthy. Go to kin.sfsu.edu/fitplus to see the current class schedule and find the fitness solution that’s right for you.


Retirement Association offers staff travel grants

The San Francisco State University Retirement Association (SFSURA) encourages staff to apply for its 2019 travel grant awards. These awards are for travel between May 1 of this year and May 1, 2020.  Grants will have a maximum value of $500.  SFSURA expects to fund up to five grants, and recipients will be notified by May 1.

The application form and Travel Grants policy are available online at retire.sfsu.edu. Select “Travel Grants” from the left column. The deadline is April 1.

Submit signed applications via email to all members of the committee below:


Become a Safe Zone ally

The SF State Safe Zone Ally program is looking for staff, faculty and administrators to become safe zone allies for the campus LGBTQQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Ally) community. The Safe Zone Ally program’s mission is to foster a safe campus environment by building a support network for people of all gender and sexual identities. Safe Zone allies are active and visible volunteers who are open to talking to members of the LGBTQQIA community in a safe and supportive environment. To become a Safe Zone ally, volunteers must attend one of the training sessions that are offered throughout the year. The next training will be on Friday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. A light lunch will be provided. For further details or to register for the training, contact Rick Nizzardini at rnizzard@sfsu.edu or ext. 5-4415. (You must pre-register in order to participate). You can also get more information about the Safe Zone Ally program by checking out its website at safezone.sfsu.edu.


Academic Senate report

The Academic Senate met Tuesday, Feb. 5, in the Nob Hill Room of the Seven Hills Conference Center. Among the meeting highlights:

  • Dean Clavier of the Division of Graduate Studies announced a Grad Preview event to be held Feb. 21.
  • Senator Miller announced that the Career Services & Leadership Development Spring and Summer Calendar is available.
  • The Senate approved the recommendation from the Curriculum Review and Approval Committee — Proposed Revision of the B.A. in English: Concentrations in English Education, Linguistics, and Literature, and Professional Writing & Rhetoric.
  • The Senate approved the recommendation from the Curriculum Review and Approval Committee — Proposed Revision of the M.A. in English: Concentrations in Composition, Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.
  • The Senate approved the recommendation from the Curriculum Review and Approval Committee — Proposed Revision of the M.A. in English Literatures.
  • The Senate approved the recommendation from the Executive Committee: Proposed Resolution on the Selection of Presidents in the California State University System.
  • The Senate discussed the recommendation from the Education Policies Committee (EPC): Proposed Inactivation of B.A. in Technical and Professional Writing.
  • The Senate discussed the recommendation from the Educational Policies Committee: Proposed Inactivation Bachelor of Arts in History – Honors Concentration.
  • The Senate discussed the recommendation from the Curriculum Review and Approval Committee — Proposed Revision of the Minor in Art History.

A complete list of action items from the meeting is available online.


First-Year Experience business student get-together, Feb. 13

The campus community is invited to attend a welcome event for new undergraduate business students on Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 11 a.m. to noon in BUS 202. Light snacks and beverages will be served as you network, meet College of Business Interim Dean Yim-Yu Wong and hear new faculty members share their favorite experiences on campus. Come join the fun! For further info, contact College of Business Interim Associate Dean Denise Kleinrichert at dk@sfsu.edu.


Professional Development Council open house, Feb. 14

SF State’s Professional Development Council (PDC) will host an open house on Thursday, Feb. 14, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in ADM 460. Tasked with promoting a campus environment supportive of professional development, the PDC will be available to answer questions about an upcoming internal funding opportunity, the SF State Research and Scholarly Activity Fund AY 2019-2020. Stop by for answers to such burning questions as “Which opportunity should I apply for?” and “Can I support students or travel to a conference with these funds?”


“The Third Reich in the United States,” Feb. 14

Bradley Hart will give a talk titled “The Third Reich in the United States: Uncovering Hitler’s American Supporters” on Thursday, Feb. 14, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in HUM 415. Co-sponsored by Jewish Studies and the departments of History, Modern Languages and Literatures and Political Science, the presentation is part of the ongoing Holocaust across the Disciplines lecture series. An assistant professor in Fresno State’s Media, Communications and Journalism Department, Hart is the author of “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law” and other books. A reception will follow his talk.


Lucha Obrera: Latinos and Their Unions in Mid-Twentieth-Century San Francisco,” Feb. 21

Historian Eduardo Contreras will be on campus later this month to deliver the presentation “Lucha Obrera: Latinos and Their Unions in Mid-Twentieth-Century San Francisco.” An assistant professor of U.S. history at Hunter College, Contreras will discuss the centrality of unions and labor organizing in Latino life from the 1930s to the 1950s. Drawing on material from his new book, “Latinos and the Liberal City: Politics and Protest in San Francisco,” he will explain how unionization transformed Latinos into political actors and how the pursuit of rights, power and recognition emanated first and foremost from their unions. Contreras conducted a considerable amount of research for this book at SF State’s Labor Archives and Research Center (LARC) in LIB 460. His talk will be held there Thursday, Feb. 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.


Affordable Learning Lunch & Learn, Feb. 27

Join Academic Technology’s Teaching and Learning with Technology team (TLT) on Wednesday, Feb. 27, from noon to 1:30 p.m. (location TBD) for an Affordable Instructional Materials (AIM) Lunch & Learn event. At this event, you will discover methods of providing equitable access to course materials and collaborate with other faculty members who are successfully reducing financial barriers while increasing student retention and completion at SF State. Lunch will be provided.

Register here to reserve your space.

For more information about Affordable Learning projects and initiatives at SF State visit the Affordable Learning website. Questions? Contact the TLT team at iteach@sfsu.edu.


Community Service Learning Workshop, March 1

Faculty and lecturers are invited to learn about Community Service Learning (CSL) and how to integrate this high-impact practice into their courses at a “CSL 101” workshop, Friday, March 1, from noon to 2 p.m. in LIB 286. Organized each semester by the Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE), this workshop will explore how to turn a current course into a CSL-designated class for students or include CSL designation when creating a new course. This valuable session will also provide a brief overview of ICCE, explore how CSL contributes to student success, and discuss service-learning outcomes. The workshop will include an experiential component, so participants should bring at least one course syllabi; there will also be an opportunity for small group dialogue to review syllabi for building content connections. Lunch will be served starting at 11:30 a.m.

For more information, contact ICCE Faculty Director Nina Roberts at nroberts@sfsu.edu. Space is limited: Click here to register now.


In Memoriam: Kathleen Fraser

Professor Emerita of Creative Writing Kathleen Fraser passed away last Tuesday. The author of more than a dozen books, Fraser was an accomplished poet, essayist, editor and teacher. She taught at SF State from 1972 to 1992, founding the American Poetry Archives while serving as director of the University’s Poetry Center. The recipient of two NEA poetry fellowships and a Guggenheim fellowship in poetry, she also taught at the University of Iowa, Reed College and the California College of the Arts.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1935, Fraser began her career as an editorial associate for Mademoiselle magazine in New York. Her first book, “Change of Address and Other Poems,” was published in 1966. In 1983 she launched the journal HOW(ever), which focused on modernist writing by women. Her final book, “Collected Poems,” is forthcoming from Nightboat Books. She is survived by her husband, Arthur Bierman, her son, David Marshall, and her sister and brother.

Ryan talks conversion therapy

The website Women in Higher Education recently published a lengthy article about the work of Caitlin Ryan, director of SF State’s Family Acceptance Project. The article focuses on Ryan’s research on the destructiveness of so-called “conversion therapy” for LGTBQ children and youth. “All of these behaviors are focused on changing, minimizing, denying, preventing or discouraging that child's LGBT identity or gender diversity,” said Ryan. “This study shows it's not just doing this with a therapist or religious leader, but it happens with parents and families, and it has a much broader negative impact.” Read the article in its entirety here.


New book for Christmas, essay for Hackenberg

William Christmas, professor of English Language and Literature, is co-editor of “Teaching Laboring-Class British Literature of the 18th and 19th Centuries” (Modern Language Association). Sara Hackenberg, associate professor of English Language and Literature, contributed an essay to the book titled “Urban Mysteries, Chartist Novels and Mid-19th Century Popular Narrative.”


Crispi in the “House”

Ceramic works by Assistant Professor of Art Ilana Crispi are on display at “Step into This House,” an exhibition at the Desai | Matta Gallery at the California Institute of Integral Studies through Feb. 17. Crispi gave a talk at the gallery last Friday.


Martel to guest on “Philosophy Talk”

Professor of Political Science James Martel will be one of the guests on an upcoming episode of the nationally syndicated public radio show “Philosophy Talk.” The episode with Martel will be recorded in front of an audience at The Marsh in San Francisco beginning at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17. Tickets can be purchased online.