June 17, 2019

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Left to right: San Francisco State University President Leslie E. Wong, Lyna Lam, Quang Lam and Chris Larsen.

College of Business renamed

The California State University has approved the naming of the College of Business as the Lam Family College of Business. The naming is in recognition of Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen and his wife Lyna Lam, making it the first named college in the University’s history. This milestone honors Larsen, a San Francisco State alumnus, for his long history of generous support of his alma mater.

The first in his family to attend college, Larsen graduated from SF State in 1984 with three bachelor’s degrees in accounting, finance and international business. He credits his SF State education as a key contributor to his success in the financial technology sector. Lam’s two siblings and other family members also attended the University.

At Larsen’s recommendation, the college is named in honor of his wife’s family, particularly his father-in-law, Quang Lam, who led his family in their escape from war and genocide in Cambodia. (Quang Lam is pictured with SF State President Leslie Wong, Lyna Lam and Larsen.) After a few years in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines, the Lam family immigrated to the U.S. and settled in the Bay Area. Larsen looks up to Quang Lam as someone who worked hard to give his family the American dream. Larsen sees his father-in-law’s ingenuity, grit and determination as great examples of the attributes possessed by SF State students, thirty-seven percent of whom are the first in their families to attend college.

In April 2019, the University announced a gift of $25 million to the College of Business by Larsen, Lam and Rippleworks, a nonprofit foundation launched in 2015 by Larsen and Doug Galen that supports high-growth social ventures around the world. The gift established the Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam Funds for the College of Business and supports the University’s BOLD Thinking campaign. The gift is one of the largest in SF State’s history and was predominantly made in digital assets.

“This generous gift will build the University’s focus on innovation-oriented learning and professional development,” Wong said. “Through funding of programs in global innovation, entrepreneurship and financial technology, this gift will transform the College of Business and the University through highly networked programs and the encouragement of interdisciplinary pursuits.”

Learn more here.

Three people looking at a computer and smiling

University launches certificate in ethical artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform our life and work, but it also raises thorny ethical questions. That’s why a team of professors from three different colleges at SF State have created a new graduate certificate program in ethical AI for students who want to gain a broader perspective on autonomous decision-making. The program is one of just a handful focusing on AI ethics nationally and is unique in its collaborative approach involving the College of Business, Department of Philosophy and Department of Computer Science.

“The idea is to balance business ethics, philosophy, and AI algorithms and software systems,” explained Professor of Computer Science Dragutin Petkovic, who led the creation of the program.

To complete the certificate, students will take one class from each of those three areas and write a research paper on an issue in AI ethics. Open both to SF State master’s students and to those who want to pursue a stand-alone graduate certificate, the program allows students to tailor the course load to their area of expertise. Courses for the certificate will begin this fall with a philosophy class focusing on the idea of responsibility. To be taught by Associate Professor of Philosophy Carlos Montemayor, who researches consciousness and attention, the class will grapple with a variety of questions.

“Where is responsibility assigned? If the algorithm is biased towards certain genders or races, who’s responsible for that? If the algorithm is ‘self-taught,’ a machine-learning algorithm, how are we going to deal with that?” said Montemayor, who helped create the program.

In another course, students will learn about how businesses can act ethically and will consider their responsibility to ensure that technology doesn’t interfere with the rights of others.

“There are wonderful things about technology,” said Associate Dean of the College of Business Denise Kleinrichert, a business ethics expert and the third architect of the program. “But we also have to be watchful, just like with anything, that we’re not causing harm in some way.”

Thomas Iwatsubo and Leslie Wong

Staff Years of Service Recognition event enters third year

A campuswide Staff Years of Service Recognition luncheon was held on June 5 in Jack Adams Hall. The event honored staff who have served the University community in milestones of five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 and 40 years (time served as of the end of the prior calendar year, December 31, 2018). Last year, over 140 staff were recognized for their dedication to our campus community for more than 25 years. This year, 201 members of the campus community were recognized, including Administrative Analyst/Specialist Thomas Iwatsubo, who has been at SF State 40 years. (Iwatsubo is pictured with President Leslie Wong.) The luncheon ceremony was emceed by President Wong, CSUEU Chapter 305 President Sandee Noda and Human Resources Interim Associate Vice President Ken Tagawa.

This celebration serves all staff campuswide regardless of labor unit, classification or department. It is a collaboration between the Office of the President and the Office of the VP & CFO of Administration & Finance (which Human Resources is a part of). Faculty members are honored at a separate event facilitated through the Office of the Provost & VP of Academic Affairs.

The process to vet individual service time involves a manual comparison of various databases, and sometimes staff members may have been missed in this process. If you feel your years of service to our campus as of December 31, 2018, may be incorrect and you should have been included in this year’s event, please contact Nancy Ganner at ganner@sfsu.edu.

Spring/Summer issue of SF State Magazine now available

In April, SF State announced its first comprehensive fundraising campaign, titled “BOLD Thinking.” The latest issue of SF State Magazine shows that same theme in action, highlighting the bold thinking of faculty, students and alumni — and how they’re turning that thinking into action.

The cover story profiles alumnus Samuel Crossley, who took a leap from campus to cliffside as part of a film team that documented an audacious climbing feat and won an Oscar in the process. Other feature articles draw attention to a new Comics Studies Minor, a prolific namer of fungi on SF State’s biology faculty and the many generous donors who have contributed to the “BOLD Thinking” campaign.

In an interview in the same section, President Leslie Wong reflects on his seven years leading SF State and shares his perspective on what’s in store for the University after his July retirement.

The online issue also features a story on student activists pushing the public health world to recognize the impacts of police violence; a Q&A with a professor who’s making computer science more inclusive; a student’s journey from homelessness to hope; and a collection of achievements from SF State alumni.

Read those stories and more at magazine.sfsu.edu.

College of Business announces promoted and tenured faculty

The College of Business announces six faculty members whose outstanding work in the areas of teaching, research and service has been recognized with tenure and/or promotion. The following faculty members were promoted to professor: Chun-Chia Chang (Accounting), Michael Bar (Economics) and Minu Kumar (Marketing). The following faculty members received tenure and promotion to associate professor: Hamed Hasheminia (Decision Sciences), Venoo Kakar (Economics) and Yi Zhou (Finance).

BECA recognized at Emmy Awards

The Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) Department received the Governors’ Award at the 48th annual Northern California Emmy Awards, held June 8 in San Francisco. The award is the highest honor a National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) chapter can award. “BECA students are quick to apply the theories they learn in the classroom to the practice of telling compelling stories in making our world a more interesting, diverse and just place to live,” BECA Chair Sami Reist said. “For decades BECA graduates have contributed at every level to this vibrant industry, and we eagerly look forward to seeing more dynamic work from them in the coming years.” Watch the ceremony on the NATAS San Francisco/Northern California chapter website.

Peer Mentor Consortium launched

Manage or coordinate a peer mentor program on campus? The Peer Mentor Consortium wants you! The Peer Mentor Consortium will be dedicated to enhancing the mentor/mentee experience by sharing relevant best practices, resources, literature and training materials. Consortium organizers hope to provide a space for faculty and staff to come together as a community of professionals looking to change the way we approach mentorship here at SF State. If you are interested in joining, please fill out the short survey available online here

Gator Strong summer training camp for youth athletes

Gator Strong is a co-ed, six-week strength training and conditioning program for athletes and students ages 13-18 of all skill levels. Led by Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Kent Lorenz, the camp will focus on enhancing physical fitness to increase performance and lower injury risk, teaching exercise and nutrition concepts, and developing leadership and teamwork skills. To be held in the new Strength & Conditioning Lab (GYM 148), this camp is perfect for young athletes wanting to learn new skills, including body weight exercises, weightlifting techniques and basic nutrition plans. The camp begins Monday, June 24, and for a limited time registration for all six weeks is $650. Sign up online at www.gatorcampsf.com.

Retirement Association seeking members

If you are planning to retire or have retired from working at SF State, you have the opportunity to join your friends and colleagues and keep in contact with all the activities going on at the University. The San Francisco State University Retirement Association (SFSURA) is a group of over 300 staff, faculty and administrators who keep in touch with their work-related friends and the University. The SFSURA Board is offering the first year’s membership for free. Please visit SFSURA on the HR website for more information on membership benefits and activities and to access the membership application.

Online Records & Tools series continues, June 19 & 26

Online Records & Tools: Immigration & Passenger Lists, part three of a four-part lecture series on online genealogy resources, will be held Wednesday, June 19, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Sutro Library Reading Room on the fifth floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library. This free event will explore a rich array of online immigration records and tools for genealogists, researchers and historians, including useful websites and tips for building successful searches. The final session in the series, focusing on the National Archives, will be held Wednesday, June 26, same time, same location. For more information or to RSVP visit Eventbrite.

Self-evaluation workshop, June 19 & 26

The Office of Professional and Organizational Development is hosting a two-hour workshop designed to assist employees in creating a self-evaluation report for their performance reviews. Organization Development Manager Lisa Ike will be facilitating the training. This is a great opportunity for employees to learn how to actively engage in their performance review process.


Dates: Wednesday, June 19, and Wednesday, June 26
Time: 10 a.m. to noon (both days)
Location: LIB 222

RSVP here.

Rainbow Prism: Looking at Family History through an LGBTQ Lens, June 28

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer folk have always been a part of our history and family stories. The confirmed bachelor or spinster aunt in our trees may not have been single. Perhaps they did have partners but there is no legal documentation or family acknowledgment. A free Sutro Library talk on Friday, June 28, will explore census data, newspapers, obituaries, military records, photographs, phone books and archives for clues on our ancestors’ sexuality. Rainbow Prism: Looking at Family History through an LGBTQ Lens will also explore LGBTQ history and many individual stories giving context to the available records. The talk will be held from noon to 2 p.m. in the Sutro Library Reading Room on the fifth floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library. RSVP online here.

In Memoriam: Rudolph Busby

Professor of Communication Studies Rudolph Busby died on May 9. He was teaching half-time at the time of his death.

Rudolph received his B.A. (1974) and M.A. (1980) in Speech Communication from the University of Houston. His Ph.D. (1983) was in Rhetoric and Communication Theory from the University of Texas, Austin. He joined the SF State faculty in 1983.

One of Busby’s areas of greatest service to the University was for the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Program, which supports the academic and intellectual aspirations of students who have experienced economic and educational disadvantages. Busby was its campus coordinator from 1989 to 2006 and served on the Selection Committee and the Board from 1994 to 2006. He also served as chair of the Department of Communication Studies from 1999 to 2003. He was a member of the Academic Senate and served on the University Budget Committee and many other college and campus committees. In addition, his was the sonorous voice of SF State Commencements for several years.

The co-author of Basic Speech Communication: Principles and Practices, Busby taught advanced public speaking, communication criticism, communication and rhetorical theory and other courses. He was a careful and caring advisor and a consummate editor and writing coach to many students. He will be deeply missed by current and former students and his faculty and staff colleagues.

In Memoriam: John Kinch

Professor Emeritus of Sociology John Willard Kinch died May 12 at his home in San Francisco. He was 88.

Kinch was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1931. After serving in the Korean War, he earned a Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1959. A faculty member in SF State’s Department of Sociology for 35 years, Kinch served as department chair for 15 years and retired as a professor emeritus in 1994. His scholarship included work on symbolic interactionist theories and methods.

Throughout his career and life, Kinch was a staunch advocate for social justice and equality. During the civil rights movement, he and a group of his students traveled to Selma, Alabama, to organize the Selma Emergency Relief Service to take care of families that had been denied aide as a punishment for participating in voter registration demonstrations. 

Upon his retirement, he set up and seeded a student activism award, which the department named after him: the John Kinch Humanitarian Award.

“John was a warm, wonderful, engaging person. He was very dedicated to our department and was an extremely kind and supportive mentor and colleague to me and others,” said Associate Professor of Sociology Karen Hossfeld.

Kinch is survived by his wife Mary Bennion; children Sally, Linda, Carol, Cathy, David and Lucas; 10 grandchildren; and his brother Robert.

Read Kinch’s obituary on SF Gate.

‘Tail’ gets a happy ending

The May 13 issue of CampusMemo included an item about Curly Tail, a cat who’d been living on campus for 10 years and needed a home. Fortunately, the University’s Campus Cat Committee found a taker for Curly Tail: Andrea Goldfien, graduate coordinator and lecturer with the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership program. Goldfien had adopted two kittens in 1995, and after they passed away a few years ago she began volunteering at the Humane Society. “I was well aware how difficult it is to rehome older cats and felt strongly that my next cat would be an older, difficult-to-rehome cat,” she said. “When I saw Curly in the CampusMemo, I felt as though it might be time to bring a cat back into my life.” Curly Tail’s story took another twist — he hopped off the patio and disappeared not long after moving in with Goldfien — but the Campus Cat Committee came to the rescue again. “Two members came to my neighborhood and miraculously — and at some personal peril — found Curly across the street under a secluded stairway and brought him back home to me,” Goldfien said. “It was made clear to me that a feral cat should not be let outside, and so Curly and I have been happily sharing our indoor space together ever since.”

Hail to the chief

SF State President Leslie Wong was profiled in a recent Nob Hill Gazette article. The story looks back on the highlights of Wong’s presidency, including the success of the BOLD Thinking campaign and the new buildings being constructed on campus. “He made us think anything was possible,” Interim Vice President for University Advancement Venesia Thompson-Ramsay said in the article. “He just has big dreams.” Go here to read the profile in its entirety.

Fulbright grant for Malik

Associate Vice President of Information Technology Services Nish Malik has received a Fulbright grant that will cover the costs of participation in two upcoming seminars. Malik will travel to Berlin and New York as a member of the 10-person U.S. delegation to the seminars, which will explore the impact of digitalization on the future of higher education. The Fulbright Program is a prestigious and highly competitive cultural exchange effort that encourages collaboration between American experts and scholars and their counterparts in other nations.

Henderson talks rules of the road

A San Francisco Examiner article about a proposal that would give city staff additional authority to create protected bicycle lanes quoted Professor of Geography & Environment Jason Henderson. The proposed policy would cut through red tape and make it easier to build protected bike lanes. But Henderson sees a figurative road block in the way: the Board of Supervisors. “There is a pervasive aura within [San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency] planning staff that makes them very reluctant to pursue bold, transformative bicycle infrastructure because of political interference by individual supervisors and neighborhood naysayers,” he said. Read more here.

Belkin talks voters and the courts

Professor of Political Science Aaron Belkin served on a panel at the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy Convention in Washington, D.C., on June 7. “What our polling shows is that conservative thought leaders have successfully spent a generation of whipping up their base on the basis of court decisions that they don’t like,” he said. “So they’ve taught their own voters that the court can be very, very bad, and they have to go to the polls in order to pursue their values.” Watch the full discussion on C-SPAN 2.

Swei and colleagues to talk ticks (and more)

Professor of Biology Andrea Swei is co-organizing a symposium to be held this Tuesday and Wednesday titled “Arthropod-borne Diseases in the Age of Quantitative Biology.” The event will bring together experts from across the country to discuss many facets of research on the relationship between arthropods like ticks and mosquitoes and the diseases they carry. To be held at the Gladstone Institute in San Francisco and organized through the University of California San Francisco’s Quantitative Biology Institute, the free symposium will feature 20 speakers, including Swei and Professor of Biology Ravinder Sehgal. More information and a registration link are available here.

Doc puts Gearhart in the spotlight

Professor Emerita of Speech and Communication Studies Sally Gearhart is the subject of a new documentary on Amazon Prime, “A Great Ride.” Gearhart is regarded as the first open lesbian to land a tenure-track faculty position at SF State. She is renowned for her work with Harvey Milk and other activists to help defeat the 1978 Briggs Initiative, which would have banned LGBTQ teachers and curricula in California. Learn more about the documentary here.

Assessment by students highlights importance of shelter

In a May 23 San Francisco Examiner article, an assessment conducted by SF State Master of Public Health students and community partners was referenced as a key piece of evidence pointing to the need for a shelter for pregnant women experiencing homelessness. The students and their partners conducted the assessment, about pregnant women facing housing instability in San Francisco, in 2017. Now the city plans to launch a new shelter in the Bayview that will provide temporary housing for homeless pregnant mothers in an effort to address a large unmet need and reduce preterm births.