November 12, 2019

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Winter holiday graphic reading 'You're Invited'

Cutting-edge certification comes from an unexpected department

Who would expect students in an English class to learn the basics of Python, a computer programming language? But at SF State that’s exactly what’s happening. This fall the Department of English Language and Literature launched a new certificate program in computational linguistics that gives students in-demand professional skills tailored to the Bay Area job market.

Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature Jenny Lederer helped design the new program in part because she wanted students to have clearly defined career options after graduation. “It’s a moral imperative for us to consider how we can help our students translate their academic experiences into jobs that can support them,” she said.

One of Lederer’s students is working on a project that has real-world potential: He’s studying the different ways patients and doctors talk about autoimmune disorders. By pulling language from patient blogs and medical literature he’s able to see, through language patterns, if patients understand their disease in the same way as the medical community.

“A project like this is valuable for health care communications, where the goal is for medical professionals to empathize with their patients’ experiences and for doctors to describe conditions using language that promotes health, treatment and optimism,” Lederer said.

Students in the certificate program will get a foundation in linguistics while learning the basics of Python and computational linguistics methodology. Computational linguistics is primarily the study of how machines understand and process natural human language. When students complete the program they’ll be able to use computers to analyze large quantities of text — a skill that could translate into positions in health care, law, public relations and tech. 

“Wherever students go after the certificate, they’ll need to learn the specific type of programming the companies do and the methodologies specific to the project they’ll be working on,” she added. “This is a good way for students to get their feet wet and learn the basics. Then they can decide if they want to learn more.”

Winter holiday graphic reading 'You're Invited'

Faculty and staff holiday celebration, Dec. 5

President Mahoney cordially invites you to a holiday reception recognizing staff and faculty for this year's hard work!

When: 2 to 5 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 5
Where: The Seven Hills Conference Center
What: A fun-filled celebration of all the hard work you do for the University

To help address the issue of food insecurity within the student community, we ask for guests to bring canned goods, toiletries and non-perishable food items (items in the original package). Donated items will be given to the Associated Students Gator Groceries program for distribution to students in need.

Please save the date!

Female fitness instructor helping another woman exercise with dumbbells

Fit Plus program offers pre-feast tips

Fit Plus, the wellness program for faculty and staff, is offering a membership deal and suggestions for healthy habits that could help you avoid a turkey coma. Keep these opportunities and tips in mind as the time for holiday feasting draws near.

  • Take part in the Walk for a Cause Fitness Challenge by recording your steps and you could win a donation for the cause of your choice. Learn more on the Fit Plus website or by sending an email to
  • Refer a friend to the Fit Plus program in November and you’ll receive a 10% discount on membership or your next service (such as personal fit training or suspension training). Another 5% discount will be added for any additional referrals. Certain restrictions apply.
  • First-time Fit Plus members can join in November for the remainder of the fall 2019 semester for only $20. Certain restrictions apply.

Tech to Protect at SF State a success

More than 60 people participated in the Information Technology Services (ITS) Tech to Protect Challenge at SF State Nov. 1 through 3. ITS Chief Information Officer Nish Malik welcomed participants to the event Nov. 2. Ten teams developed apps, including one to aid first responders by tracking patient triage. Keynote speakers included California Highway Patrol (CHP) Chief and CIO (and SF State alumnus) Scott Howland (B.A., ’89), Cosumnes Fire Department Captain Kirk Mckinzie and School of Design graduate student James Getomer.

Two SF State student teams — SafeCam (a proactive image protection app) and Simba (a virtual assistant for first responders) — each won best in class, netting a $1,000 prize for their respective teams. Visit the Hackathon at SF State webpage to learn more about the projects, prize winners and view event photos.

ITS extends thanks to ITS staff members Julio Feliciano and Mary Morshed and Professor of Information Systems Sameer Verma for their expertise and coordination of the event, an example of SF State’s involvement with emergency responders and community projects. Event sponsor ITS would also like to thank additional sponsor, the Lam Family College of Business, along with organizing partners the University Police Department, the College of Science & Engineering and the School of Design. Others in attendance were Peter Phurchpean of the CHP Computer Crimes Investigation Unit and 911 Technology Division Chief Investigator Ryan Sunahara.

Transgender Awareness Week

Communities worldwide will raise the visibility of transgender people and the issues they face during Transgender Awareness Week, Nov. 13 through 19. In addition, Wednesday, Nov. 20, will mark the 20th anniversary of the first Transgender Day of Remembrance. The day was founded in 1999 by trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith after the brutal murder of Rita Hester, a black trans woman, in Massachusetts. The day honors all transgender people who have lost their lives due to anti-transgender violence, a large number of whom have been trans women of color. Want to show your support or get more information? The websites of the Family Acceptance Project and the Queer & Trans Resource Center include helpful links and other resources. 

Academic Senate agenda

The Academic Senate will meet today from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Nob Hill Room of the Seven Hills Conference Center for its sixth meeting of the academic year. Visitors are welcome. An open-floor period from 2 to 2:10 p.m. will provide an informal opportunity to raise questions or make comments to senate officers or University administrators. Please arrive promptly at 2 p.m.

The agenda includes the following:

  • Recommendation from the Academic Policies Committee: proposed policy on maximum units in a single semester, in first reading
  • Recommendation from the Curriculum Review and Approval Committee: proposed minor in Media Literary, second reading
  • Recommendation from the Faculty Affairs Committee: proposed revisions to #S19-241, Retention, Tenure and Promotion (RTP) Policy in first reading
  • Recommendation from the Strategic Issues Committee: Resolution in Support of the Development of a Faculty & Staff First-Time Home Buyers Assistant Program, second reading
  • Recommendation from Executive Committee: proposed revision to #S09-222, Enrollment Management Committee and #S18-243, Charge of the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning Advisory Board, both first reading
  • Recommendation from the Academic Policies Committee: proposed revision of #S12-177, Academic Discontinuance Policy, first reading
  • Recommendation from the Curriculum Review and Approval Committee: proposed graduate certificates in Finance and in Enterprise Information Systems, both in first reading
  • Presentations by Jeff Wilson, interim VP for Administration and Finance

The full agenda, meeting materials and minutes can be found on the senate website.

Jewish Studies and Disability Advocacy, Nov. 12

The Department of Jewish Studies will continue its #JewishStudiesAnd lecture series with a presentation by Lisa Newmark, employment programs director at Integrated Community Services (ICS), at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, in HUM 415. Newmark works with ICS staff to ensure that clients develop and cultivate professional skills that allow them to join the workforce. She also helps build bridges in the business community so that employers understand that hiring people with disabilities offers win-win results. She received a B.A. in Jewish Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling from SF State. She will discuss her academic background, how it led to her career in disability advocacy and how her academic background helps in her work.

This event is cosponsored by the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability and the Department of Women and Gender Studies. The lecture is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

The Department of Jewish Studies welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations upon request. If you would like reasonable accommodations for this event, please contact the department at or ext. 8-6075 as soon as possible so your request may be reviewed. For more information, visit the Department of Jewish Studies website.

A Day in the Life of a Diplomat, Nov. 18

Almost a dozen diplomats and consulate representatives working and living in San Francisco will come to campus Monday, Nov. 18, to share their experiences in a candid roundtable discussion. “A Day in the Life of a Diplomat” will begin at 2 p.m. in LIB 121. President Mahoney will stop by to offer her welcome to SF State, and the entire campus community is invited to join her for this peek into the exciting world of international diplomacy.

Office of International Programs training sessions, Nov. 18-21

Faculty and staff are invited to join the Office of International Programs for the following two training sessions: “Everything Faculty & Staff Ever Wanted to Know About Study Abroad” and “Everything Faculty & Staff Ever Wanted to Know About International Students.” These sessions will allow you to learn about study abroad opportunities and international students at SF State while giving you a chance to ask questions of OIP staff. There will be two sessions for each training between Nov. 18 and Nov. 21. Dates, times and locations and RSVP links can be found on the OIP website.

Chinese Culture Day Celebration, Nov. 19

The campus community is invited to the Division of International Education’s Chinese Culture Day Celebration from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, at the Annex I Student Event Center. The event is part of this year’s International Education Week (IEW), which celebrates the importance and benefits of international education on campus and beyond.

The Chinese Culture Day Celebration will kick off with a Chinese kung fu show that is open to all. Other activities will feature brush calligraphy, Chinese painting, traditional Chinese medicine, paper-cutting, tai chi, Chinese dance and exhibitions of Chinese art. There will be stage performances by presenters and artists from SF State and local communities from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

For more information, contact the Division of International Education at ext. 5-2868 or ext. 5-3931 or by email.

CSU’s Got Talent screening and discussion forum, Nov. 19

The Professional and Organizational Development Department invites you to a live screening of a “CSU’s Got Talent” webcast featuring innovative and essential training for your professional success. The screening is scheduled for 10 to 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19. Ramani Durvasula, licensed clinical psychologist, author, media expert and professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles, will present “‘Don’t You Know Who I Am?’: How to Stay Sane in the Era of Narcissism, Entitlement and Incivility.” Lisa Ike, manager of organizational development, will facilitate a post-presentation dialogue that will bring relevance and inspiration to your workplace. RSVP via Qualtrics. Learn more on the Professional and Organizational Development website.

Study Abroad Fair, Nov. 19 & 20

SF State’s International Education Exchange Council will host a Study Abroad Fair Tuesday, Nov. 19, and Wednesday, Nov. 20. Take a stroll through the center of campus in the Quad between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on both days to see tables representing different countries where SF State students can study abroad through SF State and CSU programs. International students and study abroad alumni will be at the tables to talk about their countries. Please encourage your students to attend, as well.

Strategic Planning for the Future workshop, Nov. 20

With the New Year quickly approaching it’s an opportune time to reflect on where your department currently stands and where you hope it lands in the future. Human Resources will host a professional development workshop from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 20, in LIB 222. The workshop will focus on reflective analysis, goal setting, action planning and other practical strategies to manifest your departmental and professional vision. RSVP via Qualtrics.

Study abroad alumni panel discussion, Nov. 21

There will be a panel discussion with SF State alumni who have participated in the study abroad program from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, in LIB 121. Participating in a study abroad program opens doors professionally both abroad and at home for students. Alumni will share how their international experience has guided and shaped their careers since leaving SF State.

Food+Shelter+Success, Nov. 21

The Basic Needs Initiatives will host the first annual Food+Shelter+Success event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, on the Quad. This event aims to raise awareness about student hunger and homelessness and connect the campus community to resources. Stop by to learn more about basic needs and engage in games, art and giveaways. More information is available on the Health Promotion & Wellness website.

Great American Smokeout, Nov. 21

In support of the American Cancer Society, Health Promotion & Wellness will be hosting the annual Great American Smokeout from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, on the Quad. This event encourages those who smoke to make a plan to stop, reduce the amount of smoking they do or quit smoking on the day of the event. Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to stop by for free tacos on a first-come, first-served basis. View more information about this event and other Health Promotion & Wellness events on the Health Promotion & Wellness website.

GatorGOOD campaign closer, Nov. 22

Join faculty and staff for the GatorGOOD campaign closer from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 22, in LIB 121. The goal of the month-long campaign is to raise funds for the Basic Needs Initiative, which aims to provide healthy food, safe housing and more to students in need. Come to the closing celebration to enjoy delicious donuts, make your own GatorGOOD buttons or just relax with colleagues and friends. RSVP online.


Tuesday, Nov. 12

Equitable Teaching Series: Engaging Large Classes: noon in LIB 286

Panel discussion: Sovereign Shields: Law Enforcement and State Violence in Indian Country: 1 p.m. in the Ethnic Studies and Psychology building, room 116

Lecture: Jewish Studies and Disability Advocacy: 4 p.m. in HUM 415

Wednesday, Nov. 13

Recital: “Alcatraz Reflections”: 1:10 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

Panel discussion: From Alcatraz to Mauna Kea: The 50th from the Future of Us: 2 p.m. in the Ethnic Studies and Psychology building, room 116

The Best of Yugoslav Cinema: “Time of the Gypsies”: 6:30 p.m. in the Coppola Theater, Fine Arts building

Thursday, Nov. 14

The Poetry Center Book Award: Bao Phi with Sarah Menefee, reading and in conversation: 7 p.m. in the Poetry Center (HUM 512)

Panel discussion: The End of Policing: 7 p.m. in LIB 121

“The Ghost Sonata” by August Strindberg: 7:30 p.m. in the Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

Friday, Nov. 15

Equitable Teaching Series: Engaging Large Classes: noon via Zoom

Recital: piano students: 1:10 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

“The Ghost Sonata” by August Strindberg: 7:30 p.m. in the Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

Saturday, Nov. 16

Concert: The Holloways: 2 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

“The Ghost Sonata” by August Strindberg: 2 p.m. in the Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

“The Ghost Sonata” by August Strindberg: 7:30 p.m. in the Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

Wagner book snags journalism honor

Professor of Journalism Venise Wagner and Sally Lehrman co-wrote the book “Reporting Inequality: Tools and Methods for Covering Race and Ethnicity,” which was published earlier this year by Routledge. Now the book has earned Wagner and Lehrman the 2019 Distinguished Service Award from the Society of Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Northern California Chapter. The Distinguished Service Award is given for the advancement and advocacy of journalism and is one of six that the SPJ board of directors determines each year. An award ceremony is slated for Thursday, Nov. 14.

Peper featured in French and Dutch

Professor of Health Education Erik Peper’s expertise has gone global. Last month his study about the psychological effects of smartphone usage was referenced in an article about how the technology affects children. The article was featured in French news publication Les Echos. And his article titled “Mindfulness en acceptatie en commitmenttherapie veelbelovend voor fibromyalgiepatiënten” (“Mindfulness and acceptance and commitment therapy promising for fibromyalgia patients”) was recently published in the Dutch journal NPi-service Psychosomatiek.

Joshi communication research coverage

Assistant Professor of Management Priyanka Joshi and a team of researchers recently completed a study exploring gender differences in communication. The study, titled “Gender differences in communicative abstraction,” was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Since its publication, the research has been covered in two articles. A Psychology Today piece examined the language men and women use to communicate, while a Forbes article focused on the communication styles of people in power.

De Robertis talks rock

Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Carolina De Robertis discussed one of her favorite songs on public radio station KALW. De Robertis contributed to a segment called “My Mixtape” with an exploration of the song “Adelantando” by Spanish rock group Jarabe de Palo. “I just love that the song is so upbeat,” De Robertis said. “And ‘Adelantando’ basically means ‘moving forward.’ … It’s a very positive song.” Listen to De Robertis’ critique (and the song) on the KALW website.