November 18, 2019

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A student and Dennis O'Donnell speak into microphones in a sound booth at SF State'

KPIX anchor returns to campus to teach 

This fall, Dennis O’Donnell appeared on air on the University’s student radio station for the first time in decades. The broadcast journalist and Alumni Hall of Famer, a fixture on the Bay Area airwaves for four decades, sat behind a KSFS microphone alongside students as they all gave their takes on the day’s top sports stories. O’Donnell, the Emmy award-winning sports director at KPIX-Channel 5 in San Francisco, and his students were at ease discussing the 49ers, Warriors and other trending topics.

Returning to campus this semester to teach the Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts Department’s class in television sports reporting, O’Donnell has come a long way since his undergraduate stint at KSFS. Back then, he got in trouble for refusing to play punk rock and for creating a contest for Rolling Stones tickets that the station didn’t have.

Although O’Donnell had no teaching experience, he jumped at the opportunity when Professor Emeritus Marty Gonzalez, a former colleague at KRON-Channel 4, mentioned it.

“What better place to teach than the place that taught me?” said O’Donnell (B.A., Radio and Television, ’82), who has actively supported his alma mater as an event MC, donor and SF State Foundation board member. “I’m revisiting the basics of quality television that we sometimes take for granted and fall between the cracks.”

Many of the class assignments involve producing sports segments intended for local news programs. Students also get practice at the anchor desk.

With him in every class is a signed copy of “Video Basics 8,” the influential textbook written by one of his mentors, Professor Emeritus Herb Zettl. O’Donnell’s goal for his students is to produce a professional-quality story that they can use to land an entry-level job. He hopes to continue learning from his students as well.

“They’re teaching me things as much as I’m teaching them,” he said.

An elderly woman using walker smiles at a caretaker in a bedroom

Professor uses seismic sensors to help the elderly track their health

By 2060, more than 24% of U.S. residents — an estimated 98 million people — will be over the age of 65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As the country’s population ages, how can the elderly keep track of their health without sacrificing their privacy and independence? One innovative solution to this challenge is being developed at SF State, where Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering Zhaoshuo Jiang and a team of collaborators are investigating how to monitor health in older adults by using floor vibrations to track their walking patterns. The research is funded by a $1.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Project Grant — the first NIH grant ever received by the School of Engineering.

According to Jiang, the older people get, the more they benefit from regular health check-ups. “As we age, we’re more prone to disease,” he said. “This population does need more care.” Modern technologies such as wearable devices and camera systems open up opportunities for independently living seniors to track their health at home around the clock. These technologies also make it easier to share information with health care providers. But wearable systems (such as a smart watch or a personal fitness tracker) can be challenging for seniors to use and keep charged, while other solutions like camera systems face resistance from users because they feel like an invasion of privacy. 

Jiang’s team, though, will use repurposed seismic sensors to monitor how the floor vibrates when people walk around. Previous research has shown that a person’s health is very closely tied to characteristics of their walk — the length and width of their steps, for instance, or the variability of their step patterns and the speed at which they move. In fact, these walking traits might predict health outcomes just as accurately as more familiar indicators like blood pressure, body mass index and hospitalization history. If you can match floor vibrations with the walking patterns that cause them, Jiang said, you have a powerful tool for recognizing potential changes in health.

Read more about Jiang’s NIH grant on the SF State News website.

Various flags from different nations in front of a large building

International Education Week (IEW) kicks off today

Celebrate International Education Week (IEW) 2019 with the Division of International Education and the Office of International Programs from Monday, Nov. 18, to Thursday, Nov. 21. Sponsored by the U.S. Departments of State and Education, IEW is an annual event that emphasizes the importance of international education and awareness of the world’s cultures, peoples and languages. Everyone is welcome to attend this week’s free IEW events, including Diplomat Day, Chinese Culture Day, a Study Abroad Fair and workshops for faculty, staff and students. See the full calendar of events on the Office of International Programs website.

Vice president of University Advancement search underway

The search for the vice president of University Advancement and president of the SF State Foundation Board has begun. The position has been posted and the University has engaged the firm of Isaacson, Miller to conduct a national search.

Search Committee members are:

  • Jeff Wilson, Interim Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Administration & Finance (Co-Chair)
  • Sheldon Gen, Associate Professor, School of PACE, College of Health & Social Sciences and Board of Directors, SF State Foundation (Co-Chair)
  • Kimberly Brandon, Alumna, Donor, Lam Family College of Business Development Council Member, SF State Foundation Board Vice Chair and President of the San Francisco Port Commission
  • Janice Herwegh Gumas, CSU Alumni Council (alumni representative)
  • Michael Losquadro, Senior Advisor, Campus Advancement, Office of the Chancellor, California State University
  • Andrew Harris, Dean, College of Liberal & Creative Arts
  • Michael Goldman, Professor of Biology, College of Science & Engineering
  • Gretchen LeBuhn, Professor of Biology, Director of the Great Sunflower Project, College of Science & Engineering
  • Edward Luby, Professor of Museum Studies, Director of the Museum Studies Program, Chief Curator, Global Museum, College of Liberal & Creative Arts
  • Maggie O'Brien, Senior Director of Development Research and Prospect Management, Development Office, University Advancement
  • Tom Thomas, Department Chair and Professor, School of Management, Lam Family College of Business
  • Darlene Yee-Melichar, Professor and Coordinator of Gerontology, Director of Long-Term Care Administration, College of Health & Social Sciences

The committee will begin reviewing applications in late January. For position details, go to SF State Careers on your SF State Gateway or review Isaacson, Miller’s posting online

Academic Affairs begins search for College of Extended Learning dean

Academic Affairs is conducting a search for a dean of the College of Extended Learning. The position is to be filled by July 2020. In April 2018, the Academic Senate revised search committee policy S18-180. Please see the list of Search Committee members selected based on adherence to this policy. A detailed committee roster, including committee chair, complete position descriptions and application procedures, is available on the Academic Affairs website.

Search Committee members include the following:

  • Maggie Beers, Assistant Vice President for Teaching & Learning, Faculty Affairs (Co-Chair)
  • Julie Briden, CEL Dean Executive Assistant, College of Extended Learning
  • Sophie Clavier, Dean, Division of Graduate Studies
  • Kurt Daw, Professor, School of Theatre & Dance
  • Carmen Domingo, Dean, College of Science & Engineering
  • Therese Doan, Associate Professor, School of Nursing
  • Marilyn Jackson, Director, Office of International Programs (Co-Chair)
  • Erik Rosegard, Professor and Chair, Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism
  • Jerry Shapiro, Professor and Chair, School of Social Work
  • Rachel Small, Lecturer, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Director of Pre-Health Programs

Science replacement building launch

The department of Capital Planning, Design, and Construction would like to invite the campus community to meet the DPR + SmithGroup Collaborative Design-Build team for SF State’s science building replacement project. The meet and greet will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the Hensill Hall Breezeway. There will be an opportunity to learn more about the project, gain understanding of the design process and provide feedback.

Scheduled construction activity on Font Boulevard 

As part of the Parkmerced, Twin Peaks, Mt. Davidson Manor Residential Street Resurfacing Project, crews continue to work on installation of ADA curb ramps on Font Boulevard. Crews anticipate grinding and paving activity on Font to continue through the week of Nov. 25. During paving activity, a lane of travel will be maintained at all times. Traffic may be rerouted around grinding/paving activity as needed. Review a work plan map online or go to the San Francisco Public Works website for detailed information and updates.

Infographic collection spotlights new student body

The Office of Institutional Research has produced a graphical representation of the University’s fall 2019 first-time freshmen, transfers and graduate students. Did you know that Pre-Nursing is the top major for first-time freshmen, or that transfer students arrived from 44 different countries, or that SF State is the number one feeder school for our new graduate students? View Institutional Research’s infographic collection to learn more about the University’s entering students.

SF State Kids Camp gears up for next summer

The Mashouf Wellness Center’s SF State Kids Camp is moving swiftly into another year after ending its second on a high note — complete with petting zoos and fun-filled carnival fare. The program had a total of 12 counselors overseeing an average of 50 kids per week and shows no signs of stopping, as it’s been decided that summer 2020 enrollment will be capped at 65 kids per week. Campus Rec has also decided to add an extra week of festivities. Camp is scheduled to operate for a total of eight weeks beginning June 8, 2020, offering an array of wellness activities for kids between the ages 5 and 11. Questions? Contact the program’s student managers directly via email ( while the website undergoes maintenance.

Academic Senate Report

The Academic Senate met on Tuesday, Nov. 12, in the Seven Hills Conference Center. A summary of the meeting follows.

  • The senate approved unanimously a new policy governing the maximum units to be taken in a single semester.
  • The senate approved unanimously a revision to #S19-241, the Retention, Tenure and Promotion (RTP) Policy.
  • The senate approved unanimously a resolution in support of the development of a faculty and staff first-time home buyers assistance program.
  • The senate heard in first reading proposed graduate certificates in Finance and Enterprise Information Systems.
  • The senate heard in first reading proposed revisions to the policies on the All-University Enrollment Management Committee, the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning Advisory Board and academic discontinuance.

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

Next BIG Thing Shark Tank, Nov. 20

The campus community is invited to the Next BIG Thing Shark Tank, a fun-filled opportunity for SF State entrepreneurs to pitch business ideas to Silicon Valley executives. Special guests from Oracle Cloud and Omnirax Studio Furniture will be on hand to act as judges. The event will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 20, in BUS 202.

Learn Online Surveys with Qualtrics, Dec. 10

Information Technology Services (ITS) will present an in-person demo of Qualtrics from 1 to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, in ADM 201. Qualtrics is an easy-to-use, full-featured, web-based survey tool available to faculty, staff and students for creating and conducting online surveys. See the Qualtrics service page for more information.

Laptops are not required for the demo, but bring yours if you wish. The following information will be covered in the training:

  • Survey: Getting Started, Question Types, Survey Options
  • Distribution
  • Data and Analysis: Exporting Data
  • Reports

Attendance is limited. Please register via Qualtrics.

Francisco-Menchavez speaks up for Filipino speakers

Assistant Professor of Sociology Valerie Francisco-Menchavez contributed to a study last year on the language barriers that Filipino-speaking residents face when seeking city services in San Francisco. Now her comments about those barriers have been quoted in an article. “[Filipino speakers] are in dire need of language access through simple materials, flyers and basic information on housing, benefits, health care, senior activities and youth education, among others,” Francisco-Menchavez said. Read the full article online.

Cyr empowers young women with self-defense moves

Lecturer of Kinesiology Stephanie Cyr was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle about the self-defense class she taught during the Girls’ Festival held Saturday at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Several girls between the ages 8 and 18 took part in the class. They learned a variety of tactics for fighting off attackers. “It’s my favorite moment when I’m working with somebody and I see the light go on, and I see them get excited and realize their strength,” Cyr said. Read the full article online.

Lukas on Cairo connections

Assistant Professor of Creative Writing David Michael Lukas was interviewed by Hadassah Magazine about his novel “The Last Watchman of Old Cairo,” which won the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in fiction. Lukas talked about the personal journey that led him to write the novel, which follows a grad student struggling to reconcile his Jewish and Muslim heritage. “I couldn’t square my Jewish identity with my love for Cairo until one day I found myself wandering around Old Cairo,” Lukas said. “I came upon a graveyard and I noticed some Jewish names and Stars of David. It was connected to this synagogue, and I overheard a tour guide talking about Jewish history in Cairo.” Read the full article on the Hadassah Magazine website.

Chakrabarti to talk theatre, culture at A.C.T.

Assistant Professor of Theatre & Dance Sukanya Chakrabarti will participate in a panel discussion after a performance of the play “Testmatch.” “Testmatch,” which is being performed as part of the American Theatre Company (A.C.T.) 2019-2020 season, explores race, gender and power in colonial and postcolonial relations told against the backdrop of a game of cricket. The post-show discussion will be held Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at A.C.T.’s Strand Theatre. Tickets are available online.

Ward offers international expertise at conference

Associate Director of the Office of International Programs Jay Ward delivered three presentations at the recent NAFSA: Association of International Educators Region XII Conference, held Nov. 5 to 8 in Pasadena. Ward chaired and served as a presenter at the session “Professional Development Opportunities with the Fulbright International Education Administrator Seminars.” He also chaired and served as a panelist at the session “Launch Your Career in International Education” and served as a co-lead facilitator at a full-day pre-conference workshop, “Grey Areas of International Student Advising: Policy & Practice.” With more than 15,000 members at more than 4,000 institutions in over 150 countries, NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange.