March 16, 2020

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Faculty begin teaching courses through virtual modalities

To limit the potential of spreading COVID-19, SF State faculty began teaching their courses through virtual modalities today. They will continue to do so through at least April 5. Updates on when students will return to learning in the classroom will be provided on March 30 and regularly thereafter. Students in the University’s residential communities have been strongly encouraged to move home, if that is an option. Those who stay will continue to be supported by SF State’s Residential Life and Housing, Dining & Conference Services.

While students will be learning remotely, the University remains open. However, nonessential meetings should be rescheduled or moved to a virtual modality. Essential meetings should be held following social distancing guidelines or virtual modalities. All SF State events remain canceled until further notice. In addition, SF State employees are being urged to practice social distancing strategies and consider telecommuting. To manage temporary telecommuting in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Human Resources has developed a Temporary Telecommuting Agreement form. The form can be viewed as a pdf or via Docusign.

For the latest University messaging related to COVID-19, go to New pages have been added with information tailored specifically for faculty and for staff and managers. Human Resources also maintains a webpage of frequently asked questions about COVID-19 for employees. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shares steps everyone can take to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

Jeff Jackanicz

University names vice president for University Advancement

SF State has named Jeff Jackanicz its new vice president for University Advancement. Jackanicz currently serves as the vice president for Institutional Advancement at Mills College in Oakland. Prior to coming to Mills, Jeff spent over a decade at UC Berkeley in a range of leadership positions, most recently as the executive director of corporate and foundation relations and leadership gifts. His first day at SF State will be May 4.

Jackanicz brings to his new role a wealth of experience and demonstrated success in helping universities advance their missions. At Mills, he has led all aspects of the college’s advancement efforts in support of its commitments to academic excellence, women’s education and social justice. In his time at UC Berkeley, he gained and demonstrated significant skill in staffing campus leadership at the highest levels, leading a dynamic and successful team and successfully securing major and principal gifts on behalf of the university. He earned his B.A. in English from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin.

Cathy Samayoa in a classroom with her hands on a laptop

Study on Latina breast cancer survivors shows importance of inclusive science

Sometimes the hardest part of science isn’t designing a brilliant experiment or analyzing data. It’s making sure the science is inclusive. A new paper by a team of researchers at SF State, the University of California, San Francisco and other partner organizations details their extensive work recruiting a group of participants — Latina breast cancer survivors — who are often not included in biomedical research.

Since they tend to be diagnosed later than other patients, Latinas who have breast cancer receive more aggressive treatments. They also have higher mortality rates than their white counterparts. And due in part to the stress of discrimination and language barriers, they often deal with other conditions at the same time, says Cathy Samayoa, an adjunct assistant professor in SF State’s Health Equity Research Lab and the study’s lead author. “Latinas have higher rates of anxiety and depression,” she explained. “And they face a lot of barriers with navigating a complex medical system.”

The team’s ultimate aim (to be explored in future studies) is to investigate the effectiveness of stress management techniques designed to aid Latina breast cancer survivors in rural California. Samayoa plans to do that by looking for signs of stress and premature aging in participants’ hormones and DNA. That first required finding Latina breast cancer survivors, communicating with them effectively and persuading them to provide samples of saliva and hair for testing. 

The research team, composed entirely of Latinas, created easy-to-understand materials describing the research in English and Spanish. They even produced videos in Spanish explaining the experiment (starring Samayoa’s mother, herself a Latina and similar in age to many of the study’s participants). Additionally, they partnered with community-based organizations and paired study participants with trained health workers who guided them through the research process.

All that work paid off: 98% of the women recruited opted to provide saliva samples for the study — an unusually high rate even for populations that aren’t considered “hard to reach” by scientists. The researchers hope their work serves as a roadmap for other teams committed to broadening representation in their own research. 

SF State Pride Parade planning

It’s time to start planning for the next San Francisco Pride Parade, scheduled for Sunday, June 28. The SF State Pride Committee is looking for faculty, staff and students to join this year’s Pride contingent. Interested in walking in the parade, joining the Pride committee or learning more? Fill out a quick online survey via Qualtrics.

DRC/ORSP Small Grant deadline extended

In light of event cancellations, class suspensions and the transition to remote instruction, the deadline for the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Small Grants and Development Research and Creativity competition has been extended until 5 p.m. April 3.

Health Promotion & Wellness Student Leader Program for 2020-2021

Health Promotion & Wellness (HPW) is now recruiting for the HPW Student Leader Program (formerly HPW Internship) for 2020-2021. It is a paid, 12- to 15-hour-per-week opportunity and an academic year commitment from August 2020 through May 2021. Please share this opportunity with students. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Friday, April 3. Visit the HPW website for more information or to apply.

Free Adobe Creative Cloud for SF State students

The CSU Entertainment Alliance has teamed up with Academic Technology to grant access to Adobe Creative Cloud for SF State students. Currently, the following majors already have access: Art, Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, Cinema, Design and Journalism. Now students with other majors can apply for free access via the CSU Entertainment Alliance website.

Academic Senate agenda 

The Academic Senate will meet Tuesday, March 17, from 2 to 4 p.m. virtually via Zoom for its eleventh meeting of the academic year. Visitors who wish to attend please contact the Senate office at for a Zoom link. The agenda includes:

  • Recommendations from the Executive Committee: Proposed changes to the By-laws of the Academic Senate of SF State, in second reading, and proposed changes to the Constitution of the Academic Senate of SF State, in first reading.
  • Recommendation from the Strategic Issues Committee: Proposed revision to #S12-151, Policy on the All University Committee on International Programs, in second reading.
  • Recommendations from the Curriculum Review and Approval Committee: Proposed Graduate Certificate in International Business and Global Leadership, in second reading, and proposed certificate in Pre-Master of Business Administration (MBA) Foundations, and revisions to the Bachelor of Arts in Music, both in first reading.
  • Recommendations from the Academic Policy Committee: Proposed revision to #S16-16, Graduate Paired Course policy, and revision to #S15-004, Use of Human Subjects in Research at SF State Policy, both in first reading.
  • Recommendation from the Faculty Affairs Committee: Proposed revision to #F11-145, Policy on Department Chairs and Equivalent Unit Directors, in first reading.

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

Pennings explores how the rat race affects rats

Assistant Professor of Biology Pleuni Pennings co-authored a study on New York City rats that was recently discussed in an article in the Guardian. The study examined the genetic impact that urban life has had on rats. Researchers compared the genomes of brown rats in New York City with those of brown rats from their native home in China. They found that there had been major changes in rat DNA, particularly in genes related to food, behavior and movement. Read more on the Guardian website.

Hogarth picks up the baton

When a guest conductor from Italy announced he was canceling much-anticipated appearances due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, leaders of the Monterey Symphony had to scramble to find a replacement. Fortunately for them, a perfect pinch hitter was sitting in its own brass section. Assistant Professor of Music Bradley Hogarth, who plays trumpet for the symphony and teaches conducting at SF State, served as fill-in maestro for the weekend concerts. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be in a different place onstage than I usually occupy,” he told Monterey County Weekly.

Logan on bakery union-busting

Chair and Professor of Labor Studies John Logan spoke with Vice about how a popular San Francisco bakery is responding to employees’ efforts to unionize. The hip, rapidly expanding bakery Tartine hired a firm associated with anti-union campaigns for Whole Foods and Donald Trump when it became clear that workers were leaning toward unionizing. “The overwhelming number of employers tend to react this way,” Logan said. “Opposition — and fairly aggressive opposition — tends to be the norm.” Read the full article.

Article spotlights SF State center

SF State’s Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies was mentioned in a recent SF Weekly article about Iranians in the Bay Area. The University established the center in 2016 with the support of a generous donation from alumna Neda Nobari (B.S., ’84). Center Director Persis Karim has since used National Endowment for the Humanities funding to begin building a digital archive devoted to the Bay Area’s Iranian American community. She has also been working on a documentary, “We Are Here, We Have Always Been Here,” about the Iranian diaspora. The article also mentions Golden Thread Productions, a theater company dedicated to Middle Eastern stories that was founded by alumna Torange Yeghiazarian (M.A., ’97). Read the full article.