March 2, 2020

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Four people standing, playing in a string quartet

University celebrates ‘disruptor’ Beethoven

If Ludwig van Beethoven were alive, he’d be getting ready to celebrate the sestercentennial (that’s Latin for 250th anniversary) of his birth in December. That party would require a cake with a lot of candles. So San Francisco State University’s School of Music is marking the milestone a different way: with a roster of events that kicked off at the end of January and spans the Spring Semester.

Beethoven & Modernity recognizes the influence of the visionary composer and pianist through lectures, live performances, dance shows and a pop-up concert. The project, funded through San Francisco State’s College of Liberal & Creative Arts Extraordinary Ideas grant, is a collaboration between the departments of English Language and Literature, Jewish Studies and History and the schools of Theatre and Dance, Art and Music.

“This is an opportunity to acknowledge just how, across many disciplines, his legacy is not just enduring but very contemporary,” said Sandy Walsh-Wilson, cellist and founder of the University’s quartet-in-residence, the Alexander String Quartet. An expert on the composer he’s dubbed a “disruptor,” Walsh-Wilson says Beethoven continues to be revered around the world because he wrote complex music that expressed his individuality.

What to hear some of that music? See the full schedule of events on the School of Music website.

waves crashing against rocks

Experts reflect on responses to surging seas

California’s coastline recently experienced some of its highest tides of the year, including in San Francisco where oversized waves splashed across joggers on the Embarcadero. It’s a predictable recurring event known as king tides, caused by the alignment of the sun and moon. But it’s also a chance for SF State scholars in fields as diverse as economics and biology to see how rising seas associated with climate change will change the Bay Area landscape — and to reflect on what can be done about it.

Already, cities are grappling with disappearing coastlines, especially after the state agency that oversees coastal zones asked communities to plan for up to 10 feet of sea level rise by 2100. Professor of Economics Phil King took note, too. King’s academic focus has shifted from the economics of beaches to how sea level rise is affecting California’s coastal communities.

Coast cities face tough choices, such as whether to preserve beaches or put up seawalls, which kill beaches. King helps cities decide what options makes economic sense without forgetting ecological values that are hard to measure,  like providing habitat for nesting birds. “Beaches are a very important part of coastal preservation,” he said.

Though the situation is dire, there’s also a growing group of scientists and conservationists looking for ways to lessen the impacts of rising seas, says Professor of Biology Katharyn Boyer, who operates out of the University’s Estuary & Ocean Science Center. “We have a variety of tools in our toolbox,” she explained.

Boyer is a proponent of the so-called “living shorelines” approach, which aims to find natural solutions to stave off the effects of sea level rise. “The idea with living shorelines is that you use habitat restoration to break the waves instead of making the erosion problem worse like some hard engineering solutions can do,” she explained. Boyer has a number of small-scale studies running in the Bay Area to figure out what works locally.

“There’s a lot we need to learn,” she said. “But we also need to get moving.”

A bowl of fruits and a plate of pastries

Vista Room rolls out new menu

The Vista Room, SF State’s on-campus teaching and learning restaurant, is adding penne pasta primavera, bouillabaisse and other delicious delectables to its fare this month. Lemon bliss cake and a spring mezze platter are on the bill of fare now, as well. Peruse the restaurant’s newly updated menu or just take the plunge and make reservations today.

Health Equity Institute presents Faculty Scholars Program

The Health Equity Institute (HEI) is launching a Faculty Scholar Program to provide research development support for SF State faculty pursuing external funding for health equity scholarship and professional activities and products. HEI’s goal is to build the portfolio of health equity-focused research and scholarly products at SF State with a broad community of health equity scholars. HEI aims to emphasize pre-proposal and early development of projects and products that can be strengthened with professional development mentoring. To learn more, email and schedule an appointment to discuss your health equity research.

Deadlines approaching for teaching award nominations

The Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEETL) is accepting nominations for two teaching awards until March 18. The CEETL High Impact Teaching Award will be given to three faculty members who have made a difference in the lives of SF State undergraduate students through engaging pedagogy, mentoring and other practices. Nominate a colleague via Qualtrics. The CEETL-FYE Excellence in Teaching First-Year Students Award will recognize three faculty members who have made a difference in the lives of first-year students. Nominate a colleague for this award via Qualtrics.

Awardees will be honored at a CEETL faculty recognition event April 30. For more information, visit the CEETL website.

Academic Senate agenda

The Academic Senate will meet from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 3, in the Nob Hill Room of the Seven Hills Conference Center for its ninth 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. The agenda includes the following:

  • Recommendation from the Curriculum Review and Approval Committee: Proposed Graduate Certificate in International Business and Global Leadership, in first reading
  • Recommendation from the Strategic Issues Committee: Proposed Resolution on the Implementation of the City of San Francisco Parking Tax, in first reading
  • Recommendation from the Faculty Affairs Committee: Proposed Resolution Calling for a Task Force on Faculty Workload Equity, in second reading
  • Recommendation from the Student Affairs Committee: Proposed Resolution Opposing Upcoming Title IX Policy Changes, in second reading
  • Recommendation from the Student Affairs Committee: Proposed changes to #S18-196, Withdrawal from Courses Policy, in first reading
  • Recommendation from Strategic Issues Committee: proposed revision to #S12-151, All-University Committee on International Programs, in first reading
  • Recommendation from the Executive Committee: Proposed changes to the By-laws and Constitution of the Academic Senate of SF State, both in first reading
  • Presentation from Executive Director of the Tutoring and Academic Support Center Michelle Montoya and Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education Kim Altura

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

Upcoming retention, tenure and promotion workshops

The Office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development invites faculty to participate in one of the following workshops during the Spring Semester to help prepare for retention, tenure and promotion. Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs & Professional Development Todd Roehrman will conduct the workshops. Faculty who will be reviewed in the next few years are encouraged to attend.

  • Faculty preparing for retention, tenure and promotion to associate professor: 10 to 11:30 a.m. Monday, March 16, ADM 460
  • Faculty preparing for retention, tenure and promotion to associate professor: 10 to 11:30 a.m. Thursday, April 9, location TBD
  • Faculty preparing for retention, tenure and promotion to associate professor: 1 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, location TBD
  • Faculty preparing for promotion to full professor: 10 to 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 15, location TBD
  • Faculty preparing for promotion to full professor: 1 to 2:30 p.m., Friday, April 24, via Zoom

RSVP ASAP via Qualtrics. Questions? Contact the Office of Faculty Affairs and Profesional Development at

Stat CORR, MAMA meeting, March 2 

The campus community is invited to a Stat CORR (Statistics Community of Representative Researchers) and MAMA (Methodology and Multivariate Analysis) meeting from noon to 1 p.m. today in LIB 286. Associate Professor of Health Education Richard Harvey will present on “The Art and Science of Wearables: Gathering Data in the Field.” Wrist-worn and body-worn devices used for data gathering are evolving rapidly. Learn about the variety of instruments and their comparative strengths and limitations in terms of durability, power consumption, marketplace acceptance, use cases and data formats. Lunch will be provided. To RSVP, send an to email

In memoriam: Raye Gilbert Richardson

Emerita Professor of Black Studies Raye Gilbert Richardson passed away Feb. 11 in Oakland. Richardson served as chair of SF State’s Black Studies department for decades and was named an emerita professor in 1988.

Born in Arkansas in 1920, Richardson grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, and moved to San Francisco with her husband Julian in 1946. In 1960, she and Julian founded Marcus Books, which still thrives today as the nation’s oldest black bookstore.

Richardson began teaching literature, critical thinking and humanities classes at SF State in 1970.  She was also a busy community leader, serving on the San Francisco Library Commission and the California State Board of Medical Quality Assurance and writing a column for the Sun Reporter newspaper.

Bailey to open international art, archaeology exhibit

Professor of Anthropology Doug Bailey will open a major international exhibition titled “Creative (un)makings: disruptions in art/archaeology” at the International Museum of Contemporary Sculpture in Santo Tirso, Portugal, on March 6. The exhibition explores the interfaces between art and archaeology and includes Bailey’s photograph remediations of archive images, Portuguese sculptor and co-curator Sara Navarro’s ceramic study of fragmentation and human figurines, and the co-curated project “Ineligible.” For the “Ineligible” project, Bailey and Navarro sent artifacts from the 2010–2012 excavations that preceded the building of the San Francisco Transbay Transit Center to artists and archaeologists from the U.S. and Europe. The request was for recipients to use the historic artifacts as raw materials in making new art that challenges modern social and political dilemmas and debates. The exhibition runs until June 14. Learn more on the musuem’s website.

Gross explores American Jewish nostalgia

Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies Rachel B. Gross, the John and Marcia Goldman Chair in American Jewish Studies, is presenting a course at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco from Feb. 2 to March 8. In the course, “The Good Old Days: Creating American Jewish Nostalgia,” Gross examines how American Jews tell stories about Ashkenazi Jews’ immigration to the U.S. at the turn of the 20th century and how they connect to it emotionally and physically. For more information, visit the Congregation Beth Sholom website.

Bernardi takes editorial aim at war

Professor of Cinema Daniel Bernardi is the editor of the Rutgers University Press book series “War Culture.” The series publishes original manuscripts that address the myriad ways in which warfare informs diverse cultural practices as well as the way cultural practices — from cinema to social media — inform the practice of warfare. More information about this series can be found on the Rutgers University Press website.

DeLeon on Newsom’s history with the homelessness issue

Professor Emeritus of Political Science Richard DeLeon was quoted in an NPR story about Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent State of the State address, which focused on new approaches to homelessness. DeLeon says Newsom has long been associated with the issue: As a city supervisor in 2002, he gained widespread attention with the controversial Care Not Cash ballot measure. The measure diverted funds from general assistance to homeless people to services and housing for them. “It put him on the map, politically,” DeLeon said. “It certainly put a spotlight on him.” You can read or listen to the full story on the NPR website.

Logan: high-tech firms are down on unions

Chair and Professor of Labor Studies John Logan was interviewed by the Hill about the unionization of employees at the crowdfunding company Kickstarter. A growing number of employees at major companies such as Amazon and Google have been advocating for unions. Like Google, Kickstarter reportedly hired an anti-unionizing firm in an attempt to thwart employee efforts. “Tech employers, when it comes to union organizing, are perhaps not as different as was previously assumed ... really they’re just behaving in a way that is quite similar to most other private sector employers,” said Logan. Read the full article online.

Desjardin weighs in on the fungus among us

Professor of Biology Dennis E. Desjardin discussued mushrooming interest in mycology — a.k.a. the study of mushrooms — in an interview with the Sacramento Bee. Mushroom foraging is growing in popularity across the country, yet in California the practice is banned in many parks due to concerns over safety and habitat protection. “There are so many ridiculous aspects to the way they make the rules, and mostly because it’s a little easier to say nobody can collect anything than it is to actually police people that have permits,” said Desjardin. “Many of the parks are allowing people to collect berries [or] collect some other wild products in a certain quantity, but when you collect a berry, you’re actually removing the seeds of that plant out. That’s much more ecologically destructive than collecting a mushroom after it’s already dispelled the vast majority of its spores.” Read the full article online.