March 23, 2020

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San Francisco State University on concrete monument

Campus COVID-19 updates

As part of efforts to curtail the spread of COVID-19, SF State has significantly reduced the population on its campuses by limiting on-campus operations to necessary offices and moving the majority of staff and faculty to working using remote modalities. Though all academic buildings will be closed through April 7 at a minimum, a few University offices remain physically open. For the most up-to-date information, visit the webpages for each respective office or find links at the University’s COVID-19 website under the Offices Open on Campus section.

The J. Paul Leonard Library will be closed March 21–29 for Spring Recess and on March 31 for Cesar Chavez Day. On other days the Library building will remain open with limited access and hours. However, the first floor Research Commons and lobby will be open only to current students, faculty and staff with an SF State ID during the hours of 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with security staff only. No technical assistance or equipment checkout will be available.

The One Stop Service Center on the first floor of SSB has closed. The Undergraduate Admissions and Student Outreach Services units continue to operate remotely, answering emails and phones. Future students should send their inquiries or updates to or call (415) 338-6486.

Still have questions? The University has created an online Ask a Question form for COVID-19 queries.

Students walking down ball park path at SFSU Commencement

More events postponed, canceled

The University has been closely monitoring local circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and has made the difficult decision to postpone the Commencement ceremony scheduled for Friday, May 22, at Oracle Park. This postponement extends to all college, department and student group graduation celebrations. Hopefully, the University will be able to reschedule the event for later in the year. Commencements at all other CSU campuses have been postponed, as well.

In addition, Taste of the Bay, the annual gala fundraiser for SF State’s Hospitality and Tourism Management Program and its students, has been canceled. This year’s Taste of the Bay had been scheduled for May 6, at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco.

John Sullivan on his laptop

Expert offers work-at-home tips

While working from your couch in your pajamas might have sounded great a few months ago, many of us are finding it tougher than expected to stay focused and engaged in our new shelter-in-place reality. One person who’s not surprised by that is Professor of Management John Sullivan. He offers five tips for staying productive while staying sequestered.

  1. Write “no response emails.” Eighty percent of emails go unread, Sullivan says. So if you’re sending an email that doesn’t require a response try to convey the message in the subject line.
  2. Find software that can help you stay on track and keep you organized. Sullivan recommends using customer relationship management software (CRM) because it sends helpful reminders about deadlines, manages time and can prioritize tasks. “Self-motivated people know how to plan and don’t require someone looking over their shoulder, but most people aren’t that way,” he said. “If people have unlimited free time, they will take it. And so that’s where the CRM comes in. It will tell you, ‘Four hours have gone by.’ CRMs can literally track how much you type and see what you’re actually working on.”
  3. Build trust with coworkers by getting personal. When you’re working remotely, you only see people’s faces via video. That can make it hard to build relationships, Sullivan says. Google does something called virtual coffee talks where people get together and have coffee while video-conferencing. “We’re taught to avoid talking about our lives, but Google found that that was one of the keys to building trust,” he said. “So as the manager, you have to be willing to ask people how their parents are dealing with the virus, etc.”
  4. Use teleconferencing tools to team build. Some companies have video game parties where they’ll play games online for a few hours. Others share recipes. People have to find a way to connect so that they develop empathy for one another. “You have to force that camaraderie,” Sullivan noted.
  5. Work when you’re at your best. Best Buy has a program called “Results Only Work Environment” at its corporate headquarters. It’s a strategy that pays employees based on their output rather than the amount of time worked. “Maybe you went to college and your best ideas come at 2 a.m. Then work at 2 a.m. All they care about are results,” Sullivan said. If you have that flexibility, he says, use it to your advantage.

Millet wins first Marcus Transformative Research Award

Jewish Studies Professor Kitty Millet has won the College of Liberal & Creative Arts’ inaugural Marcus Transformative Research Award. The award will fund $3,000 in travel and a one-semester leave for researching her forthcoming book exploring the use of Kabbalah, the historical Jewish mystical tradition, in secular literature.

Bloomsbury Press will publish the book, titled “Kabbalah and Literature,” in late 2021. It will be the first volume in the publisher’s series on comparative Jewish literatures, for which Millet is editor in chief.

As chair of the Department of Jewish Studies, Millet teaches courses in Holocaust and genocide, comparative Jewish literatures and Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism. In 2018 she won the Morris Weiss Award from the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center in San Francisco.

The Marcus Transformative Research Award is made possible by the George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts, established with a $25-million gift to SF State in 2018. The award helps tenured faculty pursue transformational research and professional development.

Department of Health Education name change survey

SF State’s Department of Health Education is requesting a name change to the Department of Public Health. This name change reflects a longstanding need to more accurately reflect and represent the academic programs and mission of the department. Per Senate policy #S17-190, the department is asking for campuswide feedback on this proposed change. Members of the SF State community can comment via a Qualtrics survey until April 10. 

Fit Plus moves online

The COVID-19 shelter-in-place order might be keeping many of us in our homes, but it doesn’t have to keep us from exercising. The Fit Plus program has moved its programs online to accommodate off-campus members. Members of Fit Plus will have access to exercise videos and resources via iLearn on demand. For more information or to join the Fit Plus program, please email

Academic Senate report

The SF State Academic Senate met on Tuesday, March 17, via Zoom. The senate:

  • Approved changes to its by-laws.
  • Approved forwarding changes to the Constitution of the Academic Senate to the faculty for a vote in April.
  • Approved a certificate in Pre-Master of Business Administration (MBA) Foundations and a Graduate Certificate in International Business and Global Leadership.
  • Approved a revision to #S12-151, Policy on the All University Committee on International Programs.
  • Heard in first reading proposed changes to #S16-16, Graduate Paired Course Policy, and #F11-145, Policy on Department Chairs and Equivalent Unit Directors, and a new policy on the use of human subjects in research at SF State (superseding #S15-004).
  • Heard in first reading proposed changes to the Bachelor of Arts in Music.
  • Heard in first reading resolutions calling for temporary changes to the implementation of #F15-213, the policy on Student Evaluation of Teaching Effectiveness (SETE), and #F19-241, the policy on Retention, Tenure and Promotion.

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

Reminder: SF State Pride Parade planning underway

The SF State Pride Committee is looking for faculty, staff and students to join the University’s contingent at the 2020 San Francisco Pride Parade, scheduled for June 28. Interested in walking in the parade, joining the committee or learning more? Fill out a quick online survey via Qualtrics

SF State might have extraordinary challenges at the moment, but fortunately it also has extraordinary staff and faculty. That’s why we’ve added a new section for saluting University community members who’ve gone above and beyond. This week’s shout-outs:

To the teams in Shipping & Receiving and Mail Services: Thank you all for rising to the challenge and providing the support and professionalism that our campus needs. Without your continued support in handling packages and mail from sources all over the world, our campus would not continue to operate safely. Thank you.

Jay E. Orendorff, Associate Vice President, Business Operations

Sending our greatest gratitude to our Housing, Residence Hall and Dining staff for their tremendous efforts to support students as they make difficult decisions about their living arrangements. We can’t thank them enough for their tremendous efforts!

The whole Student Affairs and Enrollment Management team have excelled in their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Their student-centered focus and love of students has motivated them to work their hardest to provide support and care. Thanks to each person who has gone above and beyond during this difficult time.

Beth Hellwig, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs & Enrollment Management

During this difficult time in the fight against the COVID-19 virus, your Division of Campus Safety remains committed to keeping the community safe. The uniformed division of the SF State Police Department remains on campus conducting visible patrols and checks of our residential properties. They continue to provide ongoing safety services such as the safety escorts despite the invisible threats in our environment. Their dedication to our community during this difficult time has not wavered or diminished. Individual stories of uniformed staff leaving their loved ones to serve the SF State community are a testament to their dedication and commitment to service of our SF State family.

Wailun Shiu, Deputy Chief of Police, SF State Police Department

Information Technology Services

For its extraordinary efforts to maintain our systems and IT infrastructure to support remote instruction and the campus.

Facilities Services, especially our custodial services under the leadership of Shelley Cole

For their daily presence on campus to provide the sanitizing and cleaning that allows us to remain open and provide a safe, hygienic environment for those of us who continue to work on campus.

Human Resources

For their in-person and remote services that ensure employees will continue to be paid and our essential HR duties continue.

Housing, Dining and Conference Services

For their extraordinary effort to provide for the residents who remain on campus.

Business Operations, Fiscal Affairs, the Budget Office and Quality Assurance/Audit

For their efforts to make sure the University’s business continues and the campus is provided with crucial support services that protect the University’s assets.

Jeff Wilson, Interim Vice President and CFO, Administration & Finance

During this unpredictable time I am very thankful and inspired by the staff at Children’s Campus! Everyone pivoted when needed and stayed focused on supporting the families and students at the center. While working remotely, teachers have scheduled Zoom lunches so that children in the same classroom can stay connected, developed learning tasks for families to use with their kids at home and are taking time to review and revise in-class curriculum.

Allison Guerra, Children’s Campus Director

Deep appreciation to the Counseling & Psychological Services staff for their commitment and dedication to students and the campus during this unprecedented time. Counselors are developing protocols to conduct student sessions virtually via phone and Zoom.

Stephen Chen, Counseling & Psychological Services Director

Thank you to the Disability Programs & Resource Center staff for jumping in with a positive and creative frame of mind with all the changes and supporting our students and employees remotely during this challenging time.

Wendy Tobias, Disability Programs & Resource Center Director

Immense gratitude to the staff at Health Promotion & Wellness for their tireless support of student wellness during this time and for rolling up their sleeves to find solutions to continue providing basic needs supports for students affected by the shelter in place.

Karen Boyce, Health Promotion & Wellness Director

Tremendous thanks for the tireless work of the Student Health staff, who over the last weeks have gone above and beyond to capably serve students and the campus.

Roger Elrod, Student Health Services Director

Monumental thanks to all our faculty, department chairs, college staff and administrators for rising to the Herculean challenge of transforming their entire spring curriculum to a new modality.

Special recognition to our advisors, tutors, counselors and staff for their efforts to support students remotely.

Special recognition to our Library staff working at the Book Checkout & Pickup service point, Library Information Technology and Research Commons service point until the Main Library was closed. Also to Library Information Technology staff and student assistants who worked on site in the Research Commons several days this week to check out laptops to students and employees along with our Library graphic designer.

Special recognition to our Academic Technology team headed by Andrew Roderick and our CEETL teams lead by Maggie Beers charged with the overwhelming task of providing remote support for our students, faculty and staff in a short amount of time.

Special recognition to our Emergency Operations Center team for their continued work 24 hours a day in providing us with necessary information to maintain a safe and healthy environment from COVID-19 while we were transitioning all our students, staff and faculty remotely.

And finally special recognition to all our unsung staff heroes. You are the glue that holds San Francisco State together. Your invaluable support and swift responses in the transition to working remotely have been instrumental in guaranteeing that we continue educating and supporting our students.

Jennifer Summit, Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs

Have a shout-out to share in CampusMemo? Send it to

Hagan offers tips on keeping calm and carrying on

Wondering how to cope with COVID-19 stress? Hearst Newspapers writer Joshua Sargent was. So he turned to an expert: Assistant Professor of Psychology Melissa Hagan, director of the University’s Stress Trauma and Resilience Lab. Hagan’s advice included talking frequently to friends and family, exercising and cooking fun food. Hagan also suggested taking a break from some of the gloom and doom online. “There’s a lot in the news about how fast the disease is spreading,” she said. “A lot of that information is not important for people to be ruminating on.” Read the full article on SFGate.

Dudley: shelter-in-place orders a no-win scenario for police

Lecturer in Criminal Justice James Dudley wrote an article about COVID-19 curfews for the website Police One. Dudley explored the difficult task police departments will have enforcing municipal shelter-in-place orders. “Law enforcement as the messenger will likely be resisted across the board by conservatives, liberals and civil libertarians,” he wrote. “Enforcing shelter-in-place orders or curfews are ‘no-win’ activities for police.” Read his full article online.

Mortier reminds schools not to forget special needs students

Special education students face unique burdens due to school closures. SF State Assistant Professor of Special Education Kathleen Mortier talked to EdSource about how schools need to ensure that special ed students have a smooth transition into learning from home. “Students with special needs have a right, just like all the other kids, to continue learning and moving forward,” she said. “Principals and administrators need to remember that learning is equally important to all their students, whether they’re in regular ed or special ed.” Read the rest of the article on the EdSource website.

There’s gold (and women) in them thar hills

Associate Professor of Sociology Clare Sears was quoted in a How Stuff Works article about life during the California Gold Rush. Although most of the “forty-niners” were men, Sears said, many were actually women disguised as men. “This phenomenon was so common in Gold Rush California that when a newspaper photographer advertised for a ‘lad’ to help him, he was compelled to specify that ‘no young women in disguise need apply,’” said Sears. Learn more on the How Stuff Works website.

Kumar publishes new paper

Professor of Marketing Minu Kumar co-authored the article “Designing for the genders: The role of visual harmony,” which was recently published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing. The article explores the influence of gender on reactions to marketing visuals.