March 9, 2020

"Please press the enter key fr the icon you would like to hear more about. Currently, the associated text is not being read automatically. Please use insert key and arrow down to get to the text."
Concrete signage with the text: San Francisco State University

University cancels campus events through March 31

Gator Days, the investiture ceremony for President Mahoney and other upcoming events have been cancelled in response to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. All classes will remain in session, but SF State employees are encouraged to reconsider non-essential travel and conduct meetings online or via phone whenever possible. For more information and updates, go to Human Resources also has a page of COVID-19 FAQs for employees.

Man smiling while interacting with female on computer

SF State strengthens academic advising with help from the Stupski Foundation 

SF State announced today a $3.9 million grant from the Stupski Foundation, a nonprofit that funds Bay Area organizations that address postsecondary success and other relevant issues in the community. With this new grant, SF State will strengthen its commitment to predicative analytics, allowing the University to provide a more tailored, holistic and proactive approach to academic advising for its students.

“The University is grateful for the Stupski Foundation’s generosity, which will further support our use of predictive analytics for proactive advising,” said Lori Beth Way, dean of Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning at SF State. “We’re excited to be part of this partnership that will strengthen our advising capacity, especially for first-year students.”

Aligning with the California State University Graduation Initiative 2025 goals, the grant will allow SF State to hire more advisors and staff members over the next three years. This will help SF State maximize its use of the Educational Advisory Board predictive analytics advising system, a technology platform that provides real-time data the University can use to identify students most in need of support. By increasing its use of predictive analytics, the University can better analyze indicators of student success and potential challenges for students on a daily basis and proactively reach out to provide just-in-time guidance to students.

By hiring more advisors, SF State will also significantly reduce its student-to-advisor ratio. This is an important endeavor for the University, as it has identified first-year retention and persistence into students’ second year of college as significant priorities. Cutting this ratio will give students more access to an advisor who can guide them early and often, offering support before they encounter challenges that would prevent them from continuing and graduating, such as failing a course or being placed on academic probation.

Viet Thanh Nguyen and Isabelle Thuy Pelaud

Pulitzer Prize winner helps mark milestone

Viet Thanh Nguyen, who won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction award for his novel “The Sympathizer,” depicting the life of an espionage agent during and after the Vietnam War, spoke at a University event March 3 to celebrate a new College of Ethnic Studies (CoES) milestone. The author’s address was held at Jack Adams Hall in celebration of the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN) merging under CoES as a new academic initiative. A nonprofit co-founded by Nguyen and Professor of Asian American Studies Isabelle Thuy Pelaud in 2007, DVAN focuses on promoting literature of the Vietnamese diaspora.

“For the longest time, big publishing companies were only interested in specific stories from Vietnamese diasporic writers,” Pelaud said. “DVAN encourages writers to present their work without the pressure from mainstream influences about identity, ethnicity, representation or war.”

The merger with CoES will allow SF State students to contribute in areas that advance DVAN’s mission, Pelaud says. For example, students may apply to help develop content for diaCRITICS, a DVAN blog that highlights literature from writers of the Vietnamese and Southeast Asian diaspora. Opportunities to volunteer, participate in internships and plan events that promote writers will also be available to students, Pelaud adds.

Because of SF State’s longstanding commitment to ethnic studies and its leadership during the Third World Liberation Front strikes of 1968, Nguyen saw CoES as a great partner to help uncover more stories that accurately represent the diversity and complexity of Vietnamese American communities.

“With SF State being at the heart of a global city, it’s an ideal home for DVAN’s mission,” Nguyen said.

Undergraduate certificate in research for social justice

Faculty in the College of Ethnic Studies and the College of Health & Social Sciences are collaborating to create an undergraduate social justice research certificate. Undergraduate research is a high-impact practice identified as increasing students’ engagement in their own education and enhancing retention and graduation. Currently, most opportunities for students to engage in research are coordinated by individual faculty members who have the ability to mentor students via an independent study project. This proposed research certificate in social justice will provide a coordinated curriculum meant to prepare and connect undergraduates with research opportunities while at SF State. Students would receive nine units of coursework across the disciplines focused on research for social justice. In addition, students would be involved with an independent study (three units) with SF State faculty members on a research project focused on social justice.

The faculty leads, Associate Professor of Health Education Juliana Van Olphen and Professor of Asian American Studies Grace Yoo, are seeking input from colleagues across campus. Complete a short survey via Qualtrics to share your ideas and participate in the development of this certificate.

Campus guest suite accommodations available

Conference & Event Services is proud to announce that it has added two more suites to its inventory of guest suites. Located in University Park North, the guest suites are available for visiting scholars, guests of the University, interview candidates, etc. The suites are available year-round and are furnished with the following amenities:

  • Love seat with a pull-out sleeper (full)
  • Entertainment console with flat screen TV
  • Café-style dining seating for two
  • Queen size bed and nightstand
  • Cooking pans, utensils, coffee maker, flatware, plates, glassware and more

Please contact Carlos Villatoro at ext. 8-3972 or for more details and availability.

Faculty travel grants

The San Francisco State Retirement Association (SFSURA) is still accepting applications for its 2020 faculty travel grant awards until April 1. Additional information and the application form are available on the Retirement Association website. The application must be signed and emailed to all members of the committee.

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 to this: Art, BECA, Cinema, Design and Journalism. Those who do not belong to one of those majors can apply for free access via the CSU Entertainment Alliance website. 

Degree programs proposed for discontinuance

Per Academic Senate Policy S12-177, the Educational Policies Council (EPC) is required to inform the campus community of the following discontinuance proposals two weeks before senate action. Discontinuance has been proposed for:

  • Master of Arts in Japanese
  • Master of Arts in Italian
  • Master of Arts in German
  • Minor in Accounting

These proposals for discontinuance will be heard by the Educational Policies Council at its meeting at 2 p.m., April 7, in the NEC Room of the Administration building. This meeting is open for any interested individuals. Any party interested in filing a response should send an email to EPC Chair Genie Stowers at

Academic Senate elections

The nomination period for the 2020 Academic Senate elections is now open. All SF State faculty and staff members are invited to make their voices heard and nominate themselves or their colleagues for these important positions.

To learn more about the open positions and the nominations process, please take a moment to review the information below. If you would like to submit a nomination for yourself or someone else, please do so by March 30 to ensure inclusion on the ballot.

Important dates for the spring 2020 Academic Senate election:

  • Nomination period: March 9-30
  • Voting Period: April 6-17

Nomination process:

College/unit-specific seats:

Committee Information is available on the senate website. Any questions can be directed to the Office of the Academic Senate at ext. 8-1264 or

Academic Senate report

The SF State Academic Senate met on Tuesday, March 3, in the Seven Hills Conference Center. The senate:

  • Approved unanimously the following resolutions: (1) Implementation of the City of San Francisco parking tax; (2) Calling for a task force on faculty workload equity; and (3) Opposing upcoming Title IX policy changes.
  • Heard in first reading a proposal for a graduate certificate in International Business and Global Leadership and proposed changes to the by-laws and constitution of the Academic Senate of SF State.
  • Heard in first reading proposed changes to policy # S18-196, Withdrawal from Courses, and #S12-151, All-University Committee on International Programs.

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

Anita Silvers memorial event, April 11

A special memorial session honoring the late Professor of Philosophy Anita Silvers will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division Meeting at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis hotel. The memorial session will be immediately followed by a two-hour reception in honor of Silvers. There will be an informal opportunity for attendees to speak about their memories of the late philosopher and activist. If you plan to attend, please send an RSVP to Please include any accommodations you may require. 

Monday, March 9

Cancelled — Recital: chamber music ensembles: 1 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

Cancelled — Recital: chamber music ensembles: 7:30 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

Tuesday, March 10

Cancelled — Gerontology Prospective Students Informational Sessions: noon, online

Cancelled — Recital: Beethoven sonatas for piano and violin: 7:30 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

Wednesday, March 11

Cancelled — LGBTQ Faculty/Staff & Allies Luncheon: noon in LIB 286 (Faculty Commons)

Cancelled — Recital: Beethoven sonatas for piano and violin: 1:10 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

Cancelled — “Queer Yo’ Mind: Chest Binding 101”: 3 p.m. in T-144, Richard Oaks Multicultural Center, Cesar Chavez Student Center

Cancelled — Lecture: Jose Antonio Vargas: “Dear America, Notes of an Undocumented Citizen”: 3:30 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

Cancelled — Workshop: “Data: Where and How to Get It”: 4 p.m. in HUM 407

Cancelled — Public Administration Prospective Students Informational Sessions: 6 p.m., online

Thursday, March 12

Cancelled — CSU Northern California Hospitality & Tourism Career Expo 2020: 10 a.m. in Annex 1

Cancelled — “Developing Your Teaching ePortfolio”: 1:30 p.m. in LIB 222

Cancelled — Lecture: “Sanctuary Cities: The Politics of Refuge”: 2 p.m. in HUM 304

Cancelled — Poetry reading: In-Common Writers Series: Prageeta Sharma and Dodie Bellamy: 7 p.m. at the Poetry Center (HUM 512)

Cancelled — University Dance Theatre: 7:30 p.m. in the McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts building

Friday, March 13

Cancelled — Recital: “Watching and Learning from Beethoven’s Creative Mind”: 1:10 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

Cancelled — Poetry reading: In-Common Writers Series: Dodie Bellamy and Prageeta Sharma: 7 p.m. at Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia Street, San Francisco

Cancelled — University Dance Theatre: 7:30 p.m. in the McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts building

Saturday, March 14

Cancelled — University Dance Theatre: 7:30 p.m. in the McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts building

Sunday, March 15

Cancelled — University Dance Theatre: 2 p.m. in the McKenna Theatre, Creative Arts building

Cancelled — Concert: Morrison Artists Series: Core Ensemble featuring Shinnerrie Jackson: 3 p.m. in Knuth Hall, Creative Arts building

Wilczak: skeletons can be key to unlocking the past

Department Chair and Associate Professor of Anthropology Cynthia Wilczak appeared on “AnthroBiology Podcast” to discuss how occupational stress markers on skeletal remains offer a peek into our ancestors’ lives. Many activities and occupations involve heavy labor or repetitive movements that can affect bones, leaving clues to daily life that can survive the centuries. Of course, other factors — such as genetics and disease — can have their own impact on the body, sometimes making it difficult to be certain what caused which changes. “It becomes frustrating because you want to find out one thing from the skeleton, but getting at that data can be sometimes really, really tough,” Wilczak said. Listen to the full interview on the podcast’s webpage.

Yutian Wong essay explores Asian American dance

Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Yutian Wong recently contributed an essay titled “Contemporary Asian American Dance” to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2020). In the essay, Wong discussed all of the components of contemporary Asian American dance, including the history of Asian American dance studies.

Tigay’s globetrotting quest

Associate Professor of Creative Writing Chanan Tigay was interviewed by the Jewish Journal about his book “The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World’s Oldest Bible.” Tigay discussed his search for a missing biblical manuscript, which took him to eight countries on four continents. During the 1880s, an antiques dealer named Moses Wilhelm Shapira claimed to have an original copy of the book of Deuteronomy — a copy that experts at the time dismissed as a hoax. “Some biblical scholars in the mid-20th century recalled Shapira’s story and wondered whether in fact he discovered the first Dead Sea Scroll decades before the rest,” Tigay said. Yet this object had “mysteriously disappeared,” he said. “I decided that I needed to start looking, to try to prove whether or not it was real or fake.”

Sundarrajan speaks up about voice clinic

Assistant Professor of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Anusha Sundarrajan was quoted in a Washington Examiner article about the founding of the transgender, nonbinary speech clinic at SF State. The speech therapy program is designed to help transgender and nonbinary students identify and speak in a voice that matches their gender expression. “With our clinic, we provide a nonjudgmental space where our participants can find a voice that defines who they are,” Sundarrajan said. “We want to create a safe and open environment for all our participants.”

Bagley on VR gaming, fitness

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Jimmy Bagley discussed how virtual reality gaming can be used for physical fitness in an interview with Dallas/Fort Worth NBC affiliate KXAS-TV. In the segment, Bagley gave a tour of the University’s exercise physiology lab and explained his role as principal investigator with the Virtual Reality Health Institute. “We basically look at how virtual reality gaming can be a form of exercise,” he said. “We want a really accurate measure, so we actually measure the oxygen you breathe in and the oxygen you breathe out, so without getting technical, we look at the calories you’re burning during gameplay and compare that to walking, jogging or tennis or whatever.” Watch the video online.