November 8, 2021

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Jennifer Summit

Summit to step down as provost in 2022

Provost Jennifer Summit announced last week her decision to complete her term as provost and to take up a faculty role in the College of Liberal & Creative Arts at the end of this academic year.

“I’ve thought long and hard about this move. I joined San Francisco State eight years ago, drawn by our vision of higher education as a force of equity and justice. And every day since I’ve been filled with gratitude for the extraordinary honor of serving our University and the people who do its work — through teaching and curriculum, student support, shared governance, community and creative activity, scholarship and research, and the professional expertise that holds everything together,” Summit wrote in an online statement after sharing her decision with the Academic Senate. “As the University begins to turn the corner of the pandemic, I now feel strongly called to serve our mission in a different way. Taking a faculty role means returning to work that’s close to my heart: actively connecting with students through teaching and learning, and engaging directly with crucial ideas and problems in the disciplines and the world.”

Summit was named the University’s provost in March 2018. Prior to that she served in the position in an interim capacity for 18 months.

“Jennifer’s thoughtful and deep commitments to shared governance and student success have been hallmarks of her tenure,” President Mahoney said. “Under her leadership, we have made significant improvements in access to classes, advising and tutoring, and in fostering equity and excellence in our teaching and classrooms. And, with these, have seen important gains in retention and graduation rates,”

President Mahoney will work with the Academic Senate Executive Committee to launch a search for new provost with the expectation of filling the position by July 1, 2022. The search will be open and transparent with opportunities for all to meet the finalists and submit their feedback..

J Patterson

Grad student receives top CSU award, says it opens new doors to give back

SF State graduate student J Patterson has received the prestigious California State University Trustee Award for Outstanding Achievement, recognizing her commitment to giving back and the challenges she’s overcome. The annual award is the CSU’s highest recognition of student achievement for those who demonstrate superior academic performance and personal accomplishments.

Patterson says that during her youth, she didn’t think college was in her future. There were many obstacles — including her struggle to come to terms with her identity as a queer, transgender person — that led to mental health issues and addiction.

Patterson eventually left the area where she grew up, Del Norte County in Northern California, but returned in 2013 with a goal. “I reconnected with my community to help build the support system I wished I had had as a young, queer trans person growing up,” she said. After founding Gender Talk, a youth-centered LGBTQ and gender justice community group, she discovered a passion for social work that inspired her to rethink her future.

“This award is so much more than just a lump sum of money. It means doors opening that I dreamed of,” said Patterson, who has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from SF State and returned to the University this fall to earn a master’s degree in Social Work. “The contributions don’t stop here because everything I’ve done is to give back to others in some way. It is such a beautiful act to give.”

​​​​​​​Every year, the CSU honors 23 students, one from each CSU campus, with the Trustees’ Awards. Awardees have all demonstrated inspirational resolve along the path to college success, and many are the first in their families to attend college — just like Patterson.

Nathan Hare

Africana Studies and Black Unity Center launch Nathan Hare Black Power Speaker Series

The Department of Africana Studies in partnership with the Black Unity Center hosted the inaugural event for the Nathan Hare Black Power Series Wednesday, Oct. 27. The speaker series is part of a Department of Africana Studies initiative to honor the legacy of SF State’s establishment of the first Black Studies department. When the department was established in 1968, Nathan Hare (pictured in a 1969 TV news report) served as the first department chair. In addition, Hare made scholarly contributions that helped to establish Black studies as a discipline. While honoring this legacy, the series also seeks to pay homage to the SF State strikers who played an important role in changing the academy as well as their contributions to Africana communities and the larger society.

The inaugural event — titled “Returning to the Origins to Envision the Future” — included a distinguished group of panelists. To a sizeable group of participants via Zoom the panelists discussed their journey to becoming Africana studies scholars, their contributions to the discipline and the role of Africana studies in the 21st century. The panel was moderated by Lecturer in Africana Studies Sean Teal and included the following panelists:

  • Frederick Douglass Dixon, Assistant Professor and Director of Black Studies at the University of Wyoming
  • Crystal Edwards, Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana Studies Long Beach
  • Stephen Finley, Associate Professor and Inaugural Chair of the Department of African and African American Studies at Louisiana State University
  • Maulana Karenga, Professor and Department Chair of Africana Studies at California State University Long Beach
  • Jasmine Williams, Lecturer in the Department of Africana Studies at SF State
  • Donela Wright, Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana Studies at SF State

Department of Africana Studies faculty makes national contribution to Black Lives Matter and racial justice

The Department of Africana Studies core faculty and lecturers have written a series of books that will make a significant contribution to the national discourse as it relates to Black Lives Matter and racial justice.

Learn more about the Department of Africana Studies and how its faculty members are contributing to the national conversation around race and justice on the department’s website.

Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences awarded grant for Project AAC for ALL

The Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences was awarded a five-year Personnel Preparation grant from 2021-2026 by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs for a total of $1.25 million. Project Directors and Professors of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Gloria Soto and Nancy Robinson (emerita) will implement Project AAC for ALL (Access to Languages and Learning) to address the shortage of professionals to meet the linguistic, academic and social needs of an increasing number of children with disabilities who have a home language other than English and benefit from various types of Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association defines AAC as “all of the ways that someone communicates besides talking. People of all ages can use AAC if they have trouble with speech or language skills.” AAC for ALL will prepare 50 speech language pathologists and special educators to provide services to students who rely on AAC and are dual language learners. AAC for ALL at SF State will (1) implement an interdisciplinary, evidence-based curriculum that includes academic coursework, clinical practice, community-based fieldwork, school internships and international service-learning with the Nika Project ; (2) integrate AAC specialization within state and national certification standards for SLPs and SPED teachers; and (3) implement a comprehensive evaluation plan that includes an assessment of course quality, candidate knowledge and performance and project impact on educational services for students with AAC needs who are dual language learners.

For more information contact Soto at or Robinson at

PERC Fellow (Promoting Equity in Relationships amongst Colleagues) applications being accepted until Nov. 19

SF State is exploring new ways to address and repair systemic inequities and the interactional events of racist and sexist actions and microaggressions as well as other harms to faculty and staff. SF State Restores, part of the larger National Science Foundation-funded SF State Transforms effort, seeks a team to create restorative strategies that address harms to our campus faculty and staff that do not rise to the level of Title IX or Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation (DHR) policies.

PERC Fellows will receive interactive training in restorative techniques by a team of experts and build connection with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) focused groups on campus. The PERC Fellowship is designed to prepare participants for future leadership roles and comes with a $1,500 stipend for the first year of commitment.

Upon completion of training, PERC Fellows will serve as intake representative for bias-related concerns from faculty and staff. Fellows will work with PERC colleagues and SF State’s Bias Incident Education Team (BIET) to develop and implement appropriate responses. PERC Fellows will serve a one-year term beginning Jan. 1, 2022, that is renewable up to two times.

Applicants will be required to fully participate in trainings. The anticipated time commitment for PERC Fellows is five to 10 hours a month.

Applications are now being accepted and are due by Nov. 19. Apply via Qualtrics. If you have questions about submitting the application, please contact the project director, Erin Eger, at

Academic Senate report

The Academic Senate met on Tuesday, Nov. 2, via Zoom. The senate:

  • Approved the 2022-2023 Academic Calendar.
  • Heard in first reading Revision and Update of Temporary Modification of Academic Senate Policy S20-241 Policy Resolution on Retention and Promotion.
  • Heard as information the item Online Program Template.

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

Guilt-Free Holiday Nutrition,” Nov. 12

The campus community is invited to attend the Holistic Health Fall Series presentation “Guilt-Free Holiday Nutrition” from noon to 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12. The discussion will be led by Marisa Soski, a naturopathic doctor with clinical practices in Los Angeles, Portland and Boulder, Colorado. The presentation will be virtual. Join via Zoom. Passcode 047922; meeting ID 893 4499 0362.

“10 Strategies to Protect Your Wellness Over the Holiday Season,” Nov. 17

In partnership with Health Promotion & Wellness, Human Resources is excited to offer the workshop “10 Strategies to Protect Your Wellness Over the Holiday Season.” The holidays may be both joyous and stressful, so University staff, faculty and MPPs are invited to come learn simple ways to support their health and well-being. The workshop will be held online from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17. RSVP via Zoom.

SF State welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodations upon request. If you would like reasonable accommodations for this Zoom session, please contact

University Budget Committee meeting Nov. 18, Office Hours Nov. 19

The University Budget Committee (UBC) will meet via Zoom from 10 a.m. to noon Thursday, Nov. 18. These meetings welcome members of the campus community to attend and learn about the University budgeting process. An open forum at the end of each meeting provides an opportunity for public comment. UBC is comprised of SF State faculty, staff, students and administrators. More information about the UBC can be found on the Administration & Finance website

The day after the UBC meeting — Friday, Nov. 19 — Office Hours will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Peer-hosted by UBC members, Office Hours offer an opportunity for questions about budget-related topics and meeting feedback. All campus staff and faculty are welcome to listen or contribute to budget-related conversations.

UBC welcomes persons with disabilities to all meetings and may provide reasonable accommodations upon request. To RSVP to the UBC meeting as a guest or to ask questions about the UBC or its work, please email RSVP to the Office Hours via Qualtrics.

In memoriam: Thomas D. Spencer

Professor Emeritus of Psychology Thomas D. Spencer died peacefully at his home in Mill Valley on Oct. 18 after a courageous battle against Parkinson’s disease. Spencer was born and raised in Chicago. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; his Master of Arts degree at Hollins College; and his Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. He headed West with his family in his cream-colored Thunderbird in 1964. At SF State Spencer ascended the academic ranks to become chair of the Psychology Department and head of Developmental Psychology. He also served as chief of staff for University President Chia-Wei Woo. After retiring, Spencer served as president of the SFSU Retirement Association.

Spencer was a revered professor of Psychology. He was co-founder of the University’s Child Study Center (now Children’s Campus) and co-authored a seminal text in the field of early childhood development. He was known as a demanding professor, but devoted to his students. He and his beloved wife Gloria supported the University Women’s Association (UWA). They founded the UWA scholarship fund, which was subsequently named for Gloria. Spencer was also active in his community of Mill Valley. He served on the Mill Valley School Board, a staunch supporter for classroom tradition and discipline.

Spencer’s marriage to Gloria was the center of his personal and professional life. Together they were parents to their daughters, Allison and Kristin, and proud grandparents of three. Spencer derived great joy from observing the development of his two great granddaughters.

Spencer is remembered not only as a great educator but also as an exemplary family man and a gentleman of dignity and integrity with high character. Donations to the SF State Foundation can be sent to 922 Evergreen Way, Millbrae, CA 94030 indicating that they are for the Gloria Spencer UWA Scholarship Endowment Fund.

Fischer contributes to “Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap”

Anthropology Associate Professor Dawn-Elissa Fischer contributed four essays to “The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap,” a book and nine-CD box set chronicling the growth of the music and culture from its beginnings.

New York Times music critic Jon Caramanica, in his Aug. 5 column, noted two of Fischer’s essays: “It’s reassuring to see early tracks by the Port Arthur, Texas, duo UGK (‘Pocket Full of Stones’) and the Memphis duo 8ball & MJG (‘Comin’ Out Hard’) alongside their temporal peers from New York — too often the history of Southern rap has been told out of step with, and siloed off from, the rest of the genre.”

Fischer’s other essays for the anthology analyze LL Cool J’s “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” and Marley Marl’s “The Symphony.”

Professor Viator: Language matters in Rittenhouse trial

History Associate Professor Felicia A. Viator wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post on Nov. 4. Her piece explores the use of language in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial and how language affects how people treat each other and leads to actions including violence.

She noted the violent response to racism against Mexican Americans in Los Angeles in the 1920s–1940s.

“Crime reports citing young ‘zooted’ — the new term for wearing the drape suit — gangsters with Spanish-surnames (and often their home addresses, too) helped crystallize stereotypes about Mexican American youths as uniformly criminal and East Los Angeles as a haven for crime,” Viator wrote. “Whether guilty of crimes or not, these young people — already categorized as boy and girl gangs — also became pejoratively ‘pachucos,’ ‘cholitas,’ ‘hoodlums’ and, by the 1940s, ‘zooters.’”

Jeung keynotes diversity forum at University of Wisconsin, Madison

Asian American Studies Professor Russell Jeung delivered a keynote speech at the University of Wisconsin, Madison’s Diversity Forum on Nov. 2.

He discussed the nationwide rise in anti-Asian hate last year, which led him to create a nonprofit organization, Stop AAPI Hate. He linked the surge to the anti-Asian hate that took root in the Western U.S. nearly two centuries ago.

“I’m still sort of stupefied how much anger and hate is directed towards Asians,” Jeung said in his speech. “It’s really chilling and has been really painful for me.”

Read more about Jeung’s speech in a story from UW-Madison News.

Celebrating “Striketober” on the picket line

In an Oct. 26 opinion piece for Counterpunch, International Relations Assistant Professor Anthony Pahnke wrote about a growth in labor activism nationwide. Last month, more than 100,000 workers participated in strikes or threatened to strike, leading activists and pundits to coin the term “Striketober.”

“For working people around the world, there’s a lesson here in not only showing force in numbers, but also doing so in a way that may actually push authorities to make real change,” Pahnke wrote. “This fact of seizing the opportunity and detecting the right time to act should not be overlooked.”

Peper, Harvey address “TechStress” in new article

Professor of Recreation, Park, Tourism and Holistic Health Erik Peper and Associate Professor of Recreation, Parks, Tourism and Holistic Health Richard Harvey published an article titled “Causes of TechStress and ‘Technology-Associated Overuse’ Syndrome and Solutions for Reducing Screen Fatigue, Neck and Shoulder Pain, and Screen Addiction” in The Townsend Letter, a publication devoted to alternative medicine. The Examiner of Alternative Medicine. The article discusses the psychological and physical impact of our changing relationship with technology as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the article on the Towsend Letter website.