May 28, 2024

News and Announcements

A graduate waves while walking on the warning track at Oracle Park during the Commencement processional

SF State celebrated the Class of 2024 at its 123rd Commencement ceremony Friday, May 24, at Oracle Park. More than 4,000 graduates attended the event along with thousands of family and friends. 

In addition to celebrating new graduates, SF State and the CSU) conferred honorary degrees on three individuals who’ve distinguished themselves with their service to others: actor and activist Benjamin Bratt, attorney and civil rights activist Walter Riley and the late psychologist, activist and educator Joseph L. White (A.B., ’54; M.S., ’58). White’s degree was accepted by his daughter Lori S. White, president of Indiana’s DePauw University. All three acceptance speeches emphasized the importance of activism and encouraged the Class of 2024 to make a difference in the world. 

“I accept this recognition of my life’s work in civil rights, against racism, against police brutality, against exploitation of our environment and people for the benefit of the economic and political elite,” said Riley, who received the honorary degree Doctor of Laws. “I acknowledge all those whose work make this campus a place for truth and justice. Through our collective efforts we can move closer to a world where ideals become realities.” 

Riley attended SF State in the 1960s and participated in the 1968 student strike that led to the creation of the University’s College of Ethnic Studies. Later he was active in the labor and anti-war movements, and after earning a law degree from Golden Gate University he took his fight for social justice into the courts. 

“Every generation needs a purpose,” he told this year’s graduates. “May that purpose be just, creating a world of fairness and compassion.” 

In his acceptance speech, Bratt recalled the struggles of growing up poor in San Francisco, one of five children being raised by a single mother who’d emigrated from Peru. 

“School proved to be the refuge that I needed,” said Bratt, an award-winning actor and producer best known for roles in “Law & Order,” “Modern Family” and “Traffic.” “I loved school, and it was there that I discovered I was an eager and enthusiastic learner and seeker. More to the point, it was there that I discovered my own creativity and the power of the arts.” 

Bratt, who received the honorary degree Doctor of Fine Arts, challenged his audience to use their educations to make a difference. 

“If you are receiving your degree it’s because you’ve discovered your own voice and have enjoyed the privilege of someone else’s belief in you, perhaps your teachers, your own family, your community,” said Bratt, a longtime supporter of the American Indian College Fund, Amazon Watch, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Mission Cultural Center and other nonprofits. “The question is: What will you do with that privilege and the power of a prestigious university education? I’ll let you in on a little secret: We’re counting on you to do something spectacular even as you figure it out, because you are the inspiration of our hope.” 

White talked about her father’s pioneering work as an educator and psychologist. A two-time graduate of SF State, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University, he became known as “the godfather of Black psychology.” 

He returned to SF State in 1968 as a professor of Psychology and later dean of Undergraduate Studies, helping to launch what is now known as the Department of Africana Studies. 

“Graduates, I hope you are inspired by my dad’s story and his lifetime and legacy of service to others, of which many of you are direct recipients,” said White of her father, who was granted the honorary degree Doctor of Letters. White added that she hoped graduates would see her father in themselves and, like him, accept that “those who have been so richly blessed have a responsibility to give back to others in meaningful ways.” 

Other Commencement speakers included SF State President Lynn Mahoney, Associated Students President Ersa, graduate speaker Genesis Sorrick and undergraduate speaker Eddison Jintalan Contreras. The ceremony will be made available to view in its entirety on SF State’s YouTube channel

Learn more about the University’s 2024 Commencement

Photo by Kevin Perez 

Two students talking and demonstrating a flat-foldable yellow material

With the end of the semester and Commencement approaching, it’s celebration season at SF State, and many colleges, departments and organizations are honoring students’ successes in and outside of the classroom. Among the festivities are college- and campus-wide research project showcases, many of which are highly anticipated long-standing traditions. All of these events shine a spotlight on the variety and caliber of research, student scholarship and creative activities (RSCA) happening at SF State. 

Undergraduate and graduate students across campus shared their work in posters, presentations, performances and more. This year, the colleges of Liberal & Creative Arts (LCA), Science & Engineering (CoSE), Ethnic Studies (CoES) and Health & Social Sciences (CHSS) held showcases in early May. In April, there was also a Graduate Research and Creative Works showcase

“The purpose of the showcases is to celebrate and make visible the remarkable research and creative work that our students do. This work often goes above and beyond the traditional classroom experience and highlights the experiential learning opportunities that students have at SF State,” said Kinesiology Professor Kate Hamel, who is also assistant dean of faculty development and scholarship. “These events provide students an opportunity to develop presentation skills and network with peers, faculty and community members.” 

At the second annual CHSS showcase, Hamel was pleasantly surprised to see that students generally stayed off their phone — which everyone knows is quite a feat — and fully engaged with the event. Students chatted and networked even as the event approached a close. 

“My research experience at SF State has been so encouraging. The Marcus Fellowship has allowed me to delve into topics I’m passionate about from an academic standpoint,” said LCA showcase participant Eleanor Boone, a Political Science major with Pre-law Certificate graduating this semester. Her work examines the relationship between contemporary religious liberty decisions and sociopolitical minority rights at the Supreme Court level, and conveys the broader implication of the current court’s decisions. “It’s grown my confidence in my abilities as a student, and I hope to continue my research as I pursue higher education.” 

While the Lam College of Business doesn’t have a project showcase, it held its annual Innovation Pitch Competition in April. Students pitched business projects to entrepreneurs, investors and faculty for an opportunity to compete for $10,000 in shared cash prizes and receive entrepreneurship feedback. 

In addition to the college-level showcases, the University held its annual Student Research Competition, in which SF State students from all colleges shared their independent research. This year, 11 student delegates from the University-level competition advanced to the 38th CSU Student Research Competition at CSU Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Four of the SF State participants placed second in their respective categories after competing against hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students from across the 23-school CSU system. 

Visit SF State Create to learn more about these showcases and student research opportunities.   

Photo by Cecilia Cao 

Dancers in traditional Hawaiian dress pose in front of a large fire

SF State Magazine’s spring/summer 2024 issue, now available online and in print, explores inventive storytelling, with articles, profiles and even comics that shine a light on how Gators are sharing their perspectives with the world. 

The issue’s cover story focuses on two groundbreaking choreographers — Associate Professor of Dance Ray Tadio and alumnus and kumu hula (master hula teacher) Patrick Makuakāne (B.S., ’89) — who use traditional dance to express who they are and where they come from. Another feature article presents a gallery of portraits of Gator musicians — with all the photos courtesy of Journalism students. In a first for the magazine, the center spread is a comic book-style exploration of the University’s Creative Nonfiction Comics Making certificate, also created by student artists. And journalism legend Ben Fong-Torres (B.A., ’66) returns to the magazine to conduct an in-depth interview with cryptocurrency pioneer and philanthropist Chris Larsen (B.S., ’84).  

The issue’s departments expand on the storytelling theme with stories about the unique programming on campus radio station KSFS and a scientific illustration grant that supports the work of artists through SF State’s Estuary & Ocean Science Center. And the magazine is filled with profiles of amazing Gator storytellers, including: 

  • Community newspaper pioneer Juan Gonzales (B.A., ’70) 
  • “Ologies” podcaster Alie Ward (B.A., ’99) 
  • Twin writing team/alums Shawneé and Shawnelle Gibbs (both B.A., ’02) 
  • And much more! 

Check out the full issue of SF State Magazine now

Photo courtesy of Patrick Makuakāne 

Three faculty members have won the 2023 – 2024 Lam-Larsen Community Engagement Initiative Mini-Grant, and one faculty member has won the Lam-Larsen Community Engagement Performance Award. A committee of three faculty members evaluated all of the award applications. 

Winners and project summaries: 

  • Labor and Employment Studies Professor and Director John Logan’s mini-grant project focuses on climate change as a labor issue at the national, state, and local levels. It will be one of the only studies to focus on impacts of climate change on outdoor workers’ health and wellbeing. His students will conduct interviews with workers while being supervised by his former students who are now senior labor compliance inspectors. The results of this study will increase awareness on climate and labor, will be used in union education programs and will support/lobby for stronger legislations to protect outdoor construction workers. 
  • Economics Lecturer Faculty Camille Antinori’s mini-grant will develop an environmental valuation project based on a Martinez Chevron oil refinery incident that released toxic plume of metallic ash in 2022. Students will gather, organize and analyze datasets related to this accident. They will further be involved in federal and state environmental policy and research on actual enforcement and management actions for the toxic releases. The highest quality projects will be shared with the representatives of the city of Martinez along with regulation proposals. This learning-by-doing exercise has students generating their social welfare measures for environmental damage and working directly with tools and concepts of environmental justice while interacting with related institutions. 
  • International Business Professor Yikuan Lee has been a practitioner of mindfulness techniques in her classrooms and has been conducting workshops to outside communities. In her min-grant project, she will develop a pedagogical approach that would aim to significantly improve students’ learning experiences, academic performance and wellbeing. By developing experience and gaining expertise through outside community partners, Lee will also bring her expertise to Lam Family College of Business faculty and staff with an immersive workshop on overall wellbeing and mental health to benefit the participants. 
  • Accounting Assistant Professor Lena Yang wins the Performance Award for her impactful contributions to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The program connects students with diverse community taxpayers and partners such as United Way Bay Area and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) while facilitating students’ professional growth. VITA has grown exponentially under Yang’s advisory role over the past few years, growing from preparing over 100 federal tax returns to now over 750. VITA has received a Certificate of Recognition from the IRS. 
Emeriti faculty in a conference room

President Lynn Mahoney and other Gator colleagues celebrated this year’s emeriti faculty at the Rites of Passage Luncheon on May 16 on the Vista Room. Hosted by Provost Amy Sueyoshi, the luncheon honored the retiring faculty members’ years of service. 

Please view a list of this year’s emerita/emeritus faculty via Faculty Affairs

Photo: Front row (from left): Amy Sueyoshi, Ellen Hines and Maxine Chernoff. Second row (from left): Tamara Spencer, Brigitte Davila, Roger Woodward, Victoria Quijano, Anne Galjour, Mary Scott, James Warren Boyd, Lynn Mahoney, Jeanne-Marie Hughes, Rebecca Carabez, Larry Vitale and Eugene Sivadas. Third row (from left): Carmen Domingo, Grace Yoo, Larry Horvath, Steve Dickison, Anna-Lisa van der Valk, Ifeoma Kiddoe Nwankwo, Judith Kysh, Carleen Mandolfo, Rhonnie Washington, Gerardo Ungson, Yuji Shibuya, Herb Meiberger and Alan Jung. 

Photo courtesy of Faculty Affairs 

The Lam Family College of Business’ Information Systems Department announces that it has issued over 600 Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) certifications. These certifications validate skills and knowledge in the Microsoft Office applications Excel and Access through project-based testing. Certified users demonstrate proficiency in utilizing the full features of Microsoft Office, enhancing their readiness for academic and professional opportunities. 

Lecturer Faculty Daniel Ciomek conceived the program, supported by the Information Systems Department, college staff, the dean’s office and Academic Technology. 

The MOS certification program allows students in the course ISYS 363: “Information Systems for Management” to take proctored MOS certification exams. Successful candidates earn an official Microsoft certificate and a LinkedIn badge, providing an advantage during job searches and interactions with recruiters. Since its inception in 2018, over 1,200 students have taken the exams, with three students achieving California State Champion status and one student securing 10th place in the U.S. National MOS Championship for Excel in 2023. 

Zoom screenshot of a CEETL meeting

The Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEETL) held a mini-symposium on artificial intelligence (AI) and teaching on May 3. The event had two components: a morning session that featured faculty and graduate student instructor presentations about how they use generative AI with their students, and an afternoon keynote presentation from José Antonio Bowen. 

The morning session featured 10 presentations split into two panels. Each panel represented a diversity of departments from science, design, writing, art, humanities, to business. Each presentation featured different uses of Generative AI. These panels drew in 69 participants with 55 of them from SF State. Questions from participants included how to cite AI and guardrails that faculty should put in place for ethical student use. The presentations show different teaching approaches that address these questions.   

During the afternoon session, Bowen discussed how generative AI is changing how we think and work, and, consequently, he argued it should change teaching approaches and expectations of students. He also shared several examples of how faculty can prompt various generative AI tools to make work more efficient. A total of 137 participants attended with people from 15 of the 23 CSU campuses present; the majority of attendees were from SFSU, San Diego State, San Bernardino, Dominguez Hills and Northridge. 

CEETL encourages faculty to review Bowen’s resources this summer for playful and useful ways to learn about generative AI. SF State faculty can request the recording of Bowen’s lecture for their own viewing, which we highly recommended you watch. CEETL has a few copies of his book, which faculty can claim on a first-come, first-served basis.   

Please visit SFSU’s AI landing page to keep up and join the campus AI conversation

Photo courtesy of CEETL 

Kimberly DeBoer of the San Francisco State volleyball team is a recipient of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division II 50th Anniversary Scholarship. A total of 46 student-athletes received the scholarship, worth over $1,000. 

The longtime campus Technology Acquisition Request (TAR) process will be relaunched this summer, introducing a new streamlined interface and a new name: BuyIT.  

Beginning Tuesday, July 30, campus users who purchase information technology goods and services will begin using the new website to submit requests.  

More information for official launch events will be announced in June, along with opportunities to attend demonstrations of the new process, access to new training materials and support information. This will help ensure all campus users are informed and prepared to submit requests in the new BuyIT application.  

The change is part of a year-long collaborative effort between Academic Technology, Information Technology Services and other campus partners, including Procurement and the Disability Programs and Resource Center.   

Campus input through focus groups and a user group made up of staff and faculty has been critical to this process improvement initiative. 

Please visit the project website for more information

Academic Technology (AT) is open and available throughout summer. Its summer hours beginning May 28 are Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., excluding campus holidays. Summer is a great opportunity to schedule a checkup or tuneup with AT to get your computer back in shape.  

Contact AT by email at, call 415-405-5555 or visit its office in Library 80. Get help with Canvas or learn to Renovate and Elevate your Canvas course. View the Instructional Design team page on the AT website for more information, and get quick tips from our experts in AT’s “One Little Thing” video series, which offers self-paced opportunities for pedagogical exploration. 

For the latest from AT delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe to ATCentral. Visit the AT website, and check out the new events page for the latest from Academic Technology at SF State. 

Today’s issue of CampusMemo is the last for spring 2024. There will be monthly publications on Monday, June 10, and Monday, July 15. The first fall 2024 issue will be Monday, Aug. 19. Publication will be weekly until December. 

SF State Spotlight

“Crutch,” a documentary by Journalism Associate Professor Sachi Cunningham, was among 11 titles named a 2023 Notable Film for Adults by the American Library Association Film and Media Round Table.  

Cunningham also recently gave a TED Talk in Manhattan Beach, based on the lessons she has learned as a big wave water photographer. Her big wave photography and videography have been featured in The New York Times and on the “Today” show. 

Marc Stein, the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Professor of History, was recently named vice president of the Organization of American Historians (OAH). He is also a member of the OAH executive committee. Founded in 1907, OAH is the largest professional society dedicated to the teaching and study of American history. 

Stein shared his expertise with LGBTQ Nation in a May 21 cover story about activism against homophobic police raids on Fire Island, New York, in 1968.  

“My understanding of the dynamic in Fire Island and Suffolk County is that you have tensions between the queer visitors and the straight locals. Further complicated is the fact that there were queer locals as well who have to negotiate their family and social connections while also being very aware of the less permanent and part-time queer residents,” Stein said. “You’d often have class resentments or racial resentments layered on top of sexual conflicts with the locals, specifically often young local men and the queer people who were arriving to have fun. That then arguably becomes the basis for the police engaging in really repressive acts.” 

Recreation, Parks, Tourism and Holistic Health Professors Richard Harvey and Erik Peper authored “Rethinking the monies spent on cancer screening tests.” It was published in Townsend Letter: The Examiner of Alternative Medicine on May 18.