February 6, 2023

News & Announcements

A group of students and staff members gather around a sign saying Black Unity Center

The University will honor Black History Month through more than a dozen events across campus in February.

“I am always excited for Black History Month; it’s the most wonderful time of the year for me,” said Tarshel Beards, director of SF State’s Black Unity Center. “This year’s theme is Black Resistance, and SFSU’s program offerings range from starting a business and Black entrepreneurship to honoring the legacy of scholar and SFSU’s own Nathan Hare, Ph.D., and the annual Malcom X Mural Celebration. The Black Student Union is hosting the Hassani Bell awards, and SFSU is hosting the 2023 Black Middle School Excellence Middle School Conference for potential future Gators. This is the largest calendar of events in four years, and there is something for everyone.”

Among the events planned for this month:

Black Unity Mixer
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Location: Black Unity Center, Village C, Room 142

Presentation: The Three Assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Wednesday, Feb. 8, 5 p.m.
Location: TBD

Honoring the Legacy: A Tribute to Dr. Nathan Hare, Part 1
Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2 – 3:30 p.m.
RSVP online.

Honoring the Legacy: A Tribute to Dr. Nathan Hare, Part 2
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2 – 3:30 p.m.
RSVP online.

Presentation: Black Entrepreneurship as Resistance: How to Write a Business Plan Workshop
Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2 – 4 p.m.
RSVP online.

Being Black Abroad: Experiences of SF State Students on Study Abroad
Thursday, Feb. 16, noon
Location: TBD
For more information contact Marilyn Jackson.

Honoring the Legacy: The Impact of Africana Studies: A Roundtable with Alumni
Thursday, Feb. 16, 2 p.m.
Location: TBD

Documentary screening and filmmaker discussion: “More Than a Month”
Friday, Feb. 17, 1 – 3 p.m.
Location: Black Unity Center, Village C, Room 142

Black History Mobile Museum
Friday, Feb. 17
Location: EP 116

Malcolm X Annual Mural Celebration
Tuesday, Feb. 21, noon – 4 p.m.
Rosa Parks A-C, Cesar Chavez Student Center

Black Studies in K – 12 Schools and African-Centered Teacher Preparation
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 5:30 p.m.
RSVP online.

Chicken & Juice
Thursday, Feb. 23, 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Rosa Parks A-C, Cesar Chavez Student Center

Hassani Bell Awards
Friday, Feb. 24, 5:30 p.m.
Annex II

Documentary screening and discussion: “Warrior Women”
Monday, Feb. 27, 1 – 3 p.m.
Location: Black Unity Center, Village C, Room 142

2023 Black Excellence Middle School Conference
Tuesday, Feb. 28, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Location: The Richard Oakes Multicultural Center and Rosa Parks A-C, Cesar Chavez Student Center

For more information and updated details, see the Black Unity Center's Instagram page or send a message to tbeards@sfsu.edu.

Ernest J. Gaines on a stamp with the words BLACK HERITAGE

An SF State alumnus is the latest American to be honored with a first-class stamp from the U.S. Postal Service. The late novelist Ernest J. Gaines is the face of the 46th stamp in the Black Heritage Series

Gaines (B.A., ’57) is known for writing about the people in small-town Louisiana where he was raised, often exploring enslaved people, their descendants and their enslavers. He rose to fame in 1971 with “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” a historical novel chronicling the recollections of its 110-year-old Black protagonist, whose life spans from slavery to the civil rights era. After garnering a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize, it was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning television movie starring Cicely Tyson. His novel “A Lesson Before Dying,” about a Black man on death row for a murder he did not commit, not only won the 1993 National Books Critics Circle Award, but was also an Oprah’s Book Club selection. President Barack Obama awarded Gaines the National Medal of the Arts in 2013. Gaines died in 2019 at age 86. 

“Ernest J. Gaines remains an important role model for Creative Writing students at San Francisco State,” said May-lee Chai, associate professor and acting chair of the Creative Writing Department. “We remind our students that his first short story was published in our undergraduate journal, Transfer Magazine, which he later said led to multiple opportunities for him as a writer. His legacy as a literary giant and advocate for social justice is deeply inspiring.” 

Gaines was born in 1933 on a plantation in Oscar, Louisiana. He lived in the same former slave quarters where his family had been residing for five generations. At age 15, he moved to the Bay Area — the Navy town of Vallejo — due to a lack of educational opportunities in the South. His region of rural Louisiana lacked both a high school and a library where Black people were welcome. After Vallejo Junior College and the Army, Gaines enrolled at SF State. 

“It was there that I really got seriously into the writing,” Gaines said in a 2016 interview with the Academy of Achievement of his time at SF State. “I had some wonderful teachers on the campus at that time who were writers as well. And they encouraged me to write.” 

People work on laptops

The University is embarking on a three-year web content redesign project with OHO Interactive, a strategic web solutions company for higher education. As Strategic Marketing and Communications (SMC) undertakes this effort, it seeks input to understand how core stakeholders use the sfsu.edu website and how effective it is in promoting the University and communicating critical information.

You can share your insights by filling out a quick online survey. As a valued member of this community, you’ll be asked about the University, your impressions of the website and any ideas about improving it. Your answers will remain confidential, and any findings will be reported in the aggregate. The survey should take at most 10 minutes to complete. 

Thank you for your commitment to SF State!

The Institute for Civic and Community Engagement (ICCE) is excited to announce the winners of the 2023 Civic & Community Engagement Awards. The annual Civic & Community Engagement Awards recognize individuals and groups for their exceptional leadership, service and collaboration. The recipients of the 2023 Civic & Community Engagement Awards are:

  • Faculty Award for Excellence in Service Learning: Julietta Hua, Ph.D. (Professor and Chair of the Department of Women and Gender Studies)
  • Student Award for Excellence in Service Learning: Aremi Pacheco Cocom (Department of Public Health)
  • Student Award for Excellence in Community Engagement: Forrest Kreiss (Department of English Literature) and Daniel Tinajero (Department of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts, School of Cinema)
  • Community Partnership Award for Campus Collaboration: San Francisco Disability Business Alliance
  • Staff Award for Excellence in Community Excellence: Mika Okimura (Department of Biology)

The Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEETL) and the Academic Senate co-hosted the University Retreat 2023 on Wednesday, Jan. 25. If you missed it, catch the recording of the welcome and plenary on the CEETL website

All campus members — students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni and friends of SF State — are being invited to share their experiences, comments and feedback on the J. Paul Leonard Library. Please take the anonymous 10-minute survey with specific and open-ended questions to help support the development of this campus site and resource. For questions or concerns, please email albiniak@sfsu.edu.

Discontinuance has been proposed for the Master of Science in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism and will be reviewed by EPC in the coming weeks. Per Academic Senate Policy F19-177, the Educational Policies Committee (EPC) is required to inform the campus community of the following discontinuance proposal two weeks before senate action. Any party interested in filing a response should send an email to claude@sfsu.edu.

The Academic Senate met on Tuesday, Jan. 31, via Zoom. At the meeting the senate:

  • Viewed an informational item on the formation of a new School of the Environment, from the existing Environmental Studies program, Earth & Climate Science department and Geography & Environment department. The school will be in the College of Science & Engineering.
  • Adopted by general consent the Revision to Academic Calendar for 2023-2024.
  • Passed International Relations (Distance Education Authorization).
  • Passed M.S. in Quantitative Economics (Distance Education Authorization).
  • Passed M.A. in Special Education (Distance Education Authorization).
  • Passed Tenure Density Policy.
  • Heard in first reading Online Education Policy.
  • Heard a presentation from Senators Robert Keith Collins, Nancy C. Gerber and Darlene Yee-Melichar, “Academic Senate CSU Report.”
  • Deferred the following items until the next Senate Plenary on Feb. 14:
    • Changes in Bylaws to rename Curriculum Review and Approval Committee and to increase membership in the Student Affairs Committee.
    • Resolution in Memorial to Dr. Margaret Leahy.

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

Take a stroll through the center of campus on Wednesday, Feb. 8, and Thursday, Feb. 9, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. to see the International Education Exchange Council (IEEC) at the Study Abroad Fair. This event will be outside in the fresh air in front of the Cesar Chavez Student Center.

The tables at the fair will represent different countries that SF State students can study abroad in through SF State Exchange and California State University International Programs. International students and study abroad alumni decorated each table and will be on hand to talk about their country. Please encourage your students to attend as well. If your students are not on campus, have them follow SF State Study Abroad on Instagram and directly ask students currently studying abroad questions when they take over the account on Tuesdays.

Join the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEETL) in LIB 242 once a month on Wednesdays to discuss teaching through an equity lens. Grounded in the exchange of perspectives and ideas, JEDI Wednesdays is a series of in-person discussions that focus on inclusivity and belonging in our teaching practices. A $50 stipend will be awarded to faculty attendees for each session. GTAs will receive $20. Learn more on the CEETL website.

The first JEDI Wednesday will be on Wednesday, Feb. 15, from 10 to 11 a.m. Attendees will hear about first-gen student support from Crystal Wong, CEETL’s interim senior director of teaching and learning programs and services. At SF State, nearly 36% of undergraduates are the first in their families to attend college. Let’s discuss the scholarship on engagement and share equitable strategies to support the University’s work with first-generation students. Register online.

Join the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CEETL) for an eight-week fully online synchronous and/or asynchronous course offering from Feb. 20 to April 21 exploring equitable and relevant teaching practices and perspectives. This learning community is designed to support faculty in their pedagogy, provide a space for connection with other faculty members and share resources to support student success.

In this community, participants will work through seven modules that cover relevant and reflective pedagogy topics for faculty seeking more experience in evidence-based teaching. CEETL invites you to explore each topic by joining a synchronous session or engaging asynchronously at your own pace.

The schedule for synchronous sessions will be available after registration. Each topic has an asynchronous equivalent, so if you can’t make it to any of these sessions, you will still be able to complete the program successfully.

Faculty who complete the community requirements by April 21 will receive an $800 stipend. Register online by the Feb. 15 sign-up deadline. Registration is limited and will close when it reaches capacity.

The San Francisco State University Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative is hosting a casual networking event on Thursday, Feb. 23, from 4 to 6 p.m. Please join fellow entrepreneurial alumni, students and faculty for networking and learn about the entrepreneurship initiative at SF State while enjoying wine, beer, non-alcoholic beverages and light appetizers.

Recent participants of SF State IncuGator, who have since founded their own companies, will be there to show off their products and designs and answer any questions.

  • Potion Slingers: Denzill Loe (Computer Science, ’22); Matteo Fasano (BECA, ’20)
  • StomaMate: Scott Drapeau (M.A., Design, ’22), ’22 Pitch Competition Winner

Register online


Dr. Dorothy Tsuruta of Africana Studies was chosen to be Mistress of Ceremony at the San Francisco City Hall on Dec. 26, the first day of Kwawzaa; then on Jan. 1, to also bring the week of Kwanzaa to a close at St. Cyprian historical Black Episcopal church that serves a diverse San Francisco.  

Director of Athletics Stephanie Shrieve-Hawkins wrote a first-person story in the December 2022 issue of Athletics Administration, a publication of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, reflecting on her first four years at SF State. Titled “Winning with a Culture of Belonging,” the story explores how SF State’s Athletics program weathered the pandemic with its values intact.

“In Gator athletics we emphasize that no matter what results transpire from competition, we want to ensure that we go to bed at night feeling like winners to the core; that student-athletes are succeeding in the classroom, the community and in their personal connections,” Shrieve-Hawkins wrote.

When Psychology Professor Ken Paap returned to the faculty from his administrative position in 2009 he learned of an exciting new research finding: bilinguals performed better than monolinguals on tests of executive functioning (aka self-control). It appeared that the cognitive control needed to juggle two or more languages led to a general improvement in the ability to switch tasks and inhibit distracting information. Together with an ever-evolving band of undergraduate and graduate research assistants they tried very hard but could not replicate the earlier reports of these “bilingual advantages.” Across the broad discipline of psychology failures to replicate were becoming a regular occurrence and the field assessed itself as being in crisis. Papp’s hunt for the elusive bilingual advantage and the more general lessons learned are described in his new book “The Bilingual Advantage in Executive Functioning Hypothesis: How the Debate Provides Insight into Psychology’s Replication Crisis.” The steady drip of bilingual advantages reported from across the world are likely due to inadequately matched groups of bilinguals and monolinguals with respect to factors like intelligence, culture, immigrant status, SES, education, etc. These problems are compounded by questionable research practices whereby researchers report only the experiments, measures and analyses that work. If bilingualism does not enhance domain-general cognitive control it is probably because learning to manage two languages, like most cognitive skills, requires long hours of practice and experience at acquiring task-specific knowledge. There is little evidence for the idea that the effort we put into one activity can increase our supply of general-purpose willpower. Even if speaking two languages does not improve one’s executive functioning, Paap reminds us that learning a second language enables us to better communicate with, connect to and understand one another. 

Carolina De Robertis, associate professor of Creative Writing, is the winner of the John Dos Passos Prize in Literature from Longwood University. De Robertis is best-known for the novels “The President and the Frog” (2021), “Cantoras” (2019) and “The Gods of Tango.” 

“In clear, precise prose, De Robertis makes audible the beating hearts of people navigating a terrifying world,” said Brandon Haffner, Dos Passos Prize committee chair. 

The first John Dos Passos Award was given in 1980. Since that time, winners have included SF State alumnus Ernest J. Gaines, Shelby Foote, Maxine Hong Kingston, Colson Whitehead, Ruth Ozeki, Paul Beatty, Karen Tei Yamashita and Rabih Alameddine.  


A Jan. 28 story on CNBC explores strengthening one’s work-life balance in the Lunar Year of the Rabbit that started on Jan. 22. Professor of Asian American Studies Jonathan H. X. Lee is one of three experts interviewed in the story. He noted the contrasts between 2022, Year of the Tiger, and 2023.  

“[2022] was a consume, consume, consume kind of year. This year is the opposite, where if we act without thinking, there could be dire consequences,” he said. “The coming year is a year not of acting for the short-term, but rather making plans for the long-term.” 

Lee also recommends investing in relationships with colleagues at work: “The rabbit is a sign of peace, so cultivating empathy in work relationships will lead to flourishing in one’s profession.” 

College of Science & Engineering Dean Carmen Domingo participated in a panel discussion on Feb. 2 in San Francisco titled “Where There’s a Spark, There’s STEAM.” Presented by SmithGroup, the discussion explored elements of the framework for interdisciplinary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) in higher education. 

Following the spate of mass shootings in California this month, Asian American Studies Professor Russell Jeung was quoted in both USA Today and the San Francisco Chronicle

“They’re tragic events, especially on Lunar New Year, that horrified the community already traumatized by the anti-Asian violence,” Jeung said in the Chronicle story, published Jan. 25. “It just prolongs and extends this period of collective racial trauma.” 

In the USA Today article, also published Jan. 25, he commented on the mental health impact among Asian Americans: “The community is pretty fierce in finding collective strength. And the collective strength is what enables it to bounce back and soldier on.” 

In a Jan. 30 story on KQED, Criminal Justice Studies Lecturer James Dudley says he believes California officials could do a better job of utilizing the state’s “red-flag” laws and enforcement. The laws allow courts to remove firearms from someone deemed a danger to themselves or others. 

“I remember during my own time as a law enforcement officer, we would get stuck and had to tell victims we didn’t have enough evidence to get a court order to seize guns. There were so many different cases where if we could have got ahead of the game, we could have prevented some violence,” said Dudley, a former deputy chief for the San Francisco Police Department. “Shootings can often be repeat offenders, and we don't do nearly enough for people with the highest propensity for firearms violation.” 

History Professor Emeritus Robert Cherny is the author of “Harry Bridges: Labor Radical, Labor Legend” (University of Illinois Press, 2023). It aims to be the definitive biography of the leader who built the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) into a labor powerhouse that now represents 30,000 workers. 

“Cherny’s text is about as complete a biography of Bridges as one will find,” Ron Jacobs wrote in a Jan. 6 book review on CounterPunch. “Politically astute and with a deep understanding of the complexities of labor organizing and union work, the text presents a portrait of a man, his politics and his steadfast belief in the necessity and potential power of an organized working class.” 

Vernon Press recently published “TASTE: Why You Like What You Like” by Arthur Asa Berger, professor emeritus of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts. The book discusses four methodologies and theories used in discussing taste: semiotics, psychoanalytic theory, sociological theory and Marxist theory. Berger then applies these theories to a variety of topics involving taste, such as yogurt, dogs, Celine Dion, ocean cruises, brands, smartphones, men’s facial hair and so on. 

Health Education Professor Emeritus Ramon Castellblanch is one of 51 distinguished experts recently named to the National Academy of Social Insurance. The academy advances solutions to challenges facing the nation by increasing public understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security. Membership spans the country and is made up of over 1,200 individuals.