Friday, April 15, 2022
Dear campus community,
On Saturday, April 9, I witnessed something I have not seen in more than two years—a campus FULL of students, visitors, faculty, staff and administrators. Over 3000 prospective Gators and their families spent the morning meeting with faculty and staff to learn more about our academic programs and student services. The afternoon was devoted to enjoying lunch on West Campus Green, listening to music and meeting student leaders from dozens of clubs and organizations. All told, almost 9000 people attended Explore SF State. It was a scene that has been sorely missing these past 25 months.
I spent the day meeting prospective students and their families, talking to current students and greeting colleagues – some of whom I had not seen in many months. Prospective students had questions about housing, student life, their majors; parents had questions about the student experience at SF State, financial aid and campus safety and security. And all wanted to know where the nearest restrooms were—we clearly need better signage!
One parent’s question prompted more reflection than others. As we were making our way to West Campus Green, her questions answered already about majors and residential life, she stopped and asked me about my vision for SF State – what I want us to be when her student graduates in 2026. We are currently working toward a collective answer to that question through the strategic planning process. But, having not too long ago been the parent of two college students, I knew this parent did not want to hear about strategic planning. She wanted to know what I, as the president of the university to which she will be trusting her young adult, wanted to see in four years.
The answer came relatively easily—I want to see what I saw April 9 every day. On Saturday, hundreds of faculty, staff, students and administrators came together to demonstrate what makes San Francisco State University special—our excellent academic programs, our commitment to services and community for students, our beautiful campus and most importantly us — the talented faculty, staff, administrators and current students who together create the holistic student experience that makes a SF State education special.
In our pursuit of a more perfect institution, we are quick to identify areas of improvement, quick to be critical. I embrace our focus on identifying things we need to do better. I embrace criticism in pursuit of continuous improvement. But on April 9, we paused to show off what we do well — and there is so much of it to show off! We will never be perfect, but we are very good, and, working collectively to serve our students, we can be great. I saw us do it in March 2020 when we pivoted to remote instruction and work. I saw us do it in August 2021 when we relaunched in-person classes in the midst of the Delta surge. And I saw it on April 9.
As I look to the next few years, I see us focusing on our core strengths--academic excellence and our outstanding staff and faculty--and strengthening areas that we identify need improvement. I look forward to seeing the vision and priority areas that emerge from the strategic planning process and working collectively to realize them. And, most importantly, I look forward to celebrating our successes together.
I was reminded last Saturday just how lucky I am to work with so many committed people and how lucky I am to serve SF State students. A very special thank you to all who participated to make the event so successful!
Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.