President's Messages

Celebrating Our Graduates

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Dear campus community,

Last week was a week of great sorrow and great joy. On Tuesday, May 27, we received news of yet another shocking tragedy, this one at a Texas elementary school, just days after deadly shootings in Dallas and Buffalo. Our hearts broke and we raged at the inability of the U.S. to address gun violence. But, here in San Francisco, the week ended joyfully as we celebrated Commencements for the Classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 at Oracle Park. For the first time in three years, we gathered in person to honor our graduating students. As I said in my Commencement address, “While there is much to be sad about…looking at our graduates reminds me that there is also great hope.”

President Mahoney with three SF State graduates at Oracle Park.

I customarily end the semester with a message to our community celebrating what we have accomplished. This year I will cede this space to the words of the students and graduates who spoke at the ceremonies. Student speakers offered land acknowledgements that recognized that we learn and work on unceded land. They paid homage to their families and ancestors whose sacrifices and support enabled their success. They spoke of their experiences with racism and other forms of hate. They rejected those who told them that they could not do something because of their gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity or religion. They noted that these graduating classes were “built differently” having graduated during a raging pandemic and deeply troubling times, and they celebrated their tenacity, their grit, their resilience.

I share with you but a small sample of their words:

“I learned how oppressed people organize and rise up against injustice – both in the past, present, and for our future…Today is a day of celebration for all graduates and families, and we continue on that walk towards justice, equity, and liberation. There is much to do still…We are still here. Resilient as ever. And long after graduation, so many of us will remain committed to…different ways to give back to our people, to use the gifts we have learned along this walk to change the world.”

    Eliana Roberta Hernandez, College of Ethnic Studies

“The film industry has not been written for women of color. Yet here I was, a first-generation Chinese American woman pursuing directing and documentaries, breaking the glass ceiling…my family of immigrant and refugee backgrounds, especially the women, the matriarchs, who taught me to keep your eyes on the prize and to never let go of your dreams. To the classes of 2020 and 2021, as we step into our future, remember to celebrate our ancestors’ sacrifices to get us to where we are today. Remember their stories and continue to amplify their voices.”

    Ying Wencie Hoang, College of Liberal & Creative Arts

“Many of you know what it’s like to live through difficult times, to complete your degree even when the world around us was falling apart.  The struggles and challenges you faced throughout your academic journey are not disadvantages; in fact they speak to your strength, perseverance and grit.”

    Aditi Grossman, Lam Family College of Business.

“Thank you for opening possibilities that I didn’t know existed, for showing me the world of academic and clinical research, for pushing me to use an active mind and stay deeply curious and encouraging me to follow my passions for social justice and advocacy…San Francisco State showed me the beauty of diversity and inclusion through its commitment to fostering an environment that amplifies the voices of students who have been historically silenced and marginalized. I felt abounding acceptance, love, and comradery…We are graduating at a time where we must continue to fight for the rights of a woman's bodily autonomy, the LGBTQIA+ community's right to exist, and remind the country daily that Black and Asian lives do in fact matter. As sea levels continue to rise and we struggle to protect the human rights and natural resources owed to our indigenous peoples, I challenge us to take the knowledge we’ve learned in the last 4+ years and use it to make social justice a right and not a hashtag. May we not be complacent but instead join the fight in equity. We are powerful enough to make a difference…Realize your power. Own your power and by doing that you can create change!”

    Kenly Doyle, the Graduate College of Education

I am deeply proud to serve these students, and I thank all of my colleagues—faculty, staff and administrators—whose work enabled their success and so clearly enriched their lives. We all have much of which to be proud, and as these students thank their families, I thank you.

Wishing all a good summer!

Best,

 

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.

President

2022

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Dear campus community,

The Supreme Court decision to overturn a long protected right for women has left many in our community in great pain. As I have said before about freedom of expression, the protection of individual  rights is the foundation of a democratic society. The rolling back of those rights is cause for outrage, concern and anxiety. 

I share with you Governor Gavin Newsom’s assurances that California “must do everything it can to protect the fundamental rights of all women – in California and beyond.” 

California State University Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester also added “Freedom – at its foundation – is about the removal of barriers. The CSU exists to remove barriers to knowledge, understanding, prosperity and the fulfillment of one's potential. Today's decision is indeed antithetical to the CSU's ideals.”

This may add to the stress that many of us have experienced for a variety of reasons these past few months. We have resources to help. SF State students can access mental and other health services available on campus and online. Employees in need of support may utilize the Employee Assistance Program.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Dear campus community,

Please see this important important message to the entire California State University community from Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Dear campus community,

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 – the date on which the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation was fulfilled as enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned the Civil War and slavery had ended.

Unfortunately, reminders are frequent that while slavery ended long ago racial justice remains painfully elusive. Juneteenth offers an opportunity to recognize an important, if unfulfilled, moment in U.S. history and to reflect, learn and grow.

In observance of Juneteenth, the California State University is hosting its inaugural Juneteenth Symposium on June 15 and 16 in Los Angeles. The symposium is designed as a celebration of African American history and an opportunity to promote and proliferate anti-racism activities across all CSU campuses. Author and Princeton University Professor Emeritus Dr. Cornel West is among the many distinguished speakers and guests.

All are welcome to register for the live stream of this important celebration. The University will host a watch party on Wednesday, June 15, 8:30 a.m. –  noon, in the Cesar Chavez Student Center Food Court. There will be multiple monitors in the area for viewing and light refreshments while supplies last. RSVP if you plan to attend the watch party. Supervisors are encouraged to allow staff time to attend or stream some of the sessions, as unit operations permit.

SF State is also home to a “pocket” Emancipation Proclamation dating from the period—a small format that allowed word of the act and the goal of abolition to be shared with enslaved peoples. Sutro Library, located on the 5th and 6th floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library, will also host an event on Wednesday, June 15, 1 – 4 pm, for the University Community to view the copy of the Emancipation Proclamation and other documents related to the time period.

For two days, the CSU will come together to learn and strengthen our anti-racism work. Please join as you are able.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Dear campus community,

Please see this California State University community message from Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Dear colleagues,

As the academic year draws to a close, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for yet another year of extraordinary teaching. Our classes ranged from fully in-person to fully remote, and many landed somewhere in between. This flexibility has not been easy, but it was necessary, and I am grateful for all you have done. I also reach out to you at what feels like a particularly unsettling moment in higher education as attacks against the academy grow, particularly attacks that threaten the core of what we do—the ability to teach, conduct research and engage in scholarly and creative activities free from censorship. I write today to assure you that I and other CSU leaders remain firm in our commitment to protecting academic freedom.

Earlier this month, we witnessed a chilling example of political intrusion after Dr. Jennifer Mnookin, dean of UCLA’s School of Law, was named the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. A renowned legal scholar, Dr. Mnookin was the unanimous choice of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. Lawmakers, though, were quick to politicize her appointment criticizing Dr, Mnookin for her support for the teaching and research of critical race theory and for her advocacy for COVID vaccines for college students. While I am grateful to live in a state in which legislators proudly support ethnic studies courses and public health, the increasing attacks on academics leaves me, as it does us all, anxious.

SF State has not been immune from controversies surrounding academic freedom. In September 2020, Zoom “de-platformed” an open classroom event planned by Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and Dr. Tomomi Kinukawa over a concern about an invited speaker. Until just hours before the scheduled class, the University and the CSU Office of General Counsel attempted to find a way to nevertheless offer the open classroom event. Ultimately, despite our efforts and my very vocal support for the rights of our faculty, Zoom and several other platforms refused to host the class because of concerns related to violating federal law. I strongly disagree with censorship in any form. National experts joined us in disagreeing with Zoom and supported the University’s stance. We continue to encourage faculty who do not want to use Zoom to work with Academic Technology to learn about the range of tools available to enhance online learning. 

The “deplatforming” of this classroom event was exceptional in many ways and has resulted in two recent statutory grievances being filed by CFA. These will be adjudicated through the statutory grievance process, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement. I have, though, reached out to the Academic Freedom Committee (AFC) to see how we can continue to safeguard academic freedom. Incoming Provost Sueyoshi and I will meet with the committee in the fall. We very much share their goal of protecting the rights of faculty to teach and conduct their scholarship free from censorship. The current political climate makes it imperative that universities and their leadership remain steadfast in support of academic freedom. I look forward to working with the Senate and AFC next year.

A third statutory grievance was filed by CFA focused on, among other things, additional faculty hiring to support the Arab and Muslim Ethnic Diaspora curriculum (AMED). As some may know, the University has also been involved in state and federal litigation about the same issue, legal cases that long predate my arrival. These cases were recently resolved in the university’s favor, but that conclusion does not mitigate our responsibility to increase support for  AMED, particularly at a time of rising white supremacy and Islamophobia. To that end, the provost and I are approving a search for a tenure line faculty member to support AMED curriculum.

It’s been a long year. I thank you all again for your service to our students and the University. I look forward to seeing some of you at Commencement and wish you all a good summer.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, May 13, 2022

Dear campus community, 

Governor Gavin Newsom released his revised 2022-23 budget earlier today. The January budget included $211 million in new recurring funds for the CSU. Recently, we received indications that the legislature supported a budget that included an additional $400 million in recurring funds for the CSU. While grateful for the governor’s support, we are disappointed that today’s budget did not include the additional funding and our increase in recurring funding remains at $211 million. 

The budget process will now move into its final stages. Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester announced today that the CSU plans to “intensify…efforts to work alongside our partners to ensure that our elected leaders are apprised of the university’s critical needs to ensure student achievement.” We will continue to advocate for a budget that includes the resources the CSU needs to ensure student success and fair compensation for our dedicated employees, as well as deferred maintenance and infrastructure needs which impact the quality of life for all who study and work on our campuses

I am hopeful and cautiously optimistic that the legislature will recognize and acknowledge the value of the CSU, our students and employees and present a budget proposal that includes additional funding for the CSU. I encourage all members of the SF State and CSU families to add their voices to the movement to advocate for the CSU.

As always, I am deeply grateful to our University community and will keep you apprised of new developments as they occur.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Dear SFSU Campus Community, 

I’m sharing an update and invitation on behalf of the University’s Strategic Planning Committee (SPC), on which I serve as chair. As you know, we’ve been engaged in strategic planning efforts over the past months and a key priority has been ensuring this process is inclusive of voices across our campus community. To this end, nearly 4000 university stakeholders have contributed to this work to date, through focus groups, workshops, surveys, and through feedback submitted on the strategic planning website. For those of you who have participated in sessions and provided input so far, I thank you for your time and commitment to this process.  

We are again offering an opportunity for campus stakeholders to provide input through our campus survey, which invites every member of our campus to share feedback on drafted options for our San Francisco State University Mission, Vision, and Values. These options have been developed by the SPC based on campus inputs gathered through the planning process to date. 

Please share your input on the draft Mission, Vision and Values by taking this brief survey by Wednesday, May 11th. Your input is important and will help guide our work over the next 5-10 years. 

Please visit the strategic planning website to stay informed about additional opportunities to engage in the planning process or to offer additional input via the feedback form. Your input is incredibly important to shaping our shared future. 

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, April 29, 2022

Dear colleagues,

As you all know, we will be returning to in-person commencement ceremonies on May 26 and 27 at Oracle Park. In addition to this year’s graduates, we will be welcoming back hundreds of students whose ceremonies were held virtually over the last two years.

The presence of SF State faculty, staff and administrators is always important, but especially this year when we’ll be celebrating graduates who have endured and overcome so many challenges. If your job duties will permit it, please consider signing up to be an ambassadorfor one or both of these ceremonies. Assignments are 1:30-9:30 p.m. each day.

Ambassador volunteers are required to get supervisor approval and attend at least one informational Zoom training. Trainings are scheduled for May 18 from 2-3 p.m. and May 19 from 11 a.m.-noon.

Many assignments involve walking and standing. If you require accommodations, please note them on the sign-up form under "Questions or requests.” If you have other questions, please contact Dania Russell at drussell@sfsu.edu.

Our commencements are always special as we celebrate many who have had to work inordinately hard to make their academic dreams come true and many who are the first in their families to graduate from college. It is a joyous occasion and I look forward to seeing you there. 

Whether or not you are able to volunteer, thank you for all you have done to support our students on their pathway to graduation.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

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!

Prospective students and families with volunteers/staff around J. Paul Leonard Library.

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! 

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, April 01, 2022

Dear campus community, 

As the pool of finalists demonstrated, we attracted excellent candidates to serve as our next provost and vice president for academic affairs. I am grateful to the search committee and the students, faculty, staff and administrators who participated in the search and shared their thoughts about the candidates. It is with great pleasure that I announce that Amy Sueyoshi has been selected to serve as provost, effective July 1, 2022.  

Dr. Sueyoshi has been the first in many roles in her time at SF State: first hire in queer studies in the College of Ethnic Studies, first female dean of the College of Ethnic Studies and now the first person of color to serve as provost at San Francisco State University. A faculty member at SF State since 2002, Dr. Sueyoshi previously served as director of Race and Resistance Studies (2006-2012) and associate dean of the College of Ethnic Studies (2012-2017). 

Dr. Sueyoshi has also distinguished herself by being the first Japanese American to be Community Grand Marshal at San Francisco Pride, founding the APIQWTC scholarship, founding curator of the first queer history museum in the U.S. and initiating the online undergraduate certificate in Ethnic Studies for incarcerated youth. 

A noted scholar, Dr. Sueyoshi is the author of Discriminating Sex: White Leisure and the Making of the American “Oriental” and Queer Compulsions: Race, Nation, and Sexuality in the Affairs of Yone Noguchi, as well as numerous scholarly articles and essays. She earned a B.A. in history from Barnard College at Columbia University, a PhD. in History from the University of California at Los Angeles and is currently completing an MBA at San Francisco State. 

At SF State, Dr. Sueyoshi has a successful record of increasing student enrollment, enhancing student success, supporting shared governance, promoting equity and implementing new programs. We are fortunate to have someone with her depth of experience who also knows our campus so well at this important time in our history.

I want to thank Jennifer Summit for all that she has done in the service of our students and our mission. And I also want to thank all the members of the search committee who devoted their time and expertise to this important process.

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Sueyoshi.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Dear campus community,

Today, the California State University Board of Trustees appointed Jolene Koester, Ph.D. to serve as interim chancellor. Chancellor Koester has had a long and distinguished career in the CSU. She served as president of Cal State Northridge from 2000-2011 and as a faculty member and administrator for almost two decades at Sacramento State. Chancellor Koester’s commitment to the students and employees of the CSU is well documented and will serve us well as we navigate this transitionary period and work to make our campuses safer places for all.

Chancellor Koester is also well aware of the unique role that we play in the CSU, as she assisted in drafting of the Academic Master Plan in 2018-2019. Her facilitation of the process demonstrated her deep commitment to shared governance and to ensuring that all voices get listened to—qualities that will serve the CSU well now.

The CSU Board of Trustees also announced this week plans for an independent external investigation of Title IX violations at Fresno State, an independent assessment of Title IX practices at all CSUs and revised policies regarding executive compensation.

Despite the turmoil and pain of recent months and years, I am optimistic for the future. I look forward to working with Chancellor Koester to fulfill the promise of the CSU as an inclusive, safe and equitable institution providing access to transformative education.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, February 18, 2022

Dear campus community,

Yesterday, the California State University announced that Chancellor Joseph Castro has resigned, effective immediately. Chief Financial Officer Steve Relyea is serving as acting chancellor until the Board of Trustees finalize a succession plan and name an interim chancellor.

The Board of Trustees and former Chancellor Castro acted in the best interest of the CSU, and I have every confidence that the CSU will take action to assess and strengthen Title IX policies and processes for our students and employees.

All students and employees have the right to learn and work in an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, sexual misconduct and retaliation. I want to call your attention to resources that are available to you as a member of the SF State community. The Equity Programs and Compliance office is our resource for reporting an incident as well as educating yourself about Title IX resources. SF State also offers SAFE Placeresources for survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual harassment. Other areas of support available on campus include Counseling and Psychological Services for students and the Employee Assistance Program.

I look forward to working with the next chancellor and the SF State community to ensure we are leaders in maintaining an inclusive, safe and equitable community.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Dear campus community,

As we return to in-person instruction this week, I want to thank you for everything you have done to bring us to this point and share with you the many things we have accomplished over the past year. I look forward to seeing you on campus!

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Dear campus community,

I write, as promised, with an update on campus plans for spring. Thank you for all you have done to get the semester underway successfully. As public health experts predicted, the positive test rate peaked late last month and is now steadily decreasing. Experts agree that while we are likely to see “peaks and valleys for months,” the worst of this surge is behind us, and we are starting to see institutions reopen. Cal State East Bay and UC Berkeley resumed in-person instruction on January 31, and many CSUs plan to resume next week. 

With health mandates in place and the positive case rate declining, it is time for us to return to campus. Faculty and students engaged in courses scheduled to be in-person should plan for all in-person instruction to resume on Monday, February 14. Administrators and staff should plan to return on February 7 to open offices for in-person services and prepare for the resumption of in-person classes the following week. Staff and administrators should resume the schedules that they had planned for the spring. It is critical that our offices be open and welcoming to serve the nearly 17,000 students who will be taking classes on campus, as well as those who will be using our library and other campus facilities.

SF State planned cautiously for this semester with a robust online schedule and fewer students on campus. We have required that all SF State students, even those studying remotely, get vaccinated, and later this month we will begin implementing the CSU policy requiring those eligible to receive booster shots. Students and employees may begin voluntarily reloading an updated vaccination record reflecting their booster via the MyHealth portal. We continue to require masks indoors on campus and offer free COVID testing for students and employees, and we have offered booster clinics on campus in partnership with Walgreens. To date, almost 11,000 people have received their initial vaccines and booster shots on campus.

While the decision to move to remote modalities and the decision to resume in-person services and instruction have been and will continue to be driven by science and public health, I have heard from many, many students these past few weeks—some advocating for the return of in-person instruction, some for a virtual semester. Our mission requires that we return to in-person instruction, as most universities have or will shortly. I appreciate the concern for students most vulnerable to COVID-19. Unlike many other universities, we are offering a robust online schedule of classes. Given the extensiveness of our remote-modality offerings, students who choose not to return to in-person instruction have options available to them. Last week, Provost Summit and Vice President Moore emailed students encouraging those who needed to study remotely to work with academic departments, advising centers and the Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC) to adjust their schedules.

You may have questions about the return of in-person services and instruction. Employees should contact their supervisors or Human Resources with specific questions. I encourage students to join me, AS President Joshua Ochoa and other colleagues for a virtual forum on February 11 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. 

Evidence abounds that the pandemic is having a negative impact on higher education. Enrollments are down across the country, as are applications for financial aid. Much of this lost enrollment is disproportionately impacting those who could most benefit from a college degree and whom we serve with great pride—first generation students from BIPOC communities. 

It is imperative that we return to campus. But we will do so safely, with vaccines and boosters, with mandatory face coverings and with robust testing protocols. And we will closely watch the numbers and adjust as necessary to continue to do what we have done well for two years—keep one another safe.

As always, with gratitude and wishes for good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Dear campus community, 

For many, if not all of us, 2022 has had a bumpy start. The unprecedented COVID surge due to Omicron has left many of us disheartened, exhausted and even angry. We are just a few weeks shy of having spent two years “flattening a curve” for a virus we now know is likely to be with us forever. The good news, of course, is that vaccinations and new treatments increasingly provide us tools to manage this. But with children under five and others still vulnerable, anxieties abound. A colleague of mine recently put into words the vague malaise I have been feeling, noting that the pandemic and other challenges have “tested her ability to remain encouraged.” It is hard to remain encouraged after so many months of trauma and anxiety. But as they have for the last 23 months, our SF State colleagues buoyed my spirits and kindled my encouragement when we gathered last week to reaffirm our commitment to our students and our mission. 

At SF State’s first annual All-University Retreat, centered on Resounding Resilience: Faculty and Staff Support Student Success, faculty, staff, administrators and students gathered together to share and candidly discuss inequities in our graduation rates. It was a powerful day, opening with faculty sharing their own experiences as first-generation students from BIPOC communities. For those who missed it, the retreat will be available soon on the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning's (CEETL) YouTube channel. We learned that despite recent efforts, equity gaps persist between racial and ethnic groups – a gap of nearly 10% at SF State. Recent data shows that too many of our Black and Latinx students continue to walk away without a degree. Only 67% of Black and Latinx first-year students who started in Fall 2019 remained enrolled by Fall 2021—574 students are no longer here making progress toward their degrees. And research repeatedly shows that few of those who walk away go on to earn degrees from any institution. This is not who we are or want to be.

Chancellor Castro has set an ambitious goal of eliminating equity gaps across the CSU. As I remarked at the retreat, at SF State, we do not need to be prodded to do this. Our historic commitment to social justice and educational equity requires us to work tirelessly to eliminate inequities. Closing our equity gaps is the right thing to do for our students, their families, our region, and the state. It is also in the best interest of the health of our institution. Improving the student experience will enable us to retain more students and will attract more students to study at SF State, helping us increase our enrollment numbers. Strengthening our enrollment numbers will provide us with a more solid financial foundation upon which to hire staff and faculty to support our students and one another. Close to half of our students identify as Black, Latinx, Pacific Islander or Native American. Helping them attain their degree goals in far greater numbers helps us all.

I urge you all to read the remarks that Provost Summit shared at the retreat. She drew on bell hooks, Vaclav Havel and Lani Guinier to remind us that we have the power to change the University and “to imagine how things might be.”  And we will do more than we imagine, we will improve outcomes for all our students. Building on the work already underway across the University’s colleges, divisions and offices and the work of groups like the Student Success and Graduation Initiative Committee, we have created an action plan to meet the objectives outlined by Chancellor Castro. Over the coming weeks, you will hear more about the plan and the work required to meet the goal of eliminating our equity gaps. There is no university better poised to do this than SF State. Working with unrelenting focus and together, across traditional divides, we can do this.

As we plan for a resumption of in-person services and instruction, I am aware of concerns about those who remain most vulnerable to COVID. I encourage students who are concerned about returning this semester to work with their advisors and departments to create online schedules for spring as we have robust online offerings. I will reach out next week to confirm our plans for spring. 

Wishing you a good week, whether working or studying in person or virtually.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, January 21, 2022

Greetings and Happy New Year everyone!

I’m sharing an update and invitation on behalf of the University’s Strategic Planning Committee (SPC), to which I serve as chair, in relation to our strategic planning efforts over the weeks and months ahead. 

In the Fall, we embarked on a strategic planning process that will carry through early summer 2022. A key priority for this effort is that every voice from across our campus community is invited to shape our vision and priorities for the future. It will take all of us to make this a reality. To this end, we will soon launch a series of virtual input sessions for all members of our campus – our students, staff, faculty, and alumni – that will inform the strategic plan and the University’s priorities for the coming 5 – 10 years. 

You are invited and encouraged to participate and share your voice through one or more of the following sessions, which will run from February 2 – March 3, 2022 and are open to all campus members. These sessions include:

•    In-depth and interactive 3-hour workshop (multiple dates and times available)

•    90-minute focus groups (multiple dates and times available)

Sign up for a session today via our Strategic Planning website.

Thank you in advance for your participation in this important work to shape our collective future of the University together. 

If you have any questions about the strategic planning effort, please feel free to reach out to a member of the SPC or to use the open online comment tool any time.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Dear campus community,
 
I write again at a difficult moment. We continue to wrestle with multiple pandemics, including an Omicron-driven surge in COVID-19 and another incident of violence this time directed at a Jewish community engaged in prayer at a temple in in Texas. Our thoughts are with Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and Congregation Beth Israel and also with our Jewish students, colleagues and local community. Antisemitic rhetoric and acts have increased dramatically and the incident in Texas affirms the very real fears of Jewish communities in the U.S. It should not be “an act of courage” to engage in prayer. San Francisco State stands in solidarity with our Jewish communities to denounce violence and antisemitism. 
 
The Division of Equity & Community Inclusion is available to offer support, identify resources and sponsor educational programming for students and faculty. SF Hillel, an organization focused on enriching Jewish life on campus and which has been our local partner in combatting antisemitism, is also available to offer support. Students and employees are encouraged to report incidents of antisemitism to the Bias Incident Education Team or, for complaints that may violate Title IX or Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation policies, to Equity Programs and Compliance
 
Sadly, as we have all witnessed and as Rabbi Cytron-Walker said in his remarks, acts of violence have occurred not only in synagogues and mosques but also in schools and public areas. He credited the active-shooter trainings he received with minimizing the loss of life. I urge all to review the California State University’s online active shooter training. As we return to in-person instruction and teaching, our Division of Campus Safety is available to offer campus-specific trainings. It pains me deeply to write this but the normalization of hatred and violence in the U.S. leaves us all vulnerable.
 
Today we stand in solidarity with our Jewish students and colleagues to denounce hatred and violence targeting Jewish communities. I am proud of the work that SF State has been doing to combat antisemitism on campus, and we will continue working to ensure that Jewish students and colleagues feel welcome on campus.
 
Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Dear campus community,

First, I want to wish you all a healthy and happy New Year. Unfortunately, 2022 continues to find us responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and actively monitoring the current Omicron surge. I have been in frequent communication with the CSU Chancellor’s Office and CSU colleagues. The escalation in positivity rates and increased hospitalizations across the state have all concerned. This week, as we resumed testing on campus, we saw a similarly dramatic increase in positivity rates. In this context, the University has decided to delay the start of in-person instruction until February 14 and most campus services will be provided remotely until February 7. The J. Paul Leonard Library, the Mashouf Wellness Center, Cesar Chavez Student Center and most administrative buildings remain open.

The semester itself will start as planned on January 24. Courses scheduled to be online will not experience any changes or disruptions. Courses scheduled to be in-person will switch to remote modalities for the first three weeks of the semester. We will grant some exceptions for courses that must meet in person to address students’ immediate learning needs (these may include hands-on courses in health, science or the arts). Department chairs will work with their deans and the provost’s office to determine what courses must be taught in person and students will be notified by January 14 if their course will be held in person. We do not anticipate many exceptions. Courses granted in-person exceptions will begin January 24.

Most campus services, including all student services, will move to remote modalities. All campus offices will physically reopen on February 7 and will offer a combination of in-person and remote services in anticipation of the return of in-person classes on February 14. Students and employees are encouraged to check a department's website to determine the best way to be in touch with any given office.

Residential students will be hearing directly from University Housing regarding return to campus and move-in dates. Students who are currently living in residence halls during the winter break will not be asked to vacate.

Staff and administrators with existing telecommuting agreements may continue to work remotely as approved by their supervisor and in alignment with the needs of their offices and units. As the University remains open, some faculty, staff and administrators will continue to work on campus as determined by their supervisors and institutional need. Staff and faculty who prefer to return to campus to work between now and February 6 may and should contact their supervisor to make arrangements to return to the office. 

I want to express my gratitude and that of the entire University to those employees who continue to work in person in service of our students and our campus community. And I thank you all for your patience and work as we continue to strive to meet our mission and navigate the challenges of the pandemic.

While this is a moment to exercise caution, I remind all that this is not a return to March 2020 when we moved all classes and services to remote modalities. The campus remains open. Our student-athletes remain in competition. Campus facilities such as the J. Paul Leonard Library, the Mashouf Wellness Center, Cesar Chavez Student Center and most administrative buildings remain open. And we will continue to offer COVID testing and booster clinics on campus.

We are a highly vaccinated and increasingly boosted campus. COVID-19 is not the same illness it was two years ago, and we are now working to manage an endemic disease. My family is personally experiencing the benefits of those vaccines and booster shots. Earlier this week, my son and I tested positive for COVID-19 but are to-date asymptomatic and other family members remain negative. Like many, this is not how I envisioned starting 2022 but, thanks to our multiple vaccine doses, we are doing well.

Local health experts believe that the current surge will peak towards the end of January. Delaying in-person instruction and in-person services allows time for all of us to get our booster shots and for the post-holiday surge to abate somewhat. For some of us, this temporary delay comes as a relief; for others, a sad step backwards. We have every expectation that in-person services will resume on February 7 and in-person classes will resume on February 14, and we will provide a campus update on February 1 confirming plans for their resumption. We will continue to heed the advice of public health and medical professionals and communicate our responses quickly.

As always, wishing you good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

2021

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Dear campus community,

Like many, I have been intently following the news about the emergence of Omicron and the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases.  While experts believe that most of our original vaccinations continue to protect us, evidence is mounting that booster shots provide the best protection. Consistent with the proactive approach that SF State University and the California State University have shown since March 2020, we will once again take bold measures to ensure the health of our communities. 

The California State University announced today the intent to require faculty, staff and students to receive a vaccine booster shot to be fully immunized against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The new requirement requires boosters by February 28, 2022 or six months after an individual received the final dose of the original vaccination, whichever is later. The new requirement will take effect immediately upon implementation of the policy; however, represented employees will not be subject to the booster requirement until the CSU concludes its meet-and-confer process with its labor unions.

Students and employees who have received the initial vaccine or series of vaccines but are not yet eligible for a booster are considered in compliance with the policy until they become eligible for the booster shot. 

There are many details to work out, and I will be sure to share them as they become available, including determining deadlines, developing a plan to ensure compliance and building our capacity to increase access to booster shots on campus in the new year.

The SF State community has been simply remarkable in its compliance with public health mandates. I have every expectation that we will meet new ones as needed. I urge you to get your booster shots now or as soon as you are eligible to better protect yourselves and your friends and families. 

We will continue working closely with the San Francisco Department of Health to monitor the situation and work to implement the necessary steps to keep us healthy and safe. In August 2021 we faced a similarly scary and rapid change in COVID-19’s trajectory, and we did what we had to do enable our students to get back into our classrooms safely. We did it then, we will do it again.

It has been an unimaginably long almost-two years now. We need also to pay heed to our overall health. I urge all to use the winter break to recharge, see family & friends safely and give yourselves the respite you so badly need and deserve.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Dear campus community,

As we begin a well-earned winter break, please take a moment to reflect on all we accomplished in the fall and to accept my wishes for the best of the holiday season.

Best,

 

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Dear campus community,

As all have likely heard, a new variant of COVID-19 has been identified and the first U.S. case has been found here in San Francisco. While we know very little about the Omicron variant at this time, I assure you that we will continue to work closely with San Francisco Department of Public Health, modify our plans as necessary and communicate as we learn more. 

We have been through this before. Five months ago, we watched as the Delta variant created a surge with numbers higher than we had seen in San Francisco at any previous point in the pandemic. SF State worked hard to augment our policies and procedures to meet that challenge—requiring vaccination for on campus activities, maintaining the use of face coverings, implementing testing protocols and communicating the need for continued compliance. This allowed us a safe fall semester. I promise that we will continue to be vigilant and conservative.

Today, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that the City does not anticipate changing any of our health orders or imposing new restrictions on activities. As we are, City officials are following health updates closely. The City believes our high vaccination rates and health and safety protocols position San Francisco well to respond to variants.

Vaccinations and face coverings have proven effective to date. Today you received an email about a booster clinic on campus next week. Booster shots are also readily available at pharmacies and grocery stores across the state. Most in our community are eligible, and I encourage you to get your booster shot.

I think I speak for many when I say how exhausting this has been and remains. We have done well to date thanks to the commitment of our entire community to public health. Thank you.  

Wishing all good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, November 22, 2021

Dear campus community,

Just as last fall semester was unprecedented, so too has this one been. A year ago we were working our way through an almost 100% virtual semester. This year finds us navigating a hybrid semester. And our country continues to wrestle with the consequences of climate change and multiple inequities and to be roiled by conflict and division. It has not been easy. But as we approach fall break, I am reflecting on what we as a community have accomplished and on things small and large for which I am grateful.

I am grateful to students and colleagues who continue to learn and work amidst ever-shifting guidelines. I am grateful to all who complied with our vaccination mandate and to those on campus who follow our face covering and testing policies so assiduously. I am grateful that, to date, our measures are working—we continue to have one of the lowest incidents of COVID-19 in the CSU and our weekly testing detects very, very few positive results. And, I am very grateful that all of this has allowed some resumption of typical university activities. 

In the last two weeks, I have been vividly reminded of how important a vibrant campus life is for all of us. I joined our Indian Student Association for their Diwali Party in Cesar Chavez and shared their joy at being able to celebrate together on campus. I attended the 2021 SF State University Hall of Fame Celebration where we recognized the accomplishments of six distinguished alumni in fields ranging from media and the arts to entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability to humanitarianism and philanthropy. And I attended my first performance in the Little Theatre where students performed José Riviera’s “Marisol” — a 1992 play forecasting a period in which New York City is consumed by plague, environmental disaster and conflict. Eerily familiar at this moment.

None of these events were possible a year ago. Consequently, they are so much more deeply appreciated now.

I hope that all are taking some time to enjoy fall break. Please take a moment to celebrate what you and we have accomplished and to take care of yourself. I am keenly aware that this remains difficult and am very grateful to work and live in this community. 

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Dear campus community,

As some have likely heard, Provost Jennifer Summit announced this week her intent to return to the faculty at the end of this academic year. It has been my pleasure and honor to work with Jennifer for the last seven years, first as CSU peers in undergraduate studies, later as fellow provosts and most recently as colleagues here. In all her roles, Jennifer has been a recognized leader by her CSU colleagues, and I have appreciated her wisdom and counsel. While wishing her well as she returns to her first loves of teaching and scholarship, I know I speak for many when I say that she will be sorely missed.

Jennifer’s thoughtful and deep commitments to shared governance and student success have been hallmarks of her tenure. In just a few short years 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. Most recently, Jennifer has worked with the University Budget Committee and with Administration & Finance to develop a culture of transparency and budget literacy. This will serve Academic Affairs and the University well in the future as a basis for strategic budget decisions and investments.

I 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.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Dear campus community,

In 2015, SF State adopted a strategic plan that has guided us well for several years. Its focus on five broad areas—courage, life of the mind, equity, community and resilience—afforded us opportunities to launch some key initiatives and make some important improvements. Our accomplishments span the University and include important improvements in advising and tutoring and improved access to needed coursework. We created critically-needed infrastructure to support inclusive excellencetutoringequity and excellence in teachingundocumented studentsbasic needsfinancial support for students in crisisand a better experience for first-year students. We added almost six hundred beds to support students’ housing needs and opened our first fully new academic building in 25 years. And we completed our inaugural comprehensive campaign ahead of schedule and with some of the largest gifts in our history—raising $153M to support our students and employees. I am grateful to my predecessors and to all who contributed to bringing these initiatives to fruition.

Strategic planning provides a university with the opportunity to assess its success, embrace its challenges and engage in continuous work to strengthen itself and better serve its communities. As we slowly and fitfully emerge from the pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to assess the higher education landscape and our place in it. We need now to pause and reflect on who we are and, with broad participation from community stakeholders, who we want to be 5, 10 years from now. Our response to the pandemic demonstrated that universities can change and change quickly, but it also affirmed how important our classrooms, our buildings and relationships with one another are to our success as an institution. While many of our priorities, like our commitment to our students’ degree attainment, remain unchanged, we are at a critical juncture for planning our future. 

The pandemic exacerbated preexisting inequities that could lead fewer students from BIPOC communities to college. Community college enrollments declined precipitously, and SFUSD has also experienced a decrease in student numbers. Locally, it dramatically accelerated SF State’s downward enrollment trends, and we anticipate missing our enrollment target by 10%. The pandemic’s impact on retention and graduation rates remains to be seen. But a recent Graduation Initiative 2025 update from the CSU shows that SF State has not made the progress that we had hoped nor kept up with the improvements that other CSUs have seen. While we have much to be proud of, particularly our success with transfer students, our 6-year graduation rate of 53.7% places us 18th among 23 CSUs. And we have the 7th highest equity gap (difference in graduation rates based on race and ethnicity) in the CSU. Given our commitment to educational equity, I know we can do better.

The strategic planning process provides us an opportunity to embrace our challenges and strengths and plan a path forward. Planning that future requires broad participation. The Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) will coordinate a strategic planning process that engages stakeholders across campus and our broader San Francisco State community. Over the next months, we will host a variety of opportunities for you to participate from online discussions and surveys to in-person conversations in the spring. We will cast a wide net and provide multiple opportunities. We will also review already-existing data, qualitative and quantitative, including, but not limited to, existing survey data, the Academic Master Plan, the Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, the Strategic Marketing Plan and the WASC self-study. 

Please consult the Strategic Planning website for details about the SPC, the process and opportunities for engagement. The page also includes an easy feedback button for you to communicate to the SPC. 

At SF State, serving our students, one another and our region remains our most important work. How we do this, how we prioritize and how we align our work to maximize its benefits requires that we all actively engage with this process. I thank you in advance for your engagement and look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Dear campus community,

On Thursday, October 7, Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) announced an intention to ease indoor masking mandates in certain indoor situations. However, San Francisco State University’s indoor face covering policy, which predates the current City mandate, will remain in effect. 

  • Current safety protocols all remain in effect, including face coverings in indoor settings regardless of vaccination status. 
  • Exemptions may apply to individuals with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. Contact Disability Programs & Resource Center (DPRC) for information about accommodations.
  • Some situational exceptions will continue to apply, including indoor dining locations where proof of vaccination is required.

The combination of being a highly vaccinated community, the use of face coverings and testing have proven very successful. As we head into flu season and holiday travel, we will remain vigilant to ensure continued access to in-person classes and activities and to protect the health of all learning and working on campus.

SF State will continue to monitor current public health developments and update guidance as appropriate. Stay apprised of the latest communications and health and safety guidance around our safe return to campus by regularly checking the Campus Comeback website

I know that many of us are experiencing pandemic fatigue. I very much appreciate your continued adherence to campus health and safety protocols. Thanks to you, SF State remains one of the safest, healthiest university campuses in the nation.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Dear campus community,

As all know, we received word early this morning about a non-specific violent threat that had been posted to social media. I am grateful to the students who quickly alerted University Police and to all who contacted us to alert us to the possible threat. I am deeply grateful to SF State’s Emergency Operations Center for their swift assessment, and to UPD for the quick action to identify the threat and restore campus safety.

While a person of interest has been detained and we no longer believe that there is an ongoing threat to campus, I recognize that this has been traumatic, particularly for residential students and staff on campus. UPD will continue to have a heightened presence on campus to ensure the safety of those residing and working here. Students needing assistance are encouraged to contact Counseling and Psychological Services; similarly, employees are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program.

In the Open Forum with Chancellor Castro this morning, Academic Senate Chair Albiniak, responding to this morning’s event, noted “our ability as a campus to respond swiftly, adapt capably, and honor our deep commitment to our students and each other through unpredictable adversity.” I share his words with you all. Once again, we navigated the unimaginable together.

I close with wishes for a quiet rest of the semester!

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Dear campus community,

Welcome to Fall 2021! Whether you are joining us remotely or working and taking classes on one of our campuses, the start of a semester is always exciting and a good moment to reflect. I typically think about the immediate moment—what do I want to accomplish this semester—and, in the much larger picture, how does my work contribute to the larger mission of higher education? Somehow, as we wrestle with the ongoing pandemic and with charting a path for the post-pandemic future of higher education, these questions seem both more difficult and more important.

If I have learned nothing else over the last year and a half, I have learned to acknowledge uncertainty and prepare for…whatever. This has not been easy—for me and likely for many of you. But as hard as it has been, I have increasingly come to believe that this experience affirms the value of higher education to prepare us for…whatever.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to hear Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, speak at an education conference. When asked by university professors and administrators what he wanted to see in college graduates, his answer surprised us. He did not simply affirm the commonly professed requests for excellent written and oral communication skills, technical skills, or teamwork; noting, of course, that these are critical.  Instead, he urged us to produce college graduates who are “not so damn certain.” Baquet asked that our graduates—and, by extension, all of us—recognize how little we actually know with any certainty and embrace being intellectually open, actively inquisitive and affirmatively uncertain. 

So, as we launch the semester at a moment of many uncertainties—the pandemic, climate change, the tragedy unfolding in Afghanistan—I encourage us all to embrace uncertainty and use it to grow intellectually and personally. This fall, like many of you, I am charting unfamiliar territories. We will be a truly hybrid University for the first time, with half of our students studying remotely and half on campus for at least one course. Many of our employees are also working hybrid schedules that include working both remotely and on campus. 

Personally, I will be teaching a hybrid course for the first time which will have an asynchronous component and a weekly in-person class meeting. I have worked hard to prepare, but, as it was for most of our faculty in March 2020, this is new to me. I also know that the pandemic or the consequences of climate change could create a need for further adaptation. So, I too am working hard to embrace uncertainty, confident that, however hard, I will learn and grow. Be sure to ask me in December how it has gone!

Whether here physically or remotely this semester, I urge all to join me in embracing this opportunity to re-engage with our academic community. Who knows what we will learn?

I know that many questions remain about the pandemic and campus safety plans. Please be sure to regularly consult the Campus Comeback website and know that we have achieved our goal of being one of the most highly vaccinated campuses in the country (as of late last week almost 99% of our students taking in-person classes had submitted proof of vaccination!).

With wishes for an excellent semester!

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, August 16, 2021

Dear campus community,

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of joining colleagues from Housing and Residential Life, and volunteers from many other campus offices, to welcome almost 3,000 residential students to campus, mostly first year students new to SF State and second year students who were on campus, often for the very first time. Despite the face coverings and the requirement to take a COVID test immediately upon arrival, the joy these students and their families expressed at being on campus was incredible and an important reminder of how important it is that we bring our students back and resume in-person classes.

I am thrilled to report that the students’ joy at returning was matched by their support for our safety measures—99% are vaccinated, all wore face coverings, and we had nary a complaint about the mandatory testing. And our local data to date match what institutions like UCSD and UT Austin are projecting for extremely low positivity rates among highly vaccinated populations. As of today, of the 2800 for whom we have results, only 8 have tested positive—this is a remarkably low positivity rate. Some of these students have returned home for two weeks and the rest are in isolation in a residence area used only for this purpose. 

This is good news for our return. Eighteen months ago we hoped to flatten the curve and eradicate COVID-19. We now know that we must learn to live in a world with the virus but in ways that reduce its transmission and minimize the severity of the disease. With high rates of vaccination, mandatory face coverings and other forms of PPE, testing and reduced capacity on campus this fall, we have taken the steps necessary for a safe return.

COVID-19 Vaccination Rates

We have been assured that a campus can open safely with a high rate of vaccination. Experts at the University of California believe that rates of 90% or higher will allow campuses to open.  We have spent the two weeks since the CSU announced its COVID-19 Vaccination Interim Policy working intensely to get our students to upload proof of vaccination. As of today, almost 87% of those registered for an in-person class have submitted their proof and less than 2% have requested a medical or religious exception. 

With a week to go before the start of classes, we will work to increase this number significantly. Students who have not uploaded their proof of vaccination or requested a medical or religious exemption by 5pm on Tuesday, 8/17, will be dropped from their in-person class(es) on Wednesday, 8/18. It is absolutely critical that these students comply by Tuesday. Those who do not submit proof or request an exemption will need to add online classes. 

Our employees, as well, are demonstrating their commitment to a being a highly vaccinated campus. I am deeply grateful to Sandee Noda, CSUEU chapter president, and James Martel, CFA chapter president, for their efforts to encourage their members to upload their proof of vaccination or submit a medical or religious exemption. Last week, I was very touched by the efforts of staff and administrators to assist their colleagues who wanted assistance with uploading their proof of vaccination. To date, more than 2,000 employees have uploaded their proof with very, very few requests for a medical or religious exception. Again, I am deeply grateful for the collaborative work to meet our goal.

For the small percentage of people who have approved exemptions from vaccination, we will have weekly COVID-19 testing by a vendor that can test samples within a 6- to 8-hour period. Testing will also be available to those who come into close contact with someone on campus who tests positive. We have a team of contact tracers who will identify those who have been in close contact with someone infected by COVID-19 and contact them directly with information. We are following the guidelines of the SF Department of Health assiduously. Unvaccinated people who have been in close contact will be required to quarantine for ten days, and we will make accommodations to allow them to continue with their work or studies. Vaccinated people who have been in close contact are not required to quarantine but must wear face coverings indoors—a safety measure we have already have in place for all.

Employees should contact Human Resources if you have questions about what options may be available. Students should contact the Dean on Call.

Safety Measures

Vaccination remains our most powerful tool for managing the disease, but I also offer a quick reminder of the many safety measures we have in place:

•    Required weekly on-campus testing of unvaccinated individuals

•    On-campus testing available for students and employees who came into close contact on campus with someone who tests positive

•    Reduced capacity across campus

•    Required isolation for those who test positive (on campus for residential students)

•    Mandatory face coverings

•    Availability of personal protective equipment

City and County Update

Some have likely heard that Stanislaus State has decided to delay the start of in-person activities. It is important that – as we consider our plans or the plans of others – we consider the local context. How vaccinated is the county? How vaccinated is the campus? How assiduously does the community embrace measures like mandatory face coverings? SF City and County has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state; Stanislaus County one of the lowest. As of this weekend, SF Department of Health is reporting that 78% of San Franciscans 12 and over are fully vaccinated and 85% have at least one dose. This also helps explain that even as cases have increased in the city, hospitalizations have not. And the number of daily new cases has dropped significantly since SF implemented more stringent rules recently.

I do not want to minimize how anxious this moment is. We have stayed safe for the last 18 months by (most of us) staying at home. But with high rates of vaccination in the region and on campus, it is time to carefully return to campus. Science and local, esteemed colleagues at UCSF support this – high vaccination, face coverings and testing are the path to a safe return. We will continue to share data about vaccination rates and campus cases. I will continue to communicate with you. Please check our Campus Comeback website regularly for the latest updates. 

I have said this before and I say it again: I cannot think of a better university to be at during this difficult transitionary moment. This past week I saw hundreds of colleagues move heaven and earth to provide vaccinations to  students and employees, help them upload their proof, develop a testing protocol,  and open a testing site. I have never been prouder to serve a university. And the joy with which our first returning students and families responded made every bit of that hard work worth it. On behalf of our students, thank you all.

Whether joining in person or via the web, I look forward to opening our academic year officially at Open Convocation on August 18 in-person at McKenna Theatre and livestreamed on the Academic Senate site.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Dear campus community,

As I look forward to welcoming more people back on campus for the Fall semester, I want to reaffirm that the University, in consultation with the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), is making every effort to ensure the health and well-being of the campus community.

I know, though, that questions remain about how we are keeping the campus community safe during this Delta-driven surge in COVID-19. Here is a recap of our actions and what’s to come.

COVID-19 vaccination interim policy

We have been assured that a campus can open safely with a high vaccination rate (along with COVID-19 testing and mandatory face coverings). Vaccinations remain our greatest weapon against COVID-19. No vaccine is 100% effective, but the COVID-19 vaccines continue to show great strength in reducing transmission and minimizing the severity of the disease.

That’s why last week, the University sent notices regarding the COVID-19 Vaccination Interim Policy. This policy went into effect immediately for all students and non-represented employees, including administrators, confidential employees, other non-represented employees and auxiliary employees, to provide proof of vaccination or participate in a campus testing program as a result of a religious or medical exemption. 

SF State is requiring all students resuming in-person classes or campus activities upload proof of vaccination. Students who don’t upload proof and don’t have exemptions will not be allowed to move into residence halls or remain enrolled in an in-person class. They will be dropped from in-person classes the week of August 16 and redirected to online options. Requests for vaccine exemptions are less than 1%. We will easily exceed the 90% vaccination rate for students that health experts suggested.

Represented faculty and staff are encouraged to voluntarily upload their proof of COVID-19 vaccination; however, the California State University (CSU) is in the process of meet and confer with our unions before the interim policy can be implemented. For CSUEU, their employees have agreed to mandatory testing for staff who do not submit proof of vaccination.

Testing and contact tracing

For the small number of people who are unvaccinated and undergo regular testing, we have a third-party COVID-19 testing vendor that can test samples within 24 hours. SF State also has a team of contact tracers who will identify those who have been in close contact with someone infected by COVID-19 (defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes within a 24-hour period).

Accommodations will be made for those infected with COVID-19 as well as for anyone determined to be in close contact with someone infected with COVID-19 to ensure that they are not present on campus while they are or may be ill. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, participating in classes remotely, working remotely or taking leave until it is deemed safe for the individual to return.

Employees should contact Human Resources if there are questions about what options may be available. Students should contact Dean on Call.

Reduced capacity and personal protective equipment

As we return to campus this Fall, we are doing so in a way that allows for reduced contact: only half of our students will be returning for in-person classes, many faculty members are teaching remotely and most staff are on campus 2-3 days per week.

The University is also providing personal protective equipment (PPE) items such as multi-layered face coverings, gloves, hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes, plastic face shields and more.

Mask mandate

At SF State, we never lifted the indoor face covering mandate. Bay Area counties recently announced they will now also require face coverings indoors, which is reassuring.

We are an academic community driven by a passion for knowledge and confidence in science. We are not where we were in 2020. We have vaccines, we can test and contact trace and we know more about how face coverings reduce the transmission of the virus. Last week, I had an opportunity to thank all those who have been working on campus these last 17 months. It was wonderful to see so many people! I look forward to welcoming more staff and faculty back next week and welcoming our residential life students the following week.

I’m also excited to start our academic year officially at Opening Convocation on August 18 that we will livestream on the Academic Senate webpage. The event will be held in McKenna Theatre for those who want to attend in person.

Please check our Campus Comeback website regularly for the latest updates and other ways we are keeping our campus safe. As I look at our return, I can’t think of any other university I would rather be at than ours.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Dear campus community,

The health and safety of our communities remain the CSU’s and SF State’s highest priorities. Given the significant increase in Delta variant COVID-19 cases across the state and recognizing how vulnerable the unvaccinated are, the CSU announced today that it is moving forward immediately with its requirement that all employees and students who will be returning to campuses for the fall semester be vaccinated (allowing for medical and religious exemptions). Given what I have heard over the last few weeks, I know that this will come as a relief to many.

SF State will start by implementing the requirement for all management personnel (MPP), confidential employees (C99), unrepresented employees, and students.  These groups will be required to upload their proof of vaccination or request a medical or religious exemption by August 13. Those who qualify for exemptions will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing on campus effective August 23. I am grateful to our residential students who have already complied with the vaccine requirement.

Our collective bargaining agreements require that the CSU meet and confer with our unions before implementing a mandatory vaccine requirement for represented staff and faculty. In the meantime, faculty and staff will be asked to voluntarily upload their proof of vaccination or request for an exemption. I am very grateful to the CSUEU and their members who have already agreed to mandatory COVID-19 testing for staff who do not submit proof of vaccination and for those approved for exemptions. Other represented staff and faculty who do not voluntarily submit proof of vaccination by August 13 may be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing on campus effective August 23.

Late last week all students were asked to voluntarily upload their proof of vaccination. Within the first few hours, over 1000 students submitted them voluntarily, and we now have received 2300 uploads. And, as I recently shared, the overwhelming majority of our residential students have submitted proof of vaccination with less than 1% requesting exemptions. Employees will receive emails later this week with instructions on uploading proof of vaccination.

If you have questions, please review the Prepare Together website, where you may find information on locating vaccine appointments. Students may submit questions by emailing myhealth@sfsu.edu. Employees with questions should email Human Resources hrwww@sfsu.edu

Your privacy is important to us. The MyHealth vaccine verification system we are using follows HIPAA standards.

Remember – Immunity is Community…and we know that the vaccination is the best defense against serious COVID-19 illness. As a campus, let’s all continue to take good care of one another and “Prepare Together” by remembering to:

•    Wear face coverings when indoors with others on campus,

•    Wash our hands frequently, 

•    Stay home when not feeling well, and of course,

•    Get vaccinated!

Thank you to all who have written me or contacted others to provide their support for a vaccinated campus. I have every confidence that SF State will quickly become a fully vaccinated campus.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, July 19, 2021

Dear campus community,

Summers always seem to move more quickly than other seasons, but this summer seems to be moving even faster than usual. I was struck last week by the uptick in activity on campus heralding our return in just a matter of weeks. Like many of you, I am incredibly excited about seeing students on campus. And I have enjoyed seeing colleagues in person since opening the Office of the President in early June. But, also like many of you, the news about stalling vaccination rates and the spread of the Delta variant worries me. I write today to provide an update on the work being done to ensure a safe return to campus.

The Bay Area continues to enjoy among the highest vaccination rates in the U.S. And, while the number of COVID cases has increased since the state reopened, our region remains safe…for those who are vaccinated! I cannot stress enough just how important vaccination is now—for personal and public health. 

Students will receive emails this week, and employees the following week, asking them to voluntarily upload their proof of vaccinations. Our residential students have already been required to upload their documentation, and I am thrilled to report that of 3400 students requested 85% complied by the due date and only 28 have requested medical or religious exemptions as of late last week. I am very confident that we will have full compliance well before the residence halls open in mid-August.  I am deeply proud of these students. Our residence halls will be very safe places thanks to them!  

Last week Pfizer announced that it is unlikely that their vaccine will receive full authorization in time for the fall semester. The CSU will not be able to implement its vaccination policy before then as it requires that a vaccine receive full FDA authorization first. We are developing an interim plan for campus safety while we await the implementation of the CSU policy. These plans will likely include mandatory weekly testing and, given new county recommendations, continued use of face coverings indoors. Those who upload documentation of having been vaccinated would be exempt from weekly testing. Given the response we have seen from our residential students and the vaccination rate for those over 18 in the Bay Area, we should have few who need weekly testing. Our goal remains unchanged—a fully vaccinated campus.

We are taking many measures to ensure the health of the campus community. We have invested in thousands of face coverings, including N95s and KN95s. We are cleaning, testing and ensuring the efficacy of our HVAC system. We have reduced campus capacity for fall by offering many online courses and allowing continued work from home. And we have more hand sanitizer than I could ever have imagined. Sadly, COVID-19 is here to stay, but with vaccines, testing, face coverings and good hygiene, we will manage it. 

Please keep an eye out for email instructions on how to upload your record of vaccination. The sooner we do this, the more securely we can return to campus. While we will be sure to send a campus email once the interim plan is confirmed, I urge all to regularly check the Prepare Together website for updates and information, including information about the availability of vaccines for you and your loved ones. There is nothing more important that we can do for one another than get vaccinated. I am grateful to live in a city and work at a University that values the collective over the individual, that understands that it is our responsibility to keep others, as well as ourselves, healthy.

I keep a basket of face coverings acquired over the last 16 months near my door. I long for the day that I can move that basket to the back of the closet.  But for now, I am proudly vaccinated and remain masked in public indoor spaces.

Please enjoy the rest of your summer.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Dear campus community, 

I am delighted to announce the successful conclusion of two leadership searches. Jeff Wilson has been appointed as San Francisco State University’s vice president for Administration and Finance and Noriko Lim-Tepper as Chief of Staff to the president. I am extremely grateful to the search committees and all the members of the campus community who took time out of a busy and challenging semester to participate in the search processes and share their thoughts on all the talented candidates for these important roles.

Jeff has served at SF State since 2017 and has nearly 15 years of experience in the California State University system. He has been a steady hand as the interim vice president for Administration and Finance since March 2019 and previously served as the associate vice president for fiscal affairs.

One year into the pandemic, our University has the lowest infection rate of any CSU campus other than the much-smaller CSU Maritime Academy and the Office of the Chancellor. As a member of the Pandemic Planning Group and leader of the Budget & Logistics working group, Jeff has been crucial in the development and implementation of our successful response to this global health crisis.

Jeff also led the effort to find areas where it was feasible to reduce certain student fees during remote instruction and operations and co-chaired the University Budget Committee during its transition from an information-sharing organization to an inclusive committee working with students, faculty, and staff.

Noriko has served as the interim chief of staff since September of 2019. She previously served as director of Government and Community Relations at San Francisco State from 2016-2019. Noriko played a critical role in our negotiations with city leadership to allow academic courses which require irreplicable hands-on experiences to continue in person during the pandemic. 

She has also built strong partnerships with Associated Students regarding fee transparency, campus climate, Black Lives Matter initiatives and coalition building to advocate for campus issues with local government officials. Noriko was instrumental in working with city leaders to prioritize the campus community during the city’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. She has extensive experience in state government, including serving as senior field representative for California State Assemblyman Phil Ting. 

I am confident that Jeff and Noriko will continue to demonstrate their leadership, creativity and initiative in service of our students and our University. Join me in welcoming them and previously-announced Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Jamillah Moore, who will be joining us on July 1. 

Thank you again for all participated in these important searches.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, May 17, 2021

Dear campus community,

In just the few weeks since I last communicated with you, the health news in the Bay Area and across the state has much improved. I write today with the good news that, as a result, we can expect a more robust fall. The ready availability of vaccines for those 12 and older and the CSU commitment to requiring vaccination for Fall 2021 campus access means we will be able to offer more in-person courses and more campus activities, including access to the Mashouf Wellness Center, the Cesar Chavez Student Center and the J. Paul Leonard Library. 

We will welcome back more than 3000 residential students, while continuing to serve those students who want to study remotely in fall. Where possible, we are developing hybrid approaches to campus staffing which will provide better services in the post-pandemic world. All students and employees who do not qualify for an exemption will be required to get vaccinated. Given our heightened commitment to health and safety, we are planning to require verification of vaccination.

I am deeply grateful to department chairs, deans’ offices and Academic Affairs for the work done to create a schedule of courses for the fall which will provide students with options to study remotely or enjoy a combination of in-person and remote courses. Our surveys of students, as well as a recent piece in the Golden Gate Xpress, demonstrate that many want a fall semester that includes a mix of in-person and remote classes. Our new schedule allows for that, particularly for our newest Gators who expressed the greatest interest in being on campus. Please remember that fall is a transitionary semester and our goal will be to offer an in-person spring semester more typical of pre-pandemic semesters.

Associated Students (AS) and Student Affairs and Enrollment Management (SAEM) teams are hard at work to ensure that those studying on campus or returning to live in San Francisco enjoy as rich a campus life as public health guidelines allow. Current plans include opening the Cesar Chavez Student Center and the Mashouf Wellness Center (MWC) on August 23. Use of MWC will be driven by San Francisco Department of Public Health requirements at that time. Associated Students also plan to host modified hours for their centers: Women’s Center, Legal Resource Center, Environmental Resource Center, Richard Oakes Multicultural Center, Project Connect, Project Rebound, Queer Trans Resource Center and EROS. Many of our eateries and other retail services around the campus, including the bookstore and snack shops, will open to serve the campus community.

We can also look forward to welcoming one another back in person! GatorFest! will kick off in August, and it will be bigger than ever with eight weeks of activities for new and returning students. There will be more events and programming this year – offered in person, virtually, and through hybrid modalities to support students regardless of where they will be studying this fall. GatorFest! will include opportunities for students to engage with the faculty, staff, each other and the AS family. We will also make use of our beautiful campus to allow students to gather outside safely for activities on the Quad, on West Campus Green, and on other large outdoor spaces. 

Academic spaces such as the J. Paul Leonard Library, academic buildings and classroom spaces will all be open. We will continue to work hard to ensure that these spaces are healthy and safe. Hand sanitizing stations will be readily available, and hybrid work and continued remote instruction will ensure a less dense campus. We will continue to work with SFDPH on the most current safety requirements. We will update you via email and the website as the situation evolves and new guidelines are confirmed.

Just as our rapid turn to remote learning and working was challenging, so will be our gradual return to campus. All have suffered some form of trauma this year whether affected personally by COVID-19 or its economic consequences or by the effects of prolonged isolation. Many in our communities have also suffered from the pandemic of white supremacy that we continue to wrestle with as a country and a region. Coming back together will have its challenges but is also necessary—our students’ success requires it and our robustness as a university campus requires it. I ask that you be patient with me, with the University and with one another as we focus on rebuilding and coming back better.

I conclude by urging all who do not qualify for medical or religious exceptions to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Across the state, supplies have opened up and in many places, appointments are no longer needed. Please review California’s COVID-19 site for information.

I look forward to seeing you all!

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, April 23, 2021

Dear campus community, 

We recently concluded a national search for a vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. I am very grateful to the search committee and the dozens of students, staff, faculty and administrators who participated in the search and shared their thoughts about the candidates. It is with great excitement that I announce that Dr. Jamillah Moore has agreed to serve SF State in this role, effective July 1. 

Dr. Moore joins us from Cañada College in San Mateo County where she has served as president since 2016. Under her leadership, the College successfully completed a strategic plan and had its accreditation reaffirmed. Her many accomplishments in this role also include establishing the campus’ Anti-Racist framework, developing a program to support Latinx students with transfer pathways and co-chairing the San Mateo County Community College District’s Basic Needs Task Force. 

Previously, Dr. Moore served as vice-chancellor of Educational Services and Planning at the San Mateo Community College District, chancellor of the Ventura Community College District, president of Los Angeles City College, interim superintendent president of Compton Community College and senior vice chancellor for Governmental and External Relations for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office. She spent a decade as a legislative staffer and policy analyst in the California State Senate and is a former director of Governmental Relations for the Los Angeles County Office of Education. 

Dr. Moore’s background also includes teaching and research in issues related to educational access and equity with a focus on student success for BIPOC and low-income students. She has consulted with college systems and policymaking organizations in California and Washington D.C. on educational policy issues. 

A native Californian, Dr. Moore holds two degrees from California State University, Sacramento, a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a master’s in Intercultural Communication and Public Policy. It is a pleasure to welcome her back to the CSU! Dr. Moore earned a doctorate from the University of San Francisco in International and Multicultural Education.  

We are extremely lucky to have found someone whose experience and values align so perfectly with the culture and needs of SF State. I look forward to working with Dr. Moore to expand opportunities for all current and future SF State students.

I want to thank Dr. Beth Hellwig for her incredible work as our interim vice president. Dr. Hellwig has served our students and the campus well during a challenging period. She has enriched the student experience at SF State. I am very grateful for her leadership.

I would also like to thank the search committee: co-chairs Sherria Taylor and Jennifer Summit,  and committee members Yvonne Bui, Andrew Carillo, Anosha Chaudhuri, Susan Chen, Luis De Paz Fernandez, Meredith Eliassen, Erin Fischer, Cyrus Ginwala, Nia Hall, Reggie Parson, John-Carlos Perea, Tony Schifano, Tonee Sherrill, Fred Smith, Kimberly Tanner, and Jimmie Wilder. And a special thank you to Cristal Wallin for her support in coordinating  a successful search process.

Again, I thank all who participated in this critically important search. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Moore to the Gator Family.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Dear campus community,

As you may have heard, the California State University, in tandem with the University of California, announced today that COVID-19 vaccines will be required for students and employees returning to CSU campuses.  This requirement will be conditioned upon full approval of one or more vaccines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as adequate availability of the fully approved vaccines. This requirement will become effective at the beginning of the fall 2021 term, or upon full FDA approval of the vaccine, whichever occurs later.  

The CSU will be engaging in discussions with the California State Student Association, the CSU Academic Senate and labor unions before implementing changes to existing immunization requirements, and the requirement will allow students and employees to apply for exemptions for medical or religious reasons. 

The CDC has determined that all approved U.S. vaccines are safe and effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting from severe illness. Millions of people in the U.S. have received COVID-19 vaccines under the most intense safety monitoring in the history of the nation. A vaccinated population provides the surest route to vibrant campuses, thriving communities and a robust economy. Evidence continues to accumulate that this lengthy pandemic and resulting social isolation are taking a toll on many, especially our students. Across the country, higher ed has seen reductions in new student enrollment and in retention—and sadly, as with the pandemic itself, this decline is disproportionately impacting BIPOC students. It is imperative that we avail ourselves of every health measure we have at our disposal to bring students back to campus.

The decision by the CSU echoes much of what we are hearing at SF State. Over the past few weeks, we have surveyed our faculty, staff, students and administrators—the overwhelming majority expressed ongoing concerns for health and a commitment to get vaccinated. In the many conversations that we have had with students and colleagues, many expressed support for a mandatory vaccine requirement.  In fact, our students and the California State Student Association have been very vocal in their support for this requirement.

For our students who are unable to or concerned about a return to campus in the fall, we continue to plan for flexibility in our schedule, offering in-person and virtual learning options where possible during this transitionary semester. We will also continue to allow flexibility for employees as University operations allow.

While we await details about implementation from the CSU, we will continue to provide information about access to vaccinations. We also hope to continue providing access to vaccinations on campus. I know that this new CSU policy will generate many questions. I ask for your patience. While this is complicated and implementation will require a good deal of work, I am deeply proud that the CSU continues to play a leadership role in making bold public health decisions in support of students.  

I am hopeful that this news along with a continued commitment to health and safety protocols will increase comfort levels as we think about and continue planning for our return to campus. Our students need us, and we need one another.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Dear campus community,

I cannot begin to imagine the range of emotions our University community is experiencing today as we process and react to the verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Our thoughts remain first and foremost with George Floyd’s family and friends. While the verdict is an important step in holding police accountable and for dismantling state-sanctioned violence, no verdict can bring his family true peace nor can it restore what they have lost nor restore the years that Mr. Floyd had stolen from him. 

Our thoughts also remain with those who continue to experience harassment and violence at the hands of police. During the few weeks of the trial alone, Daunte Wright’s and Adam Toledo’s names were added to the list of people tragically killed by police officers, and Caron Nazario, a dedicated member of the armed services, was pepper sprayed during a minor and unnecessary traffic stop. We must continue to demand justice and accountability, but our real goal is to prevent the harm before it occurs. Mr. Floyd’s family issued a similar plea today. While grateful for the verdict, they reminded us that there is much work to be done to “prevent unjustified killings of marginalized” BIPOC. This country should be a place where all feel valued and secure in the knowledge that they are safe. No one should feel anxious that when their loved ones are out of sight they are in danger.

As I have said before, universities must be sites of hard conversations. As the U.S. wrestles with systemic state-sanctioned violence in our municipalities, universities must engage in rigorous conversations about the shape of campus safety. SF State is uniquely poised to make a real difference here. We must continue to fill our University’s mission as the premier institution focused on social justice by both having this challenging conversation and modeling a student-centered campus safety program.  Key steps have already been undertaken. Following more than a year of conversations with students and others, SF State is uniquely positioned to create a 21st century, student-centered model for campus safety which includes an advisory committee with student, faculty and staff representation, a civilian campus escort service and a chief of police with a background as a student services professional who also serves as an assistant vice president in Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. Building on this and making lasting change remains one of our greatest priorities for the upcoming year.

On a day like today, we would typically gather to share, to listen and to support one another. While the ongoing pandemic precludes that, we will find ways to come together virtually. The Division of Equity and Community Inclusion and other Student Affairs and Enrollment Management areas will be hosting virtual spaces and events (please keep an eye on your email and social media for details as they become available). I also encourage faculty to provide some time and space in their classes to allow students to discuss this event and other issues related to anti-racism and white supremacy. Our Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning offers anti-racist pedagogy resources. The National Education Association also offers a number of relevant tools. And, as always, mental health support is available for students and employees alike. 

Yet again, I am sadly compelled to say how hard things are just now. Many of our students and colleagues are suffering. I urge us all to show compassion and open our hearts and minds to one another. We can come together virtually to stand in solidarity to nurture a climate of shared values, greater trust and understanding and a society that is more just for all its people.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, April 05, 2021

Dear colleagues,

Recent weeks have brought good news as the vaccine rollout continues to gain momentum and Bay Area counties have seen significant declines in new COVID-19 infections. Health officials urge continued caution and safety measures, though, as we navigate the last months of the pandemic.

We recently surveyed all staff to assess their satisfaction with and the effectiveness of remote work to guide our planning for fall when we expect an increased number of in-person courses and experiences. The results provide many insights, including that the majority of staff members want to return to campus at least some of the time in the fall with appropriate public health measures in place. 

The fall will be a transitional semester with significantly more in-person classes in addition to many remote options for our students. Given the need to support a greater number of in-person classes and operations, we anticipate that most staff will return to work in a hybrid model, with a balance of in-person and remote work to be determined by supervisors. As always, the university remains committed to providing a safe work environment, following the highest levels of public health directives.

Discussions have already begun to identify which services and staff will be needed to support the increased number of students and employees who will be returning to campus. We expect that most staff will need to be on campus 2-3 days per week. To reduce the number of people on campus at any given time and allow for physical distancing, we are building flexibility into our planning while prioritizing safety and the need to serve our students at the level they need and deserve. Vice presidents will work with supervisors in the coming weeks and months to plan for in-person staffing levels and how to accomplish them safely in our various workspaces.

Throughout the pandemic, we have placed the safety of our campus community at the forefront of our decision making, and I am proud of our successes. San Francisco State University will continue to be a safe place as we transition to greater in-person learning, work and other experiences. We will continue to diligently follow San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) guidance, including observing the public health mitigations that have kept those working and living on campus this past year safe:

•    Physical distancing 

•    Observing maximum occupancy guidelines

•    Face coverings

•    Enhanced cleaning

•    Availability of personal protective equipment (PPE)

•    Broad availability of hand sanitizer and other supplies

•    Health screenings for individuals who are interacting with others

•    Voluntary testing as necessary

Most importantly, we will encourage the entire SF State community to get vaccinated, and we will continue efforts to provide access to the vaccine. I am happy to report that effective April 15th, all of our students will be eligible for the vaccine. SFDPH has agreed to increase the number of SF State community members who get priority access at Mashouf Wellness Center. We will also provide students with information on how to access the vaccine in the California counties many live in.

I know that all are anxious to know what the fall will look like for them. Colleges and departments are working now to confirm plans for faculty, who also were surveyed recently as were students. For staff and administrators, our goal for fall is to confirm preliminary plans by June 1 and begin notifying employees of the framework for in-person staffing so they will have time to plan appropriately. Please note, though, that staffing needs will be reassessed on an ongoing basis as the health situation develops, increasing numbers of students arrive on campus and as SFDPH rules allow. 

Many of our staff colleagues have continued to work on campus over the past several months. I remain grateful for their work—we will return to a healthy and beautiful campus thanks to their efforts. I remain inspired by the work of all staff, faculty and administrators this past year.  As I reviewed the results of the staff survey, I was struck, yet again, by our staff’s commitment to the University and its students. Despite the uncertainties at the time the survey was distributed, more than half indicated their desire to return to campus--even before vaccinations were widely available.

I know how hard our transition to remote teaching and working was and how difficult even a gradual return to campus will be. I thanked you for your patience last spring. I thank you in advance for your patience again as we work through this transitionary period. With the growing availability of vaccines for all adults and our long-term commitment to educational equity and our students, I have every confidence that we will have as robust a campus experience as we safely can in the fall. And even better days await us.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Dear campus community,

I find myself yet again writing to you at a moment of great tragedy in the U.S. I am profoundly sad at how regularly I have had to do this in my twenty months as your president. Last week’s tragic shooting in Atlanta was followed by this week’s shooting in Colorado—leaving 18 dead. All 18 leave devastated families and communities. Six of the eight victims in Atlanta were women of Asian descent, exemplifying the critical need to support all efforts to Stop AAPI Hate. While the motive in Colorado remains unclear, we can add to the list of pandemics we are fighting the growing mental health crisis in the U.S., as well as the need for a nonpartisan, public health-driven conversation about gun control. It is really hard to be hopeful just now. 

I have found glimmers of hope and progress, though. Rob Bonta was appointed this week to serve as California’s attorney general. The first Filipino-American to hold the position, Bonta’s parents were civil rights activists, working alongside Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta and Philip Veracruz. And as always, I’ve also seen hope in meetings with students, staff and faculty. The SF State community has long known how to turn pain and rage into action. Last weekend’s protests across the nation, record-level donations to progressive organizations fighting hatred and intolerance and the individual and collective activism of the SF State community demonstrate paths forward. I am grateful, as always, to the many people who have taken time to speak with me over the last few weeks, particularly the Asian American Studies students and faculty who took time during their spring breaks to meet with me. We will move forward with plans to strengthen civilian campus safety programs, add more psychological counselors and implement more anti-hate educational initiatives, among other suggestions. In the coming weeks, I will share more with you about the concrete actions that the University will take to become an even stronger hate-free zone.

This week marks the 241st anniversary of the passing of the 1790 Naturalization Act limiting citizenship to “free white person(s)” – a sad milestone in the history of white supremacy in the U.S. While some of this history has been reshaped thanks to generations of civil rights activists, it is horribly clear that much remains to be done. As I see the dozens of events that students, staff and faculty are mounting, as I watch the solidarity that has marked SF State’s responses, and as I hear all ask to work with the University for change, I remain confident that “ordinary people” can change the path of history. We are far, though, from ordinary. I share your desires to see SF State become even more extraordinary and look forward to the work.

As always, I conclude with wishes for good health (and a vaccine appointment!). 

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, March 08, 2021

Dear campus community,

I write as we mark the one-year anniversary of teaching, learning and working mostly remotely. There is no way that I could have ever imagined this milestone when we announced on March 9th a suspension of in-person classes and – shortly after that – a call for shelter-in-place that would leave most of us working from home. In some ways, I still cannot believe what we have accomplished — and lost — over the last twelve months.

By any standard, the last year has been hard. I think particularly of those in the SF State family who have been sick or lost loved ones to COVID-19 and those for whom the economic toll of the pandemic has been painful. But I also think about all of us who have not been able to spend time with family and friends, who are living in isolation, who must balance work and caregiving roles, who have missed weddings and graduations and who miss the daily markers of a socially engaged life. But as I write this, I am optimistic. All SF State employees, including student assistants, are now eligible for the vaccine, and here in the Bay Area and across the state, the vaccine is increasingly available. President Biden has announced a goal of producing enough vaccines for all adults in the U.S. by the end of May. And, locally, experts from the University of California believe all University employees and students will have an opportunity to be vaccinated by June. This heralds well for the fall.

The growing availability of vaccines, the anticipated restoration of this year’s state budget cuts and the considerable investment of federal one-time funds for higher ed fills me with optimism. While much still remains unknown about fall 2021, I want to share our current planning assumptions. In the midst of a raging pandemic, our plans last spring and fall were driven solely by public health. As we pull ourselves out of this crisis and plan for the future, we need to balance multiple priorities:

  • The continued health of our community
  • Our educational mission—the impact of many months of remote learning on students
  • Our role as an engine of educational equity as students decline to attend or stop out 
  • The mental health of our students
  • Our institutional health as students decline to attend and enrollments decline
  • And, the social fabric of our community as we continue to work in isolation

Just months ago, the state and CSU budget looked dire, and we were in the midst of what I described at a recent open forum as budget armageddon. Last month’s surprise news about restoring the 2020-21 state budget allows us now to entirely rethink our planning. We are joyful that there will be no furloughs, no layoffs, and no additional draconian budget cuts. But our enrollments remain volatile, and we may see smaller pandemic-driven enrollments in fall.  The picture will be clearer by summer. But with the help of one-time federal funds, used in compliance with federal regulations, we can bridge a more modest University deficit and help Academic Affairs develop a multi-year strategy to bridge their budget gap. We are not talking about austerity but about making incremental changes in how we use our resources, how we schedule our classes and how we align our instructional budget with our enrollments. 

We all share the same priority--supporting our students by providing them with the classes and services they need to succeed and graduate by rebuilding our staff and by hiring faculty that meet our institutional commitments to equity and inclusion. By working hard, together, to retain continuing students and implement a strategic enrollment management plan to attract new students, we can build to a stronger future. I promise.

Our immediate focus is on fall semester. We have surveyed faculty. We have surveyed students. We have held Listening Sessions primarily composed of staff. And we have surveyed staff about fall 2021 planning.  Fall will certainly be a transitionary semester. Our goal remains unchanged—bring back as many students, and the faculty and staff needed to serve them, as we safely can. The data collected to date suggests that the majority of the University community, including continuing students, would prefer to remain remote or work partially on campus and partially remote. We will continue to listen to all of you and work with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to develop concrete plans for fall. Please bear with us—and continue to share your concerns and suggestions—as we work through the many complexities involved. We will soon update our Campus Plan information. A schedule of in-person classes for fall will be finalized in early May. Please keep an eye on the website for additional details as they become available.

On March 6, 2020, I attended our last large University event. Over 300 students, faculty, staff and administrators joined me in the Annex to have a conversation about our role as the City’s University and to chart a path toward strengthening that role. Yes, the pandemic threw us all an unexpected challenge. But our role and our future remain unchanged. We are The City’s University. We are key to the recovery of the city and the region. And we are well poised to meet that promise. So, as with the last year, buckle your belts. The path will be bumpy. But with our eyes on the horizon, we will get there.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Dear campus community,

Like many of you, I was delighted by yesterday’s announcement by Governor Gavin Newsom. He and leaders from the state legislature announced a package of budget actions that included – among many items – restoration of previously-enacted reductions to the California State University budget, effective July 1, 2021. This is excellent news for the CSU and good news for SF State, and we are hopeful this planned action will make it to the final budget. I want to publicly acknowledge our gratitude not only to the governor and the legislature, but also to the people who continue to advocate effectively for our CSU students, faculty and staff, particularly the Chancellor’s Office, the Academic Senate of the CSU, the California State Student Association, and our unions. As I said in an earlier message this week, the “dividends of solidarity” are great.

The pandemic-related budget cuts came at a particularly vulnerable time for SF State as we faced a pre-pandemic University budget deficit in the fall of 2019, a decline in enrollment, and a gap between funding and expenses in some of our Cabinet areas. The cuts were devastating for many members of our campus community — particularly the individuals and families impacted directly by the painful layoff and MPP non-renewal process as well as declining opportunities for lecturers as a result of lower enrollment. And while the expected budget relief is welcome news, it will not entirely repair our current shortfall—we still face an enrollment-related reduction in tuition revenue that will remain with us at least for the next six years.

There is much that we don’t know about how the next year will unfold. We still need to address our own historical budget deficit and contend with highly volatile and declining enrollments. The restoration of the 2020-21 reduction in our state allocation is good news in that it provides us with the time and room to focus on aligning our spending with our resources in a way that allows us to use our resources to support current priorities, including retention and graduation, anti-racism and faculty excellence. There is still work to be done. We will continue to work with leaders from across the University and in consultation with the University Budget Committee.  The announcement by the governor and legislative leaders provides a welcome note of optimism and hope for better days ahead. 

 

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Dear campus community,

In March 2020, within days of the region’s shelter-in-place orders and the move to a virtual University, our colleagues in Asian American Studies and our community partners Chinese for Affirmative Actiondeveloped a crucially needed initiative to track and respond to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).  As national leaders and white supremacist groups demonized AAPI communities, attributing the pandemic wrongly to a single race or nation, SF State faculty and community leaders launched Stop AAPI Hate.  They documented more than 2,800 incidents of hate, discrimination, and violence against AAPI communities between March and December 2020, including 708 incidents in the Bay Area alone—and 30 more in just the first few weeks of 2021. 

San Francisco State joins our colleagues in Asian American Studies, our community partners across the region, the California API Legislative Caucus, and local elected officials in condemning anti-AAPI rhetoric and violence. We will continue to use our resources to support our AAPI communities. Students and employees are encouraged to report anti-AAPI incidents to the Bias Incident Education Team or, for complaints that may violate Title IX or Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation policies, to Equity Programs and Compliance. The Division of Equity & Community Inclusion and AAPI Student Services are also available to offer support, identify resources and sponsor educational programming. Community members and those off campus are encouraged to avail themselves of the many community organizations poised to help combat anti-AAPI hate, including the Chinese Progressive Association, the Community Youth Center of SF and Chinese for Affirmative Action.

Recently, I watched a webinar that included several of our faculty on “The Fight for Ethnic Studies in California.” Dr. Russell Jeung, professor of Asian American Studies and a co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, shared a story about his personal experience with pandemic-inspired demonization and harassment. But he, and others, also shared stories of historic and current solidarity among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities (BIPOC). It was a powerful display of solidarity and an important counter-narrative to recent images and stories that attempt to reify centuries-old white supremacist stereotypes and divide communities of color. 

This is the moment to listen to our AAPI communities and to document and respond to anti-AAPI harassment, discrimination and violence. And it is yet another moment that calls for solidarity across all racial, ethnic and religious groups. In a recent New York Times podcast, Heather McGhee and Ezra Klein discuss how American public policies based on exclusion and segregation have diminished services and rights for all Americans and highlight the gains of working in solidarity. As Ezra Klein observed, “there are vast ‘solidarity dividends’ just waiting for us, if we are willing to stand with, rather than against, each other.”

The forces of division have been strong across the U.S. and sadly promise to remain that way. But, as I repeatedly note, universities are and must be the sites for more nuanced conversations about anti-racism, about solidarity and about the deterministic binaries that circumscribe too many national and local conversations. No university is better poised to have those conversations than SF State where the “dividends of solidarity” saw the birth of the first College of Ethnic Studies and where today we stand in solidarity with our AAPI colleagues to Stop AAPI Hate.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, February 15, 2021

Dear campus community,

While we continue to wrestle with the pandemic and its consequences, our eyes are also on next year. I know that many of you have questions about what fall 2021 will look like and what our budget will be. We are working now to identify questions and concerns about fall 2021. Faculty and students have been surveyed about fall instructional preferences, staff and faculty have been invited to Listening Sessions with members of the pandemic planning group, and we are working with Associated Students to identify additional means of hearing from students. Our goal remains to have as many students back on campus in the fall as health, safety, and the SF Department of Public Health allow. I promise to share more information as it becomes available.

This year’s budget was very hard for our campus. The combination of a reduction in the state allocation and enrollment revenue left us with a $37.9 million budget gap. As all know, despite a hiring chill, a variety of cost saving measures and the planned use of $7.7 million in campus reserves, we were unable to bridge that gap and were forced to reduce our workforce last fall. For a variety of reasons, including a desire to do everything we could to minimize the number of employees impacted, the savings from the workforce reductions fell short of our financial goal. We realized only $4.7 million in salary savings for this year and will have to increase the use of campus reserves to $12.1 million to balance our budget.

Statewide, the budget news for next year has improved. Governor Newsom released his January Budget Proposal which included an increase of $145 million in recurring funding for the CSU and $225 million in one-time funding for deferred maintenance, emergency student financial aid, and faculty professional development. This was welcome news as it didn’t include the additional reduction in state funding we had been warned was coming. But the additional recurring funding restores only a third of the budget reduction we took in 2020-21 and much of that is designated for mandatory costs such as increased benefits costs, implementation costs for AB 1460, the increase in the minimum wage and an additional $15 million for Basic Needs initiatives. While this is all good news, it does not provide the funding we need to address the ongoing structural deficit SF State has.

Many of the reductions we took for this year were one-time solutions, and almost every unit on campus has had to rely on carry forward funds to meet their budgets.  The 2020-21 budget cuts laid bare our ongoing problematic use of one-time funds to fund core activities including the schedule of classes, student affairs programming and equipment and operational needs.  We must continue the hard work of addressing our structural deficit and remain agile as the impacts of the pandemic and vaccines on the state’s economy and enrollments become clearer. This year’s ultimate need to use $12.1 million in reserves has nearly depleted the University’s reserve and leaves us vulnerable if we were to experience a campus emergency such as an earthquake or fire. In addition, our enrollment remains highly volatile due to lower enrollments this past fall and the ongoing pandemic. We must be prepared for further declines in enrollment and revenues. Based on the Governor’s January Budget Proposal and the revenue forecasts for tuition and fees, the campus’ recurring deficit for the general operating fund in 2021-22 is likely to be $12 million or higher--a sizable improvement over last year’s deficit but a figure that demonstrates that there is work to be done.

There is a lot of confusion about the different uses of one-time funds and recurring general fund. One-time funding is not a solution to our budget deficits but may provide a short-term reprieve from additional severe reductions and temporarily stabilize the campus’ reserve while we enact changes that will stabilize our budget for the longer term.   We should soon receive over $46 million from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). This will provide over $14 million in direct student aid and another $32 million in institutional support. The use of the funds for institutional support is heavily regulated. These one-time funds are intended to alleviate some of the financial pressure caused by the pandemic including additional costs for health and safety measures (e.g. personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies/equipment), remote instruction and operations costs (e.g. technology and faculty professional development), costs associated with student refunds for programs such as student housing, fixed costs such as debt service, and for targeted programming directly related to the pandemic. They must be expended by 2022.

We will use these funds, in compliance with the rules governing their use, to provide the campus with a temporary reprieve from another round of severe budget reductions during 2021-2022. But, again, they are not a permanent solution. We must engage, as a campus, in the hard work of making permanent cost-saving measures to close our currently projected $12 million structural deficit. Our divisions are already at work to do this. Academic Affairs began the hard work of addressing its unsustainable use of one-time funds this past summer. The work of the Academic Affairs Council and Academic Senate Executive Committee to jointly identify a “portfolio of imperfect options,” which underlies the Provost’s recent Directive Memo on Budget Realignment, demonstrates that we can work together to reduce our costs while remaining committed to student success. The Provost’s Directive empowers departments and colleges to make incremental changes that will not diminish our ability to serve our students and which add up to substantial savings. Its goals are to ensure a class schedule that allows students to make timely progress toward their degrees while preserving the campus’s normative 3-3 teaching load that fosters faculty excellence. Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and Administration & Finance are also looking at ways to reduce their costs while preserving services to students and the campus.

The CSU budget and SF State’s budget are complicated, and the pandemic has introduced a volatility that few have ever experienced. I urge all to attend the meetings of the University Budget Committee (UBC) or check their website for detailed presentations and information. The University will continue to refine its scenario planning for 2021-2022 and develop budget iterations over the next few months as more information becomes available, as the state legislature shares its budget plans, as enrollment trends become clearer and as the availability of one-time, federal funds is clarified.

I have been invited to attend the Academic Senate sponsored open forum with Provost Jennifer Summit on February 19 from 10:30-11:30 a.m. to answer questions about this and other pressing issues. To receive a password-protected Zoom link, please register via Qualtrics by 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 18. Additional campus forums with the president will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

I end on a positive note. Every day thousands more get access to one of the available vaccines. Educators will be eligible for the vaccine later this month or in early March paving the way for our return to campus in 2021-22. The CSU is working hard to advocate for more recurring funding to allow us to restore what we lost and hire more faculty and staff and for more one-time dollars for deferred maintenance to improve our infrastructure. In many ways, we survived the worst in 2020. We will work together again to address our remaining budget issues in 2021-22. And, while it may seem unimaginable today, we will once again be together on a thriving campus.

With continued wishes for good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Dear fellow Gators,

While most of us remain away from campus – learning and working remotely – I still want to welcome you personally to our spring semester, so video will have to do. I recognize the difficulty of our current reality, and I want to congratulate and thank you for your perseverance. 

Last semester, the California State University stated its goal of returning to primarily in-person instruction this summer. We don’t know exactly what that will look like – how many of us may return to campus or when or if things like vaccinations and physical distancing will be required. Our goal for fall is to offer as many in-person experiences as we can, but in a safe and responsible manner. As always, we will be guided by the advice of state and local health professionals. As such, it is still too early to make broad pronouncements about summer or even fall. But there are many encouraging signs of progress, including signals of financial assistance and support from the federal government and the development and distribution of vaccines. As I write this message, plans are being developed to offer vaccinations to our community – including SF State students and employees – on our campus. More details to come after the plan is finalized.

As I said, there are many positive signs, including – as I mention in this short video – a small symbol of persistence that I came across in my own office during a recent visit to campus. 

As difficult and unusual as these circumstances are, I hope you will find joy this spring semester as we progress slowly but consistently towards the brighter days that I know are ahead.

As always, I wish you good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Dear campus community,

As many of you likely did, I found today’s events in our nation’s capital shocking, disturbing and, sadly, not unexpected. For more than 200 years, the U.S. has distinguished itself from almost every other nation on earth with the peaceful transfer of political power. Today, a group of Americans, encouraged by the president of the United States, attempted to undo that and rock the very foundations of a democratic society. This was not a political protest but a violent assault and an act of domestic terrorism. As I have said previously, our democratic traditions are both imperfect and fragile. Our goal as a society and as a University should be to ensure that we more equitably meet democracy’s promise for all people. 

I remember being struck in 2000, when, as vice president, Al Gore certified George Bush’s election and congratulated him. I marveled in January 2017, when Hillary Clinton attended Donald Trump’s inauguration and shared her congratulations despite the vicious personal attacks she experienced during the campaign. The peaceful transfer of power demanded their attendance and affirmations. Democracy requires it.

I have no confidence that we will see the same graciousness later this month when Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in. I also fear that we will see more violence between now and then. As we wrestle yet again with another national tragedy, I urge you to look for signs of change. President-elect Biden’s cabinet and senior positions reflect the diversity of our country in unprecedented ways. Citizens in Georgia proved yet again that ordinary people can change the course of history. And COVID-19 vaccines will ultimately allow us to return to work and campus.

Some may see Inauguration Day as a day to celebrate that your candidate won. And it surely is, but it is much more than that. It is the ritual expression of the peaceful transfer of power that serves as the foundation of a democratic society. We should take great pride in this. I encourage you all, as work allows, to take time away from your desks on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 to watch Joseph Biden sworn in as the 46th president of the United States and to witness Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman, sworn in as vice president. I urge my colleagues to schedule only those meetings absolutely critical that morning and reschedule all others. Instead, I urge us all to participate together, albeit remotely, in celebrating yet another successful democratically determined transfer of power.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

2020

SEASON'S GREETINGS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR

From President Lynn Mahoney and the entire SF State Family

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Dear campus community,

Too many of my campus messages this year have sadly focused on how hard 2020 has been—and it has been in so many ways. As I write this, most of us are under strict stay at home orders, our hospitals are overwhelmed, we have experienced too much illness and death, and millions are unemployed. It would be almost impossible to exaggerate what we have endured this year. But we have endured. As we get ready to celebrate the many holidays that December brings, I write today to wish you well and to encourage you to think about the things that we can look forward to in 2021.

The news about multiple vaccines is incredibly promising, and we are fortunate to live in a state and region that will prioritize effective distribution to all its citizens. Last week, based on this news, the CSU and SF State announced that we plan to return to in-person instruction for Fall 2021. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and we now have a timeline for when we reach it.

I have every confidence that we will receive more assistance from the federal government, including relief from Islamophobic travel bans and renewed support for DACA and undocumented students. I am also hopeful that we will receive financial support to help our students and the University weather the financial challenges of the pandemic. This should include aid to students and funds to strengthen remote instruction/services, support for our pandemic prevention plan and creation of a financial safety net for our enterprises hardest hit by the pandemic. We have much to gain.

California’s better than expected 2020 tax revenues also generate some optimism. While we still have work to do to address our structural deficit and make permanent reductions to meet last year’s budget cut, the increase in state revenues leaves me hopeful that we might not have to address additional budget cuts. Working together, CSU students, faculty, staff and administrators now have a better foundation from which to advocate for funding for student success and for our campuses. We will spend much of the first half of 2021 advocating for the CSU and its absolutely critical role in the social, economic and cultural health of California.

And we have much to look forward to on our campus. Our newest academic building will open this spring, and we received $150M in one-time capital funds to build a long overdue science building. Our students deserve state-of-the-art spaces in which to learn, particularly in majors requiring intensive hands-on learning. Our faculty and staff deserve to work in buildings that enable them to best teach and serve students. These two new buildings go a long way to helping SF State meets its mission as a transformative university.

There are so many examples of how hard all are working to ensure that our students make progress toward their degrees this year. I have been inspired by the creativity of our faculty, the determination of our students, the diligence of our staff, and the flexibility and kindnesses exercised by many. Time and space allow that I share only two today. First, I urge you all to take a few minutes and visit the School of Art 2020 Stillwell Exhibition. I was left breathless by the pieces and the use of technology to replicate a museum visit. Second, I urge you to spend an hour listening to our students tell their stories of this year in Learning Alone: College in the Time of Corona, a Devised Radio Drama. I defy you to remain dry-eyed. I was both greatly saddened by all that our students have given up this year and remarkably heartened by their perseverance and creativity. So, please, join me virtually for a tour of the exhibition and experience, through the words and voices of our incredible students, Learning Alone.

The current health news is overwhelmingly bad. The days are long and dark. Some of us are separated from our families during the worst possible time of year. Many are struggling. But we must persist and look toward 2021 with optimism. We successfully completed another remote term. We have what it takes to complete another. And then we know that it will end. 

I wish you all good health and rest over the holidays and winter break. And I say with great certainty that I cannot wait to see you on campus in 2021!

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Dear Gators,

Yesterday, we received encouraging news from the chancellor of the California State University (CSU): The CSU expects its campuses (including San Francisco State University) to return to primarily in-person instruction for the fall 2021 semester. This announcement gives us a ray of hope during these short winter days and allows us — and you — to do some important planning ahead.

  • While spring will be largely virtual, it is critical that you remain focused on your educational goals.  If you haven’t already done so, be sure to register now for your spring classes, and stay on track for your degree. 
  • San Francisco State is here to support you as you continue your studies in these challenging times. With many student academic support programs to choose from, you will have the help you need to be successful. 

I am so proud of the commitment and resilience you have shown this fall, and I am excited at the prospect of a day in the not-so-distant future when we’ll be together again enjoying all that our campus, the Bay Area and the City of San Francisco have to offer. Until then, please stay safe — while taking steps to join us for another life-changing year of education at SF State.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Dear colleagues,

Yesterday, the California State University announced the anticipated return to primarily in-person instruction in fall of 2021. This announcement was made to provide current and future students and their families with assurances that the CSU is and will continue to work diligently on the health protocols needed for a safe return to campuses in fall and to allow all more time to plan. 

Despite increased restrictions due to the current surge in cases, recent news about COVID-19 vaccine development allows us to begin to plan for this step. In addition, the CSU recently extended the fall application deadline for first-time freshman and transfer student admission to December 15 to allow students additional time to submit application materials.

As always, the health and safety of our campus community will be our top priority. Throughout the pandemic, we have lived in a rapidly-changing environment, and we don’t have enough information yet to make an informed decision about Summer 2021 instruction. Obviously, our ultimate goal is a safe return to fully-normal operations, but our campus planning work will continue to be driven by science and the guidance of public health experts.

I am grateful to our faculty, staff and administrators who are working diligently to make the college experience the best it can be as our students continue their progress to degree.

The prospect of a partial return to normalcy is tremendous news and cause for great optimism. Brighter days lie ahead of us, but we must continue to be vigilant and careful to ensure that we all reach those days safely. Recent changes to local and state health guidance had minimal impact on our already-cautious approach to in-person, on-campus experiences, but we can give one another the gift of good health by continuing to follow the guidance of health experts and also by enrolling in California’s recently-launched statewide exposure notification system.  

More updates will be provided as the situation becomes clearer in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, stay safe and look forward to the days when we may safely return to campus together.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, November 23, 2020

Dear campus community,

I think I speak for many when I say that there has never been a semester in which we all needed Fall Recess more. I have never seen a university work this hard nor look so fatigued and in need of a break (I may be projecting just a bit!). But I know that the holiday that anchors Fall Recess brings for some great pain. For some, it is a palpable reminder of genocide and centuries of white supremacy. For others, it brings the pain and loss associated with individual family dynamics and stories. This year, the isolation driven by the pandemic will be particularly acute next week. In this complicated context and in an ongoing attempt to redefine the holiday as a week of thanksgiving, I pause to express my gratitude.

I am grateful to the Ohlone and Coast Miwok peoples on whose lands I live and work.

I am grateful to our students whose resilience and engagement inspires me and reminds me of the value of the work we all do at SF State. Over the past few weeks, I have met with dozens of student leaders. Many are balancing work, complex lives and remote instruction. And yet, our conversations center on the future—how do we make SF State more welcoming? How do we recruit students for whom our form of education would be transformative? How do we graduate more students? And, often, how do we simply make the world a better place?

I am grateful to my colleagues—our faculty, staff and administrators. They too are accomplishing their work under unimaginable circumstances. I marvel at the work that our Academic Senate and other committees are accomplishing remotely. I am inspired by faculty who continuously work to make remote instruction work and offer our students much needed flexibility. I am awed by the dedication of staff who are also reimagining their work in so many ways to ensure that the University and our students thrive. I am grateful to our administrators whose efforts to work collaboratively to meet many unexpected challenges are helping us navigate the ongoing pandemic. And, I am most grateful for the moments when I see all working together to ensure our success.

Like many of you, this week will be different for me. I will not be able to see my four siblings, their families, and my parents, all of whom live back East. And no visits with Bay Area family and friends either as we try to flatten the curve yet again. But I will find joy and gratitude in other moments. I am blessed to have my grown children and husband with me. I live in this beautiful city that will afford me time outdoors. And I plan some quiet time with a novel and yet another jigsaw puzzle. I hope that you too find these moments.

And, maybe most importantly, other than with family and friends, I wish you all some Zoom-free days. 

Please stay safe and well!

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Dear campus community,

Last week was long and hard. Just how fractured we are as a nation and a society was evident as journalists shared voting results in real time, and Americans glued themselves to their preferred media outlets to watch the ever-shifting tallies. Someone somewhere remarked that Tuesday alone felt three-days long. And then on Saturday morning, the Associated Press and CNN called the election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Here in the city, where 86 percent of voters supported Biden and Harris, the celebrations were swift and strong, breaking out in neighborhoods across the city. Many celebrated, in particular, Kamala Harris’s success. The daughter of immigrants and a long-time resident of the Bay Area, her service as the first female, first Black and first South Asian vice president signaled opportunity and possibility—at a time when both seemed in retreat. For many here, it was a very good day.

For those of us in higher education, the feelings of relief and hope were equally swift and strong. President-elect Biden earned his undergraduate degree at a public university, and our future first lady is a faculty member dedicated to teaching. In addition to a renewed understanding of the value of higher education, we are hopeful that we will see support for international education and research; a resumption and expansion of DACA, including paths to citizenship for our undocumented students; restored support for scientific research and expertise; and a commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion education and action. And, of course, hope for a coordinated approach to containing the pandemic and federal economic aid for universities and states.

We should be hopeful, and we should celebrate in particular the election of a vice president who shattered several ceilings. We should also celebrate the efforts of many to drive participation in this important process to record levels. Our own Associated Students’ voter registration drive resulted in 1565 newly or reregistered students, a commendable achievement. Across this city and region, members of the University community worked on voter registration drives, participated in local campaigns, served as poll workers and took to the streets to protest and to celebrate. Democracy is alive and well at San Francisco State!  

As a University, I also urge us to pause and reflect as the election comes to a conclusion. What did we learn from this election and the years preceding it? We learned that democracy is fragile. We learned that vast numbers of Americans feel unheard and millions suffer daily from institutionalized racism. We learned that the fault lines in our society are deep and painful. We have learned that it is easy to demonize one another and really hard to listen and learn. We have learned that we have a lot of work to do.

Like many, I have been obsessively reading election postmortems. I was struck by the observation one New York Times columnist made predicting that the U.S. “simply cannot do anything ambitious anymore — like put a man on the moon — because ambitious things have to be done together.” We have so many ambitious goals which demand we work together: achieving economic and racial equity, immigration reform and environmental sustainability among them. But can we? As I look at our University community, I think the answer is a resounding yes!

I challenge us to think about how as an institution of higher education we can bridge divisions, bring an educational focus to issues and problems and encourage engaging in conversation with others even when we disagree, maybe especially then. We have a unique opportunity as an intellectual community. We should and must continue our activism and our active dissent, but we should also double down on our educational mission to educate toward common goals and the collective good. Let’s use this moment to leverage our resources not just for change but for unity.

It’s been a long semester. Many are tired. Almost all of us are stressed. This is especially true for our students. I urge us all to remain compassionate and patient. I have been so proud to serve as your president these few months. And, as we pause this week to honor Veterans on Wednesday, I remind all to be kind to themselves. Take time to acknowledge your accomplishments, small and large. Remember, good is good enough.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Dear campus community,

Five years ago, a series of reports from the Public Policy Institute revealed our state would soon face a critical shortage: too few college graduates. If not addressed, the report suggested, by 2030 California's gap could exceed one million educated workers. The California State University, the greatest degree producer in the state and its greatest source of upward mobility, embraced the opportunity to produce more graduates. 

A CSU Advisory Committee composed of faculty, staff, students and administrators quickly identified two key challenges—first, socioeconomic, racial and ethnic gaps in degree attainment and, second, longer than typical time to degree. Four-year graduation rates for students entering the CSU directly from high school and two-year rates for community college transfers lagged woefully behind those in other states attending comparable institutions. And, if the CSU did not make progress at increasing the graduation rates for low-income students and for students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education, California would not have the educated workforce it needs. Living up to its core commitment to educational equity, the CSU embraced the challenge and set ambitious goals for the entire system and for each university, launching the program known as Graduation Initiative 2025.

Last Friday, in the largest virtual gathering in the history of the CSU, almost 4,000 people learned just how successful this project has been to date. Despite the disruption of a global pandemic, over 120,000 CSU students earned their baccalaureate degrees in 2020—an all-time high—and 20,000 more than when the CSU launched the graduation initiative. Today, graduation rates in the system are higher than they’ve ever been, including the goal that represented the heaviest lift for the CSU—the four-year rate for freshmen. In 2015, only 19% of students who entered as first-time freshmen graduated in four years. Just five years later, 31% do, and 44% of community college transfers now graduate in two years, up from 31% in 2013. These are remarkable numbers and represent significant financial gains for students and their families. While the data and our figures in particular demonstrate there is more work to do, we are moving quickly in the right direction.

Friday’s event also included acknowledgments of some of the CSU’s outstanding students and faculty. I encourage you to watch the video. Among the highlights: a performance by an SF State alumna, Cherokee White. A theater and cultural anthropology student, Cherokee’s piece powerfully expresses why Black Lives Matter and why they must matter at SF State and across the CSU. Her interview demonstrated the power of an SF State degree and her clear awareness of how the support of faculty and staff enabled her success. Additionally, faculty member Jae H. Paik was recognized with a 2020 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award, reserved for faculty who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership to advance student success. As always, I am so deeply proud to serve as your president.

While the success of Graduation Initiative 2025 can be neatly summarized by data, we are all keenly aware that every data point represents a student whose achievement is transformative—for themselves, for their families and their communities. And, despite the greatest disruption in higher education in recent history, the CSU and SF State are transforming lives. The persistence of our students and the hard work of faculty, staff and administrators are the foundations of the CSU. Let’s pause a moment to congratulate our students and ourselves. And then let’s get back to work helping students graduate and advocating for the funding the CSU needs and deserves to continue its efforts to transform lives and California.

With wishes for good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Dear campus community,

The California State University plays a critical role as an engine of equity and social mobility. This morning, the CSU Board of Trustees announced that Dr. Joseph Castro, president of Fresno State, will serve as the eighth chancellor of the CSU, an affirmation of its commitment to inclusive excellence. I have been grateful to Dr. Castro for his mentorship as I began my presidency. SF State was honored to have him serve as our keynote speaker at our event, A Campus Conversation: The City’s University. These are challenging times for our nation and for higher education. The CSU and its students are fortunate in the choice of Joe Castro, for there is no finer leader to guide us in these times.

I hope you can make time to participate in a live broadcast opportunity to meet our new chancellorFriday, September 25 from 11 a.m. to noon. 

Dr. Castro’s appointment signals a continuation of the important and proud legacy of the CSU. I am grateful for everything Chancellor Tim White has done for the CSU, and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Castro. I look forward to continuing to work together to build on the accomplishments of the nation’s largest four-year university system.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Dear campus community,

As I wrote to you all recently, San Francisco State finds itself again at the center of a national discussion about the boundaries and consequences of freedom of expression and academic freedom. 

The University remains steadfast in its support of the right of faculty to conduct their teaching and scholarship free from censorship, in this instance the right of two faculty members to host “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice, & Resistance: A Conversation with Leila Khaled” as part of a virtual class. A university can, at the same time, allow its students and faculty the freedom to express contrary, even objectionable, views while also condemning anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, racism, and other hateful ideologies that marginalize people. These are complex issues but universities above all other places should be places to debate and question complexities.

The legal limits of academic freedom and freedom of expression are frequently challenged. We learned late yesterday that Zoom will not allow the virtual class to go forward on its platform because Zoom believes that the event may violate its terms of service with the University and possibly the law. Although we disagree with, and are disappointed by, Zoom’s decision not to allow the event to proceed on its platform, we also recognize that Zoom is a private company that has the right to set its own terms of service in its contracts with users. 

We worked hard to prevent this outcome and have been actively engaging with Zoom.  Based on the information we have been able to gather to date, the University does not believe that the class panel discussion violates Zoom’s terms of service or the law.  The University has also shared with Zoom the assurances received from the faculty members that: Ms. Khaled is not speaking as a member, representative, spokesperson, or surrogate for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; and Ms. Khaled is not receiving compensation from the University of any kind for her participation in this event.  Speaking through their legal counsel, the faculty members have also assured the University that they have no intention of violating the law.

Zoom’s cancelation of the event will be deeply wounding to some members of our community who will feel themselves and their dissent silenced once again, just as the participation of Leila Khaled in a class panel discussion is deeply wounding to others in our community. And many across the University and beyond may fear the further erosion of the rights of faculty and see this as damaging to the role of the university in a liberal society. 

I am – and will remain – steadfast in my support of freedom of expression and academic freedom. I have reached out to student members of our Jewish community about their rights to dissent, and I will reach out to student members of our Arab and Palestinian communities to affirm our commitment to them.  We cannot embrace the silencing of controversial views, even if they are hurtful to others. We must commit to speech and to the right to dissent, including condemning ideologies of hatred and violence against unarmed civilians.  

I encourage and expect our campus community to have courageous conversations centered on challenging issues. We now find ourselves living in such a moment. I urge us to use this as an opportunity to speak with one another, to listen to one another and engage in respectful dissent. Let this University lead by example in its support of, and commitment to, freedom of speech and academic freedom.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

The California State University once again leads the country in making the right decision about Spring semester and making it early. But for many of us that now means we have to prepare for even more months of the “New Now.” Late last week, I sent a video message to our students. I know that the news of a remote Spring deeply affected them. In the days after that announcement was made, I received numerous emails and read dozens of social media posts. People expressed their anxieties, their frustrations, their anger and their relief — frustration with remote teaching and learning, anxiety about the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic, relief that the decision about spring was made early and prioritized public health — and many expressed what I would describe as an angry fatigue at the unfairness of the whole situation.

We have entered our seventh month of remote instruction. It has now been six months or longer since we saw many of our friends and families in person. We have adjusted to wearing face coverings, and we seemingly bathe in hand sanitizer. Many of our families have experienced pandemic-related tragedies of illness, death and economic devastation. The same week that the CSU announced continued remote instruction, over 100 SF State employees were laid off, a decision I was forced to make with the heaviest of hearts. And then, with much of the state in flames, the sky turned orange and we experienced firsthand what an environmental apocalypse might look like. It was a hard, hard week.

This week, I listened to dozens of our students, staff and faculty speak at the Board of Trustees meeting asking that the CSU protect staff from layoffs. I have never been sadder nor more proud. Sad that our budget challenges require that we make permanent budget cuts that will hurt our staff, many of whom are alumni. But I was proud to hear person after person stand up for SF State, its mission and its students. While we cannot avoid these layoffs, we can advocate together to get funding restored to the CSU and to ward off future cuts. Additional permanent funding and enrollment growth would also allow us to hire back staff. 

In my recent video message, I told our students that I believe that this is the hardest moment in recent U.S. history as multiple troubles collide. Last Friday, for many, the moment took a darker turn with the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, a feminist icon and a leader in the fight for women’s rights. I turn to her example now as we navigate ongoing public health and environmental crises, growing economic hardship, and increasing social and political unrest and conflict. 

Many will find something in Bader Ginsburg’s writings, actions and life to help plot a course through the next few months. Her career as a litigator demonstrates how individual, incremental gains can add up to incredible change. Her work as a justice on a conservative court demonstrates the impact of dissent. Even when you don’t win, your dissent has value and power. Her judicial activism demonstrates that advocacy works. This extraordinary woman overcame great professional obstacles and leaves a nation transformed by her quiet but powerful intellect and drive. 

Like another great leader who transitioned earlier this summer, civil rights icon John Lewis, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life reminds us that we are not powerless even in the face of great challenges. We can and will move forward, however hard the moment may feel. We can advocate together to protect the state’s greatest educational resource – the California State University. 

I conclude with observations made by RBG’s former law clerks, Abbe Gluck and Gillian Metzger, published in the New York Times on Saturday.

     “Her commitments were always the same and grew ever louder. Even at the very end, she reminded us how much more work there is left to do.” 

Let our commitments to our students and to our communities remain steadfast over the next months as there is much left to do.

As always, I thank everyone for all they are doing and wish you all good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, September 18, 2020

Dear Fellow Gators,

I am sharing this video message with you today now that we have had a week to digest the expected but unfortunate news indicating the Spring semester in the California State University will overwhelmingly be held remotely.

There are many questions to be answered as we construct our plans, but I want you to know that I share your sadness at the situation in which we find ourselves. Our decisions will be driven, as they have been since March, by the ultimate goal of preserving the health and safety of our campus community.

Nothing I can say will bring us back together sooner, but we can all work together to help make it happen by following the guidelines put forth by experts and keeping ourselves safe until we are on campus together again. Meanwhile, we will continue supporting you as you progress toward your degree. Please know that your faculty, and all of us, continue to work hard to improve our remote instruction and find other virtual ways of staying connected. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts—how can we do this even better? How can we help you succeed?

Stay safe and healthy.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Dear campus community,

In any other year, during Fall semester we would expect to walk across the Quad on our way to class or a meeting and experience the diverse perspectives held by those who compose the San Francisco State University community. You would likely encounter get-out-the-vote campaigners, invitations to join a club or participate in a demonstration and multiple invitations to add your voice. These activities and conversations make universities truly extraordinary places—where critical thinking is prized and nurtured and where disparate and often divergent opinions and world views are shared.

This exchange of ideas, though, is not always conflict-free, and San Francisco State finds itself again at the center of a national discussion about the boundaries and consequences of freedom of expression. Let me say clearly and quickly that SF State and I strongly condemn anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness, racism, and other hateful ideologies that marginalize people based on their identities, origins or beliefs. Let me say equally emphatically that we support the right of our faculty to academic freedom and to conducting their teaching and scholarship without censorship. And I say this while also condemning the glorification and use of terrorism and violence, particularly against unarmed civilians. These need not be mutually exclusive positions. In fact, rejecting binaries and embracing hard-to-reconcile complexities are the hallmarks of the educational experience.

SF State is regularly noted as one of the most diverse campuses in the US—a point of pride for many of us. Our students are much more likely to sit next to someone from a different ethnic, racial, religious or socioeconomic background than students elsewhere. Often this promotes rich discussions and new understandings and enriches the academic experience. But we may also find ourselves seated next to or hearing from someone with completely divergent views and even views we find personally abhorrent. These encounters, here and at other universities, have sometimes led to discord, anger, confrontation and fear. We can allow these moments to pull us apart. Or we can use them to launch new conversations, offer alternative viewpoints and affirm our commitments to viewpoint diversity. We can use these deeply painful moments as opportunities to counter speech with more speech and more education. As an educational institution, all are encouraged to invite speakers, take positions, engage in debate without fear of retaliation or censorship. There is--and must be--space for all viewpoints at SF State.

We must couple our collective commitment to academic freedom and freedom of expression with a collective commitment to being a welcoming and inclusive campus. We condemn ideologies of hatred and violence. We do this not by restricting protected speech, teaching or scholarship but by providing resources for those in need of support and, again, by facilitating educational opportunities that align with campus values and promote viewpoint diversity. We will exercise compassion and support those who are marginalized or fearful. Students who feel targeted, marginalized or discriminated against will find allies in all corners of our campus. The Division of Equity and Community Inclusion provides many resources for students and the community. I urge all to participate in their programs and get involved with their centers.  Students who feel targeted or who are harassed should immediately contact our Dean-on-Callor the Office of Equity Programs & Compliance.

Last year, I talked about engaging the campus in courageous conversations. There are no harder conversations than those centered on volatile political and cultural issues. My goal remains that we commit together to having these conversations, to allowing diverse viewpoints and to demonstrating compassion. But I am a realist and a historian. There will be times when conversation, let alone agreement, is impossible. There will be times when we find a course’s content or a speaker deeply offensive. I urge us to use these moments as opportunities to invite others to share their thoughts, ideas and words and not as evidence of permanent or widespread disagreement. We should not allow ourselves to be defined by the moments that divide us but by the opportunities to come together for the kinds of rich courageous conversations that only one of the most diverse universities in the world can foster.

As always, now, I wish you good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, August 31, 2020

Dear campus community,

As we begin the Fall semester under unusual and uniquely challenging circumstances, most of us are doing so remotely. Relying heavily on technology for communication and connectivity, we are vulnerable to many potential disruptions. With the threat of wildfires, poor air quality and planned or unexpected power outages, it is critical that we all plan ahead to be sure we are as prepared as possible. As we know all too well, 2020 continues to throw challenges our way.

San Francisco State University faculty have been asked to develop resilient teaching plans to ensure that students progress toward their academic goals. Our courses are driven by student learning outcomes and, as they have shown over the last few months, faculty continue to find alternative ways to engage our students in meaningful learning experiences.

Students who are impacted by events, notify your professors of disruptions as soon as possible. Students with longer-term challenges should also contact the Dean on Call.

Faculty and staff who are living and teaching in impacted areas should contact their supervisor or department chair to inform them of disruptions. If employees are unable to perform their normal work duties, they should contact the appropriate administrator and follow normal departmental practices. If classes must be canceled, please notify students and department chairs as soon as possible. Our Instructional Continuity Guide supplies additional resources for teaching and learning.

Over the last few months, I have been struck most by the care and compassion that our University community has shown. As we begin the semester and enter fire season, please continue to practice patience and compassion for our fellow Gators as we work our way through these unpredictable and demanding times. 

As always, continue to make safety and wellness — yours and others’ — the top priority.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Dear campus community,

Welcome to Fall 2020! As I said at our Opening Convocation, this year and this semester will be unlike any others. We managed our swift transition to remote education. We planned early for a remote Fall. We will work transparently to create a financially-sustainable budget. And, with the early, brutal arrival of wildfires, we will again plan for sustaining operations as declining air quality and power outages wrack California. I know I speak for many in the Gator family in wishing the best for those impacted by recent fires. 

I have every confidence that SF State will, as it always has, meet the challenges we face this semester directly and collaboratively. Thanks to many, many weeks of planning by faculty, staff and administrators, we are as ready as we can be to ensure that our students have a good fall semester. 

This summer more than 1,200 faculty took advantage of workshops offered by the Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning to strengthen remote teaching and learning. Staff from all units spent the summer welcoming new students, advising and registering students, preparing to support remote instruction and work, and engaging in extensive planning to keep the small number of people on campus healthy and safe. I am deeply, deeply grateful to all.

I imagine we have all wrestled with how to describe what we are going through. Period of pandemic-driven temporary restrictions? The new normal? None seem appropriate. This has gone on for far too long to be described as merely temporary. It is certainly not a new normal. While some things may never return (handshaking?!?), we will again host thousands of in-person classes, events and celebrations. So, no please, today’s circumstances can never be “normal.” They are, however, constantly shifting. Rules change from day-to-day, and businesses (and other universities) open and close and then open and close again. How do we describe this? How do we manage it?

Several weeks ago, Wendy Tobias, director of the Disability Programs and Resource Center, hit upon just the right description — the New Now. It is always new and ever-changing. It encourages us to take this moment by moment. And, most importantly, it reminds us that this is just now, not forever. We will embrace the “now” and do the best we can for our students and for one another.

It will likely be another long few weeks. As always, take care of yourself and find pleasure and joy wherever and whenever you can. Remember, good enough is in fact good enough for the New Now.

Wishing all a healthy and good fall 2020!

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Dear campus community,

It seems almost impossible, but the start of the fall semester is quickly nearing. I know that for many this summer has been unimaginably busy. I want to thank all of you. Thank you to the staff, faculty and administrators who kept our campus functioning all spring and summer. Thank you to the faculty and staff who spent their summers improving remote teaching and working to best serve our students. Thank you to the many involved with planning for Fall 2020, particularly the Budget and Logistics review team who guided our decision-making process and ensured that our plans prioritized health and safety. 

We have focused our planning efforts on remote teaching and services with very few courses being offered in-person, with most services being conducted and provided remotely and with few students in residence. For the few (less than 600 students and even fewer faculty and staff) who will be on campus, we will implement a health and safety plan that includes a daily health screening, the use of face coverings, physical distancing and hand sanitizers and hand washing. 

As with all things related to the global pandemic, our plans will change and perhaps change rapidly, if protecting public health demands it. Please regularly review our Campus Plan website for details about Fall 2020. We continue working to improve our communications knowing that we can always do better. Please send your questions and suggestions to president@sfsu.edu.

Protecting our University community’s health, whether in our homes and neighborhoods or on campus, requires that we all comply with local health requirements, particularly using face coverings and practicing physical distancing. We have all seen photos where people failed to do that … and then read later about the consequences. At San Francisco State University, we pride ourselves on rising above individual needs to embrace the needs of the many and the collective good. I expect no less of us now. So, wherever you are, wear your face covering and give people distance. Demonstrate that we put the welfare of our communities at the center of all we do.

Again, I express my deepest gratitude to all who are making remote learning, teaching and working effective — particularly our students and faculty who are ensuring that we meet our core educational mission during the most challenging of times. 

I guarantee that Fall 2020 will be one for the record books and that San Francisco State will emerge as a model for protecting public health and ensuring that students continue to make progress toward the academic goals that will serve their families, communities and the city and Bay Area well.

With wishes for good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, July 20, 2020

Dear colleagues,

I know that our budget news and the CSU’s email about layoff provisions have generated a lot of anxiety. The consequences of the pandemic, growing economic inequality, decades of inadequate funding for the California State University system and local enrollment declines have combined to leave us with daunting challenges. We recently received confirmation that our campus will receive $22M less in state funds for 2020-21, and we continue to project a $16M decline in tuition revenues. As you likely read in the email forwarded to you this morning, Chancellor Timothy White has informed us that the CSU will not be pursuing furloughs to mitigate budget reductions this year. We will have to manage this budget reduction at the campus level. These are daunting numbers. This is all hard news, and I know that many are rightfully concerned. 

As I said in an earlier budget email, I cannot promise good news for the foreseeable future, but I can promise transparency and a deep commitment to shared governance as we navigate very difficult times. The University Budget Committee (UBC) will be the vehicle for budget transparency and shared information. The committee is currently revising its charge and reviewing plans to expand its membership with the goal of becoming more inclusive to enable broader input into the budgeting process, including more faculty, staff and union participation. UBC meetings are open to the public; all are invited to learn more and participate. We will also hold several budget forums throughout the year to share details with the full campus community, and all presentations will be posted to the web. 

The University’s state budget cut has been compounded by an almost equally severe decline in tuition revenues. Enrollment presentations have been regularly shared with the UBC. Find the most recent one on the UBC website. Prior to the pandemic, we had projected a 7% enrollment decline. Not surprisingly, the pandemic has resulted in additional consequences for enrollment, particularly for new freshmen. The most recent presentation to UBC projects an 11% decline. This will result in approximately 3,000 fewer students enrolling at SF State in the fall, including more than 1,000 fewer freshmen. We are currently projecting approximately 25,800 students for fall 2020.

Lecturers have felt the impact of declining enrollments quickly. As we do every year, and as contractually stipulated, we must align our lecturer hiring with our enrollment demand. In a climate of enrollment stability, lecturer hiring will be stable. In an unstable climate, the need for those positions and the tuition to fund them will be unstable. Our enrollments have been unstable for several years due in part to a statewide shift which has led to declining enrollments at most Northern California campuses. The effects of COVID-19 have exacerbated this. I am making stabilizing our enrollments a priority. I took action last fall to address this by establishing a Strategic Enrollment Advisory Committee, but that work will not help us address last year’s reduction in enrollment and the dramatic decline for Fall 2020, or the multi-year reverberations of a small 2020 freshmen class.

Across the University, an incredible amount of work has been done over the last several weeks to cut costs and slow hiring while still working to provide the courses and services our students need to succeed. This has enabled us to make considerable progress: we’ve reduced projected expenses by approximately $20M for 2020-21. This is good news, but it still leaves us with a budget gap of $18M for 2020-21. 

Our greatest resource is our employees — faculty, staff and administrators. But they also account for the vast majority of our spending. In 2019-2020 our general operating budget was $354,834,431 (plus $47.7M in financial aid and federal work study). Compensation and benefits accounted for 90% of that ($318,796,222), giving us very little budgeting flexibility. The combined $38M reduction exceeds our ability to close the funding gap by reducing hiring and implementing other cost-cutting measures alone.

We will create a multi-year plan to use eligible University reserves to mitigate some of our budget gap. Unlike a business which generates reserves intentionally, our reserves are better understood as carry forward funds — funds allocated for activities including hiring, programs, capital improvements and deferred maintenance, for example; but not expended in the current fiscal year and carried forward to the following year. A portion of these reserves are available to bridge some of the funding gap, but others are already allocated and needed for core operations in our colleges and units, including core operational support in the College of Science and Engineering and student life programming in Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. We will review our reserves with the UBC and identify funds that can be re-allocated as short-term bridge to fill the gap. Governor Newsom has predicted that we can expect tight state budgets for at least three years, so we will need to use these funds judiciously to plan for funding gaps beyond the current fiscal year. 

We are reviewing the use of additional cost saving measures, including other sources of one-time funds such as federal stimulus dollars and will explore with the unions the possibility of offering an early exit program. Unfortunately, our reserves and current cost-cutting efforts will not be sufficient to avoid implementing the layoff provisions in our collective bargaining agreements. This step is painful but necessary. With a budget gap of this size, we cannot forestall making permanent reductions in personnel. We will work closely with our unions as we navigate this. We plan to meet with the unions in the next several weeks to begin discussions. Please know that in such situations reductions will be made in close consultation with our unions. 

I send this email with a very heavy heart. The last few weeks have been almost unimaginably hard. The pandemic precludes us from being together at the same moment when issues like the need to eliminate white supremacy, to support our international students and to navigate tough budget times make coming together even more critical. Last week marked my first anniversary as your president. As I have said before, in no world is this where I imagined we would be. But as I look across the leadership at this campus — our Academic Senate, our Associated Students, our unions — I see great strength. But only if we work together. We must continue to work collectively to ensure that our students succeed, that we better realize our potential as a model of inclusivity and educational equity and that we manage our budget in transparent ways to make judicious budget cuts that allow us to serve our students in the manner they deserve.

Please know how deeply I value your contributions and the commitment you show to the ongoing success of our students, and as always, I send this with wishes for good health.

Best, 

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, July 17, 2020

Dear campus community,

Nearly a month ago, San Francisco State University President Lynn Mahoney affirmed in a campus email our role as an engine of educational and economic equity for Black students and communities and committed the University to action. In the intervening weeks, we have engaged in many cross-campus conversations, inventoried current work and generated a set of initiatives and goals. We are very grateful to the many students, faculty and staff who have emailed us or spent time speaking with us. We want to thank Chair Teaster Baird Jr., Chair Doris Flowers, Director of Educational Opportunity and Pathways Programs Oscar Gardea, Assistant Vice President Fred Smith, Dean Amy Sueyoshi, Associate Dean Rob Williams and the Executive Committee of the Black Faculty and Staff Association for their work to move Black Lives Matter @ SF State forward. 

As leaders representing all of the University and its colleges, we commit to the following actions:

  • Implementing workshops and other educational opportunities for University employees addressing white supremacy and anti-Blackness and requiring these for all managers
  • Improving our hiring practices for faculty, staff and administrators to include anti-bias education and other best practices to ensure more diverse pools and hiring
  • Incorporating education about the ongoing, pernicious consequences of anti-Blackness, asset-based understandings of Blackness and support for anti-racism in all Student Life programming, including new student programming, leadership development and wellness initiatives
  • Recruiting, retaining and graduating Black studentsby developing partnerships with regional K-12 and community college districts and by strengthening work to eliminate equity gaps 
  • Developing new programs that strengthen the pipelines to graduate education and careers for Black students
  • Bolstering Black student life on campus by increasing support for the Office of Equity and Community Inclusion and the Black Unity Center.
  • Raising philanthropic funds for the College of Ethnic Studies and for the financial support of students whose studies focus on the Pan-African diaspora or Black populations
  • Advancing curricula that support Black student success by increasing the number of faculty whose work lies in the Pan-African diaspora or who have a demonstrated record of success in research, teaching and/or service with Black populations. We will also offer pedagogical workshops for faculty, solidify pathways for double majors or minors in identity-based degrees and increase community service learning opportunities with our Black community partners
  • Reallocating funding from policing to ensure continued support for campus programs that support BLM and anti-racist initiatives, reviewing and revising University protocols related to policing, and creating an advisory council for campus safety

So many across this University are already deeply engaged in BLM work, but we know we can and must do more. We remain committed to listening, to learning and to taking meaningful actions. As a University community, we must work together and keep our eyes on our goals. As the events of the past months recede from the headlines, our intentions and focus will remain. We will effect change.

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Jennifer Summit, Ph.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Beth Hellwig, Ph.D.
Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management

Yim-Yu Wong, Ph.D.
Dean, Lam Family College of Business

Cynthia Grutzik, Ph.D.
Dean, Graduate College of Education

Amy Sueyoshi, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Ethnic Studies

Alvin Alvarez, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Health & Social Sciences

Andrew Harris, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Liberal & Creative Arts

Carmen Domingo, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Science & Engineering

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

On June 19, 1865, the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation was finally fulfilled when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, learned that the Civil War was over and that slavery had ended. In the decades that followed, the date provided an opportunity for African Americans to celebrate emancipation at Juneteenth parades, events and gatherings. If in winning the Civil War the U.S. had also scored a victory for racial justice, this would be a national holiday that all Americans celebrate. But as we have been reminded yet again, while the Confederacy may have lost the battle, white supremacy won the war.

Never more so than this year does Juneteenth provide an opportunity for all Americans to pledge not just their support for racial justice but to commit their time and resources to action to effect real change. That starts with us, with me and with San Francisco State University.

The pursuit of racial justice should not still be a necessary conversation in the United States. Four hundred and one years after the introduction of slavery, 155 years after the end of slavery, and 55 years after the Civil Rights Act, we should not still be talking about the persistence of white supremacy, police brutality and the myriad inequities wrought by centuries of systemic racism. But despite the efforts of many, including many here at San Francisco State, we still are. 

Black Lives Matter at SF State. Our role as an engine of educational and economic equity has never been more important. Providing better access to a world-class university education and better ensuring degree completion are critical for economic equity and mobility for Black communities in San Francisco, the Bay Area and across the state. 

As we look to the future, we affirm our core commitments and pledge to realize them.

We are committed to listening to our Black students, faculty and staff and local community leaders.

We are committed to a renewal of the SF Promise that sets ambitious goals to recruit, retain and graduate more African American students and students from all communities of color. 

We are committed to recruiting and retaining Black faculty, staff and administrators, as well as new colleagues from other historically underrepresented communities. 

We are committed to anti-racist education and policies, including the repeal of Prop 209.

We are committed to not asking those who have already done so much to do more, especially African Americans and other communities of color, but are committed to asking others, particularly white allies, to do more and do it now.

Few of us have likely seen anything like the last few weeks. And while tragedy and pain abound, there are signs of real change, including dramatically increased support for Black Lives Matter and for the repeal of Proposition 209 to strengthen equity in higher education. As in 1968, the need for San Francisco State University to lead is great. As the president of SF State, I embrace our role and commit us to action.

We will listen, we will learn and we will do better. On this Juneteenth, a day also of reflection and education, celebrate freedom and commit to realizing it for all.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, May 29, 2020

George Valentine.
George Floyd.
Christian Cooper.

On March 25, George Valentine, an aide to the mayor of Washington D.C., struggling to breathe, entered the hospital and died two days later, a victim of COVID-19.

On May 25, George Floyd died after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer.

On May 25, Christian Cooper was birding in Central Park when a white woman weaponized her race and gender to falsely accuse him of a crime.

These men did not know one another. They held different jobs, lived in different cities, grew up in different circumstances. But they are all African American and all experienced the consequences of the United States’ long history of persistent racism.

African Americans are at least 2.4 times more likely to die of COVID-19. With heartbreaking regularity, unarmed African American boys and men are killed by police. And every day African Americans and other people of color experience microaggressions and overt acts of racism, some of which place individuals — like Mr. Cooper — in potentially grave physical danger.

The national climate is illuminating a number of challenges facing marginalized communities, including growing anti-Asian and Pacific Islander sentiment and the grossly disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on African Americans, Latinos and the Asian Pacific Islander and Native American communities. Students who are DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients are anxiously waiting to hear about the future of DACA from a federal administration that has made clear its stance on immigration and undocumented Americans, including recently explicitly excluding them from receiving much-needed federal COVID aid. While we, on some levels, come together as a nation to face the greatest health threat in a century, evidence of division, hatred, intolerance and ignorance abounds.

In a recent piece in The New York Times, Sabrina Strings, a sociologist at the University of California, Irvine, asked “Why are black people so sick?” She quickly and strongly identified the cause: slavery.

While her argument focused on the impact and legacy of slavery on health and access to health care, her answer is widely applicable. Centuries of structural racism and its persistence into the 21st century impact all communities of color and affect their health, access to health care, their treatment by police, the ways in which they are perceived, access to education, upward mobility and more.

We know that San Francisco and San Francisco State University are not immune to this. Our students, faculty and staff are regularly on the front lines challenging institutional racism and all inequities. To borrow from the work of scholars on cultural humility, including San Francisco State Professor Vivian Chavez, we need to engage in critical self-reflection and demonstrate compassion. That doesn’t change for us as a university community, whether we’re on campus or remote. Clearly there is more that many of us need to learn. SF State affords us all opportunities to learn and contribute to the change we seek. Enroll in a College of Ethnic Studies course, engage in a conversation or activity sponsored by the Office of Equity and Community Inclusion or watch Professor Chavez’s video on cultural humility.

We need to recognize and challenge power imbalances and inequities. And we must become even better at modeling this commitment as a university now as much as ever. There is much more to be done. And we all need to do it.

Best, 

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Just a few short weeks ago, I thought that I would spend the past week attending campus celebrations and culminating events and crafting my remarks for what would be my first San Francisco State University Commencement. Having celebrated 12 graduation seasons in the CSU, I knew what to look forward to — senior performances, research competitions, beautiful and touching decorations and messages on the caps of graduating students, and the smiles and tears of thousands of graduates and their families. But this was going to be particularly special as I would get to celebrate with all of you as part of the Gator family that I so quickly came to love this past year.

Instead, I write this from my home where, instead of all this, I attend endless Zoom meetings, work with colleagues to plan a successful fall semester and try to remain as connected to as many of you as I can remotely. As I have said before, it is okay to mourn all that we lost, keeping in mind that some among us are experiencing unimaginable loss. But I want to stress now that we also need to celebrate what we have accomplished over these last incredible weeks.

As the semester ends this week, stop and congratulate yourself for things large and small. For learning how to use Zoom, for learning how to share videos remotely (this was a really tough one for me!), for learning how to focus without the rhythms of a highly structured day or with noise and family around you. Congratulate yourself for having found a face covering and for wearing it in public and for having mastered the directions for how to navigate supermarket aisles (a tough one for my husband!). Congratulate yourself for whatever it is you have had to do differently and for getting it done. Doesn’t matter if it was perfect, you got it done.

Recently, two students emailed me to share selfies they had taken with me earlier this semester. One student I bumped into near Seven Hills, the other outside my office building. Both have stayed in touch to share their stories and to reach out for help or advice. Like many of our students, they worked hard to get here and continue to work hard to succeed. They are why we do this. They are why we will continue to do this and continue to do it as well as we can.

Two photos depicting President Mahoney with Miguel and Juthaporn earlier this semester and before physical distancing

With Miguel and Juthaporn earlier this semester and before physical distancing

So, thank you, Miguel and Juthaporn. Thank you for sharing your stories, thank you for making me smile, and thank you for reminding me that even now I have the best job in the world.

I encourage you all to join me this week to celebrate the end of the term with a virtual performance by the School of Music’s Alexander String Quartet. And then again on June 18 as we celebrate the Class of 2020.

We made it. Celebrate it!

Best, 

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Dear Fellow Gators,

As you may have heard, San Francisco State and other California State University campuses will continue with largely remote instruction through the fall. I know this affects you most of all and am sharing this video message with you.

Please know this difficult decision has not been made lightly. The health and safety of our campus community remains our top priority. My campus announcement and this video provide some details. More will be forthcoming quickly.

Many thanks to all of you for your patience and persistence. I look forward to nothing more than an eventual resumption of campus life and to seeing all of you.  

As always, stay safe and healthy.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Dear Campus Community:

Over the last two weeks, I have spoken with and heard from hundreds of students, and faculty and staff. No question has weighed on me more than the one almost all ask: What is our plan for fall? In the midst of unimaginable uncertainty, we want answers, we want stability and we desperately want a return to “normal.”

I know that many universities are waiting until mid-June to make announcements about fall. But I have heard from too many people anxious to plan for fall to delay making a decision. With the health of our students and employees uppermost in my mind, I have made the very hard decision to continue with predominantly remote instruction through the fall semester.  We hope to be able to grant exceptions for a very small number of courses that require specialized in-person learning experiences and are necessary for student degree progress. We will work to accommodate students unable to participate in face-to-face instruction.

Please know that this decision is consistent with guidance issued by the California State University as a whole, as the Chancellor shared at this week’s CSU Board of Trustees meeting. Like all CSU campuses, we are planning for a semester that will be primarily virtual. Most academic disciplines will be exclusively virtual. We will also be prepared to go fully virtual if public health demands it.

I understand the news I share with you today will unleash a torrent of questions. Colleges, department chairs and faculty are working quickly to identify the small number of courses that may qualify for an exception. Students registered in these courses will receive detailed communications and guidance from their department chairs as soon as plans have been finalized. I will provide another update by the end of this month with additional details. I know that staff also have questions. Our goal for fall, with health and safety in mind, is to limit the number of people on campus to allow those who must be here to be here safely and allow others to continue working from home to limit their contact with others. 

While San Francisco’s mitigation efforts have been successful to date, COVID-19 will be with us for many months. Public health officials have urged us all to continue to be vigilant. We remain vulnerable until better treatments are developed, a vaccine is created and the majority of people have acquired immunity. Experts from departments of public health, medical centers and research universities anticipate that we will have a second wave of illness in the mid- to late-fall. And if history is any indicator, it could be far worse than the wave we just experienced. We must remain cautious and assiduously follow health guidelines.

At this time, the ability to increase face-to-face contact requires not just face coverings and physical distancing. Opening businesses and schools will also necessitate acquiring quantities of personal protective and sanitizing equipment. It will require frequent testing, tracing and quarantining. It will require monitoring waste systems to see if there is live virus present. And, as we saw recently with cases at the White House, even the stringent use of all these measures is no guarantee.

What makes universities unique and wonderful places also makes them uniquely vulnerable to the spread of disease — ask any faculty member who has faced a class full of coughing students in January or any student who has lived in a densely populated residence hall. We thrive on social interaction, on working huddled closely around a table, in a studio or over a microscope. Mitigating a highly contagious disease under these circumstances is near impossible and would be prohibitively expensive — at a moment in which the governor of California has announced that the state faces a $54 billion deficit and all anticipate dramatic cuts in funding to the California State University system.

Please know that I make this decision with a heavy heart. I want nothing more than for us all to stay well and be together. The COVID-19 pandemic sadly, however, does not allow us to have both … for now. I promise you that this will end and that we will all return to campus. For now, though, we will focus our attention on perfecting remote learning, teaching and working. It will not be the same, but it will be good. And we will focus on our students and their degree progress. They must earn their degrees, and we must help them.

I remain so very grateful to be here and to serve as president of this incredible university. We have served as a model for higher education before, as home to the first College of Ethnic Studies, as a leader in the upward mobility of our graduates and as one of the most diverse universities in the U.S. 

We can lead again now. We can be a model of a university that puts the public good first by protecting public health, by creating an excellent remote learning experience and by continuing to foster upward mobility for our students, their families and communities.

As always, I thank you for your patience and wish you good health.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Monday, April 27, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

As always, I hope this finds you well and managing the myriad challenges posed by sheltering in place and learning and working remotely. In alignment with the City’s extension of the stay at home order to May 31, SF State will continue with our current plan which includes most University work being handled remotely.

One thing that I find most difficult in the current situation is living with so much uncertainty. I imagine that this is true for many of us. In particular, I know that all are wondering what fall holds for us. While the future, unfortunately, remains very uncertain, one thing I can assure you: We will have a fall semester. Any decision about fall will align with public health requirements. Your health and that of our communities remains paramount. We are hopeful that current mitigation efforts will allow the return to at least some face-to-face instruction. There are indications we will be asked to continue with mitigation efforts such as physical distancing, which may require continuing much of our instruction remotely. We recognize that some learning is best done in person, and we are working hard to make it possible for experiential learning to take place in the fall. 

So, while I can’t guess what the fall will look like, I can tell you that we are planning actively for multiple scenarios including one that features a combination of remote learning and in-person instruction. Yes, this spring has been challenging and the fall may bring challenges of its own. Our students’ academic progress remains a top priority. We will have a fall semester, and, regardless of how it is structured, we are working hard to make sure it’s a good one! 

If we have learned anything in the last few weeks, it is that persistent socioeconomic inequalities in the U.S. have resulted in poorer people suffering the health and economic consequences of COVID-19 faster and harder than other groups. A college degree has been proven repeatedly to foster upward mobility and provide graduates with greater job security and access to health care, among other gains. San Francisco State is proud of its long history as an engine of educational equity and economic development. 

Later this week, we’ll be distributing information about the CSU Cares Program which offers emergency grants for CSU students experiencing financial hardships due to the current health crisis. The planning around distribution of these funds has been aligned with our University’s core value of social justice to address the economic challenges facing our lowest income students and provide resources for some students experiencing COVID-related financial difficulties. Details will be forthcoming later this week.

Providing access to a quality affordable education is key to who we are. While public health requires that we do this differently, the needs of our students and region require that we do it as well as we can. We are and we will.

With continued wishes for good health!

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, April 17, 2020

Dear SF State Community,

Like all of you, I’ve been looking for ways to stay connected as our shelter-in-place reality continues. That’s why I gave something new a try: a video message to the University community shot in my own living room. What it might lack in production values and polish I hope it makes up for in sincerity. Because its message — about how proud I am of what our students, faculty, staff and alumni are accomplishing in the face of enormous obstacles — comes from the heart. I hope you’ll watch and find yourself reassured, as I’ve been, that we have the ingenuity, compassion and resolve to overcome this and any other challenge.

Best wishes for a safe and healthy spring,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Many of us had high hopes and grand visions for 2020. I do not imagine that for many of us these included obsessive handwashing and weeks at home. Accommodating current public health needs has been hard in so many ways, and we are grieving the loss of the plans and hopes we had for 2020. And some of us are worried about gravely ill friends and family or tragically mourning the loss of a loved one. I reach out to you today not to talk about remote instruction or shelter-in-place nor to remind you to wash your hands and not touch your face. I write instead to ask about you.

How are you doing? How are you managing all the change and anxieties that COVID-19 has wrought in your lives and in the lives of your family and friends? How are you taking care of yourself? What ways have you discovered to manage anxiety and the stress of balancing the new demands of daily life? How are you staying connected to others? 

For me, it means walks outside and evenings in the kitchen. I start almost every morning with an hour-long walk with my husband. I am blessed to live in a beautiful city with hills and hidden staircases — most of which are pretty quiet first thing in the morning and allow for physical distancing. I am heartened by the stuffed bears that have popped up in windows and by sidewalk chalk art that reminds me “It’s Gonna Be Alright” and we are “Stronger Together.” And, after years of busy careers interfering with dinners at home, we now have family meals every night. I worry, though, about friends and family who are far away or alone. For that, I gratefully turn to Zoom to connect and check in.

I hope that you, too, have found ways to assuage anxieties exacerbated by unimaginable uncertainty and to make connections in a physically distanced world. As always, our own faculty offer guidance. Professor Melissa Hagan offers advice on managing coronavirus anxiety. Professor Erik Peper offers advice on reducing “TechStress” and the health benefits of an open window. Some may need more support during this time, particularly those who are experiencing the consequences of this deadly virus more directly. The Employee Assistance Program offers University employees access to a variety of helpful services. Students can contact a dean on call or schedule a tele-health visit with one of our counselors. And our Basic Needs team, as always, stands ready to help.

Even those of us who haven’t been directly impacted by the pandemic need relief from stress and anxiety to stay healthy. Some may find exercise to be the perfect distraction. The Mashouf Wellness Center is here to help with group exercise instruction via Zoom. Check out the Campus Recreation website for the latest information on class formats, days and times as well as Zoom links and passwords. Or perhaps take advantage of the many museums and educational institutions who have opened their programs remotely. Check out, for example, the California Academy of Sciences’ Academy @ Home, which offers an array of science-centric games, videos and DIY projects. This is a great site to share with children and family members.

We will one day return to campus together, I promise. But shelter-in-place will persist for at least several more weeks and physical distancing likely even longer. So pace yourself, be kind to yourself and reward yourself. Now is the time to remind yourself that good enough is in fact good enough. I promise, it is. 

Above all — in every way possible — stay well!

Best, 

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dear San Francisco State Family,

The last three weeks have been extraordinary. At no time in my career did I anticipate that I would be writing to you in a world in which students and faculty are all learning and teaching remotely, in which entire cities and nations are sheltered in place and in which we ask for heroic efforts from the people we depend upon for our well-being — from health care providers to those who staff our grocery stores and pharmacies. As we get ready to resume remote instruction next week, I would like to thank each of you and assure you that San Francisco State University will not only survive but thrive.

Students, particularly members of the Class of 2020: This is certainly not how you expected to spend spring 2020. And, despite the fact that many of you have always lived in a world with the internet and cell phones, losing face-to-face contact with your faculty, peers and others who support you on campus can be difficult. I know, though, that you will work through this and continue to make progress toward your academic goals. You will develop skills and strengths that students before you did not even know were needed. And we are here to help. Most University services are available remotely. Additionally, the campus remains open for very limited services. Please consult the websitefor details, and avail yourselves of virtual resources at the ready to help you succeed.

Universities are sometimes criticized for being slow to adapt and quick to resist. Faculty and staff at San  Francisco State repeatedly have proven otherwise. Over the last few weeks, thousands of faculty have moved even more thousands of courses to remote instruction, not always without pain. I am appreciative of how hard this has been, especially for particular types of instruction. I am grateful for the effort and for the support of the faculty and staff who are helping others make the transition. Thank you.

Staff across all offices and divisions have similarly moved to working remotely as the need to physically distance ourselves from one another became obvious. Not a single University function has been left untouched. Like faculty, our staff are reinventing their work processes and modalities and ensuring that we all get needed services. And many faculty, staff and students are doing this with children and other family members to care for at home. Thank you.

I want to particularly thank employees whose work requires that they come to campus. This includes those who are facilitating remote learning, those who are ensuring the health and safety of the campus, those who are supporting our remaining residential students and those who are guaranteeing that our key business and enrollment functions continue. Thank you.

I have been deeply touched, as well, by the generous offers of support from alumni and friends of the University. The economic ramifications of this are just being understood, but we do know that numbers of our students will need greater financial support as they and their families wrestle with lost jobs. The quick generosity of local businesspeople and alumni will help us support these students. Thank you.

The individual and collective actions of the SF State family ensure that our students will continue to move forward even when it feels like much of the world has ground to a halt. They also ensure that we will emerge from this ready to resume our work. We will enroll new students, welcome returning students, return to face-to-face instruction and work together with fresh enthusiasm and renewed appreciation at being together on campus. I look forward to that day.

For now, I continue to urge you to take care of yourselves and one another by staying indoors except for essential trips. And, while I urge everyone to practice physical distancing, I also encourage you to find new ways to form social connections. Schedule virtual family (and Gator!) gatherings, take part in virtual coffee and happy hours with friends and classmates, wave at people from your front window or porch. We will emerge from this, yes, different but also stronger if we stay true to our values of inclusion and compassion.

We are all here for one another. I am here for you. Stay in touch.

All my best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

I am often asked why I chose to specialize in 19th century U.S. history. I began my studies following the rise of what’s known as the “New” Social History. Its focus on democratic inclusiveness and on the history of “ordinary” people conveyed a richer history of the past and held promise for a better future.

The 19th century saw some of the worst of U.S. history — slavery, Jim Crow and segregation, the decimation of native peoples, rampant xenophobia, worsening economic inequalities and the list goes on. But the century also saw ordinary people increasingly demand more for themselves. They demanded freedom, the right to vote, citizenship and equal rights. Much like our own time, it was a period of great injustice and great hope and change. I am reminded in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote, that our ability to participate remains a precious right. Here at San Francisco State University, we take our right to participate seriously. Without it, social change and social justice would be unattainable.

Our votes matter. Information on participating in the upcoming election can be found on the California Secretary of State website. Of particular importance to San Francisco State and the CSU is Prop 13, a $15 billion general obligation bond measure that would provide resources for improving the facilities that serve California students. Information on how the funds would improve the CSU and SF State can be found on the CSU’s Building California’s Brightest Future website. I urge you to educate yourself on the election and exercise your right to vote.

I encourage everyone to take seriously opportunities to participate this spring by voting in March and completing the U.S. census. Every 10 years, we are given the opportunity to be counted. Our representation in Congress and resources devoted to the health and wellness of our communities depend on accurate numbers. Participation may be a cause for anxiety for some, particularly those in our undocumented communities. The information collected is not shared with any other agency and is only used to gather big-picture data (not an individual’s personal details). Information on the census, including its confidentiality, can be found online. I urge us all to exercise our right to participate.

Students, please exercise your rights further by voting in the Associated Students election and completing the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). The Associated Students represents you in important discussions on and off campus. They are your voice in efforts to empower students and enrich your student experience. I urge you to participate in the election and even go a step further by participating in student government yourself. And, finally, freshmen and seniors, you have the opportunity to share with us details about your experiences at SF State so that we may better serve you and the students who will follow you. Please take a few minutes to share with us your student experience by completing the NSSE.

Participation is power. Exercise it.

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Dear campus community,

As I have mentioned in earlier messages, San Francisco State University is in so many ways a model of a diverse and inclusive university. There are moments, however, when even we are tested. We must remain resolute in our values of inclusion and meet the challenges with education and resolve.

The emergence and spread of the coronavirus is such a moment. Across the country and beyond, we have seen an increase in stigmatizing rhetoric and behaviors toward Chinese and Asian American communities (an increase that Professor Russell Jeung, chair of the Asian American Studies Department, has commented on in nationally broadcast interviews). At this time, rather than acting out of fear and ignorance, we at San Francisco State will respond with compassion, knowledge and justice. As with all viruses, there are things we can do to protect ourselves and one another. Please take time to review basic health tips and respect one another as we protect our collective health and stand in solidarity with those who are ailing and those on the frontlines fighting this illness.

But this is not the only test of SF State values. In the past week, I was deeply saddened by a small but concerning number of bias incidents on campus, including the use of racial and anti-Semitic language. Over the last decades, the notion that “words can never hurt you” has been soundly discredited by academics, health care professionals, civil right activists and spiritual leaders, among others. At SF State, we embrace and protect free speech, but this does not absolve us of our responsibility to create a welcoming environment for each other. We meet these incidents not with censorship but with education. Words hurt; let’s teach one another why and be open to learning. Faculty, staff and students across campus have initiated many excellent programs promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. Have a suggestion for additional programming? Please share it with Frederick Smith, AVP, Equity & Community Inclusion at FrederickSmith@sfsu.edu.

San Francisco State University is rightfully proud of its reputation for diversity, equity and inclusion. I ask that we work collectively to ensure it.

Best,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Thursday, January 30, 2020

At Convocation and in some of my earliest messages, I talked about the importance of people and their stories. Ours is a university rich in voices and experiences. And listening to you and learning your stories is something I’ve been doing a lot of since I became San Francisco State University’s 14th president last summer. I’ve spent the past months asking you — our students, faculty and staff — to tell me about your challenges, your successes and your hopes for the University.

You all have been incredibly generous in sharing with me your time and insights. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about San Francisco State and its unique role in the Bay Area. I discuss many of these lessons in a new video that’s just been posted to our SF State YouTube channel. I hope you’ll watch it and share even more of your stories with me.

Despite all I’ve learned, I’m sure the future holds many more lessons for me. I’ll be looking to you and our entire University community to teach me those lessons as we work collaboratively toward the goal we all share: making SF State as inclusive, as effective and as transformative as we know it can be.

Best wishes for a fulfilling spring semester,

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

As we begin a new year, we find ourselves again navigating turbulent times. The consequences of climate change threaten communities and ecosystems as wildfires consume Australia. The U.S. Congress voted to impeach the president as concerns about threats to democracy spread. And, most recently, unstable relations between the U.S. and Iran have resulted in tragedy and pain. Our thoughts are first with the families and victims of those tragically killed in the downing of a Ukranian airliner and with the Iranians and Iranian Americans who may find themselves victims of discrimination and harassment, including those who have been detained at our borders.

This rocky start to 2020 can leave many, especially young people, feeling as if the world is on the verge of collapse. As always, though, San Francisco State University can provide a source of light at dark moments. In recent weeks, I have been struck by how the nation has turned to our faculty for understanding and guidance. Professors Persis Karim and Mahmood Monshipouri have provided national media outlets with historical and contemporary contexts for the conflict and its consequences for the Iranian and Iranian American communities. Our faculty, departments and units, including the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, serve as important academic resources and offer support for Iranian and Iranian American students, staff and faculty. As an institution based on academic excellence and social justice, we serve as a model of an inclusive community. All are welcome here. Students, faculty and staff concerned about the national climate and its effect on our campus climate are urged to contact the Office of Equity and Community Inclusion.

On Monday, San Francisco State and the rest of the nation celebrated the transformative work and life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Let us look to Dr. King for guidance as we think about our role in turbulent and tragic times. As an institution of higher education it is our role to educate. Dr. King noted that “nothing pains some people more than having to think.” Our job is to make people think and think hard — question their assumptions, draw complex conclusions based on fact and not ignorance, and take pains to understand others. No university is better poised to do this than SF State as an academic community driven by social justice and devoted to inclusive excellence and serving our communities.

I thank you for all you do to make this a great university!

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

2019

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

As a U.S. historian, I approach this week’s holiday through a critical lens. A national holiday fueled by legend and colored by the history of colonialism and conquest, it can be a day of painful reminders for many, particularly for people of indigenous descent and others affected by similar histories and realities. But it can also serve as a moment to pause and reflect on the things for which we are grateful. I want to take advantage of this moment to share with all of you how grateful I am to be here and to work for such an amazing university.

I am grateful to the Ohlone and Coast Miwok peoples on whose ancestral lands we study and work. I am grateful to our students who remind us every day that what we do here matters and who push us to be authentic and committed. I am grateful to our staff and faculty who have welcomed me and regularly teach me new things about what makes SF State special. I am grateful that we are surrounded by alumni and community and civic leaders who are deeply engaged and supportive. We are a community rich in people, spirit and values. 

Yesterday’s incident in the library serves as a reminder that these are challenging times. I am grateful to all, particularly the University Police Department and the library staff and faculty, who worked quickly to ensure the safety of our campus.

As we approach the holiday and long weekend, I wish all time for reflection and rest and a weekend full of friends and family.

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Today, I find myself celebrating my 100th day as president of San Francisco State. The time has sped by — a sure sign, as they say, I am having fun. Soon after I arrived, Money Magazine named us among the 30 most transformative universities in the U.S. Too many university rankings focus on outcomes that affirm or perpetuate social and economic inequalities. But I proudly embrace our reputation and success as a transformative university.

Meeting our students, faculty, staff and administrators at events, scheduled tours and on my regular informal walks around campus is a joy. I am seeing up close what transformative education looks like. It’s our Marcus Scholars, who conduct research with faculty members that stretches from ways to reduce pollution to new understandings of sexuality and gender in 17th century Japan to the U.S today. It is our California Pre-Doctoral Program students engaged in research that will launch their careers and help diversify academia. They will ensure that the “relevant education” our 1968 alumni worked so hard to give birth to continues, by meeting the needs of diverse 21st century students. This year, 19% of the Pre-Doctoral Fellows come from SF State alone!

Transformative education can be found in our clubs and student organizations, in our residence life student staff, in our student-athletes, and in our devoted Associated Student representatives. I have seen our dedicated staff working late into the night or on weekends to ensure that students’ basic needs are met, to foster student engagement, and to develop California’s next generation of leaders. At the foundation of our educational experience are our outstanding faculty. Almost daily I receive word of another faculty member who has been recognized for their teaching or professional work. Last week, it was an honor to see Professor Adam Burke receive the 2019 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award for his pioneering work in health and wellness education — just one of many accolades our faculty regularly receive.

Our value as a transformative university extends well beyond the classroom and the campus. As an engine of educational equity, we are a model of access and increasingly of degree attainment. This past fall, in addition to the more than 8,000 students we would typically admit, we provided access to over 240 students who would otherwise be unable to attend a CSU this year — more than any other CSU. We also made gains in our graduation rates and reduced our equity gaps, awarding more degrees to more students from low income and historically underrepresented students. We provided nearly 7,000 Californians with degrees in the 2018-19 academic year — degrees that will empower and transform not just our graduates but their families for generations to come. And I know that we can and will do even better in future years.

As Chancellor White and Governor Newsom noted at last week’s Graduation Initiative 2025 Symposium, there has never been a better time to be at the California State University as we continue to make great strides in access and degree attainment. There likewise has never been a better time to be at San Francisco State University as we renew our commitments to transforming our students and the region.

Lynn Mahoney signature first name only

Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.
President