Message from President Wong: Welcome to a new academic year SF State

Dear SF State Faculty, Staff, and Students,

I look forward with optimism to the 2018-2019 academic year, my seventh at SF State, and send a heartfelt welcome to students, faculty, staff and the entire University community. 

Last year, we completed several critical searches and I’d like to offer a special welcome to two administrative leaders; Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs Jennifer Summit, and Vice President for Administration & Finance and Chief Financial Officer Phyllis Carter.

New campus-wide initiatives

I particularly look forward to a number of new initiatives that will be launched this year.

A campus-wide, professional survey of students, faculty and staff exploring campus climate will be conducted in early October by the consulting firm Rankin & Associates. Campus climate is a complex phenomenon that encompasses numerous elements including campus safety, peer interactions, and the psychological, social and personal conditions that support or detract from student, faculty and staff success and productivity.  As a major urban university in the best city on the planet, we hold ourselves to high standards in our interactions with others. 

And as a major public university we have obligations and responsibilities to the larger community. Our primary purpose is the educational productivity of every student and employee on this campus in a progressive, tolerant and mutually supportive environment; the results of this survey will provide vital insights and comprehensive data that will enhance and strengthen that productivity.

This semester the transformation of Holloway Avenue begins, as the Holloway Mixed-Use site on 19th Avenue and Holloway and the buildings on Tapia Triangle are demolished. The project on 19thand Holloway will make room for significantly more student housing – approximately 500 beds – as well as street-level business storefronts. The demolition on Tapia Triangle will set the stage for the construction of the Liberal and Creative Arts building, which will house our nationally acclaimed BECA program and include radio, broadcast streaming, and pre- and post-production facilities. This new facility will also provide much needed classroom space that will support the entire campus.  I’m looking forward to the construction of our first academic building in over 25 years!

We have also begun raising the necessary funds for the construction of a new science building on 19thAvenue and Buckingham Way as work continues on the University’s new Master Plan, which will continue to guide the transformation of the campus over the next decade.

I want to thank our donors, supporters and the Chancellor’s Office for their ongoing support as we bring the physical plant to a new, high level of quality suitable for our students, faculty and staff.  I also want to thank Vice President for University Enterprises Jason Porth and his small army of designers, engineers and planners who have already clocked thousands of hours to make this happen.  A special thanks to the employees in Administration & Finance who have worked tirelessly as we have prepared for new construction.  Please take a moment to visit the Planning and Design website to learn more about “Future State”to get a sense of the campus transformation now underway. 

New levels of philanthropy 

The University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, “Bold.Thinking,” which provides philanthropic support for our faculty, students and programs, continues with successful momentum.  This year, we’ve met a major milestone in having raised more than $100 million toward our $150 million goal by December 2020.  Every donation is important and every donation counts.  Our own University faculty and staff have contributed more than $4.6 million toward the campaign – with current and planned gifts ranging from $25 to more than $1 million.  I thank each and every one of you for your generosity.

Of all contributions to date, approximately 40 percent has been designated for academic programs and 42 percent for student support.  About 15 percent has been provided for faculty support, including an endowed chair in Iranian Diaspora Studies, the first of its kind in the nation.  Three percent has been donated specifically to improve facilities and equipment.  We are well on our way to achieving our ambitious fundraising goal and look forward to publicly announcing the campaign during a celebration in April 2019.

Commitment to student success

During the year ahead, we will remain focused on Graduation Initiative 2025, California State University’s ambitious initiative to increase graduation rates for all CSU students while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. As we welcome more than 8,000 new Gators to campus this Fall, student success is priority #1, and we will continue to improve the curriculum and our efforts to promote student achievement.

Commitment to equity, inclusion, social justice and community

In the face of ongoing national rhetoric marginalizing members of our community, most recently against Chinese and Chinese American students, faculty and leaders on American campuses, we reaffirm our longstanding commitment to the principles of equity, inclusion and social justice. Our international and recent immigrant students and colleagues are valued and important members of our educational community, and we are saddened and repulsed by the ongoing stereotyping and malicious rhetoric. We are proud of our diverse campus community, and believe that we are enriched and made stronger by the robust and meaningful exchange of ideas and cultural perspectives that define the San Francisco State University experience.

I am constantly reminded that we must remain committed to our sense of values.  I cannot ever remember a time in my 45 years in higher education when national leadership’s moral and social failure has unleashed the level of hate and bigotry that we must now confront.  Our core values of Courage, Resilience, Community, Life of the Mind and Equity have never been more important than now.  A commitment to our sense of community in this storm must be affirmed, often.  And we must not only resist this ugly wave but we must also demonstrate publicly and privately the fundamental values of our democracy.  

I wish you all the best for a productive and meaningful academic year.  

Go Gators!

Leslie E. Wong