SF State fall semester in review

Three SF State students sitting among the audience on the quad during the Welcome Days event in August.

Three new SF State students listen during the Faces of Community event, the University's official welcome to incoming students, in August. Fall 2015 at SF State kicked off with the University welcoming the largest-ever freshman class.

It's been an exciting semester at San Francisco State University. Fall 2015 began with the University welcoming its largest freshman class ever and ended with the announcement that Commencement 2016 will return to AT&T Park.

Following are just a few of the highlights covered by SF State News during the last several months.

University milestones

Over the summer, SF State broke ground on the new Mashouf Wellness Center, the first major facility to be built on campus in more than a decade. The nearly 120,000-square-foot facility will be located along Font Boulevard near the residence halls and will include an indoor jogging track, fitness and weight areas, pools, a climbing wall and several multi-use courts. It is expected to open in 2017.

In August, the University officially welcomed its newest students -- including the largest freshman class in history -- during the annual Welcome Days event. And the following month, SF State's Morrison Artists Series kicked off its 60th year of providing free concerts to music lovers in the Bay Area.

Five outstanding alumni were inducted into the SF State Alumni Hall of Fame in November, and as the semester was wrapping up, SF State announced that Commencement would return to AT&T Park for 2016.

Student success

The California State University Board of Trustees named Christine Gonzalez, a student pursuing a master's in sexuality studies, the Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholar at the beginning of the semester. The honor is given to the CSU Trustee's Award for Outstanding Achievement recipient (one is selected for each campus) who receives the highest overall score. The daughter of a single mother who emigrated from Mexico, Gonzalez was the first in her family to finish college. Her research looks at gender nonconformity in mariachi music, and she plans to work as a community educator or counselor after completing her degree.

SF State Magazine took a fresh look at the University's Guardian Scholars program, which marked its 10th anniversary. Since its inception, the program has helped 151 youth transition from foster care to college. Sokhom Mao, an alum of the program, was recently named a White House "Champion of Change" for doing "extraordinary things to make a difference" in his community.

In October, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education John King visited campus to unveil a new federal resource guide designed to help high schools, colleges and universities support undocumented students. During the visit, King met with a few of SF State's more than 600 undocumented students to learn first-hand the challenges they have faced while pursuing an education.

Faculty achievement

SF State faculty received widespread attention for their outstanding work and achievements even before the semester began. Over the summer, Professor of Biology Vance Vredenburg led a call for federal action to protect salamanders from a deadly fungus, while Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Stephen Kane was part of a team that discovered a Tatooine-like planet orbiting two stars.

Four outstanding faculty members were honored at the annual opening faculty meeting, and physicist Zhigang Chen earned the honor of being named a fellow in the American Physical Society. The University also announced new deans for the College of Health & Social Sciences, the College of Extended Learning and the College of Liberal & Creative Arts.

Several faculty published new work this semester, including Professor and Chair of American Indian Studies Andrew Jolivette, who edited a book about how to make research more community focused. Associate Professor of Race and Resistance Studies Catriona Rueda Esquibel co-wrote a cookbook advocating a diet based on the indigenous plants her Mexican ancestors ate, while criminal justice studies professors Alex Gerould and Jeff Snipes helped a former NFL player share his tragic personal story.

Professor of Cinema Joseph McBride created a new documentary exhibit looking at the influence of Italian-American film, and, as the holiday season approached, Associate Dean of Business Kathy O'Donnell and Chair of Marketing Judi Strebel identified a new type of shopper for whom a trip to the mall is akin to athletic competition.

Make a year-end gift

The University hit new milestones this year in raising financial support for students as well as academic and athletics programs. SF State is in the leadership phase of "BOLD.Thinking.," its six-year, $150-million comprehensive campaign, and has already raised more than 25 percent of the goal. 

Major donations from the Marcus and Nasser families have enabled student-athletes to train and compete in modernized facilities. More than $1 million in support of the Willie L. Brown Jr. Fellowship program will allow significantly more underrepresented students to receive hands-on public sector experience. And $300,000 in donations provides students in the Guardian Scholars Program with greatly expanded support, particularly with respect to career development opportunities.

To make a tax-deductible gift to SF State, visit http://develop.sfsu.edu/makeagift for more information.