SF State recognizes faculty, staff for outstanding teaching and service

A collage of various headshots of various women and men.

From left to right: Burcu Ellis, William Cochlan, Leticia Márquez-Magaña, Michael Goldman, Nalini Libby

Accolades honor faculty and staff members’ exceptional contributions to the University

During the Aug. 20 virtual Opening Convocation marking the beginning of the Fall semester, San Francisco State University honored faculty and staff members for exceptional service to the University community.   

Four faculty members received the Distinguished Faculty Award, which has been given each year since 2007 to recognize excellence in teaching, service and professional achievement. In addition, one staff member was honored with the Distinguished Staff Award for Excellence in Service, which recognizes the efforts of staff members who enhance work conditions at the University. Collectively, their accomplishments span from securing highly competitive grants to developing courses that promote equity and diverse representation.

Read more to learn about how the recipients are making a difference at San Francisco State.

Burcu Ellis: Excellence in Teaching Award (Tenured Faculty)

Ellis is a professor in the Department of International Relations, where she started as an assistant professor in 2003. She has played an integral role in shaping undergraduate and graduate curricula for the department since joining the University. For example, she developed two certified general education undergraduate courses, “Refugees in International Perspective” and “Muslim Societies in Transition,” and the graduate course “International Migration.”

Ellis’ colleagues say she brings her own ethnographic research to life in her instruction, designing innovative courses in which students critically analyze issues of identity, migration and belonging in a globalized world. These courses are designed to be inclusive of students of different backgrounds, creating a classroom culture that promotes equity, understanding and tolerance.

William Cochlan: Excellence in Teaching Award (Lecturer)

Cochlan is an adjunct professor of Biology for the Estuary and Ocean Science Center, where he has worked since 1998. At the center, he teaches various classes and also maintains an active, extramurally funded research program.

As a way to better engage his students, Cochlan explains scientific concepts in the context of everyday life experiences. His colleagues applaud him for valuing competency over curricula and teaching his students an important piece of career advice: Good knowledge with bad professionalism goes nowhere.

Leticia Márquez-Magaña: Excellence in Professional Achievement Award

A professor of Biology, Márquez-Magaña joined SF State in 1994. Since then, her research focus has evolved from microbial genetics to health equity. She has published 35 peer-reviewed articles in top-notch journals and has garnered highly competitive grants, including leading two NIH BUILD (Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity) grants totaling more than $31 million.

Although microbial genetics and health equity require vastly different skill sets, her colleagues have commended her ability to consistently secure federal grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health throughout her transition.

Michael Goldman: Excellence in Service Award (Tenured Faculty)

Goldman joined SF State in 1988 and is currently a professor and former chair of the of the Department of Biology. During his 12 years serving as chair, Goldman oversaw tremendous growth in the number of students choosing Biology as their major.

In the last three years alone, he has served on the Evaluation Committee for Academic Institutional Research, the University Academic Assessment Advisory Committee, the Strategic Issues Committee of the Academic Senate and the Academic Senate. One of the hallmarks of his career is the Personalized Medicine conference that he launched, now in its 11th year.

Nalini Libby: Excellence in Service (Staff)

Libby is the academic operations manager for the School of Cinema at SF State. She has been employed by the University in different capacities since 2006 and is also an alumna of SF State, already demonstrating a high level of commitment to the University.

Libby has become an integral and essential member of the School of Cinema, exceeding expectations and requirements of her job title. “Without Nalini’s constant work, the basic functions of the School of Cinema would grind to a bumpy stop,” one faculty member said.

Each of this year’s award recipients received a $4,000 stipend. That stipend is funded in perpetuity by the generous support of the SF State Foundation and its partnership with the Academic Senate.