University celebrates historic gift’s impact on liberal and creative arts

Author: Kent Bravo
November 17, 2023
Person on stage presenting with a presentation deck projected in the background.
Photo Credit: Gail Mallimson / San Francisco State University

Professor of African and World History Trevor Getz presenting his research project to guests of the event. 

SF State hosts showcase featuring research projects funded by 2018 gift, largest in University history

In 2018, San Francisco State University announced a $25 million gift from alumni and philanthropists George and Judy Marcus, the largest gift in University history. Five years later, the gift continues to have a tremendous impact on the liberal and creative arts at San Francisco State.

To celebrate that transformation, SF State hosted an event yesterday showcasing some of the innovative research, scholarship and creative activities made possible with this gift. Leaders from across the state were present, stressing the importance of liberal and creative arts and recognizing how the Marcuses have advanced these fields through their philanthropy. Special guests included California Gov. Gavin Newsom, California State University Board of Trustees Chair Wenda Fong and Consul General of Greece in San Francisco Socrates Sourvinos.

“They saw what was possible in our city decades and decades ago, but in particular they saw what was possible at San Francisco State,” Newsom said of the Marcuses. “Their support has resulted in groundbreaking, best-in-class research that you’re seeing highlighted and showcased here tonight.”

Throughout the evening, faculty members across academic disciplines — journalism, liberal studies, theatre and dance, to name a few — presented their projects, many of which students participated in, giving them valuable research experience. One of the research projects was from Professor of African and World History Trevor Getz. Getz presented “Youth Participatory Action History in Ghana,” his research and curricular framework that uses community-engaged methodologies to empower and train youth in Ghana to collect, interpret and publish their own community’s history. It’s a novel approach that positions students as expert history researchers, exploring the potential for historian-assisted communities to use this method to understand their relationship over time to the spaces and networks in which they live.

Another project was from Professor of Theatre and Dance Yutian Wong, who talked about her book “Dancing in the Archives of Sincerity.” The book explores the intersection of a global health crisis, the resurgence of anti-Asian racism and dance studies. Using the Korean pop music act BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondon) as a case study, the book examines how conversations about racism, xenophobia, homophobia, cultural hierarchies and the roles and responsibilities of the artist in society are taking place from the space of Asian popular culture.

The evening concluded with remarks from the Marcuses, who emphasized how SF State faculty and students participating in the liberal and creative arts are doing great work.

“You have intelligence, you have incredible capability, you’re very special people,” George Marcus said. “That’s what we need. We need people [who] can create ideas.”

Learn more about how SF State is providing unique learning opportunities in the liberal and creative arts.