A Year in Review: 2013-2014

Commencement marks the end of the Class of 2014's time at SF State and also caps off a school year filled with student achievement, groundbreaking faculty research and other exciting milestones.

A photo of the Metro Academies group at the APLU's Annual Meeting

From left: President Leslie Wong, Metro Academies Program Director Mary Beth Love, Metro Academies alum Cory Mickels, Director of Government and Community Relations Lisbet Sunshine, and Associate Vice President for Research Jaylan Turkkan.

The year began with the University welcoming more than 7,000 new Gators during Welcome Days, an annual event designed to introduce new students and their families to SF State. In September, new California State University Chancellor Timothy White made his first official visit to campus, meeting with students, faculty and staff.

SF State's Metro Academies program received national recognition in November for its success in retaining and graduating students. The program helps low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students navigate the crucial first two years of college. Later that month, the University was named the top master's institution in the United States for long-term study abroad programs.

The University was also reaccredited for 10 years by the Western Association Schools and Colleges, the maximum time period for which WASC issues reaccreditation.


A year of student success

Graduate counseling student Brian Rojas-Arauz

Graduate counseling student Brian Rojas-Arauz was recognized for his outstanding scholarship despite personal hardships.

Many SF State students were also recognized for their accomplishments during the 2013-14 school year. Graduate counseling student Brian Rojas-Arauz, who immigrated to the U.S. from Costa Rica at the age of 13, received the CSU Trustees' AT&T Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement at the Board of Trustees meeting in September. The award is given to students who have demonstrated outstanding scholarship despite personal hardship.

In October, the California Pre-Doctoral Program named 13 SF State graduate students Sally Casanova Scholars, awarding them $3,000 for activities that will prepare them to succeed in doctoral programs. In January, professional science master's student Ninalynn Daquigan was a finalist for the CSU's Don Eden Graduate Student Award. Daquigan gave a presentation on her work testing a new method of detecting E. coli at the 26th Annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium in Santa Clara on Jan. 9-11. Later that month, biochemistry student Jeannette Bowler received the 2014 Crellin Pauling Student Teaching Award. In April, biology master's student Sofia Prado-Irwin received a prestigious fellowship from the National Science Foundation to support her graduate work.

SF State students found success outside the classroom as well. A mobile app designed by information systems students Brianto Hanitio and Jon Foose to help shoppers spend smarter won the top prize at the Retail App Rumble. Basketball player Angela Van Sickel set the SF State record for three-point shots when she scored her 134th bucket from behind the arc on Dec. 6, while senior Tiana Wills set the all-school high jump record this season.

In May, six undergraduate and six graduate students were selected for the honor of representing their fellow students at Commencement by wearing their college's academic hood during the ceremony.


Faculty achievement

The rocky planet Kepler-186f and its sun

Kepler-186f, a rocky planet that astronomers believe could have liquid water on its surface, was one of two planets discovered this year by Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Stephen Kane.

Students were not the only ones leaving their mark. SF State's faculty members contributed to their academic fields this year through exciting and innovative research, much of which received widespread attention in the national and international media.

Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Stephen Kane helped discover two planets. In January, he led a team that discovered a new giant planet located in a star system within the Pisces constellation. In April, he was part of a team of researchers that announced the discovery of a new rocky planet that could have liquid water on its surface.

Assistant Professor of Psychology Kevin Eschleman showed that engaging in creative activities outside of work can improve job performance, while Assistant Professor of American Indian Studies Robert Keith Collins found that turning on captions can improve students' comprehension of educational videos. Associate Professor of Mathematics Mariel Vazquez helped analyze the complicated process by which chromosomes in E. coli cells are untangled. Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy Weining Man steered light in new directions, and Assistant Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences Zan Stine discovered that the intensity of light in the Arctic could impact the density of tree rings.

A mother surfperch and her offspring

Research from Associate Professor of Biology Karen Crow showed that the more mates a female surfperch fish has, the more offspring she will produce.

In biology, Associate Professor Karen Crow shed light on a novel reproductive strategy in two species of sea creatures known as skates and revealed that the more mates a female surfperch has, the more offspring she will produce. Associate Professor Vance Vredenburg found that a deadly fungus, and not climate change as widely believed, is fueling frog deaths in the Andes mountains. Also, in Professor of Biology John Hafernik's ongoing ZomBee Watch project, "zombie bees" were detected for the first time in New England.

Cinema lecturer Jesse Moss' film "The Overnighters" was selected for the Sundance Film Festival, where it was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Intuitive Filmmaking, and the Documentary Film Institute embarked on an ambitious project to chronicle the experiences of military veterans through professionally made and compelling short films.

Associate Professor of Special Education Susan Courey and Assistant Professor of Equity, Leadership Studies and Instructional Technologies Davide Celoria joined a nationwide effort to improve special education. And the San Francisco Business Times named Dean of the College of Business Linda Oubre one of the Bay Area's most influential women for the second straight year.


A commitment to sustainability

Several sustainability initiatives furthered SF State’s commitment to the environment. In September, the University began installing water-bottle filling stations to make reusable water containers more convenient. A grant from the CSU helped create five new courses focused on the environment.

The Farm to Fork lunch held on the quad

The annual Farm to Fork lunch, held on the quad, featured locally grown, sustainable food.

The annual Farm to Fork lunch featured locally grown organic food served on the quad, including some food grown in the University's student garden. In April, the SF State Foundation Board unanimously approved a new resolution to continue divestment from fossil fuel-related investments and create a socially responsible portfolio option for donors, making SF State the first public university to do so.


Support for students

In April, the University announced that its Students First campaign surpassed its original goal to raise $12 million for student scholarships by raising $14.4 million in just under two years. The funds will create 135 new scholarships. The total included a $160,000 commitment from Associated Students, Inc.


Engaged with the community

SF State strengthened its relationship with the local, regional and international community in various ways during 2013-14. These included the creation of new scholarships for graduates of the San Francisco Unified School District and the University's participation in Super Sunday -- an annual CSU event that reaches out to historically African American churches to share information about the resources available for future students. In April, President Leslie E. Wong received a national award in recognition of his outstanding leadership and contributions to the field of higher education.


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-- Jonathan Morales