Ask anyone on campus what value defines San Francisco State, and you’ll hear the same thing: “social justice.”
We’re known for it—according to our last WASC accreditation, one in four courses taught here focuses on social justice and equity, and many academic programs list it at the core of their missions and RTP criteria. Today an institutional commitment to social justice feels more urgently relevant than ever.
Our campus commitment to the academic success of our students is integral to our social justice mission. In our current era of growing inequality and widening social division, a high-quality college education represents not only individual opportunity but the foundation of a strong democracy. Two years ago SF State launched a new Student Success and Graduation Initiative; at its heart, our campus Student Success Plan draws from institutional research and best practices to define six core areas of emphasis (curriculum, advising, targeted support services, the first year of college, improved student success data, and faculty hiring and development), which activate faculty, staff, and administrators from across the campus and at every rank. The Academic Senate has been an active partner at every step, and the college deans have worked with vision and commitment to make sure that the promise of the SSGI is extended to all SF State’s students.
Our recent milestones testify to the power of cross-campus collaboration in service of a shared commitment:
To address our persistent challenge of course availability, we’ve developed new standard time blocks, supported curriculum redesign efforts, and launched a new budget model that aligns resources with student enrollment needs.
In an effort involving each of the colleges, the campus has added twenty new advisors to both the Undergraduate Advising Center and the college resource centers, and we are preparing for a new e-advising platform (EAB’s Student Success Collaborative) that will allow professional and faculty advisors to offer students more direct and personalized support.
First Year of College
Most students who leave SF State without graduating do so during or after their first year.Following the recommendations of our cross-campus Foundations of Excellence initiative, the Academic Senate appointed a First Year Experience task force, and Academic Affairs and Student Affairs & Enrollment Management appointed Directors of the FYE (Professor Grace Yoo and Chris Trudell).With their guidance, a team of faculty is preparing a new roster of seminars for first-year students for Fall 2019.
Supporting excellent teaching at all levels is the special mission of the new Center for Equity and Excellence in Teaching and Learning, launched in winter 2018. Under the leadership of inaugural Director Amy Kilgard and supported by an interdisciplinary team of Faculty Fellows, CEETL is energizing SF State’s culture of teaching by fostering faculty community, engagement, and shared knowledge about best practices that foster learning and reduce equity gaps.
Student Success Data
Accessible and accurate data is critical to the success of an ambitious change process like our Student Success and Graduation Initiative. The Office of Institutional Research has developed tools that track student academic progress in departments and colleges as well as across the university. But we also need to learn how to use such data. In 2017-18 twenty SF State faculty and staff participated in a grant-funded CSU pilot project, the Student Success Analytics Certificate Program, in order to turn data-informed knowledge into action.
Targeted Student Support
Students succeed when they experience community and belonging. Last year SF State’s Vice Presidents collaboratively analyzed and presented recommendations to President Wong to direct targeted student support through programs such as the award-winning Metro College Success Programs and several new identity-based centers in Student Affairs & Enrollment Management’s new Division of Equity & Community Inclusion, starting with the Black Unity Center.
For updates and news about these and related efforts, please bookmark SF State’s Student Success and Graduation Initiative site.
At SF State student success means both equity and excellence, high expectations and strong support. We recognize that retaining and graduating our students is just the first step toward our ultimate goal: providing them with educational experiences of the highest possible quality. In the year ahead we will our collective attention to the nature and identify of SF State’s core academic mission. Following the Academic Senate’s Resolution in Support of a Campus Academic Master Planning Process (RS18-368; April 17, 2018), the entire campus is invited to participate in a year-long discussion about the academic vision and goals that will direct the University’s decision making and improvement processes in the years ahead. As the Senate emphasizes, “an Academic Master Plan informs program development, faculty hiring, fundraising priorities and enrollment management” as well as related plans for the development of classrooms and academic space. Given the dynamism of the San Francisco Bay Area region that we serve and represent, San Francisco State’s academic aspirations are forward-looking, while also advancing the core educational values for which the university stands. I am proud to co-lead this effort with Nancy Gerber, Chair of the Academic Senate. The planning process will draw on the insights of faculty, students, staff, and administrators—as well as alumni, regional employers, and other community stakeholders. The result, we predict, will be a roadmap for an academic future that is as distinctive as SF State’s iconic past—and that helps us move into the future with the boldness and inventiveness for which we have been known.
Please bookmark the Academic Master Plan site for future updates and opportunities to become involved.
Wishing you a productive Semester,