Theme 1 Subcommittee Report

Report of the Theme 1 Subcommittee – Building the San Francisco State Identity


SF State University is a unique university serving a diverse students population, graduating a large number of first generation university students and historically under represented students, partnering with government, local education agencies, and business to advance both the region and the University. We are located in one of the worlds most linguistically and culturally diverse cities, and a region acclaimed as a hub of creativity, innovation, and progressive thinking.

The University’s faculty, staff, administration, and students represent a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and points of view. According to the U.S. News and World Report 2014 rankings SF State is one of the top 15 universities for campus diversity. Our University typically enrolls more international students than any other mater’s degree-granting institution in the US, according to the Institute of International Education. International enrollment for Fall 2013 included more than 1600 students from 90 countries.

The diversity of our University provides us with the opportunity to disrupt the predictive power of demographics, increase self-awareness, better prepare students for future success, prepare students to live and work in a transnational and global society, encourage multiple perspectives and pluralistic thinking, stimulate creativity, and increase our knowledge base. As evidenced by the Universities accomplishments in reducing our environmental footprint through a commitment to sustainability through ecology, economics, politics, and culture as interconnected domains.

At SF State University we are proud of our accomplishments in light of weighty challenges:

  • To attract, retain, and graduate a highly diverse student body;
  • To ensure an outstanding education for every student;
  • To maintain equity and social justice as core values through the diversity of our students and employees, content and delivery of our academic programs and support systems;
  • To provide students, faculty and staff with transnational and international experiences, perspectives, and competencies;
  • To recruit, retain, and support a diverse faculty whose teaching demonstrates a commitment to equity and social justice, and an active engagement with their individual fields of study and whose creative and scholarly work is an extension of the classroom, laboratory, or studio reflecting emerging and traditional forms of scholarship;
  • To employ a staff and administration reflecting the diversity of the community and the values of the campus;
  • To foster a collegial and cooperative intellectual environment that includes recognition and appreciation of differing viewpoints and promotes academic freedom within the University community; and
  • To serve the communities with which our students and faculty are engaged.

For all these reasons, SF State’s future requires a new Strategic Academic Plan, to remain current and in the forefront as a University committed to community, inclusiveness, equity, social justice, emerging and traditional forms of scholarship, sustainability, internationalism, transnationalism, quality academic programs, and ensuring physical improvements that reflect a sound, progressive, and coherent vision.

In Summer 2013, President Leslie E. Wong appointed a Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee (SPCC). The SPCC was led by President Wong and Academic Senate Chair Lawrence Hanley and comprised of students, faculty, staff, and community members. The strategic planning process provided the University the opportunity to evaluate, revise, and affirm its vision, mission, values, and framing principles building on previous planning efforts, WASC reaccreditation process, and ongoing community involvement and input.

The SPCC has met regularly in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 holding a number of events and listening sessions. The strength of the plan is rooted in a deep respect for the input and feedback provided by our community members across SF State, alumni, and the larger SF Bay community. Theme 1 Subcommittee’s engagement with the community included: a student forum, ASI Town Hall Event, online resources (SPCC Website, Twitter, and Neighborland) as well as representatives attending College Council Meetings, College Meetings, Department Meetings, Dean's Council Meetings, Provost's Council Meetings, Community Meetings, Alumni Meetings, SPCC Meetings, and numerous other events. The members also listened carefully to the core findings of the other Themes: Maximizing student success; Academic master plan; Physical master plan; Advancing campus and community climate Elevating institutional support; and Emerging issues as it became clear early in the process that the “building the San Francisco State Identify” would involve of deep understanding of all themes.

This status report is meant to provide an opportunity to receive additional input in the development and writing of the new SF State University Strategic Plan. We anticipate both affirming comments and constructive input with specific recommendations. We invite the larger community to respond and welcome the responses and thinking of our diverse and vibrant community. Thank you for your ongoing engagement in this dynamic and iterative process.

SFSU Identity

At SF State University we cherish and embrace diversity as a strong value and understand the ongoing need to address oppression and marginalization. Central to our purpose as a university is the preparation of our students and graduates to make a meaningful difference globally, nationally, in their communities, and in their families -- reflecting our university’s strong commitment to social justice.

We position ourselves in a world that continues to evolve, as do current fields of study along with the emergence of new fields of study that go beyond traditional departments and constructs. We are committed to generating and nurturing an environment for teaching, learning, and scholarship that respects and values emerging and traditional forms of scholarship, and responsiveness to the outside world. What unites us as a community of learners is our passion for excellence, critical inquiry and discovery, respect for diverse perspectives, and our commitment to social justice and sustainability. We believe inclusiveness, community, diversity, equity, transnationalism, and civic engagement are central to who we are and what we stand for.

SF State's mission and its shared sense of purpose are undeniable institutional strengths that the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) praised for helping San Francisco State weather recent fiscal challenges. And yet “social justice” is not specifically named in the current mission of SFSU. Nonetheless, it is a core value that is very much at the center of our collective consciousness and referenced in many University documents. The following draft vision, mission, values, and framing principles are intended to both honor our past and shape our future.

Draft Vision

SF State University will educate and graduate students across disciplines that are highly competent, and committed to building a more livable, human, compassionate, and sustainable world guided by principles of equity and social justice. Prepared to meet the demand to transform knowledge and skills into new ways of organizing, renewing, interacting with, and adapting to an evolving world.

Thousands of people at SF State work visibly and behind the scenes ensuring that we live out our core values, fulfill our mission, and make our vision a reality. We are proud of the dedicated students, staff, faculty, and administration that live out the values of our great University.

Draft Mission

SF State University’s mission is to promote excellence in instruction and intellectual accomplishment; and to provide broadly accessible higher education for residents of the region and state, as well as the nation and world in a diverse and vibrant academic community attentive to issues of equity, social justice, internationalization, and sustainability. Graduating students who reflect the diversity, and the cultural mosaic of the City of San Francisco and the Bay Area, prepared to explore, to create, to challenge, to lead, and meet the demand to transform knowledge and skills into new ways of organizing, creating, renewing, interacting with, and adapting to an evolving world.

Core Values

SF State’s core values are as follows:

  • Social justice as a way of life
  • Freedom of thought and expression
  • Freedom from discrimination
  • Self-reliance and habits of lifelong learning

Framing Principles

Through the strategic transformational process a core set of principles have emerged that shape our identity as a university and inform how we realize SF State’s mission. As a public intuition of higher education we are committed to upholding social justice as a way of life, a conscious choice.


Transnationalism as used in our strategic plan is associated with immigration as a specific form of globalization. According to Basch et al. (1994) transnationalism is the processes immigrants use to build and nourish multi-stranded social relations that connect together their place of origin the place they have settled.

Globalization as used in our strategic plan refers to a complex phenomenon that involves structural forces that impinge on our daily lives, like the making of new spaces and connectivity between locales, and also ideological resources. We are particularly mindful of the increased human interconnectedness facilitated by new information technologies and modern economies that involves a heavy flow of trade, capital, people, and cultures moving across national borders and an increasingly integrated global economy. This includes global techno-scientific collaborations, global generation of innovations, and potential of exploitation.


I am especially intrigued by the core value of self-reliance & life long learning. This suggests to me that our teaching should focus more on learning: we should, as a campus, think about ways to help students discover and inquire rather than repeat and regurgitate. This is a challenge in large classes but ought to be a major outcome for this Core Value. Similarly, another specific outcome might be to foster faculty's quests for lifelong learning----funding more sabbaticals would link to this Core Value. Finally: there are numerous mechanical errors in this Theme. Because I hear faculty complaining every day about students' writing, I hope we can take this as an example of how everyone makes errors all the time, and share that generosity with our students.