Theme 6 Subcommittee Report

San Francisco State University

Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee

Theme 6: Elevating Institutional Support

DRAFT 4 - For Submission to President’s Office

June 10, 2014

Section I. Theme Group Values, Goals & Aspirations

The goal of Theme 6: Elevating Institutional Support is to increase financial resources for the University in support of the campus’ vision of “Excellence Applied.” The tectonic paradigm shift in the way public higher education is funded in California requires new innovative ways of thinking around revenue-generation, investment and monetization of assets, and efficient resource allocation.

We need to invest in excellence, in always providing the best education and experiences possible to our constituents. We also need to invest in opportunities that give students and faculty the ability to engage in the world around us; opportunities to apply intellectual pursuits to solve the problems of the people, organizations, and communities we serve.

This means finding new sustainable sources of revenue in the areas of fundraising, public-private partnerships, engagement with industry and the corporate community, and implementing campus-based ventures and other programs that generate income. To do this will require a change in culture, and the development of campus infrastructure, programs, and training that support innovation and entrepreneurialism. This is the essence of “Excellence Applied.”

Section II. Analysis of Current Circumstances

An analysis of SF State’s current situation around generating increased financial support is summarized in the SWOT analysis below. Despite challenges around a minimal history and record of fundraising, lack of culture of fundraising and entrepreneurialism on campus, and the need to provide institutional infrastructure to support this new paradigm, SF State is strongly positioned for the future.

We are the public institution that trains the leaders for the future who look like the world! Our location makes us the go-to place not only in the Bay Area and California, but also globally. Our students, faculty, and staff are among the best in the country. We attract very bright people, who also have a passion for making a difference and giving back. We also have untapped and under-leveraged intellectual and physical assets, and reside in the geographic epicenter for innovation and new thinking. We are where everyone else wants to be; and we have untapped value, whether it’s the quality of our students, the intellectual brainpower of our inventions, or the actual land where we sit.

Our campus leadership and faculty partners can work anywhere, and yet, they are here, at SF State. There is a new energy in the local economy, new vision on campus, and new leadership for a new time.

SWOT Analysis-Elevating Institutional Support


  • Students & faculty population aligned with the interests of donors and corporate partners (diversity).
  • Location advantage in terms of wealth aggregation, corporate footprint, global access, and innovation hotbed.
  • New leadership for new time and new reality.
  • Strong alumni base to tap
  • Faculty and student talents
  • Infant stage of structure and process for fundraising to be nurtured
  • Untapped physical resources


  • No culture/history in fundraising
  • - Huge bureaucratic structure that impedes entrepreneurialism
  • - Lack of incentive, performance evaluation for fundraising
  • - Lack of experience in leading change, new ventures, etc.
  • - Low priority and too many competing priorities on campus
  • Inertia, negative responses and low morale
  • No clear identity/brand
  • Weak communications and marketing
  • Faculty skepticism and hesitation
  • Low student involvement


  • Economic environment is improving.
  • Change in perception of SF State
  • Social trend in Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Corporate interest in partnership and sponsorship with SF State
  • Interest from overseas
  • CSU more open to entrepreneurialism and fundraising and encourages autonomy amongst campuses


  • Competition for public funding from K-12.
  • Competition for donors and dollars.
  • Competition for CSU funds.
  • High cost of living affects talent recruitment and retention.
  • Competition in programs from other educational institutions.

Section III. Strategies & Initiatives

Based on the input provided from SF State’s internal and external constituents, the Theme 6 team identified and grouped proposed strategies and initiatives in three sub-themes:

  • Promote a culture of philanthropy: In order to be successful, philanthropy requires the engagement of all at SF State. Everyone, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the community, must support the mission of SF State to grow investment through fundraising. We need to promote, grow, and develop a culture of philanthropy that is supported by all. To do this, additional funding and investments must include programs for communication, training, and constituent engagement.
  • Foster innovation and entrepreneurialism at SF State: The ability to launch new entrepreneurial programs that generate revenue will be a key to SF State’s future. While being entrepreneurial may be new in public higher education, it is an imperative that needs to be fostered and celebrated. Infrastructure and organizational models need to be put in place now to ensure that new ventures are implemented that align with our mission and fit within our organizational directives. In short, we must “plan to do!”
  • Develop corporate/public-private partnerships: SF State will need to think beyond our historical partnership with the state and look to outside organizations, not only for direct financial support, but also as strategic partners. New public-private partnerships will allow us to leverage the assets of the university with the business and industry know-how in support of new investment for the campus.

These three initiative sub-themes are discussed in more detail below and are segmented into short-term, mid-term, and long-term categories based on the ease of implementation. The prioritization of these initiatives is provided in the appendices.

Section IV. Action Plan

Promote a Culture of Philanthropy

Over the past 20 years, State support for public institutions of higher education has decreased significantly and, like these public institutions, SF State has had to turn to private support to help subsidize its operations and fulfill its mission. While the University has tasked Campus Development with creating awareness and generating support for SF State's academic, research and public service missions, there is still a need to promote a culture of philanthropy on campus.

In the short term, one primary initiative has been identified:

  1. The launch of the University’s first-ever comprehensive campaign is a great opportunity for SF State to not only generate much-needed private support but also an excellent way to promote a culture of philanthropy. Under the umbrella of a campaign that is comprehensive in nature, several things can happen simultaneously: a) The University can develop a strong plan to communicate the importance of fundraising; b) The campaign can also provide training (faculty boot camp) for faculty on promoting their research and cultivating donors; and c) The campaign can also provide the space for faculty-sponsored scholarships for students, as well as philanthropic initiatives that are student-focused. But probably the most obvious way that a comprehensive campaign will promote a culture of philanthropy is through its potential impact. The $150M, 7-year campaign will touch every corner of the campus, providing very tangible changes for all to see and appreciate.

Mid-term initiatives that support our efforts to promote a culture of philanthropy include some infrastructural enhancements, as follows:

  1. Provide campus-wide access to a centralized donor database. Not only will this lead to stronger relationships between the departments and the Development Office, but a centralized donor database will allow chairs and other key administrators access to the most updated information. This will also prevent competing interests between the departments and the Development office.
  2. Global reach for fundraising. SF State has a large international student community in many countries. Many alumni have strong emotional ties with the school. In addition, the businesses in emerging and developing economies are also looking for opportunities to extend their philanthropic footprints beyond domestic markets in order to demonstrate a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility.

Two long-term initiatives that are proposed to maintain a culture of philanthropy include the following:

  1. Expand the definition of “service” to include fundraising activities and evaluate faculty on this area. Also provide incentives to faculty to encourage fundraising.
  2. Keep philanthropy in the forefront of the various campus constituents by maintaining a permanent campaign mode. Institutions of our size and potential are always in campaign mode – at any given time they are either in the beginning, middle or end of a campaign. This becomes a way of life for the campaign community.

Foster Innovation and Entrepreneurialism at SF State

One clear message from the team’s many discussions with campus stakeholders, both internal and external, is the need for SF State to become a place that fosters innovation and entrepreneurialism. This is a key requirement as the campus looks to develop and sustain its financial resources. In order to develop new revenue sources for the campus, we must be able to harness our collective creativity to leverage campus assets in new ways.

As a first step, SF State needs to be a place where it is ok to try new things. Without some risk, there is no reward. It is better to be an organization where people try new things, and succeed half the time, than a place where nothing ever changes because people are too afraid to try. An official leadership statement that “At SF State, it is ok to try and fail” will go a long way to change the culture on campus.

In the short term, several initiatives have been identified. Some of these are already in the implementation stages. These are prioritized below:

  1. Develop and implement a campus financial and organizational model to be used for new ventures. While recent organizational decisions have strengthened and aligned the campus auxiliary unit, UCorp, as a structure for new entrepreneurial initiatives, this needs to be backed with a formalized process for testing new ventures. This should include a formal business plan approval process for expediting new initiatives.
  2. The Alumni organization should be given the ability to monetize its activities. For example, in additional to member fees, the ability to package offerings (use of campus library and recreation center, discounts to book store, athletic and performance event entry, etc.) would be a quick way to earn additional revenue to be reinvested in building the needed infrastructure to expand alumni relations activities.

Mid-term initiatives that support our efforts to be more innovative and entrepreneurial are listed in priority order below. These are initiatives that can be launched in a one-year time frame.

  1. Implementation of two campus awards given to highlight the achievements of faculty, staff, and students who embody innovation and entrepreneurialism: the SF State Innovator Award, and the SF State Entrepreneurial Champion Award. The Innovator Award would be given annually to someone who finds ways to be innovative, whether it be structural improvements in how we do business or faculty who find ways to teach in new ways. The Entrepreneurial Champion Award would celebrate those who implement new campus initiatives that help grow new revenue sources for reinvestment. These awards, while simple to implement, would go a long way to champion the efforts of those who are creative, out-of-the-box thinkers on our campus. This would send a clear message to the entire campus community of what is essentially a change in culture for SF State.
  2. A campus fund should be set up to encourage “intrapreneurialism” on campus. This is a model that is used by many business organizations who want to find ways to invest in internal new ventures. This fund could be initially financed through donor funding, although reinvestments from new revenue generating on-campus initiatives would make this self-funding in the longer term.
  3. Similarly, a venture lab and angel fund on campus would encourage the extended SF State community to engage in entrepreneurial activity. The lab and fund would be open to the community, as well as students, alumni, and faculty. As the host organization, SF State would operate as a venture capital firm, providing educational tools, but also seed investments in new products. Like at many university campuses, donor funding would provide initial support. On an ongoing basis, the ability to commercialize internal and external intellectual assets as an equity investor would provide for long-term financial sustainability.
  4. The next year would also be a good time for campus to initiate an operational review of campus administrative “systems.” There is a real need to breakdown the bureaucracy at SF State. While process is important to ensure compliance, there are many written and unwritten policies and structure on campus that need to be reviewed and streamlined to order to encourage new entrepreneurial thinking.
  5. Like the Innovator and Entrepreneurial Champion Awards, the Innovation Fellows Program would be a great way to energize the campus around entrepreneurialism. Patterned after the program by the same name at Arizona State University, the program would provide the pipeline of new, innovative leaders to SF State. The campus would hire 3-5 Innovation Fellows for one-year fellowships working with senior executives on campus. While the initial work would focus on special projects, the expectation would be that each fellow would move into a key staff position once their fellowship year is up. This could also be funded with donor funding.

Two long-term initiatives that are proposed to support innovation and entrepreneurialism on campus have been identified:

  1. While already in discussion, the monetization of campus real-estate assets is crucial to SF State’s ability to rapidly leverage its financial sustainability. Real estate in the City of San Francisco is at a premium, is in low supply, and we have a lot of it! Plans should be developed and implemented that take advantage of this crucial asset and provide investment for the benefit of students and faculty: redevelopment, retail, space rentals, event management, on-campus hotel, conferences, health clinic etc., all of these would generate incremental funding for campus.
  2. The final initiative is the most important, though one of the most difficult to implement. The incentives on campus must be changed to encourage faculty and staff to be entrepreneurial. Currently, there is no mechanism to compensate individuals for entrepreneurial success. People do what we incent them to do; if we want them to focus on new initiatives that benefit the campus, then we have to find a way to reward them for this behavior. In some cases financial rewards would be appropriate, but there are many non-financial rewards and recognition that could be implemented such as release time, performance evaluations, etc.

Develop Corporate/Public-Private Partnerships

This is an extremely underdeveloped area at SF State. While there is a relatively low level of corporate partnerships at this school, examples of success between other educational institutions and the private sector have never been in short supply. Below is a set of initiatives based on two criteria (1) direct impact on student success and (2) the difficulty in achieving desirable financial results.

Eight short-term initiatives targeted at developing corporate/public-private partnerships are listed below in priority.

  1. Corporate sponsored career services center. Talented SF State students have not been fully supported and prepared for the workplace. The corporations will benefit from increasing visibility, building name recognition, and attracting top students. In collaboration with industry, SF State students will be provided with discipline-specific career preparation; professional practices and experiences such as internships, co-operative education, job-shadowing, and apprenticeships; and auxiliary services such as etiquette training, and mock interviews. At the lower level, contributions can be Endowed Directorship for $1 million, sponsor-a-talent program for $1,000-5,000, or a resume workshop for $1,000.
  2. Partnership with local and regional businesses. Many disciplines on campus have direct and indirect practical applications for the consumer and industrial markets. For example, the Hospitality and Tourism Program can collaborate with the wine industry for pouring rights. The Department of Design and Industry students can develop packaging, logos, posters and flyers for Microsoft Surface. The Department of Marketing can assist in designing and launching new product introduction campaigns for Apple’s iPhone 7. SF State can leverage business resources, expertise, and experience to enhance the relevance and quality of student learning.
  3. Contributions, sponsorship and advertisement at commencement, athletic events and extra-curricular activities. SF State can offer banner space at commencement, basketball court scoreboards, dormitory entrances, billboards in the student center, and the like for company logo to be posted for a fee. SF State can also install a corporate-paid jumbotron/jumbovision on an external wall of the Student Center for electronic posting of corporate information, rotating with university messages, such as “Welcome back, Gators,” and public/social messages, such as “Don’t drink and drive.”
  4. SF State One card doubled as credit card. Collaborate with credit card companies to offer a competitive reward points system for the One Card that can be used by employees and alumni, in addition to students. A portion of the reward should be made as contributions to SF State from the credit card company.
  5. Campus wide corporate relations portal. To facilitate campus wide corporate relation development, SF State can develop a campus-wide aggregated database/corporate relations management tool for better coordination. Of course, the success of this has to be supported by a mindset change of actively building and sharing contact information and connections among administrators, staff and faculty for the benefits of the university.
  6. Corporate sponsored research for intellectual property. Many of our faculty and students are engaging in top-notch basic and applied research. Some of them carry practical value and offer solutions to challenges in our daily lives. SF State can approach major corporations such Clorox to sponsor research in the Department of Chemistry to develop a auto-calibrate bleach solution, for example. Multinational corporations can sponsor the Department of International Business in large-scale research to develop a multi-dimensional cross-cultural intelligence model. This type of model has already been implemented at several universities and can be copyrighted for corporate training and the adoption in academic research.
  7. Customized corporate training. Adopt the Executive Education model that has been implemented at the College of Business in cooperation with the College of Extended Learning and extend it to all colleges and departments at SF State. For example, the Department of Psychology can contract with corporations to provide vocational related psychological and personality tests and self-development training. The Department of Communication can offer interpersonal skills, conflict resolution and public speaking training.
  8. Vendor discounts. To engage our corporate neighbors and enhance our visibility, SF State can contract with businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area for SF State community discounts. This is a win-win approach as the vendors can attract more businesses and students, staff, faculty, and alumni could be more motivated to do business with these sponsors.

Six mid-term initiatives in developing corporate/public-private partnerships are listed below in priority.

  1. License merchandising rights of SF State. SF State can expand the distribution network of SF State logo merchandise to retailers beyond the campus-based bookstore. Prospective off-campus retailing locations include the Downtown Center, Walgreens, CVS and similar stores across the Bay Area. Many alumni return to visit SF but most don’t make a trip to the main campus. SF State should take advantage of the tourist concentrated area and online shopping.
  2. Expand the product lines of SF State logo merchandise. School logo merchandise is mostly an impulse purchase. The more varieties there are, the more likely it will catch someone’s interest. For example, SF State can extend the mascot, Gator, into a family from grandparents to grandchildren, Gator getting married, Gator becoming parent, Gator surfing, Gator biking, and the like. Gator themed merchandize should cover more than the traditional shirts, mugs and key chains. It can include phone cases, phone charms, phone cradles, fashion jewelry, and the like. In addition, the products should cover a wide range price points, from a leather jacket of $300 to a sticker of $.10. The emphasis is cool, fun designs and quality production that speak to the student generation. SF State students studying design and arts should be invited to be heavily involved. SF State invests and serves as a design and business incubator for the students. The school owns the copyrights and gets the licensing income.
  3. Venture capital challenge. SF State can collaborate with crowd funding organizations to support student and faculty entrepreneurial projects. SF State can host two types of open contests for funding: idea only and prototype ready. Crowd funding companies and individual investors are invited to attend, offer suggestions, and compete to fund the projects.
  4. Athletic sponsorships. SF State can heavily promote an identity through sports. Sponsorship can be flexible between permanent sponsorship and single event sponsorship. For the former, sponsors will be offered banner space and billboard in prime spots around campus. Corporate logos can be printed on sports apparel and gear. For the latter, it could be event-based free transportation and food to support the athletes.
  5. Naming. SF State can open up naming opportunities in many ways, from a building, to a lecture hall, a wall, a stage and a chair. While corporations and prominent individuals are the usual prospective donors to these options, many alumni and their families also have emotional ties to SF State and can very well be modest donors of a tile and a brick.
  6. Homecoming Day. SF State currently has no Homecoming. This is traditionally a special, meaningful day to engage current students and alumni. This is also an opportunity to invite corporate sponsors and catch media attention. It would be more beneficial and productive if the theme of the Homecoming inspires corporate social responsibility among corporations.

Two long-term initiatives in developing corporate/public-private partnerships are listed below in priority.

  1. Faculty/staff incentive. This would be a radical change at SF State when faculty and staff are rewarded or at least being evaluated based on their efforts and results in establishing strong business connections for the SF State community. While direct monetary reward is uncommon if not impossible, a positive direction in including this in performance evaluation or campus-wide recognition will serve as a motivator. In addition, small rewards such as one-year free parking on campus, gift certificates to the Vista Room, or gift cards at Bookstore.
  2. Joint venture/partnerships for real estate development projects. SF State can convert some of the currently real estate properties or seek new locations for long-term revenue-generation rental projects. This could be built as a shopping plaza, hotel, parking lot or residential dwellings.