A strong believer in shared governance, I have had the privilege to work with faculty, staff, and students from across the university on a variety of projects and roles over the past sixteen years, including Chairing the Academic Senate and Co-Chairing the Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee, serving as university-wide Director of General Education and on the WASC certification and Student Success Initiative steering committees. I currently serve as Chair of the Board of the University Corporation and a member of the board of the Paul K. Longmore Center for Disability Studies, and I was recently elected to serve on the Academic Freedom Committee. In 2016-2017, I was awarded the university’s Service Award.
The Department of History at San Francisco State University is a rare example of a truly functional collective blending syndicalist and liberal democratic features. The faculty serve willingly on committees that make the bulk of the strategic decisions, while a rotating chair provides day-to-day oversight and plays some executive roles. Much of the administrative work is done by highly talented staff who are able to provide leadership in specific areas for which they are responsible as well. I truly love this community, and I have striven to be a chair who is humane, decent, and who recognizes the dignity of faculty, staff, and students alike.
My term as Chair of the History Department was focused on curricular redesign for student success. I was fortunate to have inherited a functional and friendly community from my predecessor as chair, Phil Dreyfus. At the same time, we had a 30-year old curriculum and faced challenges common to history departments in terms of a changing funding context and enrollment challenges as well as the specific challenges of a very expensive housing market for both faculty and students. While we have grappled with new ways to inspire and advise students and fought to make innovative and meaningful hires, we have also spent this period striving to create curricula that will help our students to learn and succeed, to get jobs and to become fulfilled people and contributing citizens. We expect our revised major and minor curricula, a new graduate (MA) pattern, and new certificates in teaching history and historical research (honors) to all be fully implemented in Fall 2019.
Equity and Social Justice
The American university is generally an ambivalent setting in which social justice and equity are loudly proclaimed as goals, and yet micro-messaging and individual encounters frequently create unsafe and uncomfortable encounters that lead to poor outcomes – less learning, fewer graduating students, decreased professional development. We can transform this situation through intentional design in hiring, training, and creating environments that both facilitate difficult conversations and reinforce personal self-image and identity. Chairing the university-wide Equity and Inclusion Educational Outreach Working Group was an opportunity for me to learn from experts –SF State colleagues and students – in this area and to play a role in coalescing their ideas and data into a concept plan that we hope will transform the university’s commitment to creating the best possible learning and working environments for all.