SF State Deans Write Letter of Support for Ethnic Studies, Provost -- With Call to Action

Monday, March 14, 2016
Photo of packed room for Ethnic Studies meeting with SFSU administrators

March 8, 2016

Leslie E. Wong, President

San Francisco State University

1600 Holloway Avenue

San Francisco, CA 94132

Dear Dr. Wong,

As Deans of Academic Colleges at SF State, we fully support the mission and vibrancy of all academic programs, including those in the College of Ethnic Studies; together, they represent our history and values and each one contributes to actualizing the future and vision of our University. However, some recent discourse has been divisive, hurtful and damaging to our University. We feel strongly that the path forward can only be created by discussions grounded in constructive dialogue, fiscal transparency, openness to accountability and a spirit of good faith — across all parties. Only then can we continue to focus on the academic mission of the University and our collective commitment to serve the incredible breadth, energy and potential of our students and the hard work and imagination of our faculty and staff.

As has been reported, each College at SF State has experienced significant budgetary challenges in the wake of both the Great Recession and state and national divestment in public higher education. The operating constraints on public education defined by our elected officials have fostered innovative and more efficient approaches to delivery of our academic programs. Fiscal constraints imposed on public institutions of higher education inevitably require us to reframe our short- and long-term goals for SF State academic affairs within the context of the fiscal realities that we face today. Our focus on the academic mission has been at the heart of the Division of Academic Affairs under the leadership of our Provost, Dr. Sue Rosser, who has worked diligently and with considerable success, often outside public view, to advance the academic mission of the University during these challenging times. Key to that mission, to her leadership and our collective work, is vibrant support for each one of the six academic colleges, including the College of Ethnic Studies.

We are committed to working with all stakeholders to overcome challenges for offering all students the transformative educational experience that is carried out, day in and day out, by dedicated faculty and staff across campus. The challenges are ours to address, collectively, and it is time to focus our discussions toward that end.

To move our community’s discussion forward, we propose that a university-wide Task Force be constituted and charged a) to investigate the financial and operational concerns related to the College of Ethnic Studies and b) to provide recommendations to the University and all six Colleges to insure the long term fiscal well-being and sustainability of SFSU and its academic mission. In light of the vitriolic nature of current discussions, we believe this Task Force will only be effective and credible if led by a neutral third party from outside the University who is legitimized by all stakeholders. It is our collective hope that this Task Force can be the first step towards transparency, constructive discussion, and ultimately a renewed focus on the academic mission of the University.



Linda Oubre, Dean

College of Business

Judith H. Munter, Dean

Graduate College of Education

Alvin N. Alvarez, Dean

College of Health and Social Sciences

Daniel L. Bernardi, Interim Dean

College of Liberal and Creative Arts

Keith J. Bowman, Dean

College of Science and Engineering

Cc: Sue V. Rosser, Provost

Photo: Students pack a February 25 meeting with President Leslie E. Wong to discuss proposed budget cuts in the College of Ethnic Studies. Photo by Jared Tumazi.

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