CHSS Connection

October 11, 2022


hands holding up climate change signs

San Francisco State University launches its Climate Justice Leaders Initiative to better equip the University’s powerfully diverse student body to become climate justice leaders who center their work around equity. The overarching goal of the initiative is to build leaders who understand the inequities of climate change and who can advocate for and create strategies that include the communities most vulnerable to the climate crisis.

The All-University Committee on International Programs  (AUCIP) invites College of Health & Social Science faculty and staff to its International Faculty and Staff Engagement Event in recognition of International Education Month.

The event will be held on Thursday, November 3, 2-4 p.m., on the fifth floor of the Admin Building. Come join AUCIP for refreshments as it kicks off its month-long events! RSVP to Susan Zieff, chair of AUCIP, at

people exercising on mats in gym

SF State staff and faculty are invited to join the FitPlus program! The team’s goal is to promote health and wellness to SF State employees. They offer an array of workouts, including Weightlifting 101, HIIT to FIT, Dance Cardio, Swimming Conditioning, Yoga, Pilates and more. FitPlus also offers one-on-one training. You can join them in person at the gymnasium or via Zoom!

Don’t miss out on upcoming special events, classes and wellness tips. Visit the FitPlus website or Instagram page to get more information (including the program’s weekly schedule) and start your journey to healthy habits. Questions? Please email John Penacerrada at


Dean Alvin Alvarez delivered a keynote titled, “Towards Institutionalizing Racial Justice: A Call to Higher Education,” at the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors 2022 Annual Conference, held October 8-12 in Philadelphia. 

Alvarez shared his reflections and experiences as a dean and psychologist in creating an initiative and work in progress (the CHSS RACE Initiative) — attempting to institutionalize and center racial justice into a college of approximately 5,500 students, 71 percent of whom are students of color, and 300 faculty at a large urban, comprehensive university. The presentation challenged and critiqued representational diversity as a necessary but insufficient step in academia’s racial transformation. Instead, Alvarez argued for an ongoing practice of personal and institutional reflection to dismantle the white, male supremacist values and worldviews that are infused into the policies, practices and assumptions of white academia.

Yet beyond dismantling oppression, Alvarez primarily focused on the organizational structures, process and conditions that are needed to institutionalize and embed social and racial justice into higher education. To this end, the presentation explored the creation of a) systems of learning and unlearning about race and racism, b) systems of governance and leadership to actualize and enact racial justice and c) the role of mental health professionals in the process of creating and fostering racial justice.

Lastly, Alvarez concluded with his reflections about the political, leadership and personal struggles of this process and its opportunities for creating a racially liberatory space for students, faculty and staff.

group from EMHE fall convening

Child & Adolescent Development Department Chair and Associate Professor Linda M. Platas and UCLA colleagues engaged instructors of pre- and in-service early childhood teachers from across California on the UCLA campus in September. Over the past three years, the Early Math in Higher Education (EMHE) program has drawn faculty from 71 community colleges, CSUs and other universities across the state. The EMHE program provides on-going professional learning opportunities on early math development and teaching. This convening gathered faculty cohorts from Central, Northern and Southern California.

Pictured: Karen Recinos, Megan Franke, Linda Platas, Angela Turrou, Jennifer Schexnayder, Amber Gonzalez and Jo An Isken.

On Sept. 30, NeuroRegulation published “Healing chronic back pain,” an article by Recreation, Parks and Tourism Professor Erik Peper, student Jillian Coby and alumna Monica Almendras

The article is a case study of a 28-year-old SF State student who had suffered numerous injuries in a motorcycle accident. Following two surgeries, she continued to take prescription medication to control her pain until she learned in an SF State Holistic Health class how to implement self-healing imagery and other self-regulation strategies. At the 18-week follow-up, she was pain-free.  

Sustainable Fashion book cover

A third edition of the book “Sustainable Fashion,” co-authored by Professor Emerita of Apparel Design & Merchandising Connie Ulasewicz, was recently released by Fairchild Books. The focus of the book is a commitment to innovative action required to achieve the goals of creating healthier environments, reducing climate change and improving the well-being of all people as they choose and wear clothing. This new edition, titled, “Sustainable Fashion: Take Action,” presents a fresh exploration of possibilities and practices underway in design, production, and consumption within the textile and clothing industries, highlighting the actions of students and graduates from SF State’s Apparel Design & Merchandising program. Ulasewicz continues to engage with students, businesses and the community through CBUProductions, advocating for a greater understanding of the true value of our clothing.

Michael Ritter

Emeritus counselor faculty and alumnus Michael Ritter (M.S., ’84) passed away unexpectedly at the age of 67 on Sept. 16. He was training for his eighth Alcatraz swim scheduled for Oct. 1 to raise funds for the Continue the Dream for Academic Excellence Scholarship, created to benefit undocumented college students. He was passionate about working with marginalized communities, particularly those impacted by homophobia, racism and other forms of oppression.

Ritter was a dedicated educator, counselor and social justice activist. His many contributions include work with the LGBTQ+ community, the Palestinian community, the Academic Senate of the CSU and the California Faculty Association (CFA). Most noticeable were his accomplishments serving as program director of Prevention Education Programs (PEP) within Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). He ensured students had access to information, counseling and resources on HIV/AIDS alcohol and other drugs, and sexual violence. He was also a lecturer in the Department of Counseling and touched many lives through all the years of teaching. He retired in 2016 after 32 years of service.

Ritter embodied the spirit of SF State and the wider San Francisco community. He was warm, compassionate, generous and kind. His nonjudgmental approach helped people develop compassion for themselves. He lived life every day to the fullest and died doing what he loved, in the place he loved, with people that he loved, and for a cause that he loved.

“Michael is loved by so many colleagues and alumni in the Department of Counseling and the loss ripples deeply with us. We fondly remember his warmth, energy and tremendous clinical expertise,” said Department of Counseling Chair Rebecca Toporek. “We had the fortune of his collegiality and leadership in an undergraduate peer counseling program in a partnership between Counseling and Psychological Services and the Department of Counseling. Through that, he not only taught the courses but also supervised and mentored many of our graduate students who assisted with the class while interning as mental health counselors on campus at the Peggy Smith Clinic. Teaching the peer counseling classes, Michael also had a powerful influence on students in our Counseling minor who aspired to become peer counselors, and many eventually apply for graduate training in counseling. Michael greeted every one of us with a warm smile, good humor and compassion. His spirit will continue to be strong with us.”

Ritter is survived by his spouse, Peter Toscani, and sister, Karen Ritter. Memorial services are currently in the planning stages for November, and information will be widely shared when it is available.

On Sept. 21, Professor Emerita of Kinesiology and gymnastics coach Andrea Schmid-Shapiro passed away in her Novato home. She was 88.

Born in Hungary, Schmid-Shapiro competed in the Olympics for her homeland in 1952 and ’56, earning a gold medal, two silvers and a bronze. She defected to the U.S. in 1956 and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a Ph.D. in higher education from UC Berkeley. She came to SF State in 1963, serving as head coach of the women’s gymnastics team and teaching as a professor of Kinesiology. With her San Francisco State colleague, Blanche Drury, she brought gymnastics to California schools, teaching workshops, mentoring new coaches and guiding the development of the sport in our state. In her early days at San Francisco State, she taught gymnastic, rhythmic gymnastics and the gymnastics analyses courses for teacher preparation students. She also sponsored the Women’s Recreation Association. She went on to teach sport psychology at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Schmid-Shapiro was a superb advisor for both students and faculty. She had very high standards and expected others to work hard to develop their best abilities — and she supported them through the process. She was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2001.

Schmid-Shapiro is survived by her husband, Charles Shapiro; her daughter, Aniko Molnar; and two granddaughters.

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The deadline to submit items for the October 25, 2022 issue of CHSS Connection is October 19. Send submissions to

Current Events

MPA Informational Session
Wednesday, October 12, 6-7 p.m.,via Zoom

MSW Admission Info Sessions
Thursdays, October 13, November 3 & 17, December 1 & 15, 7-8:30 p.m., all via Zoom

Child & Adolescent Development Majors and Minors Info Session
Thursday, October 13, 5:30-6:30 p.m., via Zoom

Gerontology Informational Session
Monday, October 19, 6-7 p.m., via Zoom

Holistic Health Workshop for Members of University Community: There is hope for tight neck and shoulders, and tired, irritated eyes
Wednesdays, October 26 & November 2, 12-1 p.m., HSS 306

Faculty Writing Support Groups
Wednesdays, October 19, November 2, 16 & 30, December 14, 9-11 a.m., in-person and Zoom; Fridays, September 30, October 14 & 28, November 11, December 9, via Zoom. Contact Kate Hamel at

Food Awareness Month: October 2022
Mondays, 5-6:45 p.m., HSS 306 and online

Professor Emeritus Michael Ritter passed away while swimming in San Francisco Bay. eBar 10/4/2022

Students from SF State’s Apparel Design and Merchandising program were mentioned in an article about how a partnership with Goodwill of the San Francisco Bay and the California Product Stewardship Council is aimed at improving the reputation of second-hand apparel. KALW 10/4/2022

Professor of Public Health Emma Sanchez-Vaznaugh discussed the increase in maternal mortality for Hispanic women in 2020. American Heart Association News 9/30/2022MSN 9/30/2022UK Today News 9/30/2022 (This article was originally published 9/30/2022 by the American Heart Association. It was featured in over 130 media outlets.)

Professor Emeritus of Kinesiology Andrea Schmid-Shapiro passed away Sept. 21. USA Gymnastics 9/28/2022

Professor of Urban Studies & Planning Ayse Pamuk (School of Public Affairs & Civic Engagement) commented on why San Franciscans are some of the wealthiest renters in the nation. The San Francisco Standard 9/27/2022

Professor Emeritus of Prevention Education Programs Michael Ritter died September 16 after developing hypothermia while swimming in San Francisco Bay. SF Gate 9/23/2022

Featured Photo

Muscle Physiology Lab group in front of Gym