Bold Thinking

The Campaign for San Francisco State University Celebrating Our Donors

San Francisco State University is deeply grateful to the 18,000 bold-thinking alumni, friends, faculty, staff, students, parents and organizations who have generously contributed to the University’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, BOLD Thinking. Below are some of the compelling stories of our donors, both small and large. To read more, please visit the Development site.

George and Judy Marcus:
Defining the Future

George and Judy Marcus

The Marcuses’ story is one of love both from and for San Francisco State. Judy (B.A., ’62) and George Marcus (B.A., ’65) began dating when they attended SF State together in the early 1960s. In 2018, after decades of supporting the University, they became its largest donors with a transformative $25 million gift to the College of Liberal and Creative Arts. The newly created George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts endowed four new faculty chairs, supports student and faculty research, and funds program and facilities upgrades in the college.

Like 37% of SF State’s student body, George Marcus was the first generation in his family to graduate from college. In 1971 he founded Marcus and Millichap, a real estate development, investment and brokerage firm that now has offices in 39 states. He is an emeritus member of the CSU Board of Trustees and a current member of the CSU Foundation’s Board of Governors.

Judy Marcus has been a member of the Board of Directors of the SF State Foundation for more than seven years and is a steadfast partner of the University.

Jim Finley draws a direct line between his current role as an expert in hospital operations and data and his education at SF State, where he earned a B.S. in nursing in 1986 and an M.B.A. in 1993. The combination of degrees provided him with both clinical knowledge and insight into the business world. The nursing program at SF State “was a significant launchpad for me to start my career,” Jim says. Jim appreciates the opportunity to give back to the school that changed his life and has included a planned gift to the School of Nursing in his trust. “I feel responsible to pay it back any way I can.”


Neda Nobari:
Giving Back with Gratitude

Neda Nobari on a podium, giving a speech

“Every person should have the opportunity to pursue a quality education. I have a sense of allegiance and gratitude for having had that opportunity at San Francisco State.”

Neda Nobari (B.S., ’94) left Iran for the United States at the age of 15 to pursue educational opportunities not available in her home country. As a computer science student at SF State she experienced a sense of freedom and acceptance that opened her vision to life’s possibilities. She is an active member of the SF State Foundation Board and is a lead donor of the BOLD Thinking campaign.

Her generous support to SF State includes leadership gifts to the J. Paul Leonard Library, sustaining support to the Superfest Disability Film Festival through the Neda Nobari Foundation and assistance to the Guardian Scholars program, among others. In 2016, she donated $5 million to create the Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at SF State. The center connects Iranian diaspora communities and broadens the field of Iranian studies.

Chris Larsen and Luna Lam:
Financial and Philanthropic Innovators

Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam

Chris Larsen (B.S., ’84) is internationally respected as an iconoclastic financial leader. Crediting his SF State education as a key component in his success, he and his wife, Lyna Lam, have been major contributors to the University and the BOLD Thinking campaign.

In conjunction with Rippleworks, a nonprofit foundation which Chris co-founded, the Lam-Larsens made a historic gift in 2018/19 to the University’s College of Business, establishing the $25 million Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam Funds for the College of Business. Intended to support the college’s vision of becoming one of the best public urban business schools in the country, the Lam-Larsen funds endow two new chairs and fund five new initiatives. The gift was largely made with XRP digital assets — the first donation of its kind in SF State’s history.

This groundbreaking donation will expand the College of Business’s position as an innovative, distinctively diverse and industry-relevant epicenter of business education on the West Coast. Many of the new initiatives at the College of Business will impact the entire University through including students from all SF State colleges to collaborate on entrepreneurial projects.

“Being here in San Francisco at the center of the fintech, tech and biotech industries gives SF State’s students amazing career opportunities. These funds are focused on guiding these students in becoming innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders in these fields, enabling them to become changemakers in business and their communities,” says Chris. The Lam-Larsens are also generous donors to the Graduate College of Education. In 2017, they established the Larsen/Lam Family Educator Preparation Collaborative, which strategically supports recruitment, admission and success of future educators. This collaborative addresses the critical need to increase diversity amongst California’s qualified public school teachers, particularly in the SF Bay Area.

Long a champion of math education at SF State (and beyond), Professor Emerita Carol Langbort established the Carol Langbort and William Holsman Scholarship in the Master’s Degree in Education with Mathematics Education Concentration with a generous $25,000 pledge in February 2019. Carol was a faculty member in SF State’s Department of Elementary Education for more than 27 years and a lecturer in the Mathematics Department for four.


Juanita Tamayo Lott

Juanita Tamayo Lott (B.A., ’70) was one of the original 1968 SF State student strikers and a 1969 planning committee member for the establishment of SF State’s College of Ethnic Studies. She is nationally known as an author and leader in the federal statistical system, with respect to racial and ethnic categories, as well as in Filipino American and Asian American studies.

Juanita has donated over $60,000 to the BOLD Thinking campaign, including a generous gift of $15,000 to endow a scholarship in the name of the first dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, the James Akira Hirabayashi Scholarship. “I want to encourage students to aspire to public service/public policy careers and get out of the ivory tower into the world off campus — not just bold thinking but courageous action!”

The BOLD Thinking campaign — Making a Real Impact

Investment in SF State provides students with opportunities to become change agents in their own and their families’ lives and diversifies, energizes and strengthens our communities and California. Below are examples of the impact felt throughout the campus from donations to the campaign. To find out more about BOLD Thinking initiatives, visit the Development site.

Kimberly Gomez

Kimberly Gomez and her mother migrated to the U.S. from Honduras when Kimberly was 6. She is now a DACA recipient and studying health education at SF State. As a Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellow, she interned for Supervisor Malia Cohen where she had the opportunity to meet home health care workers who were advocating for higher wages in their field. “I really listened to what they were asking for because that used to be my mother. As a caregiver she didn’t get paid that much either, and had to think about us surviving. After meeting them, our office started writing an ordinance for higher wages for caregivers.”

In fall 2018, the College of Business launched the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellows program thanks to an initial $37,500 grant from MUFG Union Bank, N.A. Each year, a cohort of 25 students are offered training, expert coaching, participation in a pitch competition and support in developing their entrepreneurial skills and launching a startup. MUFG Union Bank, N.A. has also generously committed $37,500 for the 2019/2020 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellows cohort.

Female tutoring a child

In the fall of 2018, Matthew Chung, a student in the Graduate School of Education, received the Cahill Scholarship, which provides tuition assistance to students studying elementary education. Matthew was in his final semester of the Multiple Subjects Credential Program and says that receiving the scholarship gave him the freedom to focus on graduating. “My long-term goal is to become a credentialed elementary school teacher in the Bay Area. As a San Francisco native, I want to be able to make an impact in the community I grew up in.”

The Dr. Kenneth S. Fong Translational Research Award Funds were endowed with a commitment of $5 million from Kenneth Fong (B.S.,’71; M.A., ’74). The award, now in its fourth year, focuses on the strengthening of interdisciplinary, cross-department, team-based scientific research to facilitate practical application of scientific innovation.
Female and Man hodling up a robotic arm

Monisha Lewish in a SFSU track uniform and holding a baton
Monisha Lewis, an SF State All-American track star, hurdled her way into the spotlight in 2018 as she assisted the Gators in winning their first California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championship. She was named the CCAA Newcomer of the Meet as well as the CCAA Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Monisha had spent several years away from track and field to raise her children but found an opportunity to return to the sport at SF State when she was offered a scholarship from the George and Judy Marcus Athletic Scholarship Fund. The fund assists and encourages outstanding athletes in accomplishing their goals.

The College of Science and Engineering's Student Enrichment Opportunities Office (SEO) offers fellowships, mentorship and funding for students from underrepresented communities towards scholarships and to attend professional scientific conferences, summer internships and receive scholarships. SEO’s programs allow students to focus on academics and graduate within a shorter time span. Funding for the SEO includes generous grants from Genentech and private donations.

“The scholarship has created a strong foundation to my career as a scientist. I am now able to build a lifelong profession, which would have never been possible,”

Christopher Pineda (B.S., 2015)



Baldemar Arroyo spent 21 years incarcerated, but his connection to the outside world stayed strong. “I knew eventually I would be released and I didn’t want to be the same person. I wanted opportunities.” Now a senior majoring in geography at SF State, Baldemar was encouraged to pursue his degree by the staff at Project Rebound, which is focused on Turning former prisoners into scholars. Project Rebound utilizes funding from foundations and private donors for student support, tutoring and community outreach — services that are often life changing.
Baldemar Arroyo