Message from the Chair

Tuesday, February 4, 2020
Rachele Kanigel


Nearly four decades ago I came to SF State as an aimless 19-year-old transfer student looking for a purpose. I stumbled into a journalism class and before I knew it I was writing ledes and interviewing sources, hunting for story ideas and digging around for public records. By the end of the semester, my hazy career goals had become clear: I wanted to become a journalist. Now here I am, chair of the department that set me on this path.

Since I started teaching in the department more than 20 years ago, I’ve seen similar stories play out again and again, as students have discovered and developed their passion for journalism. I’ve watched a recovering heroin addict become a business reporter, witnessed a former house painter graduate and join a major metropolitan daily and seen a particularly dynamic Golden Gate Xpress editor blossom into a reporter and anchor for a major Los Angeles television news station.

We have a pretty great record of turning students into journalists.

And our diverse, socially conscious graduates have transformed the profession, bringing new perspectives and voices to the nation's media outlets.

Not all of our grads go into profession, but they all leave here with an appreciation for the power of journalism. They graduate with a sense that journalists play an important role in not just recording history but in righting wrongs and exposing truth.

Since I became chair five months ago, former students and classmates have asked me what they can do to contribute to the department. Here are some ways you can help:

Volunteer. Joanne Derbort, a veteran Bay Area journalist and instructor in our department, is setting up a new mentoring program. Once that program is up and running we'll let you know how you can get involved. If you have suggestions, please contact Joanne at

Guest lecture. We love to have professionals, particularly alumni, speak to our students. If you’re working in journalism or a related field and want to speak to a class, let us know.

Give. In my short time as chair, I’ve become more acutely aware than ever of the dire needs of our students and our department. We’ve set up a group of funds to help you contribute to the cause that touches you most deeply. Read below for details about how you can donate or go to the Make A Gift page on our website.

We are deeply thankful to alumni and donors who support our department.

Wishing you joyous holidays and a happy 2020,

Rachele Kanigel cursive signature

Rachele Kanigel ('83)
Professor and Chair