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Gator Buzz

Mabel Hefty
A young Barak Obama.

Courtesy Punahou
School

Did you know President Barack Obama's favorite teacher was an SF State alumna? During a presidential debate, then-Senator Obama praised the late Mabel Hefty (B.A., '35), his fifth grade teacher at Punahou School in Honolulu, for "making every single child feel special." In 1971 Mrs. Hefty was fresh from a teaching sabbatical in Kenya, while Obama, as he recalled, "was just coming from overseas, coming back to the United States, felt a little bit out of place." Mrs. Hefty showed him that his experiences outside the U.S. were "valuable and important." He added, "We need more teachers like that in front of every single classroom." These days President Obama is receiving wise counsel from another Gator, internationally recognized disability rights leader Kathy Martinez (B.A., '92). In March, Martinez was appointed Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy, Department of Labor. Working for the White House is nothing new for Martinez who was appointed in 2002 by President George W. Bush to the National Council on Disability.

Ethan Kerber works on a sculpture.

As for other labor-related news in Washington -- just ten blocks from the White House, Ethan Kerber, a graduate student in Design and Industry, will soon unveil a public art piece two years in the making. "Inspiration," Kerber's 3,500-pound 3-D metal design, will permanently adorn the side of a building in Mount Vernon Triangle. From 1600 Pennsylvania to 1600 Holloway Ave., SF State students and alumni are making news. In March, former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. (B.A., '55) discussed leadership, business and the economy at SF State with Charles Schwab. The CEO of the Charles Schwab Corporation told alumni that his company has weathered the turbulent economy for a simple reason: "We decided that you shouldn't lend money to people who can't pay you back." After Schwab talked and people listened, in April Francis Ford Coppola Charles Schwab and Willie Brown Jr.made SF State an offer it couldn't refuse: an informal chat with cinema faculty and students in Knuth Hall. Coppola discussed everything from the making of "The Godfather" ("It was never a happy experience…I thought I was going to be fired every other week.") to the next generation of filmmaking ("We're all babes in the woods when you look at what's possible and what hasn't been done yet."). Visionary artistry runs in the Coppola family. August Coppola, brother of the esteemed filmmaker, was dean of Creative Arts at SF State from 1984 to 1992. The fall semester promises more exciting visitors at SF State. Former students are invited to the first Alumni Day, Oct. 10. The event's keynote speakers: Peter Casey (B.A., '75), the executive producer of "Frasier," and Glen Charles (M.A., '68), who created the title character for the 37-time Emmy-winning show. If you're planning on skipping the daylong event with its numerous activities and lectures across campus, you may want to give Dr. Crane a call and have your head examined.

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