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San Francisco State University
Motto Experientia Docet (Latin)
Motto in English Experience Teaches
Established 1899
Type Public
Endowment $47.2 million (2008)[1]
President Robert A. Corrigan
Faculty 1,783[2]
Staff 2,048[2]
Students 29,628[3]
Undergraduates 23,843[3]
Postgraduates 5,785[3]
Location San Francisco, California California, United States United States
Campus Urban, 141.61 acres (57.31 ha)[4]
Former names San Francisco State Normal School (1899-1921)
San Francisco State Teachers College (1921-35)
San Francisco State College (1935-74)
Colors Purple and Gold          
Mascot Gators
Affiliations California State University
SFState Logo.png

San Francisco State University (informally referred to as San Francisco State, SF State, State and SFSU) is a public university located in San Francisco, California, United States. As part of the 23-campus California State University system, the university offers 117 areas of study for bachelor's degrees, 96 for master's, 27 credential programs and 34 certificate programs, from nine academic colleges.[4] San Francisco State University consistently ranks among the top 50 master's-granting universities in the west by U.S. News & World Report.[5]

In the year of 2006–2007, approximately 29,628 students were enrolled at San Francisco State University, of which 80.47% were undergraduate students and 19.53% were graduate students.[3] The university was founded in 1899, making it one of California's oldest public universities.



  • 1899 - Founded as San Francisco State Normal School.
  • 1901 - First graduating class
  • 1906 - The 1906 earthquake and fire forces the school to relocate from Nob Hill to a new campus at Buchanan and Haight Streets.
  • 1921 - Renamed San Francisco State Teachers College
  • 1923 - First bachelor of arts degree awarded
  • 1935 - Renamed San Francisco State College
  • 1953 - Present campus near Lake Merced opens; it is formally dedicated in October, 1954.
  • 1966 - Beginning of the era of campus protests led by student organizations including the Black Students Union, Third World Liberation Front, and Students for a Democratic Society. The protests against college policies and off-campus issues such as the Vietnam War included sit-ins, rallies, marches, teach-ins, and on several occasions violent conflicts with police. The protests were marked by counter-protests and widespread charges of corruption and election fraud in the student newspaper.
  • 1968 - A lengthy student strike erupted that developed into an important event in the history of the U.S. in the late 1960s. The strike was led by the Third World Liberation Front, and it demanded an Ethnic Studies program as well as an end to the Vietnam War. This became a major news event for weeks in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. At one point, University president S.I. Hayakawa famously pulled the wires out of the speakers on top of a van at a student rally. During the course of the strike large numbers of police drawn from many jurisdictions occupied the campus and over 700 people were arrested on various protest-related charges.
  • 1969 - In March, the strike officially comes to an end, with the administration retaining control of hiring and admissions, and the creation of the School (now College) of Ethnic Studies.
  • 1972 - Received University status as California State University, San Francisco
  • 1974 - Renamed San Francisco State University
  • 1993 - Downtown campus opened
  • 1999 - Celebrated 100th birthday[6]
  • 2007 - New Downtown Campus opened at 835 Market Street


The university's colleges are:

  • Behavioral and Social Sciences
  • Business
  • Creative Arts
  • Education
  • Ethnic Studies
  • Extended Learning
  • Health and Human Services
  • Humanities
  • Science and Engineering

The university awards bachelor's degrees in 112 areas of specialization and master's degrees in 96. It jointly offers three doctoral programs; a doctorate in education in partnership with University of California, Berkeley for aspiring principals and school administrators, and two doctorates in physical therapy with University of California, San Francisco.

The Cinema department, in the College of Creative Arts, was named one of the nation's "top film schools" by Entertainment Weekly in 2000 [2]. Alumni of the program have worked on such films as Titanic, Schindler's List, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.


The university is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, a subgroup of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The College of Business is accredited by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International).


Quad and the old J. Paul Leonard Library
  • The university is currently ranked as the 45th best master's-granting university in the Western United States by U.S. News & World Report.[5]
  • U.S. News & World Report ranks San Francisco State University 1st in reputation among its "Western University peers" in 2000. [3][4].
  • Among Western Universities, of which there are 112, San Francisco State was ranked 10th in terms of campus diversity by U.S. News and World Report [5].
  • U.S. News & World Report ranks San Francisco State as 8th nationally in the number of transfer students [6].
  • San Francisco State University's physical therapy master's program is consistently ranked among the top 20 in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
  • San Francisco State University ranks 1st nationwide in the number of biological sciences undergrads who go on to earn biology Ph.D.s according to the most recent National Science Foundation report.
  • San Francisco State University is among the top 201 colleges and universities that offer "real world," job-focused services and skill development, according to Great Colleges for the Real World by (Michael P. Viollt, Octameron Associates, 2002).
  • San Francisco State University is listed as having "one of the nation's top film schools" by Entertainment Weekly.
  • Each year San Francisco State University's College of Business awards more business degrees than Stanford, UC Berkeley and the University of San Francisco—combined.
  • San Francisco State University sends more master's graduates into Ph.D. programs than any other masters'-granting university in the country.
  • San Francisco State University is the only university in California to offer a bachelor's degree in technical and professional writing.
  • The Academy of Management, the leading professional association for management scholars in the world, honored San Francisco State University's College of Business' Ohrenschall Center for Entrepreneurship with the McGraw-Hill/Irwin Innovation in Entrepreneurship Pedagogy Award (2002).
  • San Francisco State University's College of Extended Learning offers the only American Bar Association-approved paralegal studies program in San Francisco.
  • San Francisco State University was one of the first California State University campuses to offer a doctorate of education.
  • San Francisco State University is the first and only university in the United States to house a College of Ethnic Studies.


Demographics of student body
African American 6.0%
Asian American 30.6%
White American 29.5%
Hispanic American 15.6%
Native American 0.6%
International 5.6%
Ethnicity unreported/unknown 12.1%

In 1968, what was then the longest student strike in the nation's history[7], resulted in establishment of a College of Ethnic Studies, and increased recruiting and admissions of students of color. The University's extensive and sustained efforts at addressing tensions between Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestinian students[8] in 2002 have become a national model for addressing civil discussion and disagreement on college campuses.

The university's public enrollment data for Fall 2006 shows a slight under-representation of two minority groups when compared with the U.S. population.[7] It reports a Native American enrollment of 0.8% (compared to 1.0% for the national population), and an African-American enrollment of 6.8% (compared to 12.8%). However there is a combined Chicano and other Latino enrollment of 16.9% (compared to 14.4% persons of Hispanic or Latino origin in the national population), and a total Asian or Pacific Islander enrollment of 24.5% (versus 4.5% of the national population), which shows that the enrollment may be more in line with citywide and statewide demographics[9]. It is notable that the report's demographic categories and U.S. census categories use different language, and are therefore only broadly comparable.


The school first adopted their mascot, the Gator, in 1931. After a call for a mascot by the student newspaper the Bay Leaf, students suggested the "alligator" for its strength and steadfastness. The student also suggested the spelling "Golden Gaters," with an "e," in reference to the Golden Gate. Students voted in favor of the name, but after numerous "misspellings" by the newspaper, the use of Gator, with an "o," stuck. [8]

The team was called the Golden Gaters until the late 1940s. At that time, they began having two live alligators at football games, Oogee (oo-gee) and Ougee (aug-gee). The name was changed to the Golden Gators. The alligator mascots were dropped shortly and Golden was dropped from the name in the early 1970s.

Campus buildings


Classes and services

Burk Hall
  • Administration (ADM)
  • Burk Hall (BH)
  • Business Building (BUS)
  • Cesar Chavez Student Center - a unique building with an unusual floor plan. The ground floors are shaped like hexagons, containing open areas, concessions, the book store and the cafeteria. Each hexagon is topped by a thin pyramid approximately five stories tall. Both pyramids lean at approximately 45 degrees towards each other. The inside of the pyramids contain a stacked set of ever-higher living-room-like areas with couches and tables.
  • Creative Arts Building (CA)
  • Ethnic Studies and Psychology (EP)
  • Fine Arts Building (FA)
  • Gymnasium (GYM)
  • Hensill Hall (HH)
  • Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) Building
  • Humanities Building (HUM)
  • J. Paul Leonard Library (currently under renovation expected completion date 2011)
  • Library Annex I and II (temporary facilities due to library renovation)
  • Science Building (SCI)
  • Student Health Center - An underground building with a center open-air court area.
  • Student Services Building (SSB)
  • Thornton Hall (TH)

Residence buildings, communities, and services

  • Café in the Park [10] [11]
  • City Eats Dining Center (DC) [12] [13]
  • Mary Park Hall (MPH) [14]
  • Mary Ward Hall (MWH) [15]
  • Science and Technology Theme Community (STTC) [16]
  • The Towers at Centennial Square (TCS) [17]
  • The Village at Centennial Square (VCS) [18]
  • University Park North (UPN) [19]
  • University Park South (UPS) [20]

Conference facilities

  • Seven Hills Conference Center [21]
  • Towers Conference Center [22]
  • Downtown Campus [23]


The school's athletic teams, called the Gators, compete in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (except in wrestling, that is in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference), in the Division II of the NCAA. SFSU fields eleven sports for men and women for the fall, winter, and spring seasons. Fall sports for men include cross country and soccer. Fall sports for women include cross country and soccer. Winter sports for men include basketball and wrestling. Winter sports for women include basketball and indoor track and field. The spring sport for men is baseball. Spring sports for women include outdoor track and field and softball.

SFSU has produced three major league baseball players, of which two later became All-Stars (former Mets shortstop Bud Harrelson, and former Brewers and Red Sox outfielder Tommy Harper). The soccer program has had one player enter the professional leagues. Jared MacLane played in the Professional First Division in Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

The Gators have also produced thirteen National Football League players, including Billy Baird, Elmer Collett, Maury Duncan, Carl Kammerer, and Floyd Peters.

Wrestling has been the most successful sports team in SFSU history. The Gators have scored at a National Championship meet every year since 1963-64. They currently have the sixth longest scoring streak of any collegiate squad. Lars Jensen has been the head coach since 1983-84 and has had an All-American in 22 of his 24 seasons. He has coached nine individual NCAA Champions, 50 All-Americans and in 1996-97, he led SFSU to the NCAA Division II National Championship.


Controversies include:

  • Student protests of military recruiters on campus (in which the administration defended its actions [24]), and confrontations between students with differing views on the Iraq War (in which the administration defended its actions again [25]).
  • The National Lawyers Guild charged that the university violated due process rights of campus anti-war activists. [26]
  • The Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) has charged that the university violated due process rights of campus anti-war activists [27]
  • A near-riot occurred on May 7, 2002, when a pro-Palestinian group attended a pro-Israel demonstration on campus. The pro-Israel students say that the Palestinian supporters chanted anti-semitic epithets at them, such as "Hitler should have finished the job." The pro-Palestinian group say the pro-Israelis started the conflict by calling them terrorists and using epithets such as "camel jockey." No violence occurred, but campus and city police were called in to defuse the situation. [28]
  • In 1994 a mural depicting Malcolm X was painted on the student union building, commissioned by the Pan-African Student Union and African Student Alliance. The mural's border contained yellow Stars of David and dollar signs mingled with skulls and crossbones and near the words "African Blood." The next week, after demonstrations on both sides, the school administration had the mural painted over, and subsequently sand blasted.[29] Two years later a new Malcolm X mural was painted, without the controversial symbols.[30]
  • On December 9, 2009 several students broke into the business building located at the center of campus and barricaded themselves inside, chaining the doors and stacking up chairs to block the entrances in protest to the budget cuts and increases in student tuition fees. At approximately 3:00 a.m. the following morning, campus police in conjunction with SFPD entered and reclaimed the building, ending the protest.

Notable alumni


External links

Coordinates: 37°43′24″N 122°28′47″W / 37.72333°N 122.47972°W / 37.72333; -122.47972


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