San Francisco State University - A Brief History

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San Francisco State University was founded on Nob Hill in 1899 as San Francisco State Normal School, a teacher-training institution. In 1921, the name was changed to San Francisco State Teachers College. In 1923, the University was authorized to grant the Bachelor of Arts degree, and by 1930, all teacher-training curricula were extended to four years. In 1935, the University received legislative authorization to offer a full liberal arts degree program, and it became San Francisco State College. Its first master’s degree, in education, was offered in 1949, and full university status was reached in 1972. The name was changed to San Francisco State University in 1974. The University now offers 144 degree programs: 78 baccalaureate degrees, with an additional 44 areas of concentration; 62 master’s degrees, with an additional 41 areas of concentration; and one independent and three joint doctoral degrees. In addition, the University offers 17 credential and 38 certificate programs.

In the late 1930s, the University acquired part of its present site near Lake Merced in the southwest area of the City and County of San Francisco to build a new campus. As a result of World War II, construction was delayed. The campus opened in fall 1954 with 4,500 students and a complement of nine buildings organized around the Quad, which remains the symbolic center of the campus. By 1965, campus facilities had more than doubled through additions to original buildings and new construction. In 1974, the number of enrolled students had increased to 20,855.

This rapid growth continued throughout the 1970s with six new buildings, two more additions, and the acquisition of a historic naval site on the Tiburon Peninsula to establish the Paul F. Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies. With enrollment reaching 28,950 head count in fall 2005, the University undertook a comprehensive physical master planning study of the campus. In November 2007, the Board of Trustees approved the master plan and an enrollment increase from 20,000 to 25,000 Full Time Enrollment (FTE). In 2007, the University opened the Downtown Campus to house the College of Business MBA and Executive MBA programs, the College of Extended Learning, and the Master’s of Public Administration program. Located in downtown San Francisco, the Downtown Campus gives the University a presence in the heart of the city. Both the main campus and Downtown Campus are well served by public transportation. As of fall 2014, enrollment on the main campus was 29,465 head count.>/p>

During the last decade, the University has focused on the development of new facilities, along with seismic safety and renovation projects, to accommodate enrollment increases and to support new trends in the University experience. Projects completed include the seismic upgrade and renovation of Hensill Hall (2005); the Phase II renovation of Building 36 main laboratory at the Romberg Tiburon Center research field station (2007); the Downtown Campus (2007); Greenhouse No. 2 (2008); Children’s Campus (2009); the Telecommunications Infrastructure Initiative (2010); seismic improvements to the main parking garage (Lot 20) (2011); the expansion, renovation, and seismic upgrade of the J. Paul Leonard Library (2012); and the acquisition of the San Francisco Unified School District’s School of the Arts (SOTA) property and construction of a multi-purpose recreation field and student gathering area on the former SOTA site (2012). Construction of the new Mashouf Wellness Center began in June 2015, and planning for the Holloway Avenue Mixed-Use Development, with student housing over ground-floor retail, and planning for a new science replacement building are currently underway. The campus is currently upgrading elements of the campus infrastructure to reduce the chance of system failure, and will continue to do so in future years.

Between 2000 and 2005, the University acquired 46 acres of developed land north and south of the campus, mostly residential property. Renamed University Park North and University Park South, the new housing provides a total of 959 apartment units for students, faculty, and staff. With the acquisition of the 2.5-acre SOTA site, San Francisco State University’s acreage at the main campus is 144.1 acres.