San Francisco
State University





Living Memories



Frederic Lister Burk worked six years as a journalist for Bay Area newspapers before beginning his teaching career, and then supported himself through graduate school at Stanford by teaching in public and private schools in the Bay Area.

Burk made SF State's entrance requirements the most rigorous in the state, with a program that stressed the importance of the "teaching personality" and practical experience. He believed so strongly in the quality of SF State's student-taught training school that he placed his own children in it.

Under Burk's leadership, SF State gained an international reputation for its "Individual Instruction" methods, which included self-paced work to meet the needs of students with differing abilities. He chose Experientia Docet -- "Experience Teaches" (Seneca) -- as the school's motto.

Archibald B. Anderson became acting president upon the death of Frederic Burk in 1924.

Anderson's interest in teaching began when he himself was a student at Santa Rosa High School, where Frederic Burk was principal. After graduating from the University of California in 1889, Anderson became a rural school principal, spent two years in the Philippines, and returned to become Superintendent of Schools in San Rafael -- the position he held when Burk invited him to join the San Francisco State faculty.

Anderson served as dean at SF State for twenty years, and as the school's second president until his death in 1927.

(acting) 1927
Following the death of SFSU's President Anderson in the summer of 1927, Dean of Women Mary A. Ward served as acting president until a new candidate was appointed that fall.

Ward, "the first lady of San Francisco State," was one of Frederic Burk's early students at SF State. She first served as a teacher at the normal school, and later became Supervisor of Practice Teaching one year after the institution was established at Upper Market Street, following the fire and earthquake of1906, until she was eventually appointed Dean of Women by President Burk.

Ward was an expert in the training of mathematics teachers, and her Stanford master's thesis is still the best assessment of SF State's "Individual Instruction" method. She served SF State a total of 44 years.

Alexander C. Roberts had a distinguished career as an administrator, teacher-training supervisor, and professor of education in Iowa and Washington schools before beginning his 18-year presidency at SF State.

It was during Roberts' leadership that SF State College purchased the 56 acres of land near Lake Merced, replacing the cramped, aging building of the old campus just off upper Market Street (now site of the Federal Mint): "We all dream of buildings that are adequate and efficient so that scholarship might grow apace."

Although some ground was broken in November 1939, World War II restrictions delayed actual construction of buildings until June 1949, four years after Roberts' retirement in 1945.

J. Paul Leonard taught in the public schools of Springfield, Missouri, and at William and Mary College before coming to California.

When Leonard left his professorship in Stanford's Educational Administration program in 1945 to become president of San Francisco State College, the school was in a period of transition. Leonard saw this as a challenge to put into practice the theories he had been teaching, to take "a college with a creditable history -- remake its instructional program to serve an ever-widening group of Bay Area young people, tie it closely to the life and interests of the Bay Area, build an entirely new campus."

He accomplished just that, restructuring the organization of the college and, with post-war enrollments projected to more than double, successfully fighting to acquire 60 additional acres of land.

SFSU's library is named in his honor.

In 1957, when Glenn Dumke became SF State's fifth president at the age of 41, he was one of the youngest college presidents in the country.

In the 1950s, with California's population increasing by some 1,500 people per day, there was need for a master plan to coordinate higher learning in the state. Dumke, while still president at SF State, was appointed as a member of the Survey Team that was established to prepare a Master Plan for Higher Education in California, and was instrumental in formulating the Donahoe Higher Education Act of 1960. The Act grouped SF State with other California colleges into a single system with its own Board of Trustees centered in Long Beach -- the beginning of the California State University.

Dumke went on to become the new system's first Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, serving for 20 years.

(acting) 1961-1962
Frank L. Fenton, Dean of Instruction and Professor of English, first came to San Francisco State in 1930.

After Glenn S. Dumke resigned from his presidency to become Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of what was to become the CSU, Fenton stepped in to serve as acting president of San Francisco State College. He served until the appointment of Paul A. Dodd in Spring 1962, retiring later that year.

Paul A. Dodd was a specialist in economics, industrial relations, and educational administration.

Prior to coming to SF State, Dodd served as a faculty member, Dean of the College of Letters and Science, and as Acting Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at UCLA until he retired in 1961.

Dodd was on special assignment as a consultant for the Middle-East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, when he was invited to become president of San Francisco State College in 1962.

Dodd retired from SF State in 1966.

Stanley F. Paulson first came to SFSU in 1956 as an Associate Professor of Speech. Prior to this, he had been on the faculty of the University of Minnesota, in the Overseas Program of the University of Maryland (teaching in both Germany and England), and, under a Fulbright Educational Exchange Grant, had lectured on American language and literature at the University of Kanazawa in Japan.

Paulson served as acting president from fall 1965 to spring 1966, when he left San Francisco State to become Chair of the Speech Department at Pennsylvania State University.

John Summerskill left his position as VicePresident for Student Affairs at Cornell University to become SF State's seventh president.

Summerskill's presidency was marked by the tumultuous changes of the sixties, beginning with student protests at his inauguration ceremony in September 1966. Pressed by conflicting demands from conservatives and radicals, Summerskill announced in February 1968 that he would be leaving the college. In May 1968, during a series of campus disruptions, his earlier resignation was accepted, and he left for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as a member of a Ford Foundation project.

"President Seven," Summerskill's book about his brief tenure during the campus unrest at San Francisco State College during the sixties, was published in 1971.

The Board of Trustees appointed Robert R. Smith as president in May 1968 after John Summerskill's sudden departure.

Smith, a Professor of Education, had been Dean at the college since 1940. At one time, he had also served as the Dean of Instruction, as well as Chairman of the Division of Education.

Smith took office as chief executive during a highly volatile time of student and faculty protest, when the longest campus strike in the nation's history was beginning. He resigned in November of 1968 and returned to his teaching duties.

Smith retired in 1980.

English Professor Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa was appointed as acting president of the strife-torn SF State campus in 1968.

By his strong opposition to the strike, Hayakawa made himself one of the most visible and controversial university presidents of the century. He made history by climbing atop a striker's truck, ripping out the wires to the public address system, and then delivering his own speech to the astonished onlookers. The incident, captured by press photographers, became a symbol of Hayakawa's willingness to take a stand, and played a part in his subsequent election to the United States Senate in 1976.

Hayakawa was a renowned semanticist; his first book on the subject, "Language in Thought and Action," was a Book of the Month Club selection in 1941.

Paul F. Romberg, SF State's tenth president, was the only president in the CSU system to have served as president of two CSU institutions: in 1967, he was founding president of California State College, Bakersfield, which opened for instruction in fall 1970.

Romberg established a long-range planning commission which produced a 10-year plan for the University. He also expanded SFSU's Pacific Basin program, and helped increase recognition, both on and off-campus, of SF State as an urban university.

In 1978, Romberg, a biologist and botanist, obtained a federal lease on 35 acres of San Francisco Bay shoreline in Tiburon for $1 and established SFSU's estuarine and marine reseach and education facility -- the Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, renamed in his honor after his death in 1985.

Chia-Wei Woo was born in Shanghai and first came to the U.S. at the age of 17 to attend Georgetown College in Kentucky. When he became SF State's eleventh president in 1983, he was the first Chinese-American president of a large U.S. university.

Woo placed great importance on making San Francisco State "The City's University," and worked with local civic and business leaders to show them the variety of programs and activities at SFSU. He also strengthened SFSU's international curriculum and Pacific Rim ties, starting a business school program in London, and other programs in Shanghai and Paris.

Woo resigned in 1988 to become founding president of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

Robert A. Corrigan became SF State's twelfth president in 1988.

Corrigan, a former Fulbright Fellow and recognized authority on the American poet Ezra Pound, established the Afro-American Studies and Women Studies programs at the University of Iowa, where he taught English and American civilization from 1964-1973.

While he served as Chancellor and Professor of English at UMass Boston, from 1979 to 1988, the campus was named by TIME magazine as one of nine "Hot Colleges on the Climb."

In 1996, Corrigan was tapped by President Clinton to head the national steering committee of college and university presidents participating in the America Reads literacy program.

As he leads the University into its second century, Corrigan reconfirms his belief that "San Francisco State is a university that is alive and engaged, one that is making a difference far beyond its campus boundaries . . . touching and being touched by the people and issues of the society in which it is immersed."


Centennial home | History | Celebration | Vision | Site map

SFSU Home    Search    Comments and Questions

SFSU, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132
Archived Information. Last modified March 20, 2009, by University Communications