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SFSU turns 104: A look back at 1980-2003

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May 1, 2003

Timeline: 1899-1920 | 1920-1940 | 1940-1960 | 1960-1980 | 1980-2003

SFSU will celebrate its 104th birthday with a Founders Day party from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 1, on the Main Lawn. Students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends are invited to enjoy cake, music and more.

The University's long, illustrious history dates back to the turn of the century. Founded in 1899 with a class of 31 young women at a campus on Powell Street, the University last year awarded diplomas to 7,183 students, the largest graduating class yet. As we approach the Thursday celebration, the University looks back at the events that shaped what it is today. The timeline of important SFSU events which began Friday, April 25, continues.

Today -- President Corrigan is appointed and SFSU celebrates its centennial, 1980-2003:


1982 -- The California legislature approves the transfer of the Sutro Library -- one of the state's largest collections of materials for California history and genealogy -- to San Francisco State University.

1983 -- Romberg retires and Chia-Wei Woo is named the 11th president of San Francisco State and becomes the first Chinese American to lead a major university in the United States.

1988 -- President Woo resigns to become the founding president of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Robert A. Corrigan is appointed the 12th president of San Francisco State. The University and UC Davis establish a joint program -- which becomes a national model -- to assist underrepresented minority students earn doctorates in biology or chemistry.

1989 -- In the middle of SFSU's 90th anniversary celebration, the Loma Prieta earthquake strikes and leads to the closure of the students residence building Verducci Hall. SFSU dedicates its Memorial Grove on World AIDS Day.

1995 -- Astronomy professors Geoffrey Marcy and Paul Butler discover planets beyond our solar system and make news worldwide. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at commencement.

1999 -- San Francisco State celebrates its centennial with a series of events throughout the year and breaks ground on the Village at Centennial Square.

2000 -- SFSU receives its largest private individual gift to date: a $2.4 million donation from alumnus Robert B. Pasker and his wife, Laurie Pitman, founders of the high technology firm WebLogic, Inc. The gift establishes the Jamie and Phyllis Pasker Endowed Chair in History in honor of Pasker's parents.

2003 -- The University marks its 104th anniversary.


1962-66 -- President Dumke is appointed chancellor of the California State College system (now the CSU). Paul Dodd becomes the school's sixth president after Frank L. Fenton serves briefly as acting president. In 1966, John Summerskill becomes the seventh president following Stanley Paulson's time as acting president.

1968 -- President Summerskill resigns; Robert Smith becomes president in spring and resigns in November. S.I. Hayakawa is appointed acting president. The San Francisco State College student/faculty strike begins.

1969 -- The student/faculty strike ends after the SF State administration agrees to expand the Black Studies Department and establish the School of Ethnic Studies.

1970 -- Hayakawa becomes the ninth president of San Francisco State.

1971 -- San Francisco State College begins a joint doctoral program in special education with the University of California, Berkeley.

1972 -- San Francisco State College earns university status and is given the name California State University, San Francisco. President Hayakawa retires as president to run for the U.S. Senate.

1973 -- Paul Romberg is appointed the 10th president of the University.

1974 -- By popular demand, the University's name becomes San Francisco State University.

1975 -- The Student Center building, now the Cesar Chavez Student Center, designed by Paffard Keatinge Clay, opens.


1945 -- President Roberts retires and J. Paul Leonard is appointed the college's fourth president; he works to purchase additional land at the Lake Merced site, bringing the total acreage to 94.

1946 -- President Leonard and faculty establish the college's general education program, which later attracts national attention.

1949 -- San Francisco State has enough advanced college level courses to begin offering master's degrees.

1953 -- After years of delay, the University moves to the 19th and Holloway campus.

1954 -- San Francisco State holds Dedication Week to celebrate the opening of its new campus. The Poetry Center also opens.

1957 -- President Leonard retires and becomes president of American University in Beirut and Glenn Dumke becomes the school's fifth president.


1921 -- San Francisco State Normal School becomes San Francisco State Teachers College. The school begins offering bachelor's degrees.

1924 -- Archibald Anderson is appointed president following the death of President Burk.

1927 -- Dean of Women Mary A. Ward serves as acting president following the death of President Anderson. Alexander C. Roberts is appointed president later in the year.

1931 - Students choose the alligator as San Francisco State's mascot. Contenders included the "Purple Puma," "Golden Seal," "Golden Lion" and "Golden Panthers."

1935 -- San Francisco State Teachers College changes its name to San Francisco State College as an indication of its development into a liberal arts institution.

1938 -- San Francisco State students hold one of the school's first protests to bring attention to the crowded conditions at the Waller and Buchanan streets campus. Students demonstrate against what they call "the dangerous, firetrap conditions" in the buildings.

1939 -- Ground is broken for the Lake Merced campus after President Roberts persuades the state to purchase the land, however, construction is delayed by World War II. At the time the site is largely rural.


1899 -- On March 22 (the date recognized as Founders Day) the California State Legislature passes legislation creating San Francisco State Normal School providing training for teachers. The new College opens its doors to 31 young women on Aug. 14 at a site on Powell Street between Sacramento and Clay. Frederic Lister Burk becomes the College's first president.

1901 -- Burk chooses the motto Experientia docet -- "Experience teaches" -- based on his belief that practical experience is the best teacher; the first class of 36 young women graduates.

1906 -- The San Francisco earthquake and fire destroys the Powell Street campus. After 11 weeks in Oakland at a temporary location, the College reopens at Buchanan and Waller streets where the campus remains for the next 48 years.

1910 -- President Burk is recognized as an educational innovator for his philosophy of individual instructional education program for all grades.

1915 -- San Francisco State Normal School offers its first summer session.

Check back on Tuesday, April 29, for events from 1940-1960.

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Last modified May 1, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs