San Francisco State University, Established 1899, 1600 Holloway Ave. SF, CA 94132

SFSU Public Affairs Press Release

Published by the Public Affairs Office at San Francisco State University, Diag Center.

#044; For Immediate Release
Contact: Office of Public Affairs 415/338-1665

San Francisco State University Highlights

SAN FRANCISCO, CA—Founded in 1899, San Francisco State University has grown into a major cosmopolitan university which offers its more than 27,500 students 115 undergraduate degrees, 93 master’s degrees, and two joint doctorates. Known for the quality of its academic programs, its diverse and vibrant student body and excellent faculty, and its strong community partnerships, San Francisco State is successfully educating its graduates to compete in the complex and global economy of the 21st century. As the University celebrates 100 years of opportunity and looks forward to its future, here are some select additional facts about San Francisco State:

Creative and Scholarly Excellence

  • World-renowned astronomer and San Francisco State University Professor Dr. Geoff Marcy, and three-time San Francisco State alumnus postdoctoral researcher Paul Butler made international news in 1996 with their discovery of two planets beyond our solar system. Since then, they and their team have discovered 9 more extra-solar planets.

  • A 1995 National Science Foundation report ranks San Francisco State University first in the nation among master’s institutions whose graduates go on to earn doctorates in biology; second nationally in the number of graduates who earn doctorates in all sciences.

  • San Francisco State’s Creative Writing Program is one of the oldest, and most respected in the country, boasting such professors over the years as Wright Morris, Kay Boyle, Gina Berriault, Frances Mayes and Molly Giles. Each year the department receives 500 student applications for just 50 openings.

  • The University’s Cinema Department in the College of Creative Arts has produced many Academy Award winners and nominees. Cinema offers the only MFA in film making in Northern California, and its animation program is the most comprehensive in Northern California.

  • The highly regarded faculty at San Francisco State has received numerous honors and awards, including: MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, Presidential "Young Investor" Award, Guggenheim Award, Fulbright Scholar Award, and the Pulitzer Prize for music.

  • The Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies is the only academic research facility on San Francisco Bay. Resident scientists, in collaboration with students and researchers from local institutions, engage in a variety of research projects on the Bay and surrounding environments. Current work includes studying the effects of invasive species on native Bay plants and animals.

  • Tom Smith, professor of biology and director of the Center for Tropical Research at SFSU, has done research which has challenged conventional evolutionary theory. His discovery that new tropical species form most rapidly in the transition areas between forest and grassland, rather than in isolation as had been thought, has pointed to the need for international changes in tropical conservation practices.

  • The Art Department Gallery at San Francisco State presents four exhibitions annually of both student and professional work. The past gallery exhibition "With New Eyes: Toward an Asian American Art History in the West" has led to an NEH funded creation of an Asian American Artist Biographical Directory. Professional and student shows are well-supported and have received important critical press both locally and internationally.

    Community Partnerships

  • The San Francisco Urban Institute at San Francisco State is dedicated to evaluating and addressing issues critical to the city of San Francisco including housing, inner-city education and health, and economic development. The Institute seeks to use the research and analytic resources of the University in building collaborative projects with businesses, labor, city agencies and community organizations.

  • San Francisco State ranks 17th in the nation among all U.S. colleges and universities producing Peace Corps volunteers and is first among non-Ph.D. granting universities. According to the 1997 letter from Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan, in the Peace Corps’ 36-year history, 1,044 SF State alumni have served in the Peace Corps.

  • Several highly acclaimed teacher preparation programs at San Francisco State are particularly successful in preparing teachers to meet the special needs of today’s urban, multicultural and multilingual populations.

    Ethnic Diversity

  • The College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State is the first and only such academic program in the nation offering undergraduate degrees in Black Studies, Asian American Studies and La Raza Studies. The College’s graduates go on to top doctoral programs including those at Yale, Stanford and the UC.

  • Associate biology Professor Leticia Marquez-Magaña of San Francisco State was named one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the country in the October 1997 issue of Hispanic Business magazine.

  • According to a 1998 ranking by Black Issues in Higher Education, San Francisco State places eighth in the nation in the number of ethnic minority university graduates.

    Noteworthy Programs

  • San Francisco State University is the 45th largest institution of higher learning in the United States and the 4th largest graduate school in California.

  • The highly regarded Columbia Journalism Review has ranked San Francisco State’s Journalism Program as one of the best in the country—along with Northwestern University and Columbia University—in graduating journalists who editors say can "hit the ground running."

  • The only facility in the United States that matches the breadth of San Francisco State’s Genetic Conservation Lab is at the Smithsonian. San Francisco State’s lab studies the genetic identity of plant and animal species by examining their DNA.

  • San Francisco State has received $10 million in awards from the National Institute of Health to support faculty and student biomedical research and encourage students to pursue biomedical careers.

  • Professor Ruth Witt Diamont established the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State in 1954 with encouragement from her friend poet Dylan Thomas. The Center houses more than 4,000 audiotapes of writers performing their own works and an additional 900 videotapes.

  • The University’s Department of Health Education, in concert with the San Francisco Department of Health, offers a Master’s of Public Health focusing on urban health and social justice. This program is one of only two in the country.

  • The Marian Wright Edelman Institute for the Study of Children, Youth, and Families, named in honor of the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, provides resources and structure to respond to the call for more research and trained professionals focusing on the needs of children and adolescents.

  • The University has more than 100 centers, institutes and other special programs and projects addressing such varied issues as the health of the San Francisco, K-12 student math skills, small business success and science skills for inner city youth throughout the state.

  • San Francisco State’s NEXA program, founded in 1975 though an NEH grant and now supported by the University explores the historical, philosophical and ethical interactions among the humanities, arts, business and the physical and social sciences. Courses are created and taught as the convergence of the research and interests of two professors from different colleges.

  • San Francisco State University’s multimedia studies program is the largest in the nation and was named by Fortune Magazine as "a premiere training ground." Located in downtown San Francisco, the heart of the multimedia industry, the program has over 30 technology partners including Apple, Intel and Adobe.

  • San Francisco State’s College of Business has several Institutes dedicated to fostering ties to the Pacific Rim business community: The U.S.-China Business Institute, the U.S.-Korea Business Institute, and the U.S.-Japan Institute. The oldest of the three is the U.S.-Japan Institute which has its origins in a program started in 1972 by former President S.I. Hayakawa to study relationships between the U.S. and Japan.

  • The Center for the Study of Enterprise in the College of Business seeks to provide students with practical experience and contact with small business experts in order to foster and encourage entrepreneurship.

  • Following in San Francisco State’s tradition of excellence in teaching, the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching was started in 1993. The Center supports programs to enhance teaching quality in traditional areas as well as internet and video mediated learning.


    NOTE: For more information on SFSU’s centennial and events surrounding its celebration, please check our Website at and click on the SFSU 1899-1999 icon.

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