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.

#047--March 4, 1999; For Immediate Release
Contact: Ligeia Polidora/Rol Risska/Ted DeAdwyler 415/338-1665

San Francisco State University Celebrates 100 Years of Opportunity and Academic Innovation in the Bay Area

Founders’ Week events commemorate San Francisco State University’s first century and set the stage for the next millennium.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA-- March 4, 1999 -- San Francisco State University will celebrate 100 years of providing opportunity and academic innovation during Founders’ Week starting March 22. The celebrations begin with a party featuring a 100-foot cake, and the week will be filled with numerous activities, including lectures, symposia, cultural exhibits, a staff picnic and alumni open houses.

The week will culminate on Saturday, March 27 with a groundbreaking for a new 760-bed student residential and services complex, named the Village at Centennial Square. The demolition of Verducci Hall, a student dorm that was damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake and has been vacant ever since, will end the week’s festivities and kick off the University’s second century with a bang. The groundbreaking is set for 2 p.m., with the demolition to follow at 3 p.m. Both activities are tentatively scheduled, pendi ng final CSU Trustee approval at the Board’s March 16 – 17 meeting.

San Francisco State University (SFSU) has grown into a major cosmopolitan university known for the quality of its academic programs, its diverse student body, excellent faculty, and strong community partnerships. As the University commemorates the past, it reaffirms its commitment to the next 100 years of education to meet the needs of an increasingly complex and global economy.

SFSU has surpassed anything the founders could have predicted in 1899. From nationally recognized biology, creative writing and journalism programs to the nation’s largest multimedia studies program, the University is a vibrant force for its students and the entire Bay Area. Today, SFSU has approximately 27,000 students and 3,000 faculty and staff. More than 70 percent of undergraduates are ethnic minorities and almost 60 percent are women. Over 190,000 alumni worldwide have earned degrees from the University.

"Over the decades, San Francisco State University has distinguished itself as an inventive, and constantly evolving academic institution," says Robert A. Corrigan, SFSU’s 12th president. "While we celebrate our history, we look to the future for additional ways to create new opportunities to best meet the needs of our students and community."

The University’s highly regarded faculty have received numerous honors and awards. Among the renowned faculty at SFSU are Geoff Marcy, whose team has discovered a total of 11 planets beyond the solar system; Frances Mayes, best-selling author of Under the Tuscan Sun, and MacArthur-"Genius-Award"-winner, wheelchair designer and builder Ralf Hotchkiss.

SFSU’s alumni are leaders in every facet of the Bay Area’s economic, business, cultural, entertainment, social, and political life. Notable alumni include: President Pro Tem of the California State Senate John Burton, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Tom Ammiano, Gilman Louie, chief creative officer of Hasbro Interactive, Ken Fong, CEO of Clontech, Laboratories, Inc., Caitlin Curtin, president and CEO of Luminare, singer Johnny Mathis, and internati onally known actors Danny Glover, Dana Carvey, and Annette Bening.

A Brief Look Back

In 1899, SFSU was founded to meet the growing need for well-trained, professional teachers for the children of San Francisco. March 22 marks the date in 1899 when the California Legislature approved the creation of what was to become SFSU. The teacher-training curriculum developed by founding President Frederic Burk set the standard for its day. San Francisco State Normal School began as a two-story building on Powell Street on San Francisco’s historic Nob Hill. The first location was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and the school reopened on a site at Hermann and Buchanan Streets. The school was California’s first, and one of the first in the country, to require a high school diploma for admission. In 1939, ground was broken for its current Lake Merced area campus, but construction was delayed first by war and then by bureaucracy. The present campus was formally dedicated in October 1954. In 1974, after four name changes that reflected its expanding scope, the school became known by its present na me, San Francisco State University.

The University is known historically for the way it became a lightning rod for the cultural strife in America in the 1960’s. In November 1968, the Vietnam War and an increased awareness of racism in America created a backdrop for what has been called "the longest student strike in U.S. history." After four months of disruption, the strike ended with the establishment of the only school of ethnic studies in the United States.

Notable recent academic research and community programs include:

1991 - The Roving Resume Writers of the Bay Area Homelessness Project -- created by SFSU students -- was profiled on ABC-TV's "World News Tonight" and received $250,000 from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to expand its work.

1995 – SFSU astronomers Geoff Marcy and Paul Butler made an historic discovery of two new Jupiter-sized planets within 35 light-years of Earth. Their work received immediate, international recognition, including a February ’96 cover story in TIME magazine.

1997- Based on studies of West African birds, SFSU biologist Tom Smith proposed in the journal Science that new rain forest species may in fact evolve in the adjacent areas between forests and grasslands. Smith has expanded his research to rain forests in Australia and South America, and his ideas could alter current approaches to conservation in the tropics. His research was covered in many metropolitan U.S. daily newspapers, including The New York Times.

SFSU is one of the largest campuses of the nationally recognized 23-campus California State University system. Founded in 1899, the University celebrates its centennial throughout 1999 with a series of on-and-off-campus events, most of which are free, educational, fun and open to the public.


Editors please note: For assistance in contacting notable SFSU alumni for interviews, please contact Ted DeAdwyler in the SFSU Office of Public Affairs at 415/338-7110. For more information about SFSU’s history, Centennial and the events surrounding its celebration, review the SFSU Website at

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