General Description. San Francisco State University has long been recognized for its role in providing high quality post-secondary education to the residents of California. Founded in 1899 as a teacher’s college, SF State has grown over the past four decades into a nationally and internationally renowned comprehensive public university with eight colleges (Behavioral and Social Sciences, Business, Creative Arts, Education, Ethnic Studies, Health and Human Services, Humanities, and Science and Engineering) offering more than 200 fields of study and awarding baccalaureate degrees in 115 disciplines and master’s degrees in 95. In 2007, SF State launched its only independent doctoral program, an Ed.D in educational leadership. In addition, joint Ph.D. programs are offered in conjunction with the University of California San Francisco (in physical therapy) and the University of California Berkeley (in special education).
With a total enrollment of 30,014 in Fall 2008, SF State is the fourth largest of the 23 campuses in the California State University (CSU) system and the 48th largest of all four-year colleges and universities in the United States (Chronicle of Higher Education, 2008). The university typically awards approximately 7,500 degrees each year, about 75% at the baccalaureate and 25% at the master’s levels. Approximately 75% of the students work part or full-time and 46% receive financial aid. SF State and the other CSU campuses provide the most affordable university education in California and frequently represent the only affordable option for economically disadvantaged students.
SF State serves a highly diverse student population. Reflecting the composition of the greater San Francisco Bay Area in which it is situated, SF State is widely recognized as one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse campuses in the United States. Of those who declared their ethnicity in Fall 2008, students of color comprised 60% of the undergraduate and 43% of the graduate students. The combined undergraduate and graduate student population is 6.5% African American; 0.6% Native American; 17.6% Hispanic; 1.1% Pacific Islander; 9.5% Filipino; 22.1% Asian; 37.0% White; and 5.6% Other (including those who identify as biracial). In total, 14,538 of the students are ethnic minorities, with 6,523 from the four ethnic groups federally-designated as underrepresented minorities (URM).
About 60% of the students are female and 40% are male. Many are re-entry students who are returning to college after an extended absence, either to complete their original degree programs or to obtain education and training in other fields. Twenty percent of the undergraduates enrolled in 2006-07 were first-generation college students, meaning that neither parent had ever attended college. A little more than 2% of the students have a communicative, learning, mobility, or visual disability, deafness, or other functional limitations verified by the Disability Programs and Resource Center. The average age is 25 years among undergraduates and 32 years among graduate students.
Large numbers of students from underrepresented groups earn their degrees at SF State. Over the four academic years up to and including 2007-08, a total of 4,048 baccalaureate and 832 master’s degrees were awarded to URM students. The campus was recently ranked 15th among more than 3600 institutions nationally in the number of baccalaureate degrees awarded to ethnic minority students and 39th nationally in the number of masters’ degrees awarded to ethnic minority students (Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 2008). Of the 5,138 students who received their baccalaureate degrees during 2006-07 academic year, 126 (2.45%) were individuals with communicative, learning, mobility, or visual disability, deafness, or other functional limitations verified by the Disability Programs and Resources Center, consistent with their representation in the general student population.
The diversity of the student body extends across disciplines. In 2008. SFSU was ranked nationally by Diverse Issues in Higher Education as a top producer of minority baccalaureates in Psychology (#9); Ethnic and Gender Studies (#9); English (#9); Business (#11); Education (#16); Social Sciences and History (#30); and Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences (#40). At the graduate level, SF State was ranked as one of the nations’ top institutions in the numbers of minority students who earn master’s degrees in English (#2); Ethnic and Gender Studies (#8); Mathematics (#25); Physical Sciences (#29); Education (#36); Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences (#37); Biological and Biomedical Sciences (#40); Psychology (#50); and Social Sciences and History (#50).
The faculty at SF State is increasingly diverse. Of the 866 tenured/tenure-track faculty in Fall 2007, 46% are women and 38% are ethnic minorities. More specifically, these faculty are: 62.4% White; 18.0% Asian; 6.7% Mexican American; 5.7% Other Non White; 4.9% African American; 1.0% Native American; and 1.4% Filipino.
The university remains engaged in a long-term, concerted process to diversity the composition of the faculty and has been highly successful at recruiting significant numbers of minority faculty into the ranks of the tenure-track professorate. Of the 833 tenure-track faculty hired over the past 18 years, 53% are women, and 43% are ethnic minorities. While in 1995 minority faculty comprised only 24% of the tenured/tenure-track faculty, their representation had increased to 32% by 2004 and to 38% by 2007. These percentages alone do not tell the whole story, as the total number of minority faculty employed by the university has increased significantly over time to keep pace with the growth in student enrollment. All tolled, the number of ethnic minority faculty in tenured/tenure-track positions on our campus nearly doubled over a period of twelve years, from 181 in 1995 to 326 in 2007, an increase of 80%.
SF State has an active campus research climate. The university has increased its sponsored research activities dramatically in recent years, with extramural funding rising from $12 million in academic year 1990-91 to over $50 million today. The three largest sources of extramural funding are the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the US Department of Education. State and local agencies and private foundations are also prominently included in the funding mix. SF State has been ranked first among comprehensive (master’s level) colleges and universities in total grants in the biological and physical sciences, according to the Research Corporation’s Academic Excellence Sourcebook.
Much of the momentum in this area can be attributed to the impact of a succession of major NIH-funded faculty training and infrastructure building grants, beginning in 1995.These awards include the Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) Support for Continuous Research Excellence (SCORE) program, several Research Infrastructure for Minority Institutions (RIMI) programs, and a Minority Research Infrastructure Support program (M-RISP), all of which have focused on biomedical or behavioral research. Building on these successes, SF State sought and received funding from the National Cancer Institute for several collaborative planning grants with the UCSF Comprehensive Cancer Center to investigate and address cancer disparities and their impact on minority communities. Spurring an unprecedented level of research productivity, these programs led in turn to the creation of the Health Equities Initiative, a new center at SF State designed to coordinate and support research on health disparities from across the disciplines and to build active research partnerships with members of the communities most affected by these disparities.
In addition, the fact that more than 50% of the tenure-track faculty have been hired in the past seven years has contributed to a seismic shift in institutional climate during these years. Increasingly, these new faculty hires come to SF State with established programs of research already underway and an eagerness to explore the integration of teaching and research.
Research and teaching are integrally related at SF State. The growing emphasis on research and scholarly activity at SF State can be understood, in part, as a natural extension of the university’s historic dedication to excellence in teaching. Research activities on campus inform and enrich classroom and laboratory instruction as well as feed the university’s capacity for service through projects that move out into the community to address issues of pressing concern including health, education, and the environment. At SF State, research is not considered a separate enterprise but rather an integral part of the education offered, giving students opportunities for the kind of hands-on experience that many universities commonly reserve for only the most advanced graduate students.
SF State provides students with outstanding research training. SF State has made it a priority to engage students fully in the research process and has been especially successful in obtaining funding to ensure that students from backgrounds underrepresented in the sciences receive high quality research training. Programs for this purpose include the Bridges to Baccalaureate, the primary aim of which is to prepare community college students to earn baccalaureate degrees in biomedically-related disciplines; the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), focused on preparing students with unrealized potential for careers in biomedical fields; the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program, focused on preparing high performing junior and senior level students for acceptance into highly competitive PhD programs; and the Bridges to Future program, the aim of which is to prepare SF State Master’s students for acceptance into these same competitive PhD programs. Expanding the scope of its strategic areas of research emphasis, SF State was awarded funds from NIMH for the Career Opportunities in Research (COR) program, which prepares high performing underrepresented undergraduates for acceptance into competitive PhD programs in behavioral science research. All of these programs involve intensive research experiences, mentoring, and professional development activities to help students develop the skills they will need to succeed in competitive doctoral programs in their respective disciplines.
SF State has an impressive record of preparing students for success in doctoral programs. According to the Survey of Earned Doctorates 1997-2006, sponsored by several federal agencies including the National Science Foundation, SF State is 4th among master’s level institutions in the number of its graduates who later receive research doctorates. The most recent NSF special report on the undergraduate origins of science and engineering doctorate recipients identified SF State as first in the nation of all 529 Carnegie-classified master's colleges and universities in the number of baccalaureate graduates who have gone on to obtain doctoral degrees in the Biological Sciences (NSF 96-334).
More than 100 underrepresented minority students from SF State have been admitted into PhD programs in biomedical and behavioral research since 1993, and in the last three years 32 have completed their PhDs. These numbers take on considerable significance in a national context in light of the fact that in the year 2000 only 26, 194, and 208 Ph.D. degrees in Life Science were awarded to Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic Americans, respectively, in the entire country (American Council on Education, Minorities in Higher Education Report, 2001-02).
Civic engagement and community service are deeply held institutional values at SF State. A national leader in socially responsible education, SF State was one of the first five universities in the country to include community service learning credit on student transcripts. Through its Institute for Civic and Community Engagement, the university offers more than 400 courses which combine academic study with community involvement. Approximately 40% of all SF State students take part in these courses, collectively contributing more than 400,000 hours annually to the surrounding community, a contribution which would amount to nearly $3 million annually if paid at the current California minimum wage. In recognition of its commitment to “teaching, learning and scholarship which engage faculty, students and community in mutually beneficial and respectful collaboration,” SF State was selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to receive its new Community Engagement designation beginning in 2006. Its dedication to civic involvement and its trusted role in the community have contributed to SF State’s local reputation as the “City’s University.”
ADDITIONAL LINKS FOR FACULTY TO HELPFUL INFORMATION ON SFSU WEBSITE:
Creative and scholarly excellence:
Diversity and expression:
Resources and collections:
General demographics on SF State students: http://www.sfsu.edu/~puboff/sfsufact/archive/0708/students.htm