The Legacy of Robert A. Corrigan
Other changes for the better at SF State include those to the physical campus. When he assumed the presidency, Corrigan lamented that "our campus is simply too small and our buildings too crowded and outmoded to serve the academic needs of the ever-increasing population of students wishing to attend our institution." Since 1989, the University has acquired neighboring apartment buildings to house students, staff and faculty, and added new buildings to its main campus, including Humanities, Fine Arts, Student Services, the Village at Centennial Square, the A.S. Early Childhood Education Center, Children's Campus and the Greenhouse. The Downtown Campus, added in 2007, has given SF State a major presence in the business community. The Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies has expanded in size and scope as has the new and much-improved J. Paul Leonard Library.
During the past two decades, SF State has answered Corrigan's call to "plan and implement new programs to meet the needs of students and society as a whole," including Jewish studies, women studies, doctoral degrees in education and physical therapy and the MFA in creative writing. Across every discipline, SF State's academic success can be measured in the continuing accomplishments of its alumni, a group that includes leaders in city, state and national government, the arts, journalism, business -virtually any sphere of activity.
Corrigan's efforts have helped transform SF State from a commuter to a destination campus. Of the roughly 3,500 new freshmen arriving this fall, at least half are expected to come from outside the Bay Area. The cost of their education at SF State remains the president's greatest concern.
The president has said he regrets that higher education has moved away from being perceived as a public good to a private one. In the past five years alone, unprecedented reductions in funding from the State of California have led to painful decisions to raise tuition and fees at SF State by more than 100 percent. "Except for the period of the strike, I seriously doubt that in its entire 113-year history San Francisco State has experienced anything as challenging as the current budget crisis," Corrigan says.
He has been impressed with the campus community's acceptance of cost-saving measures, including a 2009-10 faculty and staff furlough and the recent move from eight to six colleges. Amid the lack of legislative support for the campus in recent years, the president has also been heartened by the contributions of donors who have stepped forward to bridge the gap with private gifts that include two of the largest in SF State's history.
As SF State awaits the arrival of a new leader, Corrigan's words 23 years ago could serve as a reminder for the campus in the years to come: "We should encourage our students to dream and we should be willing to dream ourselves."
See the sidebar President Corrigan at a Glance
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