About the School

Academia Built Upon Core Values that Stand Strong Today

In 1855, a small group of Jesuit priests founded the University of San Francisco. Father Anthony Maraschi, S.J., arrived in San Francisco from Italy in 1854. A year later, he borrowed $11,500 to build a Jesuit church and school and proclaimed, “Here, in time, will be the heart of a great city.”

Initially known as St. Ignatius Academy, the school was located in a simple frame building that is now the site of San Francisco Centre. What started out as a school with just three students grew to accommodate a student body of 65 by 1858. By 1859, the state of California had granted it a charter.

By 1862, a new building for the College was constructed on the same site, and in June of 1863 the first Bachelor of Arts degree was conferred. The College moved to new buildings on Van Ness Avenue near the site of the Civic Center (the current site of the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall) in 1880, but it was relocated to temporary quarters at Hayes and Shrader Streets after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The school expanded to host a College of Arts and Sciences in 1909, followed by the School of Law in 1912 and the School of Management in 1924. Then, in 1930, St. Ignatius Academy became known as the University of San Francisco. Following the name change, the University established a School of Education in 1948 and also a School of Nursing . Originally the School of Nursing was within the College of Arts and Sciences, but in 1954 it became an independent school. Today all five schools continue to be driven by a dual emphasis on academic rigor and social justice.

The present-day 21 interdisciplinary centers and institutes at the University of San Francisco offer culturally diverse classes that explore the complexities of our global community through internship, service learning, and research opportunities. Throughout the University, faculty members are passionate about research, leadership and academic excellence. They challenge students to be engaged, innovative, responsible, compassionate, and thoughtful community leaders. Throughout its entire history, the University of San Francisco has upheld a set of Jesuit values based upon a global perspective that educates leaders to shape a more humane and just world. The school’s motto is Change the world from here and these values still stand strong today.

Continued Growth to Accommodate Future Leaders
In 2005, the University of San Francisco celebrated its 150th anniversary. The school has grown to nearly 9,000 students but still offers small classes, preserving the intimate setting that the school has provided since its inception. The university offers advanced education while viewing the city of San Francisco and the world as research laboratories, paying constant attention to the societal impact of academic work.

Bettering the World, One Student at a Time
Led by Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J., the University of San Francisco’s leadership team is deeply committed to giving students and faculty the best tools available to fulfill our mission of bettering the world. Our five areas of focus – Jesuit Catholic tradition, academic excellence, San Francisco location, diversity, and global perspective – set the University of San Francisco apart from other learning institutions. Each of these facets of education at the University of San Francisco is interwoven into the fabric of campus life and carried out on a daily basis. Father Privett has recently been approved for his third term as University of San Francisco president, and under his leadership, our school remains an academic and cultural pioneer in San Francisco and throughout the world.

Notable Alumni

Gordon Bowker, co-founder of Starbucks
Gordon Getty, philanthropist
Paul S. Otellini, president and CEO of Intel
Pete Rozelle, former NFL commissioner
Pierre Salinger, U.S. senator and press secretary for President John F. Kennedy
Alejandro Toledo, 46th president of Peru


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