The University of San Francisco, the city's first university, was established by the Jesuits in October 1855
USF’s founding president, Anthony Maraschi, S.J., arrived in San Francisco as an Italian immigrant in 1854. The next year, he borrowed $11,500 to build a Jesuit church and school on a few sand dunes on the south side of Market Street and proclaimed, “Here, in time, will be the heart of a great city.” Father Maraschi was right. Around the original site of USF, a dynamic, diverse, distinctive city has grown and thrives. And at each step of that city’s development, USF has provided leadership and service.
The original college, known as St. Ignatius Academy, was located in a simple frame building about 26 feet long by 16 feet wide, now the site of the San Francisco Centre on Market Street. When the school opened its doors to its first class, three students showed up—that number grew to 65 by 1858. The State of California granted the College a charter in 1859. In 1862, a new building for the College was constructed on the same site as the original building. In June 1863, the first Bachelor of Arts degree was conferred.
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In 1880, the College moved to a new building on Van Ness Avenue in the Civic Center (currently the site of the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall). After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, the College was relocated to a “temporary” quarters at Hayes and Shrader Streets, known as the “shirt factory,” and currently the location of one of the clinics of St. Mary’s Medical Center.
The Jesuits acquired a small strip of property at the corner of Fulton Street and Parker Avenue in 1909, and in 1914, they completed the current St. Ignatius Church at that site. By 1927, to accommodate the growing student population, a Liberal Arts building was built just to the east of the church, and the College moved to its present location.
In 1930, on the occasion of its Diamond Jubilee, and at the request of alumni groups, St. Ignatius College was renamed the University of San Francisco, and in 1934, 14 acres of land were purchased directly behind St. Ignatius Church and the Liberal Arts Building, to make possible future expansion. Lone Mountain was purchased by USF in 1978, extending the campus to 55 acres.
College of Arts and Sciences
The first courses in the late 1850s consisted of classical and modern languages, English, speech, history, geography, mathematics, and bookkeeping. In 1863, sciences were added to the curriculum. In 1925, under Dean Hubert Flynn, S.J., the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Science were established as major divisions. In 1982, the name was changed to reflect the incorporated status of both Colleges into one - the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Currently, the College is identified as the College of Arts and Sciences, and it offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and minors, and graduate programs in 16 unique fields.
School of Law
The USF School of Law was established in 1912 with classes held in the Grant Building on Market Street. In 1917, the School of Law relocated to the “shirt factory,” and in 1927, it moved to the current USF campus. The school now includes the Koret Law Center, Kendrick Hall, and the Dorraine Zief Law Library. The latter 60,000 square foot, state-of-the-art building was completed in 2001. In 2003, Kendrick Hall, originally built in 1962 and expanded in 1982, was completely reconstructed, including its classrooms, seminar rooms, offices, student support services, and lounges. In January 2004, the University of San Francisco School of Law formally dedicated the Koret Law Center, the complex that comprises both the reconstructed Kendrick Hall and the new Dorraine Zief Law Library. The law school facilities now count among the finest in the United States.
School of Management
Founded in 1924, the business program began as a four-year evening certificate program, and the next year, became the College of Commerce and Finance. After World War II, the college was renamed the College of Business Administration, and has been accredited nationally since 1953 by The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. In 2004, Malloy Hall, the new home for the School of Business and Management, was dedicated. In 2009, the College of Professional Studies merged with the School of Business to become the School of Business and Professional Studies with a rich portfolio of academic programs from both schools. On June 1, 2011, the School of Business and Professional Studies, was renamed the School of Management. As a School with degrees that encompass for profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government sectors; the new name reflects the evolving reality that our current and future graduates need to be prepared for more inclusive management careers that encompass all three areas. Learn more »
School of Education
In 1947, the University established the Department of Education under the leadership of Paul J. Harney, S.J. In 1972, the Board of Trustees established the School of Education, and in 1975, the first doctoral students were admitted to study for the newly approved Doctor of Education degree. The years from 1975 to 1980 represented an expansion period during which the enrollment grew rapidly in the doctoral programs, and innovative master's degree and credential programs were offered off-campus at various sites throughout the state. Currently, the School enjoys a well-established reputation as a leading institution dedicated to meeting the needs of professional educators through academic programs, research, and other services.
School of Nursing and Health Professions
The School of Nursing and Health Professions began in 1948 as a department within the College of Arts and Sciences. This first nursing department was a cooperative effort with the Sisters of Mercy so that registered nurses from nearby St. Mary's Hospital could earn their baccalaureate degrees. An independent School of Nursing was formed in 1954 and accredited by the National League for Nursing when the first class graduated in 1958. The baccalaureate program provides a strong liberal arts and science preparation coupled with professional knowledge in nursing theory and practice. In 1984, the school added a master of science in nursing, and in 2007, the School was approved to offer the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, making USF the first university in California to offer this advanced degree for working nurses.