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Campus Life

50 Things to Love About USF

Students covered in colored power pose for a photo on the lawn.

1. Happy Students

USF ranks in the 8th percentile for best college professors by Niche. That could explain why 97 percent of undergraduates report being “strongly satisfied or satisfied with their experience at USF.”

2. Legal Eagles

Law students at nine USF law clinics contributed 19,000 hours of hands-on legal services to community members in 2016-17.


3. World Awaits

The Center for Global Education offers 103 partner programs in 45 countries, enabling students to live and learn abroad.

Man hugs USF nurse

4. Next-level nursing

USF’s Clinical Nurse Leader program is ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News World Report. Nursing students do clinicals at top institutions like UCSF, Kaiser Permanente, and SF General Hospital.

5. And the Award Goes To...

USF takes part in the Campus MovieFest film festival, where students submit videos produced in seven days. Directors Carlos Andina ’16 and Dylan Harari ’19 both had their films shown on Virgin America flights. Andina’s Puck made it to the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

6. Free Ride

Students receive MUNI passes that give them access to San Francisco's 47 square miles, from Ocean Beach to the Financial District. Public transportation in SF ranks second best in the nation, according to Business Insider.

7. TED on Campus

You don’t need to go to YouTube to watch a TED Talk. USF’s first TEDx event saw speeches about spiritual journeys, meaningful lives, and wealth inequality.

8. Legend

USF is the alma mater of Bill Russell: 11-time NBA champion, five-time NBA MVP, first African American head coach in North American pro sports, and first recipient of the NBA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Illustration: San Francisco skyline

9. Location, Location, Location

USF is ranked No. 1 for best location by college ranking website Niche, based on student surveys; access to bars, restaurants, and cafes; outdoor activities; local weather; and percentage of residents aged 18-24.

10. From Vinyl to Viral

KUSF.org teaches students how to jockey and share their tunes with a worldwide audience via online broadcast, and also holds the largest record collectors fair in San Francisco.

11. Tech Savvy

Thirteen of the top 25 “best tech companies to work for” are in the Bay Area, according to Business Insider. USFers work or intern at many of them.

Spanish stairs leading to Lone Mountain

12. Nix the Freshman 15

Koret Health and Recreation Center offers two levels of cardio machines, two weight rooms, two basketball courts, a racquetball court, and a boxing ring. Even if you don't hit the gym, the 104 steps leading up to Lone Mountain is a workout — every minute spent climbing is nine calories burned.

13. Easy Ways to Get Away

Skiing, horseback riding, Giants games — Koret's Outdoor Adventures trips take students to places in and beyond the Bay Area.

14. Diversity University

Our campus is ranked No. 3 for ethnic diversityU.S. News & World Report. USF students come from every culture, faith, and background — and from 49 states and 96 countries. Together, they gain the global perspective that employers crave.

15. It's Greek to Me

Greek organizations change the world from campus. Delta Zeta hosts the Ali's Way dinner fundraiser, donating the proceeds to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, while Phi Delta Theta participates in the Iron Phi challenge, with donations supporting the ALS Association.

16. Social Justice, at Home & Abroad

University Ministry's Arrupe Immersion trips take students and faculty to Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico to learn from and stand in solidarity with economically marginalized communities.

17. In Defense of Dreamers

USF is one of 28 Jesuit universities across the nation that supports DACA students.

San Francisco painted on a heart shaped sculpture

18. I Heart Art

San Francisco is the third-best large city in America for its vibrant art scene, according to SMU's National Center for Arts Research. USF museum studies students intern and work for some of the city's most prestigious museums: SFMOMA, de Young Museum, Legion of Honor, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and more.

19. At Your Service

There are 17 service organizations on campus, including Club Red (American Red Cross) and Rotaract (Rotary International). USF undergrads take at least one service-learning course, connecting them with underserved communities in San Francisco and expanding their understanding on issues such as gentrification and universal health care.

20. Absolute Zero

USF is working toward becoming a zero-waste campus through reuse, recycling, and composting, and has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050.

21. Hands-On Learning

In Writing for Advertising class, students create ads for nonprofits, including a recent campaign that served victims of domestic violence and ran on buses across the city.

21. Remarkable Dons

  • Three San Francisco mayors, among them Frank Jordan ’75
  • Four California Supreme Court justices: Jeremiah Sullivan 1870; Matthew Sullivan 1886; Raymond Sullivan ’28, JD ’30, LLM ’33; and Ming Chin ’64, JD ’67
  • Four Pulitzer Prize winners: Joseph Rosenthal ’43; James Risser JD ’62; Foster Church ’64, Thomas Peele MFA ’07
  • Three Olympic gold medalists: Bill Russell ’56, K.C. Jones ’56, Coach Jennifer Azzi
  • Starbucks co-founder: Gordon Bowker ’64
  • New York Yankees assistant general manager: Jean Afterman JD ’91
  • Award-winning Breaking Bad writer: Gennifer Hutchison ’98
  • Emmy-winning investigative reporter: Vicky Nguyen ’00
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23. We Bought the Farm

USF recently purchased Marin County's Star Route Farms, the oldest continuously operating certified organic farm in California. The university plans to use it for classes, research, and immersions on topics such as sustainability, nutrition, biodiversity, and more. It will continue to operate as a farm.

Student pets a de-stress dog

24. De-Stress With the Best

Counseling and Psychological Services provides free counseling to students, and the university organizes an annual Stress Less Day. During finals week, therapy dogs sit in study areas — just one cuddle can reduce stress.

25. Graduation Gurus

It’s not named Center for Academic and Student Achievement (CASA) for nothing. CASA assigns students their own academic success coaches, who guide them from day one to graduation.

Ollie Matson in football uniform runs with a ball

26. Values Over Glory

The 1951 Dons football team went undefeated, but they’re remembered for turning down an Orange Bowl invitation when Ollie Matson BS ’52 and Burl Toler BS ’52, MA ’66, two African Americans on the team, were not welcomed. The team was later featured in the ESPN documentary ’51 Dons.

27. Our San Francisco Classroom

Whether it's Urban Agriculture or Urban Education and Social Justice, classes take students into San Francisco's 36 neighborhoods — from Japantown to Dogpatch — where they often lend a hand to the people who live there.

28. Magnet for Movers and Shakers

The School of Management’s Silk Speaker Series brings to campus speakers like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, NBA superstar Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr., and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Johnny Cash holds a guitar while sitting

29. They Walk the Line

Johnny Cash may have recorded an album at San Quentin State Prison, but Performing Arts & Social Justice students perform with inmates at the prison every semester as part of the Resolve to Stop Violence Project.

30. 161-Year Network

From the Career Services Center to the Dons Helping Dons group on LinkedIn, you never know who among our 110,000 alumni might introduce you to your next job.

31. Friends at Your Fingertips

Film Club, Hawaiian Ensemble, and USFtv are just a few of the 115 officially recognized clubs and organizations on campus.

32. Health Nuts

For four straight years, the American Heart Association has recognized USF as one of the healthiest workplaces in the country. Weekly walks, gym access, and healthy eating options all contribute to USFers' wellness.

33. And the Crowd Goes Wild

USF fields 15 NCAA Division I sports teams, including the six-time West Coast Conference champion women's cross country team. The Dons hold 13 national championships and 97 conference championships.

34. Game On

Students participate in 25 club sports and seven intramural leagues, like the NCVF Division I national champion women’s volleyball club, and the boxing club, which has produced 10 USIBA national champions in five years.

35. Can You Major in Majors?

Many incoming students wish they could declare multiple majors. It can be hard to decide when there are 42 to choose from, along with 43 minors.

36. Diversity in the Court

The USF School of Law is ranked the second-most diverse law school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

Cup of coffee with USF logo in the foam

37. Morning Joe

With six coffee stops on campus and 45 coffee shops within one mile of the Hilltop, it’s easy to get your caffeine buzz on. San Francisco enjoys the most coffee shops per capita in the U.S., with 2,613.

38. We Mean Business

The School of Management is ranked in the top 20 of America’s Most Entrepreneurial Universities by Forbes. Silicon Valley and venture capitalists are never too far away.

Swimmer diving into a sketch of water

39. Fancy a Dip?

Koret's Olympic-sized pool has been voted best in San Francisco several times. And since it's heated, students can enjoy a swim no matter the season.

Collage of faces of faculty members

40. Teacher Envy

96 percent of USF faculty hold the highest or terminal degree in their academic disciplines (PhD, EdD, JD, MFA), and they, not graduate students, teach their classes.

41. Friendly Faces

USF enjoys a 14:1 student/faculty ratio. You’ll never wonder if your professor knows your name.

42. Family Firsts

USF's incoming class (2017) includes 37 percent first-generation college students.

43. Practicing What They Preach

USF business Professor David Batstone incorporates social entrepreneurship into every company he founds or backs. Nursing instructor Seanny Min DNP '09 returns to Cambodia carrying free glasses, health supplies, and food to the poor. And education instructor Nicola McClung co-founded a nonprofit that publishes books written by kids from underrepresented communities.

44. Inspiring Spires

St. Ignatius Church took the 19th spot on Best College Reviews’ list of most beautiful college cathedrals in the world. It’s also the biggest on-campus church west of the Mississippi. Its 213-foot spires are so tall, it was once used as a landmark on maritime navigational maps.

Performer on stage points to the sky.

45. Music To My Ears

USF has fostered many musicians, including composer Gordon Getty '56, garage rocker Ty Segall '09, rapper and singer-songwriter Michael Franti, folk group We Five, indie band No Vacation, and indie-pop group The She’s. It may also help that San Francisco is among the top 25 cities in the world for music lovers, according to Business Insider.

46. Getting to Know You


First-year seminar classes introduce new students to the city. Media studies Adjunct Professor John Higgins’ Mashup! Media and Pop Culture in San Francisco class challenges students to give up electronic devices for 24 hours, and rhetoric and language Assistant Professor Jonathan Hunt’s Speaking of Bicycles class examines the politics, science, and art behind San Francisco's bike culture.

47. Breathe Easy

USF is 100 percent smoke and tobacco free. The school offers free individual stop-smoking sessions and free nicotine replacement aids.

48. A San Francisco Original

USF, then known as St. Ignatius Academy, was the first institution of higher education in San Francisco, and the third in California, when it opened on Oct. 15, 1855.

49. Love and Groceries

For 18 years, nonprofit Groceries for Seniors, headed by David Philpott ’93, MPA ’97, has distributed weekly bags of food to 1,000 low-income seniors in the city. Six Dons serve on the executive board.

50. Bullseye

The Hilltop Campus is the geographic center of San Francisco, where entertainment and internships are within easy reach.

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