Faculty & Staff Achievements

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco to Award University of San Francisco President Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. and the University Community with the 30th Annual Brennan Award

SAN FRANCISCO (October 17, 2023) –  The University of San Francisco (USF) is proud to announce that the 30th annual Brennan Award for Service from the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco (The Society) will be presented to USF President Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J. and the USF community for the impact they have made in the Bay Area. The celebration will be held on Thursday, October 26th at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco and will feature the USF Jazz Band.

“We are thrilled to be able to honor both Fr. Fitzgerald and the entire University of San Francisco Community,” said Margi English, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco. “USF has significantly partnered with St. Vincent de Paul Society by sending incredibly caring student volunteers to work in our programs, and Fr. Fitzgerald has taken USF’s mission to an entirely ‘next level’ during his tenure. Whether through the Leo T. McCarthy Center, or the School of Nursing and Health Professions, the USF community has been changing the world from here –  in our shelters and our programs. The entire Bay Area benefits from the many USF alumni who hold roles in our community and model the important core values learned on campus. We are so very grateful.” 

For the past 30 years, The Society has presented The Brennan Award for Service to outstanding members of the San Francisco Bay Area community in the memory of Frank Brennan, a stalwart champion of the marginalized and a dedicated worker in the name of St. Vincent de Paul. Past honorees include Joan and Bob McGrath, Roselyn Swig, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Rita Semel, Reverend Ray Allender, S.J., and other outstanding San Franciscans.

“As a Jesuit Catholic university, USF educates students to be professionally competent, for sure, but we also form graduates who are personally compassionate and civically engaged,” stated Paul J. Fitzgerald S.J. “To this end, Ignatius of Loyola, our founder, prescribed regular interaction with people and communities that are socially marginalized, for it is in loving service that our best, truest self emerges. This is also how our students become critical thinkers about the root causes of marginalization and the systemic changes that are needed to overcome social injustices.”   

Completion of a community-engaged learning course is an undergraduate requirement at USF, something central to the university’s mission to change the world for the better, and to be people for and with others. Several community-engaged learning opportunities are available at USF through the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good, serving more than 100 community partners. These opportunities include: 

  • Engage San Francisco: A place-based initiative, Engage San Francisco works with community-identified needs in The Fillmore District that include uplifting African American histories and knowledge, fostering learning, college access, and literacy, and building partnerships  
  • Community Empowerment Activists: Utilizing internships, students study, practice, and apply skills in mobilizing, base building, and grassroots organizing
  • Equity Interns: Students help eliminate academic summer learning loss and COVID-19 related slide in K-8 students
  • USFVotes: With the goal of making every student a voter, USFVotes aims to execute and institutionalize voter engagement on campus, so that all students at the university are civically engaged

“Fr. Fitzgerald has been a gift to USF and the McCarthy Center throughout his tenure at the university,” noted Derick Brown, senior director of the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at USF. “Working with dedicated leaders like Fr. Fitzgerald, the McCarthy Center’s staff and students work toward meaningful change through our programs and initiatives in San Francisco communities. This award is a testament to the impact we’re having collectively, and motivation to continue making change.”

For more information on the Brennan Award celebration, visit The Saint Vincent de Paul Societies website.

About the St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco

The St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco was established in 1860 on a simple principle: assist those who need help the most. Our mission is to offer hope and service on a direct person-to-person basis, working to break the cycles of homelessness and domestic violence. Whether it be through financial support, emotional or spiritual guidance, or by providing basic necessities such as food and shelter, we strive to offer our clients with a sense of hope during their darkest hours. Today, our organization bolsters 100 dedicated men and women, all working together to improve the lives of over 1,000 people in San Francisco every day. For more information, visit The Saint Vincent de Paul Societies website.

About the University of San Francisco

The University of San Francisco is a private, Jesuit Catholic university that reflects the diversity, optimism, and opportunities of the city that surrounds it. USF offers more than 230 undergraduate, graduate, professional, and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, law, education, and nursing and health professions. At USF, each course is an intimate learning community in which top professors encourage students to turn learning into positive action, so the students graduate equipped to do well in the world — and inspired to change it for the better. For more information, visit usfca.edu.