Changing the World from Here - A History of USF
The University of San Francisco began as a one-room schoolhouse named St. Ignatius Academy. Its founding is interwoven with the establishment of the Jesuit Order in California, European immigration to the western United States, and the population growth of California and San Francisco because of the California Gold Rush. On October 15, 1855, the school opened its doors to its first class. Three students showed up. Student enrollment, composed largely of first- and second-generation Irish and Italian immigrants, increased to 457 by 1862. Today the University of San Francisco enrolls more than 10,600 students in its four schools and one college.
For 164 years, the University of San Francisco has served the citizens of San Francisco and enriched the lives of thousands of people. The institution has graduated students who went on to become leaders in government, education, religion, business, journalism, sports, the sciences, and the legal and the health-related professions. Among its alumni, the university counts the current mayor of San Francisco and three former mayors of the city, a former United States Senator, one current and three former California Supreme Court Justices, a former California Lieutenant Governor, four Pulitzer Prize winners, three Olympic medalists, several professional athletes, and the former president of Peru. USF has more than 110,000 alumni living in all 50 states, 6 United States territories, and 138 countries.
USF has grown dramatically since its modest beginning. It continues, however, to fulfill a mission that stretches back to the founding of the Society of Jesus in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola, that took root in San Francisco in 1855, and that flourishes today in a premier Jesuit Catholic University. This course will tell the story of USF through words and images that reflect the school’s connection to the City of San Francisco, and its adaptation to two world wars, a major depression, recessions, and the enormous growth of the Bay Area.
Alan Ziajka is University Historian Emeritus at the University of San Francisco, where he held several administrative positions during a 36-year career, including associate vice provost for academic affairs. He holds a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University, and is the author of five books and numerous articles on history, education, and human development. His most recent books are Legacy and Promise—150 Years of Jesuit Education at the University of San Francisco; The University of San Francisco School of Law Century—100 Years of Educating for Justice; Lighting the City, Changing the World—A History of the Sciences at the University of San Francisco; and University of San Francisco, co-authored with USF professor Robert Elias.