The University of San Francisco began in 1855 as a one-room schoolhouse named Saint 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 as a result of the California Gold Rush. For 155 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, business, journalism, sports, and the legal and medical professions. Among its alumni, the university counts three San Francisco mayors, a United States Senator, four California Supreme Court Justices, a California Lieutenant Governor, two Pulitzer Prize winners, three Olympic medalists, several professional athletes, and the former president of Peru.
In 2005, the University of San Francisco celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding. The main USF campus currently occupies 55 acres near Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. In addition, the university offers classes at four Northern California regional campuses and at a Southern California regional campus. The schools and colleges comprising the institution also offer students a multitude of international experiences and study abroad programs that enrich the learning community and fulfill the university’s mission. Today the University of San Francisco enrolls more than 9,500 students in its five schools and colleges: The School of Law, founded in 1912; the College of Arts and Sciences, organized in 1925; the School of Business and Professional Studies, which began in 1925 as the College of Commerce and Finance and was merged with the College of Professional Studies in 2009; the School of Education, which started as the Department of Education in 1947 and was upgraded to a school in 1972; and the School of Nursing, which began as the Department of Nursing in 1948 and became a school in 1954.
The institution has grown dramatically since its modest beginning. It continues, however, to fulfill a mission that stretches back in time 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.