SF State celebrates 115 years on Founders Day

To celebrate SF State’s founding in 1899, the Alumni Association will host a Founders Day Celebration on March 18 in Malcolm X Plaza. Student groups will table throughout the Plaza, student musicians will perform and Taqueria Girasol will give away 1,899 tacos.

The San Francisco State Normal School, a small women's-only teaching academy, opened its doors in March 1899. With a $10,000 stipend from the state legislature, the school rented a building on Powell Street and offered free tuition to its students. The first graduating class was made up of just 36 women.

Photo of SF State’s centennial birthday celebration cake on the Main Quad

At SF State’s centennial birthday celebration students, faculty, staff and alumni shared 100 ft. of sheet cake on the Main Quad.

Though the school's name, mascot and location have all changed, San Francisco State University remains committed to public education 115 years later. Today, SF State offers more than 200 degrees and certificates and serves nearly 30,000 students each year.

The Founders Day Challenge encourages the campus community to honor SF State’s history by making a donation to support its future. Students, faculty, alumni, family and friends are all invited to help the Alumni Association reach its goal of 1,899 individual donations in March.

Donors can choose to support individual colleges, departments, programs or scholarships. The Alumni Association will raffle prizes for donors each day during the month. Prizes include Alumni Association memberships, gift certificates, theater tickets and more.

Doubling the impact of each gift to SF State, alumna Marsha Rosenbaum (M.A. ’72) has pledged $25,000 to the Founders Day Challenge and asks her fellow alumni and friends to match her gift.

Though Founders Day comes just once a year, reminders of SF State’s history are all around, from campus facilities named after former presidents, such as Burk Hall and the J. Paul Leonard Library, to the University motto, which has remained unchanged since 1899.

Founding president Frederic Lister Burk chose the phrase, Experientia Docet, “Experience Teaches,” and for 115 years it has symbolized SF State’s commitment to hands-on instruction and expert faculty.

To make a pledge and follow the Founders Day Challenge online, visit http://www.sfsu.edu/~alumdev/leaderboard.html

-- Gianna Devoto


Photo of former SF State President Alexander C. Roberts at the site of SF State’s future campus on 19th and Holloway Ave.

Former President Alexander C. Roberts stands at the site of SF State’s future campus at 19th and Holloway Avenue. Construction began in 1949, four years after Roberts’ retirement in 1945.