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San Francisco State University

During the period of 1855 to 1899, education in California in general, and San Francisco in particular, was anything but stable. It was plagued with insufficient staff, insufficient financing, and inadequate leadership. From 1900 until 1928, however, San Francisco State Normal School made great strides in furthering its ability to provide superior education. That advancement only stumbled once, during the 1906 earthquake and fire. San Francisco State Normal School pulled itself out of the ashes by finding a new site for the school on upper Market Street, and classes resumed in June. It was the first public school in the city to re-open following the fire. By 1921, San Francisco State Normal School acquired enough momentum and liberal arts courses to begin offering a bachelor's degree option, and the school's name was changed to San Francisco State Teacher's College. By 1923, the college received authorization to grant the bachelor of arts degree. From 1929 to 1942, the Great Depression, sharply reduced the need for new teachers. If San Francisco State was to continue providing its students with career options, it had to offer more than the teaching credential. It had to become a university. The curriculum expanded, and more men began to enroll. The 1930s found men’s sports creeping into academia. San Francisco State outgrew the cramped one-acre campus it had occupied since the 1906 earthquake. It purchased 54 acres on lake Merced from the City of San Francisco for a new college campus, replacing the aging building off upper Market Street. San Francisco State Teachers College attained liberal arts college status in 1935, and its name changed to San Francisco State College. In 1936, the ratio of women to men enrolled at San Francisco State was two-to-one. To bring intellectual cohesion to the burgeoning college, San Francisco State's president and faculty created the college's General Education program in 1946. That innovative model, which attracted nationwide attention in the late 1950s, required all students to take a core curriculum, regardless of their chosen field. General Education became the common bond unifying all majors at San Francisco State. Negotiations with the University of California in 1949 won the right for all state colleges to offer graduate degrees. San Francisco State offered its first master's degree in education. The horror of the McCarthy era produced a law passed requiring all state employees to sign a "Loyalty Oath," swearing allegiance to the United States. Seven San Francisco State faculty members refused to sign and lost their jobs. When the House Un-American Activities Committee met in San Francisco in 1960, students from San Francisco State, U.C. Berkeley, and other campuses demonstrated and disrupted the Committee's hearings in City Hall. The students, fire-hosed down the steps by police and firefighters, were dragged, unresisting, to jail. San Francisco State once again captured the nation's attention as two turbulent years (1967-1969) of sometimes violent protest, remade the College into one of the most visible emblems of the sixties. Events came to a head in 1968, with the beginning of the longest campus strike in the nation's history. In November, the California State University Board of Regents ordered President Smith to suspend controversial teaching assistant George Murray. In protest, several ethnic groups struck and presented a set of 15 "non-negotiable" demands, which included the expansion of the College's new Black Studies Department (the nation's first), the creation of a School of Ethnic Studies, and increased recruiting and admissions of minority students. After a week of confrontations between students and police, the college was closed. In November 1968, President Smith resigned, and S.I. Hayakawa was named acting president. Hayakawa reopened the campus within a week, and when striking students positioned a sound truck at the corner of 19th and Holloway, he climbed up and gained international attention by disconnecting the speaker wires to make his own speech. In late February 1969, the San Francisco State American Federation of Teachers local announced a tentative strike agreement. In March, after months of strife, the strike ended, with both sides claiming victory. In 1972, San Francisco State College became California State University, San Francisco. Then-Governor Ronald Reagan signed a measure changing California State University, San Francisco's name, to San Francisco State University.