Dear USF Staff, Faculty, and Librarians,
For the past several years, we have been engaged in conversation with leadership at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). These conversations have been framed by both institutions’ desire to honor SFAI’s unique culture, independent spirit, and approach to scholarship in the arts — as well as to provide artists with access to the resources and support of a Jesuit liberal arts institution committed to social justice.
Nearly four months ago, we signed a letter of intent and entered into a period of due diligence.
Due diligence has been focused on the state of SFAI’s physical property as well as financial and legal matters to ensure that USF’s investment in this integration is sound. As such, in addition to a review of records, we have also been in conversations with the UC Regents (owners the SFAI property and assets at 800 Chestnut Street) and with the National Park Service (owners of the Fort Mason property that SFAI currently leases for extensive studio and exhibition space).
It has been a complex and intensive process, and there remains more to do. Still, we are excited and optimistic about the prospects of integrating these two renowned San Francisco institutions, and continuing the growth and opportunities for students exploring the arts.
I want to share a few developments with you.
As you know, SFAI has been experiencing serious financial challenges for some time. It is now moving toward cessation of operations in the weeks ahead. This is naturally difficult news for the SFAI community to hear.
USF is working to assist SFAI leadership as they work with their students to provide the best pathway forward to complete their degrees. We have been in communication with our common accreditation agency (WASC Senior College and University Commission, or WSCUC). Undergraduate students currently enrolled at SFAI may apply to USF’s College of Arts and Sciences in the fine arts program. USF is exploring temporary approval from WSCUC to teach SFAI's BFA and MFA curricula in the fall of 2022. Of course, SFAI's teachout plan will include other institutions in order to meet their students' needs.
Please be assured that leadership at both institutions are continuing to work together to find pathways to support SFAI students, faculty, and staff, and to achieve our mutual goals.
I look forward to sharing more information when available. In the meantime, my thanks to everyone here at USF who has been working with our colleagues at SFAI to pursue this exciting opportunity.
Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.