Update on the Arts at USF

Dear Members of the USF Community,

We write to update you on our discussions concerning a possible integration of the San Francisco Art Institute into the University of San Francisco, as well as the exciting plans we have to expand and grow USF’s art programs.

Many thanks to all of you — students, faculty, and staff — who have participated in the research, brainstorming, and conversations alongside our colleagues at SFAI. Your expertise, creativity, and hard work are greatly appreciated and have contributed to our better understanding of the potential for expanded art education at USF. As you know, prioritizing how we support and advance the arts — and all creative endeavors — is woven into our Strategic Plan as we seek to reimagine Jesuit education.

USF’s curricular expansion, informed by our faculty’s explorations during the due diligence period, will include the development of an expanded Fine Arts Program within the College of Arts and Sciences. Pending accreditors’ approval, USF hopes to launch its new MFA in Fine Arts program in fall 2023 and the BFA in fall 2024. Additional arts studios and teaching spaces will be provided either by reconfiguring existing space on the university’s Hilltop campus, or by acquiring other space in San Francisco. This fall, the college plans to bring additional artists and arts educators to join USF’s arts faculty, and to extend the diversity and breadth of our fine arts expertise. 

Our commitment to the arts at USF remains strong, and we look forward to future partnerships with both our own faculty and with the Bay Area philanthropic community. We are especially grateful for the support being shown already by our alumni and donors, including Gordon Getty ’56 and The Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation.

As you know, USF and SFAI have engaged in five months of extensive exploration and robust conversations with faculty, administrators, and students after signing a letter of intent on Jan. 25. Both institutions agreed at that time to explore options that included an asset purchase and an integration of SFAI’s distinctive and important art education programs with USF’s College of Arts and Sciences.

As the due diligence proceeded, several critical issues emerged concerning SFAI’s financial status, student enrollment projections, and ADA compliance and deferred maintenance matters on SFAI’s Chestnut Street property.

In subsequent communications, USF informed SFAI leadership that we would not enter into a definitive agreement with SFAI due to business risks that could negatively impact USF students, faculty, and staff. Therefore, we are no longer pursuing an agreement with SFAI.  

Thank you again for your creative and inclusive collaboration. As new pathways and plans about our art programs come into focus, we will continue to keep you updated in a timely way.

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J., President
Chinyere Oparah, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs