The History of Student Diversity at the University of San Francisco
Richard McCabe, the first student enrolled at St. Ignatius Academy, renamed St.
Ignatius College in 1859.
The University of San Francisco, founded in 1855, had a diverse student body from
the beginning. Although most American institutions of higher education partly reflect
our nation’s immigration experience, St. Ignatius College (as USF was then known)
was the immigration experience during the nineteenth century.
Chan Chung (“C.C”) Wing graduated in USF’s first law class, and in 1918.
He became the first Asian American to be admitted to the bar in California history.He
founded a successful law practice specializing in immigration law.
In 1929, an organization named the Filipino Ignatians was founded in the College
of Arts and Sciences.
By the 1920s, Filipino students began to be part of the ethnic diversity of the
institution, and in 1929, an organization named the Filipino Ignatians was founded
in the College of Arts and Sciences. St. Ignatius College changed its name to the
University of San Francisco in 1930.
In 1930, Isaiah Fletcher became the first of many African American to play on a
varsity intercollegiate team for the University of San Francisco.
This was decades before most universities and colleges began to integrate their
athletic teams or their campuses.
Earl Booker, who received a bachelor’s degree in history from USF in 1941, won the
intercollegiate Boxing Championship in 1936.
In 1936, Earl Booker, another African American, won the Intercollegiate Boxing Championship,
while earning his bachelor’s degree in history.
The USF football team of 1951 was undefeated of the gridiron and had nine of its
players drafted by the National Football League.
Despite fielding, perhaps the best collegiate football team of all time, the Dons
were not invited to play in any post-season bowl games unless they left their African
American players (Ollie Matson and Burl Toler) at home. The team refused, stood
on principle, and transcended the segregated and racist temper of the times.
The 1954-55 Dons exiting their flight with championship trophy in hand after winning
the NCAA tournament.
Just as the undefeated 1951 USF football team was far ahead of most of the nation
in fully integrating its team, the 1954–1955 USF basketball team became the first
major university basketball team to win a national title with three African American
players (Bill Russell, K.C. Jones, and Hal Perry) among its five starters.
During the 1970s, USF saw an increase in the number of ethnic minority students
By the fall of 1979, the USF student body was comprised of 5,644 students, of whom
357 (6.3 percent) were African American, 696 (12.3 percent) were Asian, 354 (6.3
percent) were Latino, 1,329 (23.6 percent) were international, and 2,886 (51.1 percent)
Today USF continues to have one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation.
Among the total USF student population in the fall of 2011, 20.6 percent were Asian
American, 4.8 percent were African American, 15.6 percent were Latino, 1.9 percent
were Native American, 0.5 percent were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 12.0 percent
were international, and 40.6 percent were white.