Recruiting exceptional leaders for mission-driven organizations.




President San Francisco, CA

San Francisco State University (SF State), a comprehensive public university located in the heart of San Francisco, seeks an exceptional leader to serve as president. SF State is an iconic campus of the California State University system, serving as an intellectual and cultural hub for the Bay Area and driver of social mobility, workforce and economic development, and progressive political change. 

At the heart of civil rights, marriage equality, and HIV/AIDS advocacy movements, the city of San Francisco has continually been at the forefront of making social change. SF State reflects these values with a deep commitment to activism, social justice, and advocacy, while preparing its students to be leaders of conviction and impact. Serving approximately 30,000 students including 42 percent who are Pell Grant-eligible, 37 percent first generation college students, and 8 percent international students, the University is a gateway for many, providing tremendous opportunity for those that need it most. 

The University seeks a president who will tirelessly promote SF State with great authenticity, by rallying, inspiring, and engaging all who can further the vision and mission of the institution. The president will embrace the challenges presented by a changing student body and the needs of faculty and staff who serve them. Central to SF State’s mission is to develop the next generations of scholars, change makers, artists, teachers, healers, activists, builders, inventors, scientists, and entrepreneurs in a time of unprecedented change. 

The University lives its commitment to scholarship, teaching, and service: SF State is the second most productive CSU campus in terms of published articles and also has the second most active service learning program in the system. Working with an inspiring student population, in addition to a dedicated staff and faculty, the next president will embrace SF State’s core mission and history; promote the remarkable work currently being done by faculty, staff, and students; cultivate further research, scholarship, and, creative work from the campus community; and guide the University to its next level of excellence and distinction.

The successful candidate will leverage SF State’s many strengths – including its tradition of strong teaching, research, and creative works; exceptional campus diversity; strength in academic programs; location; legacy; and values – and lead this vital institution in service of its important public mission. In doing so, the president will face a set of key opportunities and challenges, including:

  • Consistently engage the entire community and build a sense of trust, cohesion, and collaboration to address academic, social, and political issues, aspirations, and actions
  • Embrace and enhance the role SF State plays as “The City’s University”
  • Engage and invest in the academic enterprise, looking for opportunities to distinguish and ignite all programs and initiatives on campus and support the work of faculty and staff
  • Understand and invest in the development of effective and proactive support systems that ensure success for all students, particularly students from first generation and/or historically underrepresented groups
  • Make innovative, prudent, and transparent financial decisions that engender trust and ensure a sustainable economic foundation that allows for academic excellence
  • Develop a mission driven leadership culture and executive team that exhibits management and decision-making practices consistent with the ideals of shared governance and collaboration
  • Position the campus as a leader in and positive example for the CSU System, the State, and beyond
  • Take pride in a dynamic university community and actively support students’ further development as engaged and effective citizens and participants in our democracy.

Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until the completion of the search process. For best consideration, please apply by March 22.

David Bellshaw is leading this search with Regan Gough and Brett Barbour.


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