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Mission, Vision & Values

UHS intends to be at the forefront of changing high school culture, affirming our fundamental commitment to intellectual challenge and vitality while simultaneously responding to the demands and opportunities of today.


San Francisco University High School welcomes students of demonstrated motivation and ability to engage in an education that fosters responsibility and the spirited pursuit of knowledge. We are a school where adults believe in the promise of every student, and together we work to build and sustain a community of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and talents. UHS challenges each individual to live a life of integrity, inquiry, and purpose larger than the self.



  • Being curious, open-minded, and courageous
  • Seeking out different perspectives and learning from one another
  • Striving to deepen our understanding of the evolving world.


  • Investing wholeheartedly in our work and in one another
  • Cultivating empathy, compassion, mindfulness, and resilience
  • Recognizing and seeking to address injustice.


  • Being truthful, open, honest, and reflective
  • Honoring the wholeness of each individual
  • Acting to fulfill a purpose larger than the self


  • Taking risks and growing from the experience
  • Pursuing our passions with confidence, creativity, and humility
  • Discovering and making real our own distinctive and evolving expressions of excellence


  • Building and sustaining an intentionally diverse, equitable, and inclusive school
  • Engaging as socially responsible citizens in communities both near and far
  • Recognizing that we form a web through our common humanity: what affects one person affects us all


We are a courageous community dedicating ourselves to:

  • EMBRACING education as a transformational, rather than a transactional, endeavor
  • EMPOWERING our students to invent and sustain their own vision of success and sense of purpose
  • ESTABLISHING a school culture that provides a dynamic and challenging education while simultaneously promoting wellness, care, and wholeness
  • EMBODYING our fundamental belief that collaboration among people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences is essential to deep learning
  • ENSURING that University High School remains a strategically nimble institution, engaged in learning, reflection, and growth on all levels


At UHS, we believe that the deepest learning requires collaboration among people who embody a diversity of backgrounds, beliefs, experiences, and perspectives. Building and sustaining a community composed of a wide range of social and cultural identities requires that all members have the resources they need to thrive. To this end, we must further our self- knowledge, our ability to communicate effectively across individual differences, and our capacity to cultivate an anti-racist[1], anti-oppressive[2] school culture mindful of systemic barriers to equity[3]. We do this work on a personal, professional, and an institutional level, recognizing that our community is part of a larger and more complex world. 



In response to a deeply felt need for an innovative, coeducational, independent secondary school in the Bay Area, San Francisco University High School was established by a youthful board of trustees and community activists in 1973. The school officially opened in September 1975 and graduated its first class in 1976. The school's founding was made possible through funds contributed by individuals and foundations who shared a vision of a school "in and of the city" that would be a model of equity and excellence.

In 1978, school leadership founded Summerbridge (now Breakthrough Summerbridge), an award-winning, tuition-free, year-round, and summer intensive academic enrichment and advocacy program for underserved middle school students. It was the original site and inspiration for the nationally-known Breakthrough Collaborative. 

Set in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, the school's campus and its main building, designed by architect Julia Morgan and constructed in 1917, was purchased from Katherine Delmar Burke School. Since that initial purchase in 1974, the school has acquired several additional properties to house the Dennis A. Collins Library (named after the founding head of school), a student center, 400-seat theater, multiple STEM labs, humanities classrooms, and athletics and arts facilities. In 2017, the school opened Paul Goode Field in the Presidio, home to UHS athletics. It is the first artificial turf field constructed in a national park, offering our neighbors and nonprofit partners free access.  

The school has developed a strong reputation for its outstanding faculty and challenging liberal arts and sciences curriculum and its competitive athletics program and deep and broad fine and performing arts offerings. In its relatively short history, UHS has become a leader in secondary education in independent schools across the country by setting a standard for professional growth and continual self-reflection and innovation.

In 2013, the school initiated its signature mentoring program that is nationally recognized as a distinctive and compelling student support model. In 2015, the school added a human development department to integrate equity literacy, metacognition, community engagement, and student leadership and wellness into its program. Also, in 2015, the school launched a perpetual strategic design and developed a transformational vision for the school that included adopting the core values of inquiry, integrity, agency, care, and interconnection.

Today, enrollment stands at 480, with 21 percent of the student body receiving $4.4 million in financial aid. 101 middle schools are represented in our student body, and 59% of the students identify as students of color. Our diverse faculty and staff (81 percent with advanced degrees) bring a breadth and depth of talent and experience in their leadership of a school and program that continues to evolve to prepare students for our fast-paced and complex society. The SFUHS Board remains a diverse, highly skilled, and devoted group of trustees well known for their nonprofit experience and accomplishments in their professions.  

Graduates of San Francisco University High School have gone on to become leaders in STEM, Public Health, Education, Environment, Global Affairs, Justice and Civil Rights, Finance, Philanthropy, the Arts, and Political office, to name a few. In 2018 we began a new tradition called Alumni Honors, designed to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of alumni who embody our core values. Each year we celebrate alums who are leaders in their fields, making important contributions at a local, national, or international level through personal accomplishment, professional achievement, or humanitarian service.