Robert A. Corrigan Biography

Robert A. Corrigan served as the 12th president of San Francisco State University from September 1988 to July 2012. He previously served nine years as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Boston.  At both universities, he made diversity, civic engagement and the application of university expertise to community issues a campus hallmark.

Corrigan's national activities included service on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Anchor Institutions Task Force, the National Cancer Institute's Comprehensive Minority Biomedical Branch Task Force and the Commission on Access, Diversity & Excellence of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities. He is past chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the American Council on Education (ACE) Commission for Lifelong Learning and California Campus Compact. He has also served on the Commission on Presidential Leadership and Global Competitiveness of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and on the national Board of Directors for Jumpstart, a program that helps prepare at-risk pre-school students to succeed in elementary school.

In San Francisco, Dr. Corrigan served two terms as chair of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He is a past member of the San Francisco Economic Development Corporation, the California Historical Society Board of Directors and the Private Industry Council of San Francisco. He served on Mayor Jordan's Blue Ribbon Budget Task Force and is a past co-chair of the Bay Area School Reform Collaborative/Annenberg Challenge.

Earlier in his career, he founded the Afro-American Studies program -- one of the nation's first -- at the University of Iowa, and published the first full-scale bibliography of Afro-American fiction for this emerging discipline. At the request of President Bill Clinton, Dr. Corrigan chaired the Steering Committee of College and University Presidents for the "America Reads Challenge" and the "America Counts" initiatives.  He is a past member of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation Board.

His honors include the William Lloyd Garrison Award from the Massachusetts Educational Opportunity Association, the 2009 Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the 2009 San Francisco Business Times "Most Admired CEO" award, the Distinguished Community Service Award from the Anti-Defamation League "in recognition of outstanding commitment to diversity, fairness, and social justice"; selection by the John Templeton Foundation as one of 50 Outstanding Leaders of American Colleges; selection as a Distinguished Urban Fellow by the Association of Urban Universities; and selection by Diverse Issues in Higher Education for the John Hope Franklin award for lifetime achievement. He holds honorary doctorates from Chung Yuan University, Obirin University, Golden Gate University and the University of San Francisco, and is an Honorary Professor at Beijing Normal University.

Dr. Corrigan has been Provost for Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland and Dean at the University of Missouri, in addition to holding faculty positions at the University of Iowa, Bryn Mawr College, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. He received his A.B. from Brown University and both his master's and doctoral degrees in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.

On May 11, 2015, Dr. Corrigan was chosen by Brown University to offer the Baccalaureate Address to graduating students and was awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.  Brown University’s citation accompanying the doctorate highlighted that “Corrigan’s interest in and unwavering commitment to social justice led to a storied tenure as president at SFSU. His commitment to diversity drove significant demographic change throughout the University, in the faculty, administrative staff, and student body. His refusal to tolerate bigotry and his willingness to engage in discussion with critics brought him (and San Francisco State) a measure of public attention.”