Student Success Center Opens on Parnassus Campus

UCSF’s new Student Success Center brings together a wide range of student services inside a newly renovated space. Photo by Susan Merrell

UC San Francisco has opened the Student Success Center (SSC), a thoughtfully designed, 3,000-square-foot space, bringing together under one roof a wide range of key student services.

The new physical space builds upon a virtual one: the website, which also aims to give students a practical starting-point through which to explore campus resources.

“The idea behind the Success Center is to make it easy and routine for students to get any kind of assistance they need, by centralizing access to student resources in one place,” said Carol Takao, assistant vice chancellor of Student Life, who oversaw the planning and construction.

Student Success Center

Location: Millbery Union Room 100W

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Services available:

  • First Generation Support Services
  • Learning Resource Services
  • Registered Campus Organizations
  • Student Disability Services
  • Student Government
  • Student Rights and Responsibilities
  • Synapse, the student-run newspaper
  • Veteran Support Services

The Success Center is located at the Parnassus campus in Millbery Union West. Reflecting the vision of Daniel Lowenstein, MD, executive vice chancellor and provost, of a revitalized “New Parnassus,” the center is a modern, light-filled and inviting suite. Construction on the SSC was completed in October, and students – as well as those who serve students – are encouraged to drop in and see what’s there now.

The SSC includes large meeting spaces with smart technology for use by registered campus organizations and student government, and sound-insulated offices for confidential meetings. Knowledgeable staff in the Center can help students connect with campus resources both inside and outside of the suite.

Creation of the SSC was first proposed in June 2013 by the Students Experiencing Academic Difficulty (SEAD) task force, commissioned by Joe Castro, PhD, former vice chancellor of Student Academic Affairs (SAA), and co-chaired by Catherine Lucey, MD, UCSF’s vice dean for medical education and executive vice dean for the School of Medicine, together with Renee Navarro, MD, PharmD, vice chancellor of the Office of Diversity and Outreach (ODO).

The task force found that students, especially professional students, who might be struggling academically were reluctant to reach out for help and were unaware of many of the student resources available to them.

Graduate Division Dean and Vice Chancellor of SAA Elizabeth Watkins, PhD, has made implementing the recommendations of the SEAD report, including bringing the center into being, a top priority since taking on the role of vice chancellor in August 2013.

Other SAA-managed services conveniently located one floor above the SCC include the Office of the Registrar and Student Financial Aid.

Jennifer Rosko meets with two students in the Student Success Center
The newly renovated Student Success Center features modern, large meeting spaces with smart technology that can be used for meetings and social events. Photo by Susan Merrell

Partner services immediately adjacent to the center include the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC) and the LGBT Resource Center. These critical resource centers are a part of the Office of Diversity and Outreach, and they provide service and support to the entire UCSF community of learners, faculty and staff. They can be accessed at

Other crucial services for students not located in the SSC itself include the Office of Career and Professional Development, located in the Medical Sciences Building – Room S140, and in the Rutter Center – Suite 310 at Mission Bay; and Student Health and Counseling Services, located in Millberry Union P8 – Room 005, and in the Rutter Center – Suitte 330 at Mission Bay.

“Not all student services are managed by Student Academic Affairs,” said Dean/VC Watkins. “But throughout the process of creating the virtual and physical Success Center, we worked closely with our campus partners who also serve students – particularly Campus Life Services and the Office of Diversity and Outreach, to ensure that the new space helps direct students to the services they offer as well. Through the SSC and the success website, students may even discover some services they didn't know about and weren't actively seeking.”

There is no physical equivalent of the Success Center at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus; however, students based there – who already enjoy numerous modern spaces designed with their needs in mind – can access their services conveniently through the Success website. They can also get in-person help and advice through friendly staff at the Student Services at Mission Bay office, located just off the lobby in Mission Hall. And, Student Health and Counseling Services as well as the Office of Career and Professional Development have fully staffed offices at Mission Bay, where the majority of PhD students are based.

a staff member talks with a student
Sound-insulated offices in the new Student Success Center allow for confidential meetings. Photo by Susan Merrell

Construction of the Student Success Center was funded by Student Academic Affairs, the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, and central campus funds from the Chancellor’s Office.

Student Academic Affairs also received a combined gift of $100,000 from the Alumni Association of UCSF and from each of the schools’ alumni boards to name a meeting room within the space the Alumni Conference Room. This gift will help ensure that high-quality technology is available throughout the center.

“We’re so excited to see this project come to fruition,” said Executive Vice Dean Lucey. “I know it will have a positive impact on our students for decades to come.”