UCSF Celebrates Commitment to Community, Diversity in Year Marked by Solid Financial Performance

By Laura Kurtzman

Taking stock of a rich year of scientific discovery that also brought a bounty of gifts in support of the University’s mission, Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS, gave special emphasis in his 2018 State of the University address to UC San Francisco’s initiatives in the local community and efforts to increase diversity and inclusion.

“We are living in an exciting time in health and science,” Hawgood said. “Fantastic new tools in both the physical and life sciences are enabling us to better understand, treat and prevent disease like never before.”

Yet, Hawgood said, in his fifth annual address, titled “Commitment to the Community,” the university also has a “social and moral responsibility” to remain deeply involved in the local community by addressing health disparities, providing access to science education and tackling homelessness. 

To spotlight some of UCSF’s forward-thinking work addressing social injustices in the community, Hawgood invited two guest speakers, Dayna Long, MD, medical director for the Department of Community Health and Engagement at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (BCHO), and Margot Kushel, MD, the new director of the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations.

Speaking from BCHO, Long described the huge disparities in health outcomes for children of color, children of immigrants and those who experience poverty, disability, discrimination and significant trauma. Long’s work studying the effects of what’s known as toxic stress led her and colleagues to establish the UCSF Child Health Equity Institute, which brings together experts in health equity science, clinical innovation, community engagement and education.

Kushel spoke about what she had learned during her career studying homelessness and how to translate these findings into action. She noted that San Francisco was at the forefront of implementing the “Housing First” model, in which homeless people are quickly connected to permanent housing, without preconditions, such as sobriety or entering substance abuse treatment. Housing First is now the standard of care nationwide to address chronic homelessness. While San Francisco faces unprecedented challenges to solve homelessness in light of high housing costs, she said this work provides the roadmap to a solution.

Hawgood underscored UCSF’s longstanding commitment to social justice and highlighted innovative programs that are improving the health and well-being of the most vulnerable populations, such as:

  • The School of Dentistry’s Community Dental Clinic, which is celebrating its 25th year of providing free dental services to homeless and low-income residents of San Francisco.
  • The UCSF Alliance Health Project, a program in the Division of HIV/LGBT Mental Health Services, which was founded early in the AIDS epidemic in 1984, and provides mental health and substance abuse services to more than 3,500 people each year in the Castro and Civic Center/Tenderloin neighborhoods.
  • The Center for Science, Education, and Outreach, which is celebrating 20 years of bringing science to life for youth in the San Francisco Unified School District. Last year, the center served more than 3,500 students, 580 families and 30 high school counselors. 

Hawgood also stressed the university’s ongoing commitment to diversity in both the student body and faculty ranks.

  • UCSF welcomed a highly diverse group of nearly 1,000 new students, 65 percent of whom are women and nearly half of whom were born in California. Some 27 percent are the first in their families to attend college and 45 percent are the first to attend graduate school
  • In addition, 40 percent of the medical school’s class of 2022 self-identified as members of groups that have historically been underrepresented in medicine, the highest percentage in UCSF history. And the School of Medicine has increased the percentage of underrepresented minority residents from 18 percent to 29 percent in two years. 

“It is important that our leadership, faculty, staff, students and trainees reflect that rich diversity so that together our unique life experiences and perspectives inform our work,” Hawgood said.

The Chancellor also pointed to a year of significant growth for UCSF – financially, physically and in its impact – and acknowledged the supportive community that helped make it possible. 

  • UCSF reported strong revenues and other income from grants and gifts to support the university’s mission-critical work. For the fiscal year ending in June, total revenues supporting core activities increased nearly 70 percent to just over $7 billion compared to $4.14 billion just five years ago.
  • UCSF provided $384 million in uncompensated care, including care for uninsured patients and unreimbursed care to Medi-Cal patients. UCSF continues to be the No. 1 provider of hospital care to Medi-Cal patients among all San Francisco hospitals.
  • UCSF researchers received almost $600 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health last year, more than any other public institution. 

UCSF Health and its affiliates continued to receive top rankings for its clinical care.

  • UCSF Medical Center was once again recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the top hospital in California and among the finest hospitals nationwide. 
  • UCSF Medical Center was also named the best hospital in California for cancer treatment, and was ranked third nationwide and best in the West for neurology and neurosurgery. 

Hawgood said he is now prioritizing the revitalization of UCSF’s oldest campus, Parnassus Heights, beginning with a $500 million commitment from the Helen Diller Foundation to support the planning, design, and construction of a new, world-class hospital.

“This gift ensures that UCSF can continue to provide premier care to patients in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond,” Hawgood said. “And it allows UCSF to begin the extensive planning process for an architecturally outstanding, patient-centered and environmentally sustainable hospital.”

That gift is part of a record-breaking year of fundraising for UCSF. Since the public launch of the first comprehensive campaign in more than a decade, the university has raised $1.2 billion, making it one of only a handful of academic institutions to have reached the billion-dollar threshold in just one year.

Hawgood noted that UCSF is also committed to helping address climate change, working toward the goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. This includes adding 1.8 megawatts of solar panels at six UCSF sites by the end of this year. And the university will replace its aging gasoline and diesel-powered shuttles with a new electric fleet, removing 60 metric tons of CO2 from the air per year.

 “As we look to the future, it is clear that UCSF – as one of the Bay Area’s founding institutions – is positioned well to put our considerable resources, both human and fiscal, to work on making life better for families, neighbors, patients and future generations,” he said.

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals – UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – as well as Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians and the UCSF Faculty Practice. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. UCSF faculty also provide all physician care at the public Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, and the SF VA Medical Center. The UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program is a major branch of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine.