Our strategic design positions UHS to be a national leader in shifting school culture.


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Our mission

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.


Our strategic design charts the school’s direction for the next era, building on a legacy of excellence while remaining institutionally reflective and continually poised to respond to our changing world. 

- UHS Strategic design committee


Our vision

We are a courageous community dedicating
ourselves to:



education as a transformational, rather than a transactional, endeavor



our students to invent and sustain their own vision of success and sense of purpose



a school culture that provides a dynamic and challenging education while simultaneously promoting wellness, care, and wholeness



our fundamental belief that collaboration among people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences is essential to deep learning



that University High School remains a strategically nimble institution, engaged in learning, reflection, and growth on all levels


Our values

To fulfill our vision, we commit to conducting ourselves in accordance with these fundamental principles:  

Each value's essence is captured by a color, representing the threads that run throughout many aspects of our school culture.



Being curious, open-minded, and courageous; seeking out different perspectives and learning from one another; striving to deepen our understanding of the evolving world

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Investing wholeheartedly in our work and in one another; cultivating empathy, compassion, mindfulness, and resilience; recognizing and seeking to address injustice

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Being truthful, open, honest, and reflective; honoring the wholeness of each individual; acting to fulfill a purpose larger than the self

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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

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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

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Our strategic pathways

To better fulfill our vision and express our values, we have identified the following seven strategic paths:  

Just as bridges connect communities from different geographical areas, we want our students to integrate and connect their learnings from different disciplines.


Design a more integrated academic program that encourages collaboration, mirrors the realities of the evolving world, considers the latest research on adolescent development, and builds on the strength of our highly regarded liberal arts and sciences curriculum.

Inspiration:  There is a widely shared sense of lost opportunity to connect the student experience across departments and programs at UHS. It is essential that our students find meaning in the intersections among academic disciplines in order to become effective problem-solvers and thought leaders. A clear articulation of a shared inspiration for what drives the evolution of our entire program, along with creative oversight, are necessary to build the most dynamic and relevant curriculum.

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Proactively address the increasing complexity of living in the Bay Area to insure that we continue to attract and support the most talented, diverse, and innovative faculty and staff.

Inspiration:  Challenges in recruiting and retaining excellent faculty have reached crisis levels across the country, and independent schools are not immune to the scarcity of talent. Although UHS faculty salaries remain competitive among our peer schools, we believe that the faculty and staff at UHS are our most valuable asset and that aggressively investing in their well-being will continue to have a far-reaching and exceedingly beneficial impact on the culture and program.

Just as building a bridge links different communities, we want to facilitate greater connections amongst our students and faculty through building new campus infrastructure.

3. BUILD  

Develop facilities that respond to immediate, evolving, and expanding program needs and that support community connection.

Inspiration:  University’s multi­-block campus both enhances and challenges the experience of our students and faculty. The adjacencies of our spaces and programs are awkward, travel time for athletics is excessive, and space devoted to supporting community is inadequate, inhibiting opportunities for greater connections and presenting logistical hurdles and time constraints for our students.


4. OPEN 

Significantly lower the barriers that limit access to UHS so that we can enroll the most motivated, engaged, and diverse student body from all corners of the Bay Area.

Inspiration:  We know that deep learning depends upon a rich diversity of backgrounds and perspectives in each classroom, yet we remain too “need aware” in our admission practices. By increasing our financial and cultural capacity to support every qualified student, we will be closer to achieving our mission.



Enhance and expand programs, structures, policies, and practices to ensure that UHS provides a dynamic and challenging education while simultaneously promoting wellness, care, and the wholeness of each individual.

Inspiration:  UHS is not immune to the culture of perfectionism that exists in the best independent schools, stemming from both the high motivation of the people who choose to study or work here and the external world—including the increasingly competitive college admissions process and our complex global economy. It is the school’s responsibility to equip our students with the competencies, literacies, and skills they need to thrive in this demanding context.


6. PACE 

Reimagine our use of time to support a healthy pace and workload for our students, faculty, and staff.

Inspiration:  We share a sense that our days are too full, too fast, and too fraught with various demands and worry. Our current assessment practices, schedule, and calendar result in waves of work—first for students, and then for teachers. The schedule does not allow for meaningful collaboration, connection, reflection, and integration of our program. Given that time is the most precious and potentially malleable resource we have, we want to ensure that our core values are expressed through our calendar and daily schedule.



Align the UHS culture around a shared set of core values consistent with creating a transformational educational experience for our students.

Inspiration:  In order to ensure the achievement of the outcomes outlined in this strategic direction document, our school must develop a deeply ingrained set of principles that will guide our actions and serve as an essential component in filtering and prioritizing the myriad educational ideas, initiatives, and approaches that merit consideration during this dynamic era of school reform. These principles will serve as “cultural cornerstones” for our student, faculty, parent/guardian, and alumni community.

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