Alum Willie Brown Recalls Applying to SF State

Monday, April 06, 2020

NOB HILL GAZETTE -- Born in Mineola, Texas, Brown earned degrees from San Francisco State University and Hastings College of the Law. He was elected to the California State Assembly in 1964 and served as speaker of that body for an unprecedented 15 years. As Brown sees it, he would still be in that job today — it if weren’t for term limits. A two-term mayor of San Francisco, Brown has since reinvented himself as a columnist and political pundit. Now in his 80s, he remains relevant and sharp (his recall of dates, addresses and phone numbers is uncanny). And he still has a twinkle in his eye and an infectious joie de vivre.

“My uncle told me that a buddy of his, a doorman he knew, knew somebody at Stanford and that I should go down there and go to school. So, I got on the bus and went to Stanford,” Brown said. “I had not the previous history, not the previous grades, not the previous experience, none of the above, and there was no way I could get into Stanford. But the guy I was talking to also worked at San Francisco State, and he told me, ‘We’re dying for students,’ and they would take me no matter what, even though I didn’t have any of the requirements. ‘Don’t worry about it. They’ll take you.’ And he was right, they did take me.”