R. Christopher McGee Scholarship

R. Christopher McGee Scholarship

This award is granted annually to support students in the field of geography and the environment.  The award amount is $3000 and one award (to an undergraduate or graduate student) will be granted.  

Chris was born March 27, 1953, in Port Hueneme, CA. When Chris was two, the family moved to Washington State, and the rest of his childhood was spent in Washington and Arizona. After graduation from high school, Chris enrolled in the Arizona State University architecture program but did not finish. He moved to San Francisco and became a bicycle messenger. After two years, he entered the Cal-Berkeley geography program. There he met Professor James Vance and the Vance family, who became in every sense Chris's second family. He finished his master's and continued to study at Cal. Jean Vance, as much a mentor as her husband, helped him get a job as a lecturer in the Geography Department at San Francisco State University. He worked there his entire career, retiring in 2017.

An SFSU colleague remembers Chris this way: "He always shared his profound knowledge and unique insights that were inspirational to our/my professional and intellectual betterment; he always exhibited genuine kindness and lent timely support to colleagues and students alike; he contributed to the Department in an unassuming but invaluable and sustained fashion for decades through his teaching and advising that converted many impressionable young women and men to geography either as a career path or as a way of thinking, as many of his former students would testify. He was infectious with his humorous and genteel approach to life, and his quiet fortitude toward challenges is truly a model for us all. The void that he left behind after his retirement is hard to fill."

Chris was an extraordinary intellect, who loved studying and reading, gardening and wood-working. He also was an excellent cook, and enjoyed giving unforgettable dinner parties. He was deeply in love with the Bay Area, especially the East Bay. He had many dear friends, including Tiffany Vance and her partner Nazila. He was fortunate to end his life on earth on October 6, 2018, in the place and the Vance family home that he loved.

The family is confident this scholarship will keep his memory alive and celebrate the tremendous impact he had and will continue to have on countless lives by helping to support students who share Chris's passion for geography and the environment.

Criteria & Eligibility:               

  • Freshmen/Sophomores/Juniors/Seniors and graduate students in Geography or Environmental Science majors at SFSU.
  • Enrolled in at least 12 units (undergraduate) or 8 units (graduate).

Apply online through the Academic Works Scholarship System by 11:59pm on 10/16/2019 with the following:

  • Statement of 400-600 words demonstrating financial need as well as your passion for the field of geography and the environment, and any unusual challenges, be they personal, financial, or psychological.
  • Current unofficial SFSU transcript.