Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University (SLU) is a private Roman Catholic research university with campuses in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, and Madrid, Spain.[6] Founded in 1818 by Louis Guillaume Valentin Dubourg,[7] it is the oldest university west of the Mississippi River and the second-oldest Jesuit university in the United States. It is one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.[8] The university is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.[9] SLU's athletic teams compete in NCAA's Division I and are a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference. It has an enrollment of 12,546 students with an additional 7,101 students enrolled in its 1818 advanced college credit program. The 2019-20 student body includes 8,072 undergraduate students and 4,474 graduate students that represents all 50 states and more than 82 foreign countries.[2] Its average class size for undergraduates is 26 and the student-faculty ratio is 9:1.[2]

Saint Louis University
Latin: Universitas Sancti Ludovici
Former names
Saint Louis Academy (1818–1820)
Saint Louis College (1820)
Motto"Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam"
Motto in English
For the greater glory of God
TypePrivate Nonprofit
Research Coeducational
EstablishedNovember 16, 1818 (1818-11-16)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Academic affiliations
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities,[1] North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools
Endowment$1.23 billion[2]
PresidentFred Pestello
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States

38.636497°N 90.233903°W / 38.636497; -90.233903
CampusUrban – 271 acres (109.7 ha)[4]
ColorsBlue      and      White [5]
Sporting affiliations
NCAA Division IA-10

For more than 50 years, the university has maintained a campus in Madrid, Spain.[10] The Madrid campus was the first freestanding campus operated by an American university in Europe and the first American institution to be recognized by Spain's higher education authority as an official foreign university. The campus has 850 students, a faculty of 110, an average class size of 17 and a student-faculty ratio of 12:1.[11]


Saint Louis University traces its origins to the Saint Louis Academy, founded on November 16, 1818 by the Most Reverend Louis Guillaume Valentin Dubourg, Bishop of Louisiana and the Floridas, and placed under the charge of the Reverend François Niel and others of the secular clergy attached to the Saint Louis Cathedral. Its first location was in a private residence near the Mississippi River in an area now occupied by the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial within the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Already having a two-story building for the 65 students using Bishop Dubourg's personal library of 8,000 volumes for its printed materials, the name Saint Louis Academy was changed in 1820 to Saint Louis College (while the secondary school division remained Saint Louis Academy, now known as St. Louis University High School). In 1827 Bishop Dubourg placed Saint Louis College in the care of the Society of Jesus. Not long after that, it received its charter as a university by act of the Missouri Legislature.[7] In 1829 it moved to Washington Avenue and Ninth at the site of today's America's Center by the Edward Jones Dome. In 1852 the university and its teaching priests were the subject of a viciously anti-Catholic novel, The Mysteries of St. Louis, written by newspaper editor Henry Boernstein whose popular paper, the Anzeiger des Westens was also a foe of the university.[12]

In 1867 after the American Civil War the University purchased "Lindell's Grove" to be the site of its current campus.[13] Lindell's Grove was the site of the Civil War "Camp Jackson Affair". On May 10, 1861 U.S. Regulars and Federally enrolled Missouri Volunteers arrested the Missouri Volunteer Militia after the militia received a secret shipment of siege artillery, infantry weapons and ammunition from the Confederate Government. While the Militia was arrested without violence, angry local citizens rushed to the site, and rioting broke out, in which 28 people were killed. The Camp Jackson Affair lead to open conflict within the state, culminating with a successful Federal offensive in mid-June 1861 which expelled the state's pro-secession governor Claiborne Fox Jackson from the state capitol (Jefferson City). Jackson later led a Missouri Confederate government-in-exile, dying of cancer in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1862.

The first (and most iconic) building on campus, DuBourg Hall, began construction in 1888, and the college moved to its new location in 1889. St. Francis Xavier College Church moved to its current location with the completion of the lower church in 1884. It was completed in 1898.[14]

During the early 1940s, many local priests, especially the Jesuits, began to challenge the segregationist policies at the city's Catholic colleges and parochial schools.[15] After the Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American newspaper, ran a 1944 exposé on St. Louis Archbishop John J. Glennon's interference with the admittance of a black student at the local Webster College,[16] Fr. Claude Heithaus, SJ, professor of Classical Archaeology at Saint Louis University, delivered an angry homily accusing his own institution of immoral behavior in its segregation policies. By summer of 1944, Saint Louis University had opened its doors to African Americans, after its president, Father Patrick Holloran, secured Glennon's reluctant approval.[17]

Shift to majority lay board of trustees

In 1967, Saint Louis University became one of the first Catholic universities to increase layperson decision making power. At the time, then board chairman Fr. Paul Reinert, SJ, stepped aside to be replaced by layman Daniel Schlafly. The board also shifted to an 18 to 10 majority of laypeople.[18] This was largely instituted due to the landmark Maryland Court of Appeals case, Horace Mann vs. the Board of Public Works of Maryland, in which grants to "largely sectarian" colleges were declared unconstitutional. The Second Vatican Council has also been mentioned as a major influence on this decision for its increased focus on the laity, as well as the decreased recruitment of nuns and priests since the council.[19]

From 1985 to 1992 the Chairman of the Board of Trustees was William H. T. Bush (younger brother of former President George H. W. Bush). The younger Bush also taught classes at the school.[20]

Since the move to lay oversight, debate has erupted many times over how much influence the Roman Catholic Church should have on the affairs of the university. The decision by the University to sell its hospital to Tenet Healthcare Corp. in 1997 met much resistance by both local and national Church leaders, but went ahead as planned.[21] In 2015, the Catholic SSM Health system assumed operation of Saint Louis University hospital. A $500 million rebuilding of the hospital and construction of a new ambulatory care center is expected to be complete in 2020.[22]


  • 1818 – First institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River[2]
  • 1832 – First graduate programs west of the Mississippi River[2]
  • 1836 – First medical school west of the Mississippi River[2]
  • 1843 – First in the West to open a school of law[2]
  • 1906 – First forward pass in football history[2]
  • 1910 – First business school west of the Mississippi River[2]
  • 1925 – First department of geophysics in the Western Hemisphere[2]
  • 1927 – First federally licensed school of aviation[2]
  • 1944 – First university in Missouri to establish an official policy admitting African-American students, integrating its student body[23]
  • 1959 – First dual credit program west of the Mississippi, named the 1818 Project and now known as the 1818 Advanced College Credit Program[2]
  • 1967 – First major Catholic institution in the world with an integrated lay and religious board of trustees[2]
  • 1972 – First human heart transplant in Missouri[2]
  • 2000 – First Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in aviation in the world awarded[2]


SLU's campus in Midtown St. Louis consists of over 282 acres (114.1 ha) of land, with129 buildings on campus. The School of Law is located in downtown St. Louis in Scott Hall.

For the 2018–19 school year, the university installed 2,300 Echo Dots, the hardware for Amazon's "smart assistant," Alexa, in students’ dorm rooms. SLU is the first college or university in the United States to bring an Amazon Alexa-enabled device into every student apartment or student residence hall room on the campus.[24]

Libraries and museums

Saint Louis University has four libraries. Pius XII Memorial Library is the general academic library. It holds over 1 million books, 6,000 journal subscriptions, and 140 electronic databases. Recent renovations, include more seating and study areas, designated noise zones and the creation of an Academic Technology Commons.[25] The Knights of Columbus Vatican Film Library holds a unique collection of microfilm focusing on the manuscripts housed in the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana. The Omer Poos Law Library houses the law collection and is within the School of Law. The Medical Center Library serves the health and medical community at SLU.

Every year, the Saint Louis University Library Associates present the St. Louis Literary Award to a distinguished figure in literature. Sir Salman Rushdie received the 2009 Literary Award. E.L. Doctorow received the 2008 Saint Louis Literary Award.

The University also has three museums, the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA), the Saint Louis University Museum of Art (SLUMA), and the historic Samuel Cupples House and McNamee Gallery[26].

Clock tower

Saint Louis University's clock tower is in the middle of campus, making it the ideal center stage for student's everyday life. Many social gatherings have been held here, ranging from protests, to philanthropy events sponsored by the school's Greek life.

The clock tower was constructed in 1993 and served to close off the campus from the remainder of West Pine Avenue, which at one point ran through it. In 2011 the clock tower was dedicated to a prominent alumnus of Saint Louis University, Joseph G. Lipic, and was renamed the Joseph G. Lipic Clock Tower Plaza.[27] The clock runs on a turret clock electrical system. In a turret clock electrical system, according to the Anderson Institute,[28] the clock is run electronically using a pendulum system to make the clock turn. Within clock towers, a quartz crystal device makes the clock run precisely on a consistent basis and is only a second off every 10 years. The SLU clock tower also features fountains around the perimeter at the base. These fountains are run by a wind sensor that can detect the wind speeds to determine the height the fountains reach.


Saint Louis has both dormitory and apartment space on campus. Up-to-date information on housing options is available on the University's website.[29]

As part of the First Year Experience (FYE) program, students are required to live on campus (unless a commuter from the Saint Louis area) for the first two years of their careers at SLU. The sophomore residency requirement caused controversy when initiated in the 2009–10 school year, as the University lacked adequate housing to house all sophomores and upperclassmen who requested on-campus housing. In the 2010–11 school year, the school announced the transfer of the Student Housing Scholarship (of $1,000 to $2,000) to Tuition Scholarship, which made off-campus housing more affordable and pursued by upperclassmen. Two new residence halls, Spring Hall and Grand Hall, were completed recently, adding capacity for nearly 1,000 additional students[30] and creating a new dining hall, classroom space and other assets.

Freshman Year Experience options

Grand Hall, completed in 2017, and Spring Hall, completed in 2016, are both occupied by first-year and second-year students at SLU. Resources include several learning communities, which allow freshmen to live and study with like-minded or like-majored peers.

The Griesedieck Complex (also known as "Gries", pronounced "greez") contains 16 stories of living space in its main building, which was completed in 1963,[31] with additional living space in its two wings: Walsh, all female, and Clemens, all male. Gries is in the heart of the campus, in front of the quad, and has an average freshman living space, 10' 7.5" by 18' 2", with community showers and bathrooms. Reinert Hall, named after Jesuit Father Paul C. Reinert, is two blocks south of the main campus in a converted Marriott hotel. Where the building lacks in location it makes up for in living space, containing some of the largest dormitories across the country, 12' 1" by 27', complete with private full baths in each room, though each room houses three to four roommates.

Upperclass options

Several housing choices exist for sophomores, juniors and seniors. DeMattias Hall acts as a Greek dormitory and de facto community House. Next to DeMattias Hall is Marguerite Hall, which offers eight floors of suite-style two-occupancy dorm rooms.

Grand Forest, the Village, and the Marchetti Towers are the on-campus apartment options available for upperclassmen. The Marchetti Towers are just west of Grand Forest and consists of two, 12-story towers. During the summer of 2008, Marchetti Towers underwent a $3.8 million renovation.

Major building and renovation projects

During the past 20 years, the University has seen the modernization and construction of campus buildings as well as the revitalization of surrounding Midtown St. Louis. Some of the highlights of three decades at SLU include the investment of more than $840 million in enhancements and expansions including the major expansion of the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business; construction of McDonnell Douglas Hall, home to Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology; the Center for Advanced Dental Education; the Doisy College of Health Sciences Building and the expansion and renovation of the Busch Student Center. Part of this expansion was the closing of two blocks of West Pine Boulevard (the section between N. Vandeventer Ave. and N. Grand Blvd.) and two blocks of N. Spring Ave. (between Lindell Blvd. and Laclede Ave.), both public streets which the campus had previously expanded across, converting them into a pedestrian mall. Furthermore, the University completed construction of the $82 million Edward A. Doisy Research Center in 2007 and the on-campus Chaifetz Arena in 2008.[32]

Edward A. Doisy Research Center

SLU recently completed building a $67 million, 10-story tall research center connected to its Medical Campus Building. It is designed to be a green building and is named for Edward Adelbert Doisy, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine laureate of 1943 and a long-time faculty member at SLU's medical school.[33] With improvements to other research building facilities, the total cost of the project is forecast to be around $80 million. The building had its official dedication ceremony on December 7, 2007, with faculty and staff having begun to move in during the previous weeks.

In July 2010, the Edward A. Doisy Research Center became home to the Center for World Health and Medicine, a non-profit drug discovery group dedicated to developing therapies for orphan and neglected diseases.

Saint Louis University School of Law

Saint Louis University School of Law was founded in 1843 and is the oldest law school west of the Mississippi River.[34] The students attend classes in Scott Hall, which is in downtown St. Louis.[35] The Hall was previously renovated and for the first time, the Saint Louis University Law Library and Legal Clinics are housed under the same roof as the School.[35] The current dean for the School of Law is William P. Johnson.[36]

Chaifetz Arena

The multi-purpose arena, construction of which was completed in early April 2008 at a cost of $80.5 million, contains 10,600 seats for basketball, a training facility, state-of-the-art locker rooms, and a practice facility that can house an additional 1,000 spectators. It is on the easternmost end of campus, just north of I-64/US 40. The arena replaced Scottrade Center as the University's primary location for large events, notably Commencement celebrations and varsity sports. On February 28, 2007, the arena was named in honor of University alumnus (1975) Dr. Richard Chaifetz, founder and CEO of ComPsych Corp., who made a $12 million naming rights gift to the Arena.[37] The University's official dedication ceremony for the Arena was held on April 10, 2008.[38]


In May 2019, Washington University in St. Louis and Saint Louis University launched the COLLAB at Cortex. The universities intend to use the 7,700-square-foot suite for various joint and separate projects, including training students in cybersecurity, entrepreneurship and other high-demand fields. COLLAB is also intended to forge deals with industry to turn research discoveries into products; find or train technology workers; and pursue geospatial research, data science, and health informatics.[39]

Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building

In 2020, the University is expected to open a new, 90,000-square-foot, three-story structure featuring innovative teaching environments and flexible lab spaces.[40] The building is expected to supplement bioinformatics, biology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, neuroscience and computer science courses that support all science, engineering, nursing and health science majors at SLU.


University rankings
ARWU[41] 100–119
Forbes[42] 161
Times/WSJ[43] 106
U.S. News & World Report[44] 96
Washington Monthly[45] 138[46]
ARWU[47] 301–400
Times[48] 501–600
U.S. News & World Report[49] 539

SLU offers 91 undergraduate majors and 83 graduate disciplines, along with programs adapted to working adults at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, including 25 completely online programs.[50]

The University operates under one overall president but has the following schools with their own deans or directors: College of Arts and Sciences, College of Philosophy and Letters, Doisy College of Health Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Center for Advanced Dental Education, College for Public Health and Social Justice, School of Social Work, Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, School of Education, School of Law, Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, Campus in Madrid (Spain), School for Professional Studies, Center for Outcomes Research.[51]


The Saint Louis Billikens are the collegiate athletic varsity teams of Saint Louis University. This NCAA Division I program has teams in soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, swimming and diving, cross country, tennis, track and field, and field hockey. They compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference (where they are the westernmost member, and both the first member west of the Mississippi and in the Central Time Zone). The school has nationally recognized soccer programs for men and women. In 2016 the women's basketball team made their second trip to the Women's National Invitation Tournament.[52] The school has heavily invested in its on-campus athletic facilities in the past twenty years with the creation of Hermann Stadium and Chaifetz Arena. Chris May is the current director of athletics. Travis Ford, who took Oklahoma State to five NCAA tournaments in eight years, was hired as men's basketball coach in March 2016.[53]

The Saint Louis Billikens have a student-run fan club called the SLUnatics. This club supports all sporting Billiken athletic events focusing mostly on soccer and basketball. At Billiken basketball games, the SLUnatics have a large cheering section where they lead chants and cheers to engage the crowd. In order to encourage students to attend athletic events and be a part of SLUnatics, a program called Billiken Rewards was created. It is a free program where students collect credits at designated events to earn prizes. Through five different prize levels, students can earn a variety of Billiken merchandise.

Student life

Campus Ministry

Campus Ministry presents a variety of activities and events noted at its website[54] including widespread opportunities to attend Holy Mass[55] and numerous retreat experiences.[56] The department also collaborates with the Center for Service and Community Engagement.[57]

Center for Service and Community Engagement

The Center, with six on its full-time staff,[58] works with campus ministry and student organizations to foster community service.[59] It also helps teachers in more than 80 courses[60] to incorporate service-learning components[61] and to devise community-based research projects.[62][63] The Center cooperates with the thirteen student service-oriented organizations on campus.[64]

Students at SLU ranked 4th among the universities in the country in hours of community service in 2015, according to the Washington Monthly report.[65] In line with the Jesuit objective of training men and women for others,[66] the Center offers dozens of service opportunities to students. Some areas for volunteers to choose from include: adult education, animals, art and culture, business/employment, children/youth, community centers/neighborhoods, environment, faith and justice, healthcare, housing/homelessness, hunger, law/public policy, mental health/disabilities, multi-cultural, older adults, victims, and women and gender.[67]

The Center offers numerous fairs and special events to assist students and staff to become more involved in service to the local community. These include a Community Service Fair involving over 70 nonprofits, a Social Justice Fair featuring dozens of activity and advocacy groups, and Make A Difference Day when the whole university community, past and present, disperses to "make a difference" at numerous work sites around the city. There are also three donation drives spread throughout the year: KidSmart, Blue Santa, and clothing and toiletries. And October and November find twenty-six different organizations around the city welcoming students to help in their one-day events.[68] SLU was also "the first ever service site for the national nonprofit organization The Campus Kitchens Project". The university also offers the opportunity of the Federal Work Study program.[69]

Immersion experiences involve planning from weeks before the experience, a week-long experience, and reflection sessions after. Locales currently visited include: St. Louis, MO, Mobile, AL (L’Arche). Wheeling, WV, Kermit, WV, Navajo Nation, AZ, Los Angeles, CA, El Paso, TX/Juarez, MX, and Nogales AZ / Nogales, MX (Kino Border Initiative). Student leadership training is also offered in conjunction with these experiences.[70] Summer volunteer work at Camp Kesem is another initiative that trains student leaders.[71]

Cooperating organizations at the university include Interfaith Alliance and SLUCORE which promote interfaith activities, social justice awareness, and service in the community.[72] Another program on social justice formation is an Ignatian Family Teach-in in Washington, D.C. – a weekend of learning and advocacy.[73] Training for advocacy through the business school as well as summer and year-long programs are also offered.[74]

Student organizations

Saint Louis University has over 240 student organizations that cover a variety of interests: student government, club sports, organizations focused on media and publications, performing arts, religion and volunteerism and service.[75]

  • Alpha Kappa Psi (ΑΚΨ) – A co-educational professional business fraternity, it is the oldest and largest professional business fraternity to current date.
  • Alpha Phi Omega (APO)- A co-educational service fraternity that promotes the values of leadership, friendship, and service. Being one of the largest chapters in the nation, SLU's chapter (founded in 1944) performed over 15,000 hours to the St. Louis community in the 2009–2010 academic year.
  • Delta Sigma Pi (DSP) – A co-ed professional business fraternity in the Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business that promotes the study of business, commerce, and economics. The fraternity hosts professional events, participates in community service, and attends national conferences on a regular basis.[76]
  • Parks Guard – Military drill team that competes in military drill competitions and conducts honor guard ceremonies for local events
  • Campus Kitchen – Program where student volunteers cook safe, unused food from campus dining facilities and deliver meals to low-income individuals and local community organizations.
  • Global Brigades – International student led organization that focuses on holistic and sustainable development working with global communities in need. Saint Louis University sends groups to Nicaragua, Panama, and Honduras.
  • Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED) – Pre-health honor society hosting medically oriented speakers and providing information, guidance, and resources to pre-medical and other pre-health students.

Greek life

Saint Louis has seven fraternities and seven sororities on-campus.[77]

Notable alumni


The Arts






  • Michael G. Brandt – Air National Guard Brigadier General.
  • Thomas Anthony Dooley – Humanitarian who worked in Southeastern Asia; author of Deliver Us from Evil, The Edge of Tomorrow, and The Night They Burned the Mountain.
  • John Kaiser – M.H.M. Mill Hill Missionary died under suspicious circumstances while serving in Kenya. Received an Award for Distinguished Service in the Promotion of Human Rights from the Law Society of Kenya prior to his death.
  • Bradbury Robinson – Threw the first legal forward pass in football history for SLU in 1906. Captained SLU's baseball and track teams. Practiced surgery at the Mayo Clinic (1908–1910) and served on the staff of Surgeon General Hugh S. Cumming (1920–1926). Twice elected mayor of St. Louis, Michigan (1931 and 1937).
  • Sister Rose Thering O.P. (Ph.D. 1961) – Dominican nun whose campaign against anti-Semitism in Catholic textbooks is the subject of the Oscar-nominated 39-minute documentary film directed by Oren Jacoby, Sister Rose's Passion.
  • Richard Stika – Third Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville.[83]
  • Bobby Wilks – First African American Coast Guard aviator, the first African American to reach the rank of captain in the Coast Guard and the first African American to command a Coast Guard air station.[84]
  • Edward Rice - Seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield - Cape Girardeau.[85]

Notable faculty


  • Vernon Bourke (1931–1975) – philosopher and author, considered an authority on Thomistic moral philosophy; first hockey coach of the university.
  • Edward Adelbert Doisy, (November 3, 1893 – October 23, 1986) – biochemist, awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1943 with Henrik Dam for their discovery of vitamin K and its chemical structure.
  • Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, served as an adjunct professor of theology.
  • James B. Macelwane – pioneering seismologist
  • Marshall McLuhan (1937–1944) – well known for coining the expressions "the medium is the message" and the "global village".
  • Kurt Schuschnigg (1948–1967) – Chancellor of Austria from 1934 to 1938. An ally of Mussolini who advocated for continued Austrian national sovereignty as opposed to annexation or anschluss by the Third Reich and for advocating the conservative, authoritarian and pro-Catholic state established by assassinated chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss (often referred to as austrofascism), Schuschnigg is known for his suppression of political opposition in Austria, including the communists, social democrats and Nazis. He was pressured to resign by Hitler during his country's annexation by Germany and was interned by the Nazis in the Dachau concentration camp.
  • Thomas Shippey – author and former faculty member of Oxford University, where he taught Old English. Widely considered one of the leading academic scholars of J. R. R. Tolkien.


School presidents

The university's current president is Fred Pestello.[86]


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