Xavier University of Louisiana

Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA), located in the Gert Town section of New Orleans, Louisiana, in the United States, is a private, coeducational, liberal arts college with the distinction of being the only historically black Roman Catholic institution of higher education in the United States.

Xavier University of Louisiana
MottoDeo Adjuvante Non Timendum
Motto in English
"With God's help there is nothing to fear."
TypePrivate, HBCU
Established1925 (1925)
FounderSt. Katharine Drexel
Endowment$171 million (2018)[1]
ChairmanSonia Perez
PresidentDr. C. Reynold Verret
ProvostDr. Anne McCall
Students3,231 (Fall 2018)[2]
Location, ,
29°57′55″N 90°06′25″W
Colors     Gold      White
AthleticsNAIA Division IGCAC
NicknameGold Rush and Gold Nuggets
AffiliationsACCU UNCF
  • 9 varsity teams
  • (4 men's & 5 women's)


Located in New Orleans, Xavier University of Louisiana was established in 1925 when Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament founded the coeducational secondary school from which it evolved. Drexel, supported by the interest of a substantial inheritance from her father, banker-financier Francis Drexel, founded and staffed many institutions throughout the United States in an effort to help educate Native Americans and African Americans.

Aware of the serious lack of Catholic-oriented education available to young black people in the South, Katharine Drexel (now Saint Katharine Drexel) came to New Orleans and established a high school. The site was previously occupied by Southern University, which had moved to Baton Rouge after an influx of white neighbors petitioned for its relocation. Mother Katharine purchased the property through an agent, but once the true purpose of the transaction became known, vandals smashed all the building's windows.[3]

Xavier University Preparatory School opened on 27 September 1915[4] and was named after Francis Drexel's patron saint.[5] Also known as Xavier Prep, it remained in operation until 2013; today, St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School operates from the same location on Magazine Street in New Orleans.

In 1917 the school was expanded to include a normal school, as teaching was one of the few career fields open to Blacks at the time, and Archbishop James Blenk was eager for graduates to teach six new Black parishes that were planned.[5] By 1922, the school was cited, using the name "Xavier University," as the only Catholic institution in the United States that offered "a full four years' high school course to Colored boys."[6] In 1925 Xavier University of Louisiana became a reality when the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was established. The first degrees were awarded three years later. The College of Pharmacy was opened two years later in 1927.

Recognizing the university's need for a separate identity and room to expand, St. Katharine bought a tract of undeveloped land for a campus on the corner of Palmetto and Pine Streets in 1929. To avoid blockage of the deal, Mother Katharine again purchased the property through an agent. Construction of the U-shaped, Gothic Revival Xavier University Main Building, Convent and Library, made from Indiana limestone and now a national landmark, were completed between 1932 and 1937.[7] The Administration building is also a City of New Orleans landmark.[8]

Campus construction

Through the years, as needs dictated, the campus gradually expanded:

In 2018, Xavier had an endowment of approximately $171 million, which is the fourth highest of Louisiana's colleges and universities.[9]

The campus of Xavier University of Louisiana is often referred to as "Emerald City" due to the various buildings on campus that have green roofs. These include the Library/Resource center, the Norman C. Francis science addition, the University Center, the Living Learning Center, the Saint Martin De Porres hall and the Katharine Drexel hall.

The Blessed Sacrament Sisters remain a vital presence on campus, providing much-needed staffing and some financial assistance, but today Xavier is governed by a multicultural Board of Trustees. In 1987, Pope John Paul II addressed the presidents of all U.S. Catholic colleges from the courtyard of the Xavier administration building. Norman C. Francis retired in 2015, after 47 years as president of the university.

United States civil rights movement

In May 1961, the civil rights activist group known as the Freedom Riders arrived in New Orleans by plane after bus drivers in Alabama refused to take them to Montgomery, Alabama. Locals, aware of the fire bombings and other attacks that had befallen the group, refused to accommodate them with lodging out of fear of retaliatory violence. Xavier President Emeritus Norman C. Francis, at the time the university's Dean of Men, secretly arranged for the group to stay several days in a dormitory on campus. Francis received permission from University President Sister Mary Josephina to allow the group to occupy space on the third floor of St. Michael's Hall under the condition that the press would not be alerted as to the move. Historic St. Michael's Hall, on Pine Street on Xavier's campus, still accommodates male students in traditional dormitory style.

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005, striking the New Orleans area. Xavier, located in the lower-lying Gert Town section and adjacent to the Washington-Palmetto Canal,[10] suffered damage to almost every structure on campus. Many buildings sat partially submerged for extended periods of time following the hurricane. Dr. Norman C. Francis, President of the University, organized boats and buses to transport stranded faculty, staff, and students from the campus to safe areas.[11] Students began returning to the university in January 2006.[12]

In April 2006, the nation of Qatar donated $17.5 million to assist the university in hurricane recovery and in expanding the school's College of Pharmacy.[13] The groundbreaking ceremony in 2008 was attended by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, leader of Qatar, and on 15 October 2010 the school's Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion opened, adding 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) adjacent to the existing College of Pharmacy building.

President Barack Obama visited New Orleans in August 2010 to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. He gave his address from Xavier, complimenting the work of the leaders of the community and affirming the commitment to continue to aid in the re-building of the area.[14] In 2006, the university had bestowed an Honorary Degree on then-Senator Obama.

Xavier University received the "Katrina Compassion Award" from the US government Corporation for National and Community Service in 2006, for the combined efforts of an estimated 60% of its students in rebuilding the neighborhoods damaged by the hurricane.[15]


Xavier is Catholic and historically black. However, its doors have always been open to qualified students of every race and creed. Today 25.1 percent of its students are not African-American and 74.3 percent are not Catholic.

More than half (58.2%) of Xavier students are from Louisiana – primarily from the New Orleans area. Non-local enrollment continues to increase with students coming from at least 40 other states – most notably Texas (7.5%) and Georgia (4.9%). Five foreign countries are represented on campus. Student life is enriched by the social and cultural setting of New Orleans and by campus activities designed to enhance personal growth, interpersonal skills, and leadership in such areas as community service, the environment, cultural concerns, and social justice.


University President

Dr. C. Reynold Verret is Xavier University of Louisiana's sixth president. He assumed his position as the university's leader during the Summer of 2015 and was officially inaugurated in the university's Academic Convocation Center on 26 February 2016.

President Emeritus

At the time of his retirement, President Emeritus Dr. Norman C. Francis was the longest serving president of a university in the United States. Himself a Xavier graduate, he led the university for 47 years (1968-2015) and became a nationally recognized leader in higher education. Among other honors and roles entrusted to him, he served as the head of several national educational groups and in 2006 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.[16][17]


Notability for pre-med and science programs

University rankings
U.S. News & World Report[18] 17 (South)
Master's University class
Washington Monthly[19] 114

A premier university for educating African-American students in the sciences, Xavier is consistently the national leader in placing African American students into medical school as well as first in awarding African-Americans baccalaureate degrees in the physical sciences and biological sciences.[20][21] Xavier's College of Pharmacy is one of just two pharmacy schools in Louisiana.[22] Xavier consistently ranks among the top three colleges in the nation in graduating African Americans with Pharm.D. degrees.[23] In 2015, the New York Times Magazine published an article praising the university for being the top producer of African-American medical doctors.[24]

Dual degree engineering program

Xavier does not offer engineering degrees but belongs to partnerships with several engineering institutions that automatically admit qualified Xavier science students interested in pursuing a bachelor's in an engineering discipline. Students who successfully complete the program will receive a bachelor's degree from Xavier and the chosen engineering institution in approximately five years. Engineering institutions in partnership with Xavier are Tulane University, University of New Orleans, Southern University at Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University, University of Notre Dame, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, University of Detroit Mercy, Georgia Institute of Technology, and University of Wisconsin at Madison.[25]

Campus life


Xavier's athletics teams are nicknamed Gold Rush for men's teams and Gold Nuggets for women's teams. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), competing in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Men's sports include basketball, cross country, tennis, and track & field; women's sports include basketball, cross country, tennis, track & field, and volleyball.

Xavier's basketball and volleyball teams compete on campus in their new facility, the Xavier University Academic Convocation Center. The Convocation Center is a $25 million facility with a seating capacity of 4,500.

The website for the Xavier Athletics Department is www.xulagold.com.

Student organizations

Notable alumni

In addition to former president, Dr. Norman C. Francis, distinguished alumni include:

LaToya Cantrell 1997 The first female mayor of New Orleans.[26]
Nathaniel Clifton 1946 First African American to sign a contract with an NBA team and stick with a team; member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Attended but did not graduate; left to join the Army during World War II.
Mary Munson Runge 1948 First woman, and first African American, to be elected president of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA).
Ernest Nathan Morial 1951 First African-American mayor of New Orleans. Also the father of former New Orleans mayor and head of National Urban League Marc Morial.
John Stroger 1953 First African-American president of the Cook County, Illinois, Board of Commissioners.
Bernard P. Randolph 1954 USAF General, retired: only the third African-American to reach the rank of four-star general in any branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, serving as head of the USAF Space and Defense Systems Command. Later an executive with the defense contractor TRW Corporation.
Marino Casem 1956 Head football Coach at Alabama State University, Alcorn State University, and Southern University; member of College Football Hall of Fame.
Débria Brown 1958 Mezzo-Soprano opera singer
Marie McDemmond 1968 First female president at Norfolk State University (enrollment 8,400). Previously served as vice president for finance and chief operating officer at Florida Atlantic University.
Gilbert L. Rochon 1968 Sixth President of Tuskegee University.
Alexis Herman 1969 First African American U.S. Secretary of Labor; director of the White House office of Public Liaison.
Ivan L. R. Lemelle 1971 Twice U.S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court in New Orleans (eight-year terms).
Vernel Bagneris 1972 Playwright, actor, director, Obie Award Recipient.
Dr. Regina Benjamin 1979 United States Surgeon General; first physician under the age of 40 and first AA woman named to the American Medical Association's Board of Trustees. Formerly president, Alabama State Medical Association; recipient of MacArthur Genius Award.
Stephen W. Rochon 1984 Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher at the White House; Rear Admiral of the Coast Guard.
Todd Stroger 1985 Elected Cook County, Illinois Board President in 2006, succeeding his father, John Stroger.
Gary Carter, Jr. c.1996 Member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans.
Jared Brossett c.2004 Member of the New Orleans City Council for District D; member of the Louisiana House of Representatives for District 97 in Orleans Parish, 2009-2014.
Candice Stewart 2006 First African American Miss Louisiana USA, she was also Miss Louisiana Teen USA, and a NFL cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans.

Notable faculty and staff

See also


  1. http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/xavier-louisiana-2032
  2. http://www2.xula.edu/opira/ir/documents/university-profile/01.pdf
  3. Jr, Peter Finney (2016-09-01). "The Legacy of Saint Katharine Drexel". Franciscan Media. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
  4. "Industrial school for colored youth". The Times-Picayune. 5 September 1915.
  5. Baldwin, Lou (2000). Saint Katharine Drexel: Apostle to the Oppressed. Philadelphia, PA: The Catholic Standard and Times. pp. 150–152. ISBN 0-9618073-1-8.
  6. "In the whole United States...". The Catholic Tribune (St. Joseph, Missouri). 15 April 1922. p. 9.
  7. "National Register of Historic Places Nomination: Xavier University Main Building, Convent and Library, Orleans Parish, LA". National Park Service. January 16, 2004. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  8. "Xavier University". KnowLouisiana.org. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  9. USNews rankings. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  10. Pope, John. "Xavier University being transformed by influx of money following Hurricane Katrina". Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  11. Clark, Kim. "Norman Francis: Xavier's President Led Through Hurricane Katrina". USA News. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  12. Block, Melissa. "Students Return to Louisiana's Xavier University". NPR. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  13. Strom, Stephanie. "Qatar Grants Millions in Aid to New Orleans". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  14. "Remarks by the President on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana". The White House. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  15. "Katrina Compassion Awards". Corporation for National & Community Service. Archived from the original on September 16, 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  16. "Norman C. Francis, Ph.D. - U.S. News STEM Solutions". U.S. News STEM Solutions. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  17. "Celebrating Dr. Norman Francis at his last Xavier University commencement: Editorial". NOLA.com. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  18. "Best Colleges 2020: Regional Universities Rankings". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  19. "2019 Rankings -- Masters Universities". Washington Monthly. Retrieved September 8, 2019.
  20. Pope, John. "Xavier leads the nation in African-American medical graduates". Times-Picayune. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  21. A Prescription for More Black Doctors: How does tiny Xavier University in New Orleans manage to send more African-American students to medical school than any other college in the country? New York Times Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  22. University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) also offers the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, but, unlike Xavier, ULM is under public control and in the northern part of Louisiana.
  23. "College of Pharmacy General Information". Archived from the original on September 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  24. Hannah-Jones, Nikole (2015-09-09). "A Prescription for More Black Doctors". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-24.
  25. webmaster@xula.edu, name,. "Dual Degree Engineering Program". www.xula.edu. Retrieved 2017-12-24.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  26. http://www.xula.edu/mediarelations/tmax_may2018.html
  27. "Edward S. Bopp". bopplawfirm.com. Retrieved June 28, 2015.
  28. "NBA pioneer Harold Hunter, an ex-Xavier coach, died Thursday". Times-Picayune. 2013-03-07. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
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