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Xavier University of Louisiana
MottoDeo Adjuvenate Non Timendum
Motto in English"If God is with us, Nothing is to be feared"
TypePrivate, HBCU
Religious affiliationCatholic Church (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament)
Endowment$133 million[1]
PresidentNorman Francis
LocationNew Orleans, Louisiana, United States
ColorsGold and White          
AthleticsNational Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
SportsBasketball, Cross Country, Tennis, Volleyball
NicknameGold Rush (men) and Gold Nuggets (women)
AffiliationsGulf Coast Athletic Conference
Xavier is the only Catholic HBCU in the United States

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.


Located in New Orleans, Xavier University of Louisiana was established in 1925 when St. 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 Blacks.

Aware of the serious lack of Catholic-oriented education available to young Blacks in the South, St. Katharine came to New Orleans and established a high school on the site previously occupied by Southern University. The High School continues on today as Xavier University Preparatory School, known as Xavier Prep. A Normal School, offering one of the few career fields (teaching) open to Blacks at the time, was added two years later. In 1925 Xavier University became a reality when the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences was established. The first degrees were awarded three years later. In 1927, a College of Pharmacy was opened.

File:Xavier NOLA Indiana Limestone.jpg

Edifice of the Administration Building is made of Indiana Limestone

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. Construction of the U-shaped, gothic administration building (now a city landmark) was completed in 1933.

Through the years, as needs dictated, the campus gradually filled out, with the addition of a library—which now houses music—in 1937, the gymnasium (1937), St. Michael's men's dormitory (1955), the Student Center (1962), women's dormitories: St. Joseph's (1965) and Katharine Drexel (1969), the House of Studies (1967); the College of Pharmacy (1970), the Norman C. Francis Academic/Science Complex (1988), the new Library/Resource Center and College of Pharmacy addition (1993), and Peter Claver women's dormitory (1994). Xavier South, a multi-story office building, was purchased in 1990. The Living Learning Center, a co-ed residence hall for upperclassmen and the Norman C. Francis science complex addition were completed in 1998. A new student center called the University Center was opened in 2003. It replaces the previous Student Center built in 1962, and now houses the bookstore (previously housed at Xavier South) & the post office (previously housed in the Administration building). An additional dormitory for upperclassmen, the Saint Martin Deporres hall was also opened in 2003. The previous Student Center was recently knocked down to make way for the new Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion, which opened in the Fall of 2010. Construction has begun on the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel. The Chapel will replace the current chapel, now housed in the Administration Building, and will fulfill St. Katharine's vision for a freestanding house of worship and meditation on the campus.


St. Katharine Drexel, founder

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 Deporres hall and the Katherine Drexel hall.

The Sisters remain a vital presence on campus today, 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 at the administration building at Xavier. Xavier's president, Dr. Norman C. Francis, himself a Xavier graduate, is a nationally-recognized leader in higher education.


Since its founding by Katharine Drexel, Xavier's mission has been to serve the African American Catholic community; however its doors have always been open to qualified students of every race and creed. Today 25.1 percent of its enrollment is not African American and 74.3 percent are not Catholic.

More than one-half of Xavier students are from Louisiana (58.2%), primarily from the New Orleans area. Non-local enrollment continues to increase with students coming from 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.

Notability for pre-med graduates

A premier university for educating African-American students in the sciences, Xavier is consistently a national leader in placing African American students into medical school as well as first in awarding African Americans baccalaureate degrees in the physical sciences, the biological/life sciences, and physics.[2] The College of Pharmacy is one of just two pharmacy schools in Louisiana.[3] XULA ranks among the top three colleges in the nation in graduating African Americans with Pharm.D. degrees.[4]

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August 2005, striking the New Orleans area with devastating, long-lasting damage. Xavier, being a landlocked property located in the lower-lying Gert Town section and adjacent to the Washington-Palmetto Canal,[5] suffered wind or water damage up to six feet to almost every structure on campus. Many buildings sat partially submerged for weeks following the deluge brought on by canal breaches during the hurricane. President of the university, Dr. Norman C. Francis, organized boats and buses to caravan stranded faculty, staff and students from the campus to safe areas. He then organized the immediate rehabilitation of damaged structures and committed to returning the campus back to operation by the beginning of the coming spring semester.[6] The administrative staff was set up in temporary offices around the country. Francis and his immediate staff worked from an office in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, Grambling State University donated office space to assist the fiscal affairs administrative staff, the staff of the registrar's office operated out of the University of Dallas in Irving, Texas, and the student financial aid and the resource development (fund-raising) staff operated from an office in Baton Rouge.[7] As scheduled, students began returning to the university in January 2006.[8]

In spite of damaged incurred due to Hurricane Katrina, the university participated in and led community efforts in disaster recovery. Xavier offered housing for over 500 volunteers working with groups assisting in the disaster relief efforts. Public relations students led a campaign which resulted in 1,500 student volunteers working to gut houses, clean streets and replace street signs. Other student-led efforts planted trees, painted schools, delivering food, volunteering with the New Orleans Health Department. Pre-med students at the university worked with local agencies to conduct health screenings and communications students recorded and documented stories of residents. For the combined efforts of the students, Xavier University received the "Katrina Compassion Award" from the United States Corporation for National and Community Service in 2006.[9]

In April 2006, the Middle Eastern country of Qatar donated $17.5 million to assist the university in hurricane recovery and expanding the school's College of Pharmacy.[10] 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 an additional 60,000 square feet 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, complementing the work of the leaders of the community and affirming the commitment to continue to aid in the re-building of the area.[11] In 2006, the university bestowed an Honorary Degree on then-Senator Obama.


Xavier (XULA) athletics are nicknamed as the 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; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, tennis, track & field and volleyball.

As of Fall 2012, Xavier's basketball and volleyball teams have moved into their new facility, the Xavier University Convocation Academic Center. The Convocation Center is a $25 million facility with a seating capacity of 4,500.

Notable alumni

In addition to current university president, Dr. Norman C. Francis, Xavier University distinguished alumni includes:

Name Class year Notability References
Nathaniel Clifton 1946 First African American to sign a contract with an NBA team. Attended but did not graduate; left to join the Army during World War II.
Alvin J. Boutte 1951 The founder and CEO of Indecorp, the largest Black-owned financial institution in the U.S. Also serves as chair and CEO of the Independence Bank and the Drexel National Bank in Chicago.
Ernest Nathan Morial 1951 First African-American mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana. (deceased) He was the father of former New Orleans mayor Marc Morial.
Bernard P. Randolph 1954 retired, USAF General; 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. Now an executive with the defense contractor TRW Corporation.
John Stroger 1955 Former Cook County Board President (deceased)
Charles Champion 1955 A community pharmacist in Memphis, Tennessee, and a specialist in the use of herbal medicines. Named as one of America's 50 most influential pharmacists by American Druggist magazine.
Marino Casem 1956 Former Head Football Coach at Alabama State University, Alcorn State University, and Southern University. He is a member of College Football Hall of Fame.
Annabelle Bernard 1956 The first Black to perform as a principal player with the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Germany. Thirty-four years later she is still performing in Europe, and has been awarded the highly coveted title of Kammersaengerin by the German government. A soprano, she has performed on five continents.
George McKenna III 1961 Currently serving as superintendent of the Inglewood Unified School District in Los Angeles, Calif. While serving as principal at Washington High in Los Angeles, he turned a "bad" urban school in an educational model of excellence, the basis for the TV movie "The George McKenna Story," starring Denzel Washington.
Louis Castenell 1968 Dean of the University of Cincinnati's College of Education. Has been heralded in such national publications as the New York Times and the Washington Post for his innovative teacher education programs.
Marie Valentine McDemmond 1968 First female president at Norfolk State University (enrollment 8,400). A 25-year veteran in higher education, she previously served as vice president for finance and chief operating officer at Florida Atlantic University.
Dr. Gilbert Rochon 1968 6th President of Tuskegee University
Alexis Herman 1969 First African American U.S. Secretary of Labor; former director of the White House office of Public Liaison.
Ivan L. R. Lemelle 1971 Judge; Currently serving his second consecutive, eight-year term as U.S. Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court in New Orleans.
Dr. Regina Benjamin 1979 Current 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; Former president - Alabama State Medical Association; Recipient of MacArthur Genius Award.
Sherrie Brown Littlejohn 1979 Vice President and chief information officer for SBC Messaging in San Ramon, Calif., a telecommunications subsidiary of voice mail service provider SBC Communications.
Todd Stroger 1985 Elected Cook County Board President in 2006, succeeding his father.
Rear Admiral Stephen Rochon (U.S. Coast Guard) 1984 Director of the Executive Residence and Chief Usher at the White House.
Emmitt Douglas President of the Louisiana NAACP from 1966 until his death in 1981.[12]

Notable faculty and staff

See also


  2. Pope, John. "Xavier leads the nation in African-American medical graduates". Times-Picayune. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  3. University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) also offers the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree, but, unlike XULA, ULM is under public control and in the northern part of Louisiana.
  4. "College of Pharmacy General Information". Retrieved 2008-09-03.
  5. Pope, John. "Xavier University being transformed by influx of money following Hurricane Katrina". Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  6. Clark, Kim. "Norman Francis: Xavier's President Led Through Hurricane Katrina". USA News. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  7. Zimmermann, Carol. "Water-damaged Xavier University in New Orleans plans to reopen". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  8. Block, Melissa. "Students Return to Louisiana's Xavier University". NPR. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  9. "Katrina Compassion Awards". Corporation for National & Community Service. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  10. Strom, Stephanie. "Qatar Grants Millions in Aid to New Orleans". New York Times. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  11. "Remarks by the President on the Fifth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana". The White House. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  12. "Douglas, Emmitt Jame". A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography ( Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  13. "NBA pioneer Harold Hunter, an ex-Xavier coach, died Thursday". Times-Picayune. 2013-03-07. Retrieved 2013-03-30.

External links

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