Xavier University of Louisiana, founded by Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, is Catholic and historically Black. The ultimate purpose of the University is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society. This preparation takes place in a diverse learning and teaching environment that incorporates all relevant educational means, including research and community service.
So that they will be able to assume roles of leadership and service, Xavier graduates will be:
- prepared for continual spiritual, moral, and intellectual development;
- liberally educated in the knowledge and skills required for leadership and service; and
- educated in a major field so that they are prepared to complete graduate or professional school and to succeed in a career and in life.
There are 106 historically Black colleges and 244 Catholic colleges in the United States, yet only one is both historically Black and Catholic. That distinction belongs to Xavier University of Louisiana, which strives to combine the best attributes of both its faith and its culture.
Located in New Orleans, this small liberal arts college dates back to 1915, when Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament initially founded their coeducational secondary school. Ten years later, in 1925, Xavier University of Louisiana was established. Mother Katharine came to the city at the request of the local archbishop to provide African Americans - at the time denied admission to existing local and state as well as Catholic colleges - with opportunities for Catholic higher education.
Although the Sisters maintain a vital presence on campus, Xavier is governed by an independent, lay/religious Board of Trustees on which the Sisters have representation. The University’s president, Dr. Norman C. Francis, a 1952 Xavier graduate and the longest currently serving college president in the U.S., is a nationally recognized leader in higher education.
Even with its special mission to serve the African American Catholic community, Xavier’s doors have always been open to qualified students of any race or creed. Currently, 73 percent of Xavier’s students are African American and 27 percent are Catholic.
Xavier currently enrolls approximately 3,100 students. More than half of these students (54 percent) are from Louisiana. The balance comes from some 39 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several countries.
Xavier students are nurtured in the type of environment available only at a small college. A full-time faculty of 224 educators, religious and lay, of diverse ethnic and racial origins - 43 percent of whom are tenured - provides a comfortable student/faculty ratio of 15/1. Over 50 faculty members serve as endowed chairs or professors, which provides additional financial support for their research and teaching.
Xavier’s undergraduate curriculum is centered in the liberal arts, with all students required to take a core of prescribed courses in theology and philosophy, the arts and the humanities, communication studies, history and the social sciences, mathematics, and the natural sciences, in addition to more intensive work in their respective majors. Opportunities exist for students to participate in relevant research under faculty mentors. All students are encouraged to supplement their Xavier experience by serving internships as well as studying abroad.
More than half of Xavier’s students currently major in the natural or health sciences, especially in biology, chemistry, and pharmacy. Other popular majors include business, psychology, mass communication, political science and computer science. Students majoring in the humanities experience high quality programs.
Xavier is recognized as a national leader in the field of science education. Data compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges indicate that Xavier is first among the nation’s colleges and universities in the number of African American graduates who go on to complete medical school.
Xavier is one of the nation’s top three producers of African American Doctor of Pharmacy degree recipients.
A National Science Foundation report ranks Xavier 1st in the nation in producing African American graduates who go on to receive life sciences PhDs., 5th in the nation in producing African American graduates who go on to receive science and engineering PhDs, and 7th in the nation in producing African American graduates who go on to receive physical sciences PhDs. A Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine report showed Xavier tied for 12th nationwide in the number of African American students earning professional doctorate degrees.
The Department of Physics is among the top five in the nation for awarding African Americans baccalaureate degrees in physics and the physical sciences, according to the latest report from the American Institute of Physics (AIP). Xavier is consistently ranked by the American Chemical Society as one of the top universities in the nation in awarding bachelor’s degrees in chemistry.
Although Xavier is best known for its various science programs, there are also very strong programs in the non-science areas. Xavier’s Business Division is accredited by the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs, its Education program is accredited by Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, its Music program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, and its Chemistry program is approved by the American Chemical Society. In addition, through its Institute for Black Catholic Studies, Xavier offers the only Master of Theology graduate program in Black Catholic Theology in the United States.
Xavier’s College of Arts and Sciences and College of Pharmacy offer preparation in varied fields on the undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree level . More than 28 percent of Xavier’s students continue their education by attending graduate or professional school.
Tuition and room and board compare favorably with that of other private institutions. In addition, 87 percent of Xavier’s undergraduates who applied for need-based financial aid qualified for it.
The 2014 edition of the Fiske Guide to Colleges has named Xavier as among its “Best Buy Schools” for academics and affordability. The publication has designated 41 such institutions - 20 public and 21 private - as “Best Buys.” Xavier is the only Louisiana institution - and one of only three Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) - to make the list. Xavier was also singled out as one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education by The Princeton Review in the 2014 edition of its annual “The Best 378 Colleges.”
Xavier was named one of the top colleges and universities in Louisiana for “return on investment” by AffordableCollegesOnline.org, which places Xavier among colleges that the organization feels “balance cost with long-term earnings potential”. That same site ranked Xavier No. 13 on its list of the Top 36 Most Affordable Roman Catholic Colleges with High Starting Salaries. Xavier is the only predominantly Black and the only Louisiana institution to make the list.
Xavier is a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, which is affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). It offers four intercollegiate sports - basketball, cross country, tennis, and volleyball (women only).
Xavier alumni - now more than 20,000 strong - can be found in virtually every state and several countries. They teach and administer at schools on every level of education; they direct large corporations and small businesses; they hold leadership roles in national, state and local government; they command in the armed services, and they serve in the judicial system. Our graduates are actors, musicians, writers, engineers, counselors, social workers, and much more.
Students who choose Xavier also get New Orleans, and it is easy to fall in love with New Orleans.
One of the great cities of the world, New Orleans continues to be internationally revered for its food, its music, its festivals and its people. New Orleans’ culture, like Xavier’s, demonstrates unity in diversity. In New Orleans, African American traditions creatively combine with traditions as diverse as that of the Native American, Spanish, French, Irish and Italian to create a cultural “gumbo” unlike any other in the world.
The diversity is manifest in a variety of ways. In the shadow of a growing skyline of modern skyscrapers, streetcars run on the oldest trolley line in the U.S., and charming buildings of another era stand, with their wrought iron balconies and leafy courtyards - vivid reminders of the French, Spanish, and African influences on the city.
New Orleans continues to feel the impact of other countries, as the nation’s second largest port and the gateway to South and Central America. Spanish, for example, replaced French long ago as the city’s second language.
New Orleans is living history which is not lost in the tempo of today, either in its bustling port commerce, its oil industry concentration, its growing center of financial institutions or its expanding tourist and convention activity.
Life in New Orleans has rich vitality. It can be sensed from jazz played in the city of its birth and the varied styles of New Orleans musicians. New Orleans fosters the arts. Museums are becoming increasingly responsive to all people. Theaters thrive. There is lively interest in ballet. Full seasons of opera and symphony performances are also offered.
New Orleans has a vibrant sports and recreational scene as well. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is home to the 2010 NFL Super Bowl Champion Saints, while the Smoothie King Arena is the home of New Orleans’ NBA franchise Pelicans. The city also hosts a minor league baseball team, the New Orleans Zephyrs. Audubon and City Parks and Lake Pontchartrain are counted among the city’s recreational offerings. The Audubon Zoo and the Aquarium of the Americas are among the best of their kind.
The higher education complex of New Orleans is comprised of twelve public and private colleges and universities, including schools of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and theological seminaries.
Also on the immediate horizon is the new University Medical Center, a $1.2 billion medical complex which will be the cornerstone of a biomedical district that will deliver high quality health care, advanced research, and Level One trauma care, as well as serve as the medical education center for excellence for healthcare professions in Louisiana.
Xavier’s “campus” is, in reality, as large as New Orleans itself.
Students may cross-register for courses at several area universities. They serve internships at city hospitals, with businesses and in government offices; they student teach at area schools; they engage in work and cooperative education assignments; they perform with local musical and theatre groups; they involve themselves in community service projects.
Xavier is located near the heart of New Orleans. Situated near major thoroughfares, Xavier offers easy access to several city transit lines, placing the entire city at the doorstep of Xavier students.
The campus is a short distance from downtown with its commercial, entertainment and sports offerings. Many students can see the city skyline from their residence hall windows. Xavier is conveniently located for cross-registration at other universities and research experiences in the city’s well-known hospitals and research centers. It lies adjacent to an inner city area, which serves as a learning and service site for the residential community of which it is a part.
The new Convocation Center, St. Katharine Drexel Chapel, and other recently constructed or renovated buildings give the impression of a very modern campus. Yet other buildings - massive structures of Gothic design - give a feeling of permanence and history.
Two quadrangles - one formed by the distinctive limestone architecture of the original campus buildings and the other formed by more recent state-of-the-art construction - make up the heart of the main campus. It is here where students meet, communicate between classes, and develop lasting friendships.
All residential students live in modern residence halls, with pleasant living quarters and facilities for studying, entertaining, and TV viewing. A cafeteria and recreational areas are located in the new University Center.
Because Xavier is an inner city university, special care is given to providing security for its students, faculty, and staff. The campus is well-lit, and its buildings and parking areas are patrolled 24 hours a day by campus police.
The university has initiated several additional safety measures designed to alert the campus community and the proper campus authorities in the event of any emergencies that may occur, including the BB Connect communication service and “Code Blue” outdoor call boxes located around the campus that allow students to communicate an emergency directly to campus police and be seen via a video link.
Central offices in each residence hall are staffed 24 hours a day. Campus security personnel also provide information and seminars about crime prevention and other safety issues.
As the center of intellectual life on campus, Xavier’s Library Resource Center provides access to information in various formats including books, e-books, academic journals, media and electronic resources. By providing hands-on instruction, the Library promotes information literacy and enhances research skills among faculty and students.
The library currently houses more than 175,000 physical volumes and subscribes to more than 1,400 print journals and newspapers. With an increasing focus on digital resources, the collection has expanded to include 250,000 e-books, 50,000 e-journals, and over 150 electronic databases. Access to these resources is available 24 hours a day through the library website and online public access catalog. Current technologies housed within the library include 16 terminals for information retrieval, five circulating iPads, one flatbed scanner, charging stations, and a variety of media equipment available for loan through the Instructional Media Department.
The Access Services Department offers a full range of reference desk services throughout the day and evening including chat, text, and email consultations. Instructional sessions on constructive library usage and more effective research strategies are conducted by librarians and are available to classes by appointment. Through ILLiad and the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) Department, library patrons can borrow books and get photocopies of journal articles held by other libraries. Reference tools such as Refworks citation manager and Libguides subject-specific library guides are also available through the library homepage. Each librarian on staff serves as a departmental liaison, working closely with their assigned department(s) to enhance collection materials in that area.
At the heart of the Library, Archives and Special Collections houses more than 1,250 linear feet of records from every University department. This documentary history of Xavier is available to university administrators and faculty on a daily basis. In addition to institutional records, Archives and Special Collections holds and provides reference service to over 400 linear feet of rare manuscripts, letters, photographs, and other cultural artifacts related to African American history and culture, the history of Louisiana and the Gulf-Caribbean region, U.S. Roman Catholicism, as well as the creative writing of the modern Deep South.
The Instructional Media Department houses instructional materials in a variety of formats. Classical and jazz recordings are available on LP, audiotape, and compact disc. The department also provides access to a collection of films by Africans and African Americans, whose settings are based in New Orleans and Louisiana, as well as filmed adaptations of classic literature. Listening and viewing equipment is available in specially-designed classrooms, as well as individual study carrels. Videography services are also available upon request to the Media Specialist.
The Library Resource Center is open until midnight five nights a week. Reference, Circulation, and Media services are available on weekends when school is in session. Special hours are observed during holidays, exam periods, and during the summer months.