Saturday, September 23, 2017
Black Learning Spotlight: Xavier University
By Brian W. Carter Sentinel Staff Writer
Published February 20, 2014

The HBCU offers and has some of the best opportunities for prospective Black students in the nation.

Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, Xavier was founded by Saint Katherine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and to this day is the only historically, Black Catholic University in the United States.  It was started as a high school in 1915, and later added a four-year college program in 1925. It was established to educate African-Americans and Native Americans. Xavier, to this day, is a predominantly African-American university, but is open to all ethnicities.

The university offers 47 major undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. It’s accredited by numerous organizations and colleges including the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, American Council of Pharmaceutical Education, the Louisiana Department of Education, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Dr. Norman Francis is the president of Xavier University and takes the title seriously. He is very proud of his HBCU.  Francis encouraged alumni and guests to support youth in pursuing a higher education and had this to say:

“I’d love to have you all to come to Xavier but if you don’t come, make sure that you’re prepared to be educated—technically and literally, competent to handle the technology of today and tomorrow.”

Francis holds the title as one of the longest sitting presidents of a university in the U.S. since 1968. A man committed to educating Black youth, Francis is responsible for the university’s growth physically, spiritually and academically.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Xavier has maintained the ranking of first place in African-American students earning undergraduate degrees in biological/life sciences and the physical sciences. It has one of the best pharmacy programs in the nation producing African-Americans with Doctor of Pharmacy degrees. Xavier is also known for placing African-American students in the top medical schools. In 2010, the institute was awarded 504 degrees and alumni ranked up to 20,000.

Some notable alumni of Xavier include Alvin J. Boutte, ’51, who is the founder and CEO of Indecorp, the largest Black-owned financial institution in the U.S.  He also serves as chair and CEO of the Independence Bank and the Drexel National Bank in Chicago, Ill; General Bernard Randolph (retired, USAF), ’54, is 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. He is now an executive with the defense contractor TRW Corporation; Dr. Marie McDemmond, ’68, is the 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; George McKenna III, ’61, is an esteemed educator and school administrator. While serving as principal at Washington High in Los Angeles, he turned a “bad” urban school into an educational model of excellence, the basis for the TV movie “The George McKenna Story,” starring Denzel Washington. McKenna recently entered a race to fill the Los Angeles Unified School District Board District 1 seat.

These are just a few and there are sure to be more as Xavier has a high success rate for fostering and nurturing some of the best in the nation.

For more information on Xavier University, visit For more information on other Historically Black Colleges & Universities, visit

Categories: National

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