Xavier University Is The Only HBCU To Hold This Distinction

1 Posted by - November 14, 2018 - LATEST POSTS

There are 106 historically  colleges and 251 Catholic colleges in the United States, yet only one is both 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, the small liberal arts college dates back to 1915, when St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament founded the coeducational secondary school from which it evolved. St. Katharine, supported by the interest of a substantial inheritance from her father, banker-financier Francis Drexel, founded and staffed many institutions throughout the U.S. in an effort to help educate Native Americans and Blacks. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in October, 2000.

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. 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.

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.

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