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Xavier University of Louisiana raises $100 million for 2025 centennial campaign

The historic Catholic HBCU aims to raise half a billion dollars in total, which will support university improvements and student scholarships.

(Xavier University of Louisiana)

Xavier University of Louisiana, the nation’s Catholic HBCU, says it has reached a $100 million milestone in its centennial campaign, part of a half-billion dollar goal to be reached within the next several years.

The school announced the news on March 6, during celebrations for the feast of their founder, St. Katharine Drexel, which took place earlier in the week.

The campaign, first announced in 2022, will fund student scholarships, campus improvements, student support services, and academic development, including faculty recruitment and additional academic programs at the historic New Orleans institution.

“This important fundraising milestone is a testament to Xavier’s value as an institution that produces some of our nation’s most thoughtful leaders—leaders with the ability and intellect to take on our greatest challenges,” said XULA president Dr. Reynold Verret

“Our generous supporters know that an investment in Xavier is not only an investment in our current students, but it’s an investment in social justice and the communities and the nation they serve.”

Founded in 1925 by St. Katharine and her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to educate African Americans during Jim Crow, XULA has since become a leading school in its own right and has long ranked among the top HBCUs in the country. The school has also been noted among institutions of higher education as the most prolific producer of Black graduates who go on to complete medical school.

Zion Rouege, a 2023 alumnus now in medical school at the University of Rochester, says the successful centennial efforts are a reflection of the school’s fidelity to its founding ethos.

“If it wasn’t working, the mission of promoting a more just society, it definitely wouldn’t have lasted this long,” he told BCM. “The mission that Xavier prides itself on, the foundation it was built upon, is extremely strong. Strong enough to build continuous legacies.”

Rouege spoke specifically of the school’s encouragement of service, which he says was a mark of pride among students during his years on campus. He was voted Mister Xavier by his peers during his junior year, a journey he said began when he learned to give back while studying at XULA.

“My whole introduction to leadership started through community service,” he said. “At Xavier, it was cool to do it. It was very much encouraged and promoted not only by students but also administrators.”

In the wake of reaching the $100 million fundraising milestone to celebrate XULA’s legacy, the leaders of the centennial campaign have also emphasized the institution’s commitment to inspiring students to action.

“Xavier continues to solidify itself as an educational leader and option for young people looking to become trailblazers of tomorrow,” said campaign chair Gladstone Jones III. “I am beyond confident that by surpassing this first campaign milestone, we are well on our way to reaching our total $500 million goal and setting up Xavier for its next century of excellence and triumphs.” 

The school says centennial campaign funds have already helped to inaugurate nearly 50 new endowed scholarships, 48 annual scholarships, two new endowed professorships and chairs, and 38 current use and endowed programs.

Upcoming goals for the campaign include increasing XULA’s endowment to $300 million—up from $178 million in 2023—and doubling the number of Black XULA graduates entering med school. (The school reported more than 1200 biology and chemistry majors in the 2022-23 academic year.) Also on the docket is restoring the campus’ historic Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament Convent, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

With plans to exceed $200 million in centennial campaign donations by the end of 2025, the university is actively recruiting contributors. Interested parties can find more information and ways to give on the campaign webpage.

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.

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