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Xavier University Praying for a Miracle

Xavier University Praying for a Miracle
Posted By: on November 10, 2005

Xavier University Struggles to Survive

Warped wooden floors and ruined desks have been stripped out of Xavier University's main campus building. Its 4,000 students are scattered across the nation. Half the faculty and staff members have been laid off.

The nation's only historically black and Roman Catholic college, which expected to be celebrating its 180th anniversary this year, was battered to the brink of financial collapse by **** Katrina.

"If you bottled up all of the problems I've had in 38 years, it would only be half the bottle compared to what Katrina did," said Norman C. Francis, Xavier's president of nearly four decades.

Founded in 1825 by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the liberal-arts college has built a reputation for black students seeking medical careers. It sends more black undergraduates to medical school than any other university in the nation. It is also tops in graduating black pharmacists.



But after Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, Xavier's midtown campus was flooded with water up to 8 feet deep.

Administrators estimate losses at more than $90 million in storm damage and lost tuition and scholarship revenue, a devastating sum for a school whose endowment is only $52 million.

Xavier was forced to lay off or place on unpaid leave 396 of its 784 faculty and staff. That included terminating 78 faculty members, a third of Xavier's professors.

Dillard University, another historically black New Orleans college with 2,155 students, also had to lay off about of half its faculty and staff members. It estimates its losses at $400 million.

Since 2001, more than 350 Xavier graduates have been enrolled in medical schools. Xavier also claims to have graduated one of every four of the nation's black pharmacists.

Up to a third of the black students enrolled annually at Emory University Medical School in Atlanta come from Xavier, said Dr. Bill Eley, an Emory associate dean.

Both Xavier and Dillard plan to hold classes in January.
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