America’s only Black Catholic HBCU has raised more than $100 million in centennial fundraising campaign

BY Preta Peace Namasaba April 13, 2024 1:47 PM EDT
America's only Catholic HBCU has raised more than $100 million. Photo credit: Xavier University of Louisiana

Xavier University of Louisiana, America’s only Black Catholic historically Black college and university (HBCU), has achieved a significant fundraising milestone. It has raised more than $100 million as part of its Centennial Campaign which aims to ultimately collect $500 million. The university’s achievement comes as it honors St. Katharine Drexel, its founder and patron saint of racial justice and philanthropy, and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

“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. 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,” said Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana.

Initially announced in 2022, the Centennial Campaign’s four initiatives are built upon the university’s founding mission of creating a more just society. It will fund student scholarships, campus improvements, student support services, and academic development in terms of faculty recruitment and expansion of academic programs. Already, the funds have established 48 new endowed scholarships, two new endowed chairs, 54 new annually funded scholarships, and 38 current endowed programs.

The university intends to exceed $200 million in centennial campaign donations by the end of 2025 and is actively recruiting contributors. Upcoming goals for the campaign include increasing the current endowment of $178 million to $300 million and doubling the number of Black graduates entering med school. The New Orleans institution also plans to restore the campus’ historic Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament Convent, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The fundraising milestone demonstrates the value that Xavier University places in educating, empowering, and producing the next generation of leaders. Founded in 1925 by St. Katharine and her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament to educate African Americans during Jim Crow, the institution has since become a leading school. It has long been recognized among the top HBCUs and one of the country’s leading producers of Black pharmacists. The Association of American Medical Colleges recently named Xavier one of the top universities sending African Americans through medical school.

Despite the fundamental role HBCUs play in fostering excellence and social mobility within Black America, they remain notoriously underfunded and under-resourced. Data reveals that HBCUs have been grossly underfunded to the tune of around $12.6 billion. This looming financial divide is emphasized by the fact that the total endowments of all HBCUs amount to less than a tenth of Harvard University’s endowment. Xavier University’s impressive feat is one to be proud of.

“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,” said Campaign Chair Gladstone Jones.