On Wednesday, September 11th, the Qatar-America Institute hosted a Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) Reception in honor of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 49thAnnual Legislative Conference. The event had three prominent speakers: Dr. Reynold Verret, Congressman Cedric Richmond and Brandon Garrett.
Dr. Reynold Verret is the sixth and current president, as well as second lay leader of Xavier University of Louisiana. Congressman Cedric Richmond is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Louisiana’s second district, which is the district in which Xavier University is located.
Richmond also serves as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Brandon Garrett is from the greater New Orleans area, and serves on the Board of Trustees for Xavier University.
Of the 107 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and 262 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States, Xavier is the only Catholic HBCU in the nation. XULA is one of the schools that has a partnership with Qatar.
“The generosity of Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani and the nation of Qatar is a testament to the value of a quality education as a universal need for students to lead and serve in a global society. Our goal is to cultivate the ability, creativity, and ingenuity of these young minds; and I’m proud to say that Qatar’s support has helped Xavier’s College of Pharmacy achieve distinction as one of the top three colleges in the nation for African American Pharm.D. graduates”
-President Reynold Verret, Xavier University of Louisiana
Xavier University was originally founded as a high school in 1915 by Katherine Drexel (later canonized) and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament; ten years later it would become a four-year college program. Even though it is established as Catholic and HBCU, of the 3,200 students, about 25% is not African American and roughly 75% is not Catholic. Xavier University’s doors are open to any qualified students.
The partnership between Qatar and Xavier University of Louisiana began in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina. The State of Qatar established the Qatar Katrina Fund in September 2005 to provide direct assistance to people and institutions in most dire need in the wake of the storm. Of the $100 million that Qatar donated, $17.5 million went to the Qatar Katrina Fellowship Fund and College of Pharmacy, which went to Xavier University. $5 million was established for scholarships for students affected by the hurricane, with the remaining $12.5 million was donated to finance a 60,000 square foot expansion to the College of Pharmacy facilities. This expansion would provide construction jobs and make it possible for the university to increase enrollment.
The college receives about 1,000 applications each year for a first-year class that has grown from 120 students at the time of Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion’s dedication, to 155; for a total enrollment of more than 600 in the fall of 2018. The Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion also has laboratories with the latest equipment. These facility upgrades allowed Xavier to have competitive footing with their local counterparts Louisiana State University (LSU) and Tulane University.
Xavier scientists will be collaborating with their counterparts from those institutions because the three institutions are partners in the Louisiana Cancer Research Center. As the only HBCU in the consortium, Xavier is able to broaden the representation of communities of color and serve as a powerful equalizer in health disparities.