On February 26 2016, Xavier University of Louisiana celebrated the inauguration and investment of its new president, Dr. Reynold C. Verret - a man of great esteem, faith, and leadership.
Dr. C. Reynold Verret is an experienced higher education administrator and a widely respected scholar. He earned his undergraduate degree cum laude in Biochemistry from Columbia University and holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Unanimously elected by the Board of the Trustees last spring, Dr. Verret began his tenure on July 1, 2015 following the retirement of Dr. Norman C. Francis, who served as president for 47 years - the sixth president of Xavier University.
Founded in 1915 by Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, Xavier University is a premier track HBCU and is the only Catholic HBCU in North America. Xavier also serves as the top producer of African American undergraduates who go on to complete medical school; and one of the top three producers of African American Doctor of Pharmacy degree recipients. All areas Dr. Verret believes that he can assist with Xavier propelling forward.
“My vision for Xavier as the next president is to increase our reach not just locally, but nationally,” Dr. Verret stated. “Our sense of purpose is blessed and is a sacred mission to build people and to help people.” With such a forward-thinking and communal approach, Dr. Verret is carrying on in the tradition of Historically Black Colleges and Universities that pride themselves on serving students on the margins. “Xavier is very intentional in meeting students where they are. Understanding that every student comes with some different gaps, but we’re here to fill those gaps.” Dr. Verret also explained where his commitment to students stems from: “No matter who you are, there was someone who has spoken up for us when we weren’t in the room. And there is an expectation that I would support others in the same way.”
Many within the Xavier community echoed the same sentiments. Sierra Hodge, a Junior Political Science major and Business Administration minor, who also serves as junior class president shared her excitement to have Dr. Verret join the Xavier family. As a student leader, she could clearly see Dr. Verret’s vision for Xavier and welcomed its future growth. “He has a lot of good plans and has a great team around him and he wants to make us not just a great university known around New Orleans, but around the world.” She went on to state that, “Dr. Verret recognizes the importance of education and the importance of youth in the future...Dr. Verret has the entire student body behind him.”
Dr. Regina Benjamin, Chair of Xavier’s Public Health Department and the President Obama appointed 18th Surgeon General of the United States, thought that Xavier was very lucky to have Dr. Verret. “Dr. Verret comes with an understanding of the humanities and sciences and how to bridge the two together in order to prepare students to compete in the global market.” She also mentioned that Dr. Verret’s presidency couldn’t have come at a more pivotal time. “He understands the importance of being involved with the community and it fits in the with the ethos of the campus. Dr. Verret is going to be a wonderful continuation of that.”
Xavier University is a shining example of Black scholarship and ingenuity. As a university, Xavier continues to set a new precedent for students of various backgrounds and pronounces that Black America’s future leaders are already in our midst. In fact, Xavier currently ranks first nationally in the number of African American students earning undergraduate degrees in biology and life sciences, chemistry, physics and pharmacy.
Bearing witness to the jubilant and sacred sentiments shared by both faculty and students at the inauguration that morning exemplified that.
Dr. Verret’s installation as Xavier University’s new president represents a new era of innovation, not only for the Xavier Community, but for New Orleans at large. His presidency comes at a time when HBCUs nationwide are reclaiming their rightful place within higher-ed by producing the nation’s largest concentration of Black college graduates. And with Dr. Verret at the helm of Xavier, we can expect to hear even more great things about this wonderful institution. With such an extensive track record and comprehensive vision for the future, there is no doubt that Dr. Verret will add to the rich and illustrious legacy of Xavier University of Louisiana.