Saint Francis University

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This article is about the university in Pennsylvania. For the college in New York, see St. Francis College. For the university in Indiana, see University of Saint Francis (Indiana). For other uses, see University of Saint Francis.
Saint Francis University
Saint Francis University logo.png
Established 1847
Type Private
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Endowment US$44,863,000 (2014)[1]
President Rev. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D.
Academic staff
Undergraduates 1,832
Postgraduates 617
Location Loretto, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh
Ambialet, France

40°30′15″N 78°38′15″W / 40.50417°N 78.63750°W / 40.50417; -78.63750Coordinates: 40°30′15″N 78°38′15″W / 40.50417°N 78.63750°W / 40.50417; -78.63750
Campus Rural, 600 acres (243 ha)
Colors Red and White          
Athletics NCAA Division INEC, A-10, and EIVA.
Sports 22 varsity teams
Nickname Red Flash
Affiliations AFCU

Saint Francis University (SFU) is a four-year, coeducational Catholic liberal arts university in Loretto, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1847 and conducted under the tradition of the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular. The university is situated on 600 acres (243 ha) in the forests and farmland of Loretto.


Located in Loretto, Pennsylvania, Saint Francis University enrolls approximately 1,832 undergraduate students (of whom, 40.7% are male and 59.3% female) and 617 graduate students.[2] The University offers 25 undergraduate majors and 7 graduate fields of study (including Physical Therapy, in which the University awards a doctorate) to its students.[3] The University maintains an average graduation rate of 69.9%.[2] Saint Francis University has 22 men's and women's sports teams and competes in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

The current president of the University is Rev. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R., Ph.D.

Mount Assisi Friary, formerly the residence of industrialist Charles M. Schwab, is home to several of the friars who staff the university.

Also on the campus is the main building for the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art which has a number of smaller facilities across the local region. Immergrün Golf Course is a semi-private, nine-hole, regulation-length 3,234-yard, par-36 course on rye grass located on the campus of Saint Francis University at 105 Saint Elizabeth Street. Immergrün has not been altered since Donald Ross built it for the steel magnate Charles M. Schwab in 1917.[4]

Also on the campus are The DiSepio Institute for Rural Health and Wellness,[5] the Center of Excellence for Remote and Medically Under-Served Areas ("CERMUSA", a research and applied technology center),[6] Center for Watershed Research & Service,[7] and The Institute for Contemporary Franciscan Life.[8]


Saint Francis University is consistently ranked among the top private universities within the state of Pennsylvania. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Saint Francis University the "51st Best University in the Mid-Atlantic states to gain a Masters Degree as well as "The 46th Best University in the North (Tier 1)". The most notable Masters Degree programs are the Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and the Masters of Physician Assistant Sciences program which is consistently ranked among the top 3% in the nation. In addition to these rankings, Saint Francis University released statistics that show 98% of university graduates either begin a job or start graduate school within nine months of graduation.

The average student attending Saint Francis University is ranked within the top 20% of his/her graduating class upon freshman orientation.

Saint Francis University also runs a campus at Ambialet, France in the Midi-Pyrénées.[9] Some classes are held at the Jean-François Champollion University Center for Teaching and Research (Centre universitaire de formation et de recherche Jean-François Champollion) which is a French university in the Academy of Toulouse in the city of Albi. All classes are in English.


Saint Francis College was established in 1847 by six Franciscan teaching Brothers from Mountbellew, Ireland, who had been given land in Loretto by Michael O'Connor, the first Bishop of Pittsburgh, to establish a school.[3] The university was one of the first Catholic universities in the United States and the first Franciscan college in the nation. Although it originally only admitted males, it became one of the first Catholic Universities to become co-educational. Loretto is the site of the first English-language Roman Catholic settlement established west of the Allegheny Front, in what is now the United States, by Demetrius Augustine Gallitzin in 1799.

In 2001 Saint Francis College was accredited with university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and renamed to Saint Francis University.

Saint Francis University campus
The John F. Kennedy Center 
DeGol Field 
North Campus 


Athletically, Saint Francis competes in the NCAA's Northeast Conference. Their nickname is the Red Flash. The University has a total of 22 varsity sports teams, with nine men's teams and 13 women's programs all competing in NCAA Division I. Men's sports include basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis, and track & field competing in the Northeast Conference and volleyball, which competes in the Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (EIVA); while women's sports include basketball, bowling, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track & field and volleyball which compete in the Northeast Conference and field hockey which competes in the Atlantic 10 Conference (A-10). Saint Francis University will be adding Women's Water Polo in 2016-2017 school year as its 23 varsity sport at the Division 1 level. In addition to this, there are also two club sport teams, ice hockey and baseball.

Notable alumni[edit]

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