The University of Saint Francis opened its academic year with excitement about new programs and the new USF Downtown location, university President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF, announced at the Founders Day opening convocation and Mass on Wednesday, August 31 at the USF main campus.
Enrollment on day one of the school year was 2,241, which is essentially even from the 2,257 figure from one year ago. The university saw gains in many programs. This past May, the university experienced its second largest graduating class in decades, which lowered the number of students eligible to return this fall by approximately 25 percent. Of the remaining students, the university saw a higher percentage of students return this fall and generous growth in multiple programs including Family Nurse Practitioner, Animation, Business including Risk Management and Insurance, Nutrition, Radiologic Technology and Criminal Justice.
The fall semester launched three new Computer Science programs and Museum Studies, which was developed in collaboration with the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. In addition, students from various majors have continued to build the USF Marching Pride, which is set to debut as Fort Wayne’s only collegiate marching band at USF’s first home football game on September 10.
In her remarks, Sister Elise spoke about the university’s Franciscan value of emphasis for 2016-2017, which is "Encourage a trustful, prayerful community of learners." She also highlighted the new opportunity for spiritual practice on campus during a designated sacred time, which sets aside 30 minutes each day for Mass, personal prayer or reflection. President Kriss praised students, faculty and staff on the exceptional accomplishments over the past year and invited the audience to upcoming signature events including the President’s Gala on September 10 that debuts the university’s largest art exhibition opening of the season. "We are very excited that this year’s art exhibition also includes the unveiling of a sculpture garden that will be on display through next spring," stated Kriss.
Regarding renovations and updates around campus, the university continues to celebrate the opening of USF Downtown with over 300 students, faculty and staff now utilizing the space. The public can visit the Business Center (former Chamber of Commerce) during the September 10-11 West Central Neighborhood Garden Tour, or on September 11 during Fort Wayne’s Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown event. Facility upgrades are also underway at the USF North Campus in support of the Health and Exercise Science program and the newly introduced Nutrition program. It was noted that an investment into energy efficient lighting was completed with more expected in the coming months. These green practices support the university’s Franciscan value of Respecting Creation and its environmental management plan.
Founders Day is an annual tradition celebrating new and returning students and honoring the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration who arrived from Germany in 1875 and founded St. Francis College in 1890 in Lafayette, Ind. They subsequently moved the institution to the Bass estate in Fort Wayne in 1944. This year, University of Saint Francis students will pursue degrees in more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs.
A special video about the USF Downtown renovation is available at go.sf.edu/usf-downtownvid.