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Local News

University of St. Francis president highlights growth, future projects

Franciscan college preparing to celebrate its 100th birthday

University of St. Francis President Arvid Johnson speaks Tuesday at the college's annual "Ambassador Day."
University of St. Francis President Arvid Johnson speaks Tuesday at the college's annual "Ambassador Day."

The University of St. Francis boasts a continued record of growth and financial stability as it approaches its 100th birthday next year.

USF President Arvid Johnson highlighted the school’s accomplishments over the past few years and its plans for the future in his address Tuesday at USF’s annual Ambassador Day event for community stakeholders and partners.

Johnson touted what he called a historic year for undergraduate enrollment, with about 500 new students and 3,778 undergraduates enrolled this fall. This was a 5% increase from the previous year and a 10% increase in the school’s freshman class.

“This comes at a time when many colleges and universities across the state are faced with declining enrollments,” Johnson said.

He said USF was in good financial standing as well. In May, the university ended its fiscal year with a $1 million surplus for the seventh consecutive year. Its total assets amount to an all-time high – $53 million.

About 96% of full-time undergraduate students received need-based financial aid for the last school year. In addition, 55% of USF’s 2019 freshman class are first-generation college students, near the 10-year average of 58%.

Johnson said he was inspired by this fact because it showed USF’s commitment to providing an education for populations who might not otherwise have considered going to college.

This year, USF was mentioned among the top-ranking colleges by U.S. News & World Report, including earning the 202nd spot out of more than 4,000 degree-granting, post-secondary institutions across the country.

“While it might not be exactly Franciscan to brag, we’re making sure we mention this as often as possible,” Johnson said.

He also talked about USF’s global expansion, with a number of programs for students in the Czech Republic, China, Egypt and Vietnam. In fact, Johnson admitted he was still tired, having just returned from a trip to China last weekend.

Johnson said that starting in December, USF will begin a yearlong celebration of its centennial.

“We’ll be reliving the memories of how we became what we are today while continuing to lay the foundation for our next 100 years,” Johnson said.

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