Saint Xavier University is the oldest university in Illinois, having been founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846. Established as Saint Francis Xavier Female Academy, the university was originally built on a 5 acre area. After the original structure was burnt down in The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the Sisters of Mercy set forth with the aim “to establish, maintain and conduct one or more colleges and a university in which may be taught all branches of higher learning”. This marked the start of Saint Xavier College, which slowly incorporated a number of small colleges and eventually became Saint Xavier University or SXU.
Today, the SXU campus is spread across a 74 acre area in Mount Greenwood, Chicago and serves almost 5,000 students. Numerous degree programs are offered with 36 different fields available for specialization. The university currently includes four colleges; the College of Arts & Sciences offers degrees in biology, history, international studies, music, natural science, social science and religious studies. The School of Education offers degrees in English education, early childhood education, curriculum development, counseling, special education and technical education in addition to offering professional development programs which are utilized by a number of local schools.
The Graham School of Management offers business degrees in the areas of public administration, finance, accounting and marketing in addition to offering certificate programs in financial examination, health administration and fraud prevention. The School of Nursing allows students to earn an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing and healthcare. Saint Xavier University’s sports teams play as the ‘Cougars’, competing in sports such as football, volleyball, baseball, basketball, track & field and soccer at a state and regional level. There are separate women’s teams for basketball, softball, soccer, track & field and volleyball. The main venue for sporting events is the Shannon Center, which can seat 3500 people and is also used for occasions such as graduation ceremonies, convocations and concerts.