University of Saint Francis: Franciscan Tenets in Action

The University of St. Francis is one of several Catholic institutions of higher learning in Indiana, a venerable list which includes schools like the University of Notre Dame in South Bend and Marian College, an Indianapolis school. It is a four year liberal arts college that seeks to apply Franciscan values to its students’ academic successes, campus lives, and future careers. One of the 25 largest Indiana colleges and universities, the University of St. Francis is larger than Oakland City University and smaller than the University of Phoenix.

Campus Life and Mission

The University of St. Francis is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana, about two and a half hours northeast of Indianapolis. Fort Wayne is the second largest city in the entire state, next to Indianapolis. As such, you’ll never run out of things to do at the University of St. Francis, just like you can never run out of things to do in Indianapolis. Fort Wayne has plenty of movie theaters, concert venues, fairs and festivals, and other fun attractions, including three minor league sports teams. It’s almost enough to make any fan of Indianapolis attractions jealous.

Aside from the activity and excitement that belongs to Fort Wayne, the University of St. Francis has enough attractions of its own. The campus is a beautiful natural setting in the midst of the modern finery of Fort Wayne. Its elegant sandstone structures reinforce the pervading sense of tradition and refinement that the University of St. Francis symbolizes. The university was founded in 1890 in Lafayette, Indiana, the home of Purdue University and a branch of Ivy Tech Community College. In 1944, USF moved to Fort Wayne to tap into the larger culture there, and the school hasn’t looked back since. Currently, the university is a private liberal arts school that enrolls over 2,000 students in courses in visual design, photography, and creative writing.

Promotional video about the nursing program at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana


On campus, there’s never a dull moment. The University of St. Francis sponsors over thirty student-run organizations, including the Art Education Society, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Paw Print student newspaper, and the Physical Therapy Studies Club. These student clubs are a great way to get involved in something you’re interested in and give back to the St. Francis community at the same time. In addition to the student organizations, many school sponsored activities and groups are available. The University of St. Francis Department of English runs Apostrophe, an annual literary magazine that publishes fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction from student writers and alumni alike. Both Paw Prints and Apostrophe are good enough to compete with anything in Indianapolis media.
As if student activities and organizations weren’t enough, the University of St. Francis also sponsors several events through its art galleries and performance art groups. Since it is a liberal arts college, the University of St. Francis has a commitment to portraying the work of its students and faculty. As such, the university sponsors no less than two art galleries, each of which would have a place among the many Indianapolis art galleries.
The USF galleries are the John P. Weatherhead Gallery and the Goldfish Gallery. The Weatherhead Gallery exhibits works from graduate students’ master theses, in addition to photography and art from artists not affiliated with St. Francis. The Goldfish Gallery displays pieces from many different mediums, often by students, including 3D animation and film, commercial art, photography, and metalcraft.

Video of Indianapolis band Everyday Sunday performing at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana

If inert, inanimate pieces of art don’t inspire you, don’t worry; the University of St. Francis has a thriving performance art community as well. The university puts on many shows in its North Auditorium for the enjoyment of students and visitors alike. Events often feature acts from the Indianapolis music scene and performances by the Indianapolis performing arts community. Previous shows include the University Instrumental Spring Concert, which featured performances by the USF Jazz Ensemble and the USF Guitar Ensemble, and the USF Spring Play.

With all these things to do at the University of St. Francis, you might think that the Catholic goals of the school get lost in the shuffle. However, the university puts special emphasis on its origins and its faith. St. Francis strives to maintain a faithful community of learners who respect creation and each other. USF offers a full complement of Catholic Masses to inspire and motivate their students. In addition, there are plenty of small groups, theological retreats, and interfaith seminars to attend. All these activities are designed to nurture the spiritual growth of the University of St. Francis’s students.


As previously mentioned, the University of St. Francis is a private Catholic liberal arts institution. The school is comprised of five different departments in a variety of disciplines; the School of Arts & Sciences, the Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, the School of Creative Arts, the School of Health Sciences, and the School of Professional Studies. Through these five schools, the university offers degrees in a huge range of majors, from psychology and counseling to art and visual communication.

In addition to traditional campus courses, the University of St. Francis also offers a variety of online courses. While not on the same scope as the University of Phoenix or Ivy Tech Community College, students at St. Francis can go online and submit assignments, get in discussions with their fellow students, and post videos or other files. All this is made possible by Blackboard, an online learning tool in use by schools like Indiana University and other Indiana colleges all over the state. Students can take entire courses via Blackboard and earn a degree on their own time.
In addition, USF has a rather unique program called “Learning on Demand”. This is a service offered through a subsidiary of the popular iTunes music software, iTunes University. Through Learning on Demand, University of St. Francis students can download course material, lectures, training videos, and much more by using iTunes. Afterward, they can use the material whenever they need it. It’s a really handy tool for students who want to learn more than what they’re getting in class.

Video tour of the iTunes University program in place at the University of St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana


Once you’ve graduated from the University of St. Francis, you’re not on your own. The school also sponsors an office of career services. There, trained mentors can help students with writing a resume, mastering that tough interview, and selling their achievements to a potential employer. The career services website provides job listings, available internships, and even help in choosing the right career. It’s an invaluable asset that has given USF alumni tons of opportunities throughout the years.


Along with its commitment to Franciscan values in the classroom, the University of St. Francis strives to transport those values to the sports arena as well. St. Francis fields fifteen different sports teams, including cross country, football, track and field, and soccer. The university isn’t part of any NCAA division; instead, it belongs to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), a college sports association that organizes over 250 different teams, mostly smaller colleges. It is the only international intercollegiate athletic association in North America, sponsoring several schools in Canada. Within the NAIA, the University of St. Francis Cougars belong to the Mid-Central Conference (MCC), which also includes Bethel College, Goshen College, Grace College, Indiana Wesleyan University, and Marian College.

Video highlights of a basketball game between the University of St. Francis and Huntington University

In recent years, the University of St. Francis football team has been the terror of the Mid-Central Conference. In the 2008 regular season, they posted an undefeated 11-0 record on their way to the NAIA tournament after crushing victories over Ohio Dominican, #10 ranked Malone, and #19 ranked St. Xavier. Unfortunately, they suffered a heartbreaking loss to the University of Sioux Falls in the semifinals of the NAIA championship tournament, losing 24-6.

Video highlights of the 2006 University of St. Francis football team

Not only are University of St. Francis athletes committed to victory on the field, they also strive to achieve academic success off the field. All their hard work paid off this year, because seventeen different USF athletes won selection to the 2009 NAIA Daktronics Scholar-Athlete Team. To be included on the team, each student must be nominated by their head coach and maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average on a 4.0 scale.
This year, three student athletes of the University of St. Francis Cougars were repeat selections. Of the student athletes, the baseball team fielded five, the women’s golf team also fielded five, the softball team sent three, the women’s track and field team sent two, and two athletes were selected by the men’s golf team.

Franciscan Tenets in Action

The University of St. Francis continues to provide an excellent education for its students in the second largest city in Indiana, Fort Wayne. The university is a private Catholic institution built on the Franciscan principles of respect and community. Primarily a liberal arts college, the focus of the University of St. Francis is on expression through art, literature, and other mediums, including science and business. Students on campus are actively involved in all facets of the university experience, including a strong, faith-based community of believers. With over 30 student organizations, no student feels left out and left behind. The University of St. Francis is known for its academic achievement, and even its sports teams reflect that reputation.

For more information on the University of St. Francis, please visit the school’s homepage.

University of St. Francis
2701 Spring St
Fort Wayne, IN 46808

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