This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages) This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this article by introducing citations to additional sources.Find sources: "University of St. Francis" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (September 2020) This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "University of St. Francis" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
University of St. Francis
University of St. Francis seal.png
Former names
Assisi Junior College
College of St. Francis
MottoPrimo Unctio et Postea Speculatio
Motto in English
Holiness First and Then Learning
TypePrivate university
Established1920; 102 years ago (1920)
Religious affiliation
Roman Catholic Church (Congregation of the Third Order of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate)
Endowment$22.6 million (2020)[1]
PresidentArvid C. Johnson III
Location, ,
United States
CampusMain Campus: Suburban, 22 acres (8.9 ha)
ColorsBrown and Gold
NicknameFighting Saints
Sporting affiliations
MascotBernie the St. Bernard

The University of St. Francis is a private Franciscan university with its main campus in Joliet, Illinois. It enrolls more than 3,900 students at locations throughout the country with about 1,300 students at its main campus.


The University of St. Francis grew out of an earlier high school and Sisters’ Normal Institute (an institution created to train high school graduates to be teachers) by the Congregation of the Sisters of St Francis of Mary Immaculate established on August 2, 1865 by Mother Alfred Moes. By 1869, a boarding school for high school girls opened in Joliet called the St. Francis Academy. The Institute became a college: The Sisters’ Normal Institute of Higher Learning, in 1920.[1]

The institute became Assisi Junior College, a two-year junior college, in 1925. Mother M. Thomasine Frye, OSF served as first president with an enrollment of 12 students and 8 teachers. In 1930, the school was reorganized with a full college curriculum as the College of St. Francis with bachelor's degree granting authority. In 1935, the all-female college began an affiliation with the St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing – to create the St. Francis College of Nursing.

During the Second World War, new programs in science and Spanish were added and in 1945 a student-run radio station, WCSF, was established on campus.

In 1962 Sr. Anita Marie Jochem, OSF, was named the college's fourth president and the last congregational Sister President. The college officially incorporated as its own institution, separate from the congregation, with its own charter and by-laws. The college became coeducational in 1971 and the next year saw the beginning of athletic programs.

The school became the University of St. Francis in 1998, the same year the school began offering online courses and degree programs. In 2000, the university received doctoral degree granting authority and by 2004 was organized in five colleges; College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business & Health Administration, College of Education, College of Nursing and Health Professions, and College of Professional Studies.[2]

In 2013 Dr. Arvid Johnson became the university's ninth president and the university's first overseas graduate program was established with Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic. The university's St. Bonaventure Campus opened in downtown Joliet with additional classrooms, offices, and a business incubator. In 2016, Guardian Angel Hall opened to students at St. Clare Campus, located at 1550 Plainfield Road (about one mile from the main campus) as the home to the USF Leach College of Nursing.

In 2018 new construction was completed on the LaVerne & Dorothy Brown Science Hall on the main campus. The university has begun planning for centennial celebrations in 2020.

The University also offers a Physician Assistant program at a second campus site in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The university has a total enrollment of 4,166 (2018) and an undergraduate enrollment of 1,599. (Men: 34.6% Women: 65.4%)USF website Facts & Figures page

Colleges and schools


The St. Francis (USF) athletic teams are called the Fighting Saints. The university is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and is part of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) for most of its sports since the 1973–74 academic year; while its football team competes in the Midwest League of the Mid-States Football Association (MSFA).

USF competes in 20 intercollegiate varsity sports: Men's sports include baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, soccer, tennis and track & field; while women's sports include basketball, bowling, cross country, dance, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field and volleyball; and co-ed sports include cheerleading.


Notable alumni


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2020. U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2020 Endowment Market Value and Change in Endowment Market Value from FY19 to FY20 (Report). National Association of College and University Business Officers and TIAA. February 19, 2021. Retrieved February 21, 2021.

Coordinates: 41°31′59″N 88°05′44″W / 41.5330°N 88.0955°W / 41.5330; -88.0955