Year in Review: 2017
It was a year that launched a bicentennial and a Billiken. A year for cutting ribbons
and breaking ground. A year for bright freshmen and a record number of Fulbright scholars.
Below is a look back at 2017 at Saint Louis University.
A Mass and the Mascot
In 2017, SLU kicked off a 15-month celebration leading up to the 200-year anniversary
of its founding in 1818 with a historic Mass under the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
St. Louis Archbishop Robert J. Carlson celebrated the Mass, which drew approximately
6,000 attendees during Homecoming and Family Weekend, and is believed to be the first
Catholic Mass ever held beneath the Arch.
In honor of SLU's 200th anniversary, the University announced the 200-Years-in-One Challenge . All SLU students, faculty, staff, alumni and others beyond the University are being
challenged to give back 200 years of volunteer service – that’s more than 1.75 million
hours — all in one short year.
To track its progress, the University installed a 200-Year Clock at the corner of Grand and Lindell boulevards. People can contribute their volunteer hours through a special mobile app.
While the bicentennial Mass and service challenge received a lot of press coverage,
it was the reveal of a new Billiken mascot costume that generated the most headlines in 2017.
After a new look unveiled in fall 2016 received significant feedback, the University
announced it would tweak the design. SLU asked the public to weigh in, and more than
17,000 students, faculty, staff, students, alumni and fans responded to an online
survey. Their input was incorporated in the final costume that debuted in late January.
Related: The Top People Stories of 2017
SLU opened Grand Hall, the second of two new residence halls on campus. Located at Grand Boulevard and
Laclede Avenue, the $71 million facility includes a 740-seat dining hall and houses
approximately 530 first- and second-year students.
SLU and SSM Health St. Louis broke ground on a new $550 million SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, which is scheduled to open on the University’s Medical Center in 2020.
The University unveiled the Academic Tech Commons, a state-of-the-art, 14,000-square-foot creator space in Pius XII Memorial Library
that includes 3D printers, 360-degree cameras, recording studios and hologram technology.
In the fall, SLU enrolled the most academically gifted freshman class in history, with a 3.9 GPA and all-time-high ACT and SAT scores. The Class of 2021 is also the
University’s second-largest freshman class ever.
A record number of SLU students received Fulbright Awards for their academic and professional achievement, as well as their record of service
and leadership potential.
Student-athletes continued to be recognized for their academic work with 143 Billikens
landing on the A-10 Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll for achieving a GPA of 3.5 or better during the spring 2017 semester.
On national Match Day, fourth-year medical students matched into top residency programs at Yale, Harvard, Mayo Clinic, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Case Western Reserve, Stanford
and UCLA, among others.
The School of Law saw its highest Missouri Bar Examination passage rate in five years for first-time takers of the bar's July administration, with a pass rate of 94 percent.
Grants and Gifts
The School of Education received a $2.8 million grant — the largest in its history — from the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission as part of
an immersion program for Saudi professional educators.
Through a national nursing workforce diversity grant awarded in 2017, the School of
Nursing will receive $1.5 million in federal funds over the next four years to support disadvantaged students.
SLU received a $1.2 Million McNair Scholars Program Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare eligible, high-achieving undergraduate
students for doctoral studies.
The Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business received a $1 million gift from Edward Jones to establish the Edward Jones Deanship, the first named deanship in the business
The University partnered with St. Louis Community College to establish 2+SLU, a dual admission program that allows students earn a bachelor’s degree in select
programs at SLU in two years, following two years at the community college.
Expanding its educational reach nationally, SLU signed a partnership with EdAssist to offer access to online degree and training options for 120 corporate employers
Jacki Kornbluth, Ph.D., a professor of pathology, molecular microbiology and immunology,
received a $911,000 Veteran's Administration Merit Award for her continuing work on anti-tumor and anti-microbial immunity.
More than 90 percent of study volunteers in a clinical trial for Zika at Saint Louis
University and two other institutions demonstrated an immune response to the virus.
SLU anthropologist Katherine C. MacKinnon, Ph.D., co-authored a global study confirming the dire decline of non-human primates.
Rankings and Honors
SLU was named a top-50 best value in U.S. News & World Report undergraduate rankings. Among graduate programs, SLU’s health law program was No. 1, marking 13 years in the top spot, while four graduate business programs ranked in
the top 25.
More than 170 SLUCare physicians from a variety of specialties were recognized by
St. Louis Magazine as the best doctors of 2017, based on the annual “Best Doctors in America” database.
SLU’s Prison Program and Legal Clinics were selected for St. Louis Arcus Awards, which honor commitment to regional prosperity, opportunity and equity.
After capturing third place at the 2017 President's Cup, SLU was honored as "Chess College of the Year" by the U.S. Chess Federation.
In 2017, SLU made a several appointments to high-profile posts.
- Thomas Burroughs, Ph.D., was appointed to a three-year term as interim dean of the College for Public Health
and Social Justice.
- Tracy Chapman, Ph.D., was selected dean of School for Professional Studies. She formerly served as associate
dean for adult and e-learning in the College of Professional Studies at Creighton
- Justin Daffron, S.J., was appointed special assistant to the president for growth strategies. He previously
served in leadership roles at Loyola University Chicago.
- Robert M. Heaney, M.D., permanently assumed the role of the chief executive officer of SLUCare, the University’s
- Gary Ritter, Ph.D., was named dean of the School of Education and will come on board in 2018. He is
a professor of education policy and holder of the 21st Century Endowed Chair in Education
Policy at the University of Arkansas.
In 2017, the University lost a number of members of the SLU community who were serving
in teaching, research and other roles at the time of their passing.
- Mark Buller, Ph.D. (1949-2017) was a professor of molecular microbiology and immunology, and one of
the nation's foremost poxvirus researchers.
- Maurice Green, Ph.D. (1926-2017) was a researcher at SLU for more than six decades and a pioneer in the
field of molecular virology.
- Georgia K. Johnston, Ph.D. (1958-2017) was an English professor and internationally recognized scholar of modern
- Paul Lorenzini (1939-2017) was a longtime member of the University’s board of trustees and supporter
- Robert W. May, J.D. (1947-2017) was a SLU graduate and member of the University’s board of trustees.
- Mark Wilson (1959-2017) was a fine and performing arts professor who worked as a professional
theater lighting designer for over 35 years.
- Norm White, Ph.D. (1953 to 2017) was a criminology professor noted for his dedication to breaking the
To keep up-to-date on the latest developments happening at Saint Louis University
in 2018, visit the University’s online newsroom or follow @SLU_Official on Twitter.