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Jan 12, 2015 01:42 PM EST

Xavier University Receives $750,000 Grant for Campus Renovation

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Xavier University of Louisiana has received a generous grant from the Edward G. Schlieder Educational Foundation for capital renovations to a campus building, school officials announced Tuesday.

The three-year $750,000 gift will go to the four-phase process for transforming Xavier University's aging six-story building at 989 South Jefferson Davis Parkway -- officially designated Xavier South -- which houses classrooms, academic departments, faculty offices, and administrative offices. The school is currently in the second of the four-phase plan.

"We are grateful to the Schlieder Educational Foundation for its generous gift to our Xavier South Transformation Project," Xavier President Dr. Norman C. Francis said in a statement. "By assisting the University with improvements to Xavier South, the Foundation will impact Xavier's recruitment and retention of its students as well as provide a more conducive learning and work environment for our students, faculty, and staff.

Built in 1950, the six-story, 123,000 square foot structure originally housed the offices of the Humble Oil Company and was later sold to South Central Bell (AT&T). During that time it also housed the Wise Cafeteria for 39 years. 

It was vacant for several years before Xavier purchased the building in 1989, providing a much-needed acquisition for an academic community that was running out of classroom space for its growing enrollment. Enrollment peeked at just over 4,100 in 2005. 

Since its procurement, repairs and renovations were limited to an "as needed" or "as funds allowed" basis. 

Two years ago a major renovation plan was deemed necessary to make the aging building -- today a critical component of campus activities -- a safe and worthy of the essential functions it houses. 

To date, completed and ongoing renovations include an interior moisture mitigation and exterior building renovation, including replacing the windows and waterproofing of the exterior.

It is estimated the total cost of the renovation will reach $6.2 million.

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