A lot has changed in the past century—and Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University is no exception. From medical advances and new technologies to organizational and programming shifts, this institution dedicated to educating healthcare professionals looks much different than when it was founded 100 years ago.
AT A GLANCE
Top executive: Tina Holland, President
Address: 5414 Brittany Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70808
One key thing, however, has not changed: the university’s Catholic identity. Values such as service to others and commitment to the community are central to the FranU educational experience.
“We will always maintain those timeless teachings that go along with being a Catholic university,” says President Tina Holland. “But we apply those teachings to a changing world so that our students can have that strength and all of the technical capabilities they need to stay on top of the changes in technology.”
FranU began a century ago as a nurse training facility operated by Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. Over time, the institution transformed into a college and, more recently, a university. Degree offerings grew over the years from nursing diplomas to associate’s and bachelor’s degrees to doctorates.
Maintaining Catholic principles is critical, Holland says, in preparing students for careers in healthcare. They’ll be working in jobs that have a profound impact on the Baton Rouge community, where their care and concern for people in their hour of need can truly make a difference. And, she adds, it’s important to provide students a solid moral foundation to guide them in making tough decisions.
FranU is now embarking on its second century of educating the next generation of not just nurses, but also respiratory therapists, medical administrators, physical therapists and many others.
Leaders are developing a long-awaited unified, identifiable campus after years of its roughly 1,200 students being spread across 12 different buildings—something they believe will improve learning experiences and encourage collaboration.
The campus is to be anchored by St. Francis Hall, which is nearing completion.
“You would think you were in a mini hospital,” Holland says of the hall, which features simulated inpatient and outpatient areas. It’s packed with all of the latest medical technologies. And Holland is particularly proud of all of the places for students to gather: study and social rooms, worship areas, a library, a café, even artificial intelligence and maker spaces.
“There was not a feel or experience of a community of learners sharing a common development process and helping one another,” Holland says of the existing campus. “We had students studying in their cars. One image that will always be in my head is looking out the window of my office, which was in a converted PT building, and seeing about a dozen kids sitting in the bed of a pickup truck with their coffee and open books, and it was finals week and they were quizzing each other. That was their student lounge: a bed of a pickup truck.”
Craig Netterville, FranU board chairman, says St. Francis Hall is a sign that “after 100 years, we’ve arrived.”
“I think it’s going to springboard us into the future, and we’re very excited about it,” he says.
Netterville adds that the expansion is beneficial for the entire community as FranU works to meet the needs of both today and tomorrow.
“What’s really unique about the university is we have such a high return on investment for the students and their parents,” he says. “We have nearly 100% placement within 12 months for all of our graduates. Not only are we feeding the need for healthcare professionals, but also for jobs for our graduates.”
FROM THE PRESIDENT
It is with great joy and gratitude that we celebrate our Centennial.
We are grateful for the visionary and courageous Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady who established a school of nursing in 1923 to help meet the growing local healthcare needs. Following their example, the school, now a university, has developed new programs and innovative methods to respond to the expanding and increasingly complex needs in healthcare. We appreciate the privilege of continuing the Sisters’ higher education ministry.
FranU’s Centennial is a joyful celebration because it marks the continued vibrancy and ongoing relevancy of an historic institution. Through all the changes that have occurred over the past 100 years, one essential constant is the Franciscan foundation upon which the University was founded and built. Our Franciscan joyfulness of spirit endures as we work endlessly to ensure that current and future generations of students thrive and serve.
Thank you for this opportunity to express the joy and gratitude with which we celebrate 100 years of Franciscan higher education in Baton Rouge. We honor and preserve the legacy of our founders by continuing the good work that has been so faithfully pursued by so many for so long.
TINA HOLLAND, President