Published by the Delaware County Daily Times 3/20/2015
By Joseph Batory, Times Guest Columnist
Most people have no idea that among the many prestigious universities in Philadelphia, La Salle University is one of the city’s oldest. Indeed, this Christian Brothers gemstone of higher education in Philadelphia is now in its 152nd year of operation in the city!
For many years a male-only college, Philadelphia’s La Salle University’s now has a majority enrollment that is female. And La Salle’s new president (Dr. Colleen Hanycz) who assumed office on July 1, 2015 has become the first ever non-Christian Brother to lead the university.
La Salle’s nearly 3,200 traditional undergraduate students come from around the world, including over 44 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, and 45 different countries. The university’s 6,255 students are currently involved in 54 different major courses of study for undergraduates and 25 graduate programs. In the tradition of its founder, La Salle prioritizes excellence in teaching among its faculty. Class sizes are small and education is personalized.
Over the years, La Salle has developed its academic excellence. The university now has 50,000 alumni, many of whom have become high achievers in a wide variety of professions in the Greater Philadelphia area and around the world. La Salle boasts 67 graduates who have become Fulbright scholars.
La Salle University also continues to stand out in the latest educational ranking of USA universities. The 2016 edition of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” ranks La Salle University as one of the top 30 universities in the north region, as well as one of the top 10 Catholic universities in this same category.
La Salle University has also been ranked among the top 100 universities in the United States for value, according to The Economist. In its inaugural undergraduate college ranking, THE ECONOMIST, demonstrated the economic value of a college by comparing the difference between how much money its alumni earn versus how much they might have earned had they received their degree elsewhere. Simply, The Economist’s rankings estimate which schools realistically boost the salaries of its graduates.
That latest ranking of universities follows another one by Money Magazine which listed La Salle University as one of the best value universities in the Philadelphia region and nationally. La Salle continues to help families meet their educational expenses. In the 2015-2016 academic year, 97 percent of entering freshmen will receive University-funded grants and scholarships, totaling more than $17.4 million. Overall, more than $70 million in University-funded grants and scholarships will be awarded to the entire undergraduate population.
La Salle University’s Bilingual Undergraduate Studies for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA) Program was named one of the country’s “Bright Spots in Hispanic Education” by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. La Salle’s was the only higher education program from Pennsylvania included on the list of more than 230 programs that have been recognized for investing in key priorities for Hispanics.
Jim Kenney, ’80, is the first La Salle University alumnus to be elected as mayor of Philadelphia and will take office in 2016.
Additionally, La Salle has also been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as among the top universities for involving students in giving “volunteer community service.”
La Salle University is steeped in the tradition of a Catholic saint, Jean Baptiste de La Salle. Moved by the plight of the poor in France way back in 1679, Jean Baptiste de La Salle determined to put his own talents and advanced education at the service of the children most in need. As a sign of his commitment, he abandoned his family home, moved in with teachers, and renounced his wealth (worth approximately $500,000 today). He then formed a new community of religious teachers, most commonly known here in the United States as the Christian Brothers. This religious order dedicated themselves to quality teaching for all, initially in France and then worldwide.
Joseph P. Batory is a 1964 graduate of La Salle and currently serves on the La Salle Alumni Board of Directors