USF opens 2021-22 academic year with Founders Day Mass and Convocation

August 25, 2021

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The University of Saint Francis marked the beginning of its academic year today with a Mass, a convocation address by President Rev. Dr. Eric Albert Zimmer, and a complimentary lunch for all attendees at the Hutzell Athletic Center.

The Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, was principal celebrant and homilist for the Mass while Fr. Zimmer and University Chaplain Rev. John Sheehan, SJ, concelebrated. Students, faculty, staff, trustees and guests attended the event. Others watched via livestream.

“This is a great day for the University of Saint Francis. It is a great day to be a Cougar,” Fr. Zimmer said. “We have a large group of first-year students, larger than last year, and last year was larger than the year before. We are excited for all the new students who have joined us.”

Fr. Zimmer spoke about the university’s Franciscan value for 2021–2022, which is “Encourage a trustful, prayerful community of learners.” He also highlighted the university’s accomplishments over the past year, including creating new programs, hiring a full-time chaplain, creating additional scholarships, expanding the USF Crown Point site, establishing a campus Wellness Center, creating a program for student integration of Franciscan values, and several others.

He praised students, faculty and staff for their response in dealing with COVID-19 and for the large number who have been vaccinated.

Fr. Zimmer welcomed former USF President Sister M. Elise Kriss, OSF back to campus as Director of Community Relations, and emphasized highly anticipated growth for the future.

“Over the next couple of months, we will announce programs and things we are doing to go from success to success to success,” Fr. Zimmer said. “We are doing this because of the commitment of men and women who study here, teach here, and work here, because of the prayers of the Sisters, your prayers, and the support of others. All of us are better because each one of us commits to our community.”

The annual Founders Day celebration highlights new and returning students as well as employees. Honored guests include the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, who have sponsored the university since its founding in 1890. This year, students will pursue degrees in more than 60 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs.

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Founded in 1890 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, the University of Saint Francis offers more than 60 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs through the College of Health Sciences, College of Arts, Sciences, and Business and College of Adult and Distance Education. In addition to its traditional programs, USF designs focused curricula for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. USF Downtown houses the university’s business and music technology programs while offering enhanced internship and networking opportunities for students. The University of Saint Francis campus experience includes 18 athletic programs boasting two individual and four team NAIA national championships and is recognized as an NAIA Five-Star Champion of Character institution. Approximately 2,200 students from a broad geographic region attend USF.