About Our University

About Saint Francis University

Saint Francis University is one of the oldest Catholic universities in the country, and the oldest celebrating Franciscan values. Virtue, Truth, and Compassion are in our DNA, and we seek to attract students (like you) with a passion for shaping the world.

Virtue · Truth · Compassion

Become that Someone at Saint Francis University


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Fuel your mind, body, & soul
high in the Laurel Highlands.

Saint Francis University's 600-acre campus in Loretto, Pennsylvania is in the heart of the great outdoors, yet the location provides an easy drive to Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, D.C., and New York City. 

Our Campus

The Spirit of SFU


Find your home away from home in this spirited and safe campus community full of student activities, leadership opportunities, and spiritual programs. Visit our campus!


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You're in Red Flash Territory! 


Up here, we study hard and we play hard.


We are home to one of the smallest NCAA Division-I programs in the nation with 23 athletic teams. Our athletes are known for academic excellence as well as sportsmanship - GO RED FLASH!


Facts, Rankings and More!

Saint Francis University: A Mind for Excellence, Spirit for Peace and Justice, Heart For Service 

  • SFU receives an "A" rating for safety in the Safest College Campuses survey published by the college research site, Niche.
  • The Brookings Institution ranks Saint Francis fourth among four-year schools with the greatest success in Middle-Class Mobility.
  • SFU Athletics department recorded the 43rd consecutive semester with an overall GPA at or above 3.0. 


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Catholic Franciscan Character

Saint Francis University is founded and animated by the Franciscan Friars of the Third Order Regular Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. As a result, one of our distinctive goals is to enable Franciscan values and the Catholic tradition to shape intellectual inquiry and decision-making, both on a personal and institutional level.

University History

It all started with six friars from Ireland.

Founding Friars

Brother Giles Carroll along with five of his friar brothers of the Franciscans of the Third Order Regular from the Archdiocese of Tuam in Ireland requested permission from the bishop of the Pittsburgh diocese to bring their dream, rooted in sharing the teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi, to fruition in the Americas.  Saint Francis Academy was the early result of their efforts.


Leadership Today 

Today Saint Francis University remains sponsored by the Franciscans of the Third Order Regular and the university's president is always a member of the order. Fr. Malachi Van Tassell, T.O.R. Ph.D.,  assumed the office of the president on May 12, 2014, with his official inauguration taking place on October 4, 2014.   SFU is governed by a Board of Trustees comprised of both laypeople and Franciscans.