While Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures left lasting scars on New Orleans, it’s becoming clear that the generosity and good will the community experienced in the wake of the disaster carries its own legacy, which can often be far-reaching. One recent, high-profile example was unveiled this fall with the dedication of Xavier University’s Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion.

This major addition to Xavier’s Gert Town campus is intended to build the capacity of the school’s pharmacy program, and as its name implies, it was made possible by a large contribution from the nation of Qatar.

Following Hurricane Katrina, as financial support poured in to the Gulf Coast from around the world, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, the ruler of this tiny, oil-rich Middle East nation, decided to bankroll approximately $100 million in recovery work and infrastructure improvements here. Through its Qatar Katrina Fund, the country established a program to support local projects with the potential for long-term impacts in health, education and housing. One of the big beneficiaries was Xavier, the only historically black Catholic university in the United States.

Qatar provided $12.5 million to help expand facilities for the schools’ pharmacy program, plus $5 million for scholarships.

“We are particularly proud of the new Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion because it represents an investment in education,” said Nasser Bin Hamad al-Khalifa, chairman of the Qatar Katrina Fund. “We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of Xavier University and all our project partners who helped us play at least a small role in this historic rebuilding effort.”

The new building, which has been in use since the start of the fall semester, will allow Xavier to sustain its rising enrollment while improving the quality of its academic programs and research. The five-story, 60,000-square-foot expansion includes new, high-tech teaching labs and a pair of large lecture halls, each with the capacity for up to 200 students. The building is easily visible from the Pontchartrain Expressway, though of course its lasting impact will be seen in the careers of Xavier graduates and services they go on to provide in their communities. 

Xavier’s College of Pharmacy is one of only two pharmacy programs in Louisiana, and it is among the nation’s top three producers of African Americans with doctor of pharmacy degrees.