Michael J. Graham, S.J.
President of Xavier University
Under the tenure of Xavier’s 34th president Father Michael J. Graham, S.J., Xavier University has seen dramatic growth and change with academic growth, new facilities, community initiatives and an enrichment of Xavier’s foundational Jesuit Catholic mission, tradition and heritage.
Since assuming the presidency on January 1, 2001, Graham’s vision has been to invigorate Xavier’s Jesuit tradition of serving society by educating students to become rigorous and reflective, committed and compassionate men and women for and with others.
The impact of that vision is far reaching. His passion to connect and collaborate with local and regional communities inspired Graham to establish the Community Building Collaborative as well as the Eigel Center for Community-Engaged Learning. The establishment in 2002 of the Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue positioned Xavier as a pre-eminent place for interreligious discourse, thought and action.
Graham’s initiative to strengthen Xavier’s Jesuit heritage and spirituality can be found in the Ruth J. and Robert A. Conway Institute for Jesuit Education, which assists faculty in transforming students, and in numerous Center for Mission and Identity programs that engage faculty and staff in Jesuit heritage and values.
Xavier’s physical transformation during Graham’s presidency has been dramatic. Historic buildings now stand next to state-of-the-art facilities and scholars and students meet amid expanded green spaces.
In 2010, Xavier opened the James E. Hoff, S.J. Academic Quad. Within the quad is Stephen and Dolores Smith Hall, home to Williams College of Business. Inside this technology-packed building is the Fifth Third Trading Center, the only college facility of its kind, with more than 40 Bloomberg terminals. The quad also houses the Michael J. Conaton Learning Commons, a hi-tech facility for students which promotes study, collaboration and career development as well as a sense of community.
In 2011, Xavier opened its second largest building on campus, Bishop Edward Fenwick Place. Set in the heart of campus, it is home to 535 students, a 700-plus seat dining hall and numerous offices. Overseeing all of this new development is an 11-foot tall statue of the University’s patron saint and one of the first Jesuits, Francis Xavier. His outstretched hand welcomes all.
Graham’s passion for Xavier is 24/7. He lives on campus in a residence hall where he frequently invites his ‘hall-mates’ to dinner and presides over the 10 p.m. Sunday Mass, one of the most popular student gatherings on campus.
Born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Graham entered the Society of Jesus in 1978 and was ordained a priest in 1988. He earned a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Michigan in 1983 and also holds degrees in philosophy and psychology. Graham came to Xavier in 1984 when he joined the Xavier faculty as an Assistant Professor of History. He left Xavier to pursue his Master of Divinity from the Weston School of Theology, which he earned in 1988.
In 1989, Graham returned to Xavier and in 1994, was appointed Vice President for University Relations. In 1999, he became the Executive Assistant to the President. During these tenures, he oversaw a broad range of University activities, including a $125 million capital campaign, at that time the most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in Xavier’s history.
As a parish priest active at both Good Shepherd Catholic Church in suburban Cincinnati and with Xavier student groups, Graham carries out his Jesuit pastoral activities as celebrant for weddings, baptisms and retreats as well as weekly Sunday worship.
Among the boards Graham serves on are St. Xavier High School, the Center for the Holocaust and Humanity Education, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Loyola University Chicago and Gonzaga University in Spokane.