Former University president receives Xavier's highest award

Fr. James Hoff is honored at a commencement ceremony with the St. Francis Xavier Award | May 19, 2004

The class of 2004 surprised chancellor and former president James Hoff, S.J., at the undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 15 by presenting him with the St. Francis Xavier Award for his dedication and service to the University.

Named for the patron saint of Xavier, the award recognizes outstanding individuals who, through their lives and endeavors, exemplify the qualities that made Francis Xavier a saint of action, courage, daring and imagination, and who have manifested high moral principles in their personal lives. It is the highest award given by the University.

Fr. Hoff came to Xavier in 1991 as its 33rd president, a position he held through 2000. During his tenure, Fr. Hoff strengthened the curriculum, bolstered the University’s endowments, created a national alumni association, developed a nationally recognized basketball program and oversaw the renovation and revitalization of Xavier’s campus, culminating in the construction of the Cintas Center and Gallagher Student Center.

Since 2000, when he was succeeded by President Michael J. Graham, S.J., Fr. Hoff has remained active in his role as chancellor, meeting with alumni and promoting the University. In March, Fr. Hoff was diagnosed with cancer, which has affected his kidney, liver, lungs and brain. He is currently undergoing treatment.

At the graduation ceremony, Fr. Hoff was described as an inspiring leader, consummate administrator, powerful spiritual role model and a good friend.

“Fr. Hoff is a unique combination of vision and practicality who looked into the future, saw the University’s potential, then worked to turn possibilities into concrete realities,” Graham said.

Fr. Hoff says he considers formulating Xavier’s vision his most important legacy. He said it has governed planning, allocation of resources and hiring, which gives a lot of graduating students the feeling that this vision has been realized in them. Fr. Hoff’s often-recited mission was “to prepare students intellectually, spiritually and morally to take their places in a rapidly changing global society and to work for the betterment of society.”