Saint Louis University in Missouri has a 12,000-strong student body of whom about 8 per cent are from overseas. The private research institution, which is located a short distance from the city's famous Gateway Arch, was founded in 1818 and is a Jesuit university. SLU has a strong service ethic and more than 80 courses combine volunteering with academic study. Between them, staff and students contribute more than 1 million service hours each year.
The institution offers nearly 100 undergraduate programmes and about the same number of graduate courses as well as more than 40 study abroad programmes. SLU also has a branch campus in Madrid, Spain, offering undergraduate and graduate courses to about 750 students.
Sport is a big part of life at SLU and the university is represented at the highest level of intercollegiate athletics in 18 sports including baseball, basketball, swimming, tennis, and track and field. The Chaifetz Arena, which is located on campus, can seat 10,000 people, while the university’s mascot is the Billiken, a good luck charm that was the brainchild of Florence Pretz, an art teacher, who created it in 1908. In the Midwestern city of Saint Louis itself there is Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.
The university is home to several museums including the Saint Louis University Museum of Art, the Samuel Cupples House, a historic home and gallery, and the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art.
Famous SLU alumni include Gene Kranz, the lead Nasa flight director during the Apollo 11 moon landing and leader of the Apollo 13 rescue mission, and filmmaker James Gunn, writer of Dawn of the Dead.
In 2013, the university awarded the world’s first PhD in aviation.