Xavier University, the nation's only Roman Catholic historically black college, has a new president who says a better job must be done of tapping the talents of minority students to meet the need for scientists and engineers.

C. Reynold Verret has taken over from Norman Francis, who served as president for 47 years. The New Orleans-based college was established in 1925.

Verret's inauguration takes place Friday. He was born in Haiti and the university says his family fled to the United States in 1963 to seek refuge from the atrocities of President Francois Duvalier.

He obtained his doctorate in biochemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and previously served as the provost and chief academic officer at Savannah State University in Georgia.