Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Xavier President Celebrates 40 Years of Success

December 1st, 2008 by Ajuan Mance


Xavier University President Norman Francis


On November 21,  New Orleans-based HBCU Xavier University celebrated Norman Francis and his 40 years as University president. The gala concert event featured Bill Cosby as master of ceremonies and special guest performer Gladys Night. The 77 year-old Francis is the longest serving college president in the United States.

To see photos of this event, go to THIS LINK and click on the photos at the bottom of the page.

Under the leadership of President Francis, Xavier University has gained a national reputation based on its success in training African American undergraduates for careers in medicine and the science.s Xavier ranks number one in the nation for the placement of African American students at U.S. medical schools. Xavier also ranks first for the number of African American undergraduates majoring in the sciences and the number of African Americans earning Doctor of Pharmacy degrees.

Perhaps his greatest achievement, though, is President Francis’ exceptional leadership in the wake of hurricane Katrina. Hurricane damage from the August 2005 storm forced Xavier to cancel its fall semester that year, and the University sustained over $50 million dollars in damage. Despite these setbacks, though, Francis managed to reopen the campus less than five months later.

Norman Francis Timeline

  • 1931 — Francis is born in Lafayette Louisiana. His father was a barber and his mother was a homemaker.
  • 1952 — Francis graduates from Xavier University with a Bachelor of Science degree.
  • 1955 — Francis becomes the first African American to graduate from Loyola University Law School (juris doctor).
  • 1957 — Francis completes military service in the U.S. Army’s Third Armored Division and is appointed Dean of Men at Xavier.
  • 1963 — Francis becomes Xavier’s director of student personnel services.
  • 1964 — Francis becomes assistant to the president.
  • 1967 — Francis becomes executive vice president of the University.
  • 1968 — Norman Francis becomes Xavier University’s first lay president (Xavier was founded by nuns), first male president, and first African American president.
  • 1986 — Francis is named one of the United States’ 100 most effective college administrators.
  • 2006 — Francis is awarded the presidential medal of freedom.

Posted by Ajuan Mance


Posted in African Americans, Black Colleges, Black History, Current Events, Higher Education

2 Responses

  1. hagar's daughter

    Xavier is my alma mater. Dr. Francis is a phenomenal leader. The nuns at Xavier were instrumental in my formation as a young adult.

    Thanks for posting this.

  2. Ajuan Mance

    I had no idea. Dr. Francis sounds like a truly amazing leader, and Xavier is a pretty remarkable school. Black participation in the sciences would be greatly diminished without the contributions of this institution and its very able leadership.

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