Tribute to Dr. Norman Francisby Senator David Vitter
Posted on 2015-02-09
VITTER. Mr. President, I wish to honor Dr. Norman Francis,
president of Xavier University of Louisiana and grand marshall for the
2015 Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club Coronation Ball.
Dr. Francis was born in Lafayette, LA, to the son of a barber and a stay-home mother who valued education and hard work. After Dr. Francis graduated from St. Paul High School in 1948, he was awarded a scholarship to Xavier University, America's only historically black Catholic university, where he excelled academically. In 1953, he enrolled in Loyola University New Orleans from which he earned his juris doctorate in 1955. After this, he spent 2 years in the U.S. Army before returning to New Orleans.
In 1968, Dr. Francis was named president of Xavier University. He was the first African American man to lead Xavier, and he is currently the longest-sitting university president in the United States. As both a student and eventual administrator, Dr. Francis has been at Xavier for more than five decades. He is credited with being the catalyst for nearly every new building constructed on the campus during the past four decades.
Under Dr. Francis' leadership, Xavier continues to rank first nationally in the number of African American students earning undergraduate degrees in the biology and the life sciences, chemistry, physics, and pharmacy. Since 1993, Xavier has also continued to rank first nationally for African American students being accepted into medical schools.
Dr. Francis has received numerous honorary degrees from other universities and prestigious awards in recognition of his leadership in higher education and for unselfish service to New Orleans and to our Nation. In 2006, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. Dr. Francis served as chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority following the devastation from Hurricane Katrina and Rita, and he was a leader in the efforts to rebuild the lives of those affected by the storms. In the aftermath of these storms, one publication called Dr. Francis a ``quiet hero.'' This is a great way to describe a man who has done so much for his university, his community, his State, and his Nation.
I am pleased to join with the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club in honoring grand marshall Dr. Norman Francis.