On the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Norman C. Francis accepted an offer to become president of Xavier University, the historically Black educational institution in New Orleans. He still holds that office and is the longest-tenured university president in the United States.
Francis is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana. His father was a barber. He graduated from Xavier University and earned his law degree at Loyola University. He served for 11 years as Xavier’s dean of men, before becoming university president. In 2006 Francis was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.
Now the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) in conjunction with AT&T has created a scholarship in his name. The AT&T-NAFEO Francis Fellow Awards will go to two students from Xavier University and one student each from Dillard University, Grambling State University, Southern University, and Southern University-New Orleans.