Norman Francis Receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Council on Education

Photo by Irving Johnson IIIOn 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. He will be retiring at the end of the academic year.

For his decades of service to higher education, President Francis is being honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the American Council on Education’s 97th annual meeting on March 16 in Washington, D.C.

Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education, stated: “President Francis has had a profound impact on his own institution and the entire American higher education community during his 47 years at the helm of Xavier. It is an honor to give the ACE Lifetime Achievement Award to an individual who has so successfully guided the growth of our nation’s only historically black and Catholic university, and on the national level, served in an advisory role on education and civil rights issues to eight White House administrations.”

President 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 in New Orleans. 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.

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