Statue of President Emeritus Norman Francis Unveiled at Xavier University of Louisiana

Xavier University of Louisiana, a historically Black university in New Orleans, has unveiled a statue of alumnus and president emeritus Norman Francis in the the university’s Convocation Center.

Francis began his career with Xavier University as dean of men, a position he held for 11 years. On the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Francis accepted an offer to become the university’s president. He retired in 2015 as the longest-tenured university president in the United States. In 2006, President George W. Bush honored Francis with the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

“Dr. Francis was a part of Xavier for over half of the century that Xavier has been serving the underserved. His unwavering commitment and courage in the pursuit of social justice led this university through countless adversity,” said Reynold Verret, president of Xavier University of Louisiana. “We are grateful that he built such a strong foundation that we continue to build upon as we enter the next chapter in Xavier’s great legacy.”

“I am humbled beyond measure by the extraordinary work of art created by Russell Whiting to honor my legacy here at Xavier University. It is an honor that I could not have imagined as a seventeen-year-old boy in Lafayette, Louisiana, when my father put me on a segregated rail car to go study at my beloved Alma Mater,” said Francis.

Francis graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1952 with his bachelor of science degree. He went on to receive his juris doctorate from Loyola University New Orleans in 1955, making him the first Black graduate of the university. Over the course of his career, he has received 35 honorary degrees from institutions across the United States.

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